Every winter here in the Seattle area, a very special and unique festival takes place in a hotel for conferences and meetings, with the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Washington hosting the annual Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival.
I have known of Wintergrass for many years, but had never had the chance to get there to participate. And participation is a key element to this event. This festival offers a variety of activities for attendees and performers alike.
This four-day festival offers workshops for attendees in guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, vocal harmony, songwriting, ukulele, bass, Dobro, lap steel guitar, singing, and so much more. Also featured are programs and performances by area youth orchestras where the next generation of young musicians learn and practice their craft.
As you walk through the venue, the sound of music fills the air. People gather in various spots in the Hyatt to jam and collaborate. People stop in their tracks to enjoy the music-making in progress. People either sitting or standing, playing their instruments and singing in unabashed joy. There is also an opportunity for attendees to meet with instrument manufacturers and vendors offering a variety of products for musicians.
The other main component to Wintergrass is the performances from some of the best in the bluegrass and Americana genres. This year’s festival featured the likes of Jerry Douglas & The Earls of Leicester, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Seldom Scene and many more. Also regional bands are featured, like Rabbit Wilde from Bellingham and Stumptown Swing from Portland.
At the performances I attended, each room filled up to capacity. What was really nice was the down-home atmosphere and vibe of this festival. I met people who were long-time attendees and some who had just heard about it. All were thrilled to be there and take in all the activities.
One of the nicest things about Wintergrass was seeing people of all ages enjoy the many offerings at this annual festival. Next year’s Wintergrass is already scheduled for February 23 through the 26, 2017, again at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. Tickets are available online at www.wintergrass.com.