This June, the new RiverWonderGrass festival announced two separate trips and sold out of them both. Scotty Stoughton, founder of the bluegrass music festival WinterWonderGrass, has teamed up with Adrift Dinosaur River Adventures to create an adventure that combines the joys of music, Mother Nature and the company of friends and family.
RiverWonderGrass festival starts its 44-mile expedition at the Gates of Lodore in Colorado and ends at Split Mountain in Utah four days later. The trip accommodates up to 20 people and includes meals, equipment, guides and, of course, great music and people.
“The response has been insane,” says Stoughton after the first dates sold out within 15 hours.
Stoughton, along with staff and musicians, recently hit the river to test the waters before their first trip that starts on July 13, 2020. Bluegrass musician Tyler Grant came along for the adventure as he is headlining that first trip.
“We learned a lot on the first trip, and I got serious about stand up paddleboarding. In addition to the musical collaboration with Lindsay [Lou] & Josh [Rilko], which is an amazing opportunity in itself, I look forward to more paddling opportunities and learning more about hydrology, geology and the ‘expedition mindset,’” Grant says.
Grant is a long-time friend of Stoughton and has performed at WinterWonderGrass since its start in 2013.
As an artist himself, Stoughton feels the struggle the music industry has been hit with during the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19.
“We really have no idea how COVID is going to change the future of the live music industry, but one thing is for sure: people are going to need to re-engage with their favorite bands sooner or later. It’s a human instinct to be drawn together, around music, community, mingling spirits and allowing the soul to be recharged,” Stoughton says. “We will be back, perhaps in more unique ways, smaller settings, but music is like water, we need it to survive.”
RiverWonderGrass presents itself as much as an opportunity for the people attending the festival as much as it does for the artists, who are doing whatever it takes to reach out to listeners without the convenience of holding large concerts.
Grant says, “He [Scotty] has tried to get me on a river trip for years, and now we finally have the opportunity since festival and touring schedule is on hold. The opportunities that we want are not always where the schedule places us, and this summer, we finally made it happen.” Grant adds, “I am bursting with gratitude for this opportunity.”
Another musician joining the first trip along with Grant is bluegrass artist, Lindsay Lou.
“I have been playing live streams for the last several months, so to be able to play music for an actual audience, and no less on a beautiful river, is ideal,” Lou says.
RiverWonderGrass is only the beginning to a new way of experiencing music. With the hard work and planning from Stoughton and his team, they are giving back that missing piece of music we all need in our life right now.
Stoughton notes there are other ways to support artists too.
“Best to go to your favorite artists’ pages and donate there, but more than that, leave a message, tell them how much you appreciate their music and miss their shows. Our industry is getting kicked the hardest and each small kind gesture goes a long way towards healing!”
Photos by Molly McCormick Photography.