The harsh ripples of 2020 left many professionals in the music industry high and dry. Live concerts and festivals halted without warning; musicians had no place to play and no income to sustain.
“Our industry got crushed,” shares Scotty Stoughton, founder of Bonfire Entertainment and WinterWonderGrass, a multi-day bluegrass and roots music festival. “These people didn’t have an outlet, didn’t have money, didn’t have jobs, nothing. So, I was like ‘let’s get them on the river.’”
Stoughton’s connection to the water runs deep. His upbringing in New Jersey introduced him to riding waves, and he has since invested time, passion and business attention to the waters of the west. He is a partner in the guiding company Adrift Adventures, as well as co-founder of Stand Up Paddle Colorado. With WinterWonderGrass on hold and the river’s influence and inspiration calling him back, Stoughton launched RiverWonderGrass in the summer of 2020.
“We launched that first one with Tyler Grant, Andy Hall, Dan Rodriguez, Andy Thorn, and right around that time the Park Service gave us some rules about how we could safely have some raft trips,” he shares, “with distance and different vans and different cooking protocols; so we launched it and it sold out in like an hour, and launched six more.”
The beat goes on. In addition to the multi-day RiverWonderGrass float trips through Dinosaur National Monument this summer, the team at Bonfire Entertainment is hosting single-day RiverWonderGrass experiences, slated to kick off June 19, 2021, and running weekly on Saturdays through August 28, 2021.
These trips will be limited to 30 people each day, and will feature music by the likes of Adam Greuel of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Tyler Grant of Grant Farm, and bands that will include Pickin’ on the Dead, Buffalo Commons, The Sweet Lillies and more. Each float will run from Rancho del Rio down to State Bridge, set between Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Many of these floats, with a capacity of 30 per float, have sold out and a very limited allotment remains available for those later in summer.
Stoughton used to produce music events at State Bridge, and he says he looks forward to reviving the vibe.
“River runners, bikers, hunters, ski bums, ranchers, hippies, yuppies, fisherman and all characters in between would come together and get down dancing under the stars,” recalls Stoughton. “We’re excited to bring back that energy!”
Learn more and book your float at riverwondergrass.com.
Photos courtesy Molly McCormick.
Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2021 issue.