Colorado sure loves its bluegrass festivals—RockyGrass, Winter Wondergrass, Telluride Bluegrass Festival—but none are quite as intimate or isolated as YarmonyGrass. Celebrating its 11th year this past weekend, the festival is nestled on the banks of the Colorado River at Rancho Del Rio surrounded by mountains, including its namesake Mt. Yarmony to the West. It is hard to find a more beautiful setting for a music festival.During the days, the river was filled with swimmers and a laughable fleet of inflatable vessels. Participants relied on anything they could muster to float the winding stretch of flat water connecting Rancho Del Rio and State Bridge four miles downstream–paddle boards, duckies, mattresses, inner tubes, rainbow unicorns, you name it. Back for the first time in five years, a “floating stage” hit the river midday Saturday with the aptly named Whitewater Ramble playing a set on rafts while a long line of festival-goers floated along for the ride. During the nights, a non-stop flow of music poured over the grounds from two stages. The Main Stage faced an open lawn and the intimate Saloon Stage was on a deck that featured half-hour tweener sets from up-in-comers on the bluegrass scene including the Kitchen Dwellers, Caribou Mountain Collective, and Whiskey Tango.The Jeff Austin Band headlined Friday, drawing the largest crowd of the weekend. In his usual quirky nature, Austin announced how excited he was to be “by all the freakers by the river” and continued to play a dark, experimental set with his four-piece band. To the pleasure of many longtime fans of Yonder Mountain String Band, Austin dove into nostalgic material he has been reluctant to play since his departure from the band, including “Dawn’s Early Light” and an encore of “Raleigh and Spencer” with a Roosevelt Collier sit-in. Though Austin’s choppy mandolin certainly led, it was virtuosic banjo player Ryan Cavanaugh that stole the show every time his number was called for a solo. Early Main Stage performances Saturday included an evening set from the Grateful Dead cover specialists Uptown Toodeloo String Band and Andy Hall’s Joint Set, dobro extraordinaire from the Infamous Stringdusters. Hall’s set began with a beautiful rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” with Roosevelt Collier (the two announced they will be releasing an album together) before bringing a full bluegrass band to the stage to work through a handful of unique covers. But Saturday night belonged to the Drunken Hearts. Bringing a welcomed change of pace from the traditional bluegrass prominent for much of the weekend, their Main Stage set opened up into a number of rocking jams (Steve Miller Band’s “Swingtown” may have been the best) that let the chops of lead guitarist Rob Eaton Jr, bassist Jon McCartan, and drummer Alex Johnson truly shine.Even after playing the set of the weekend, or maybe because of it, the Hearts were enlisted as the primary backing band for Roosevelt Collier’s Colorado Get Down. Bringing out almost a dozen guest musicians before he was done, the pedal steel guitar specialist Collier continued on a funkier path that included an extended rendition of Billy Cobham’s fusion classic “Stratus” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”If you were to nominate the MVP of this year’s festival, it would certainly have to be former Leftover Salmon keyboardist Bill McKay. It seemed as though his rig never left the main stage and his signature brand of honky-tonk, rag-tag playing shined on sit-ins in with Coral Creek, the Drunken Hearts, Uptown Toodeloo String Band, Andy Hall, and more.Over a decade after its inception, YarmonyGrass is now one of the state’s premier musical destinations. With breathtaking scenery and tight-knit community of loyal patrons, it sure looks like it’s going to stay that way.Check out more photos from the event, courtesy of Elliot Siff Photography (Facebook)!
Topics : “We can’t let our foot off the pedal, we can’t relax,” New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in Sydney. “It doesn’t take long for things to get out of control.”NSW, the country’s most populous state, is responsible for almost half of the national cases and has imposed the strictest penalties for anybody found breaching the rules restricting movement.At Bondi Beach, health workers wearing masks and plastic gloves greeted people at the pop-up testing clinic. NSW officials said earlier this week the virus may have been transmitted in the Bondi community via an infected backpacker who was not aware they were carrying the disease.”Bondi is one of those places where we are seeing local transmission, and we have seen cases among backpackers in recent days,” NSW Health director Jeremy McAnulty said in Sydney on Wednesday. Bondi made headlines in March when thousands of people were seen ignoring social distancing rules at its world-famous beach.Official data showed that young people aged 20-29 account for the highest rates of coronavirus infections across the country, followed by those in their early 60s. Experts told local media the former were most likely to travel or socialize in groups, while the latter represented the cruise ship demographic.The rate of growth in new infections across Australia has slowed to just under 10% over the past three days, from 25-30% a week ago, raising hopes that Australia is starting to “flatten the curve”.”Whilst there are still more cases each day, we’re not seeing the scenes and the kind of growth in cases that so many other parts of the world are experiencing right now,” Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, said in Melbourne.The federal government has planned for up to 100 pop-up clinics across the country to ramp up testing in transmission hot spots.In South Australia, the Barossa Valley wine region has closed schools and facilities this week due to a localized outbreak, while six baggage-handlers working at the state’s Adelaide airport have also tested positive to COVID-19.Barossa council mayor Bim Lange said that put pressure on vineyards and related businesses at the height of the grape-picking season.”We’ve had three years of drought, and now this,” Lange told Reuters.A single aged-care facility in Sydney accounts for a quarter of the national death toll.Economic fallout The Reserve Bank of Australia warned on Wednesday the country’s A$2 trillion ($1.23 trillion) economy would likely experience a “very material contraction” in economic activity that would spread across the March and June quarters and potentially longer. The RBA held an out-of-cycle meeting on March 18 when it reduced its cash rate to a record low 0.25% and embarked on a bond buying program to try and shield the economy from the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Like many countries, Australia’s financial and jobs markets have been roiled by the outbreak, prompting the government to unveil several stimulus packages, including a A$130 billion ($79.9 billion) six-month wage subsidy. Australian authorities opened a pop-up coronavirus testing clinic at Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Wednesday, as the country’s central bank warned the economic fallout from the pandemic could last for more than a year.Authorities were zeroing in on specific areas that have reported clusters of infections, following a sustained slow down in new cases in recent days to around 4,700 nationally. The death toll stands at 20, after a steady creep upward in recent days.Officials have stressed the need for continuing strict social distancing measures despite the slowdown, including restricting the number of people meeting in public to just two and the closure of parks, beaches and gyms.