Fiddles, Vittles and Vino helps support Colorado Springs' Rock Ledge Ranch

By Jen Mulson Published: July 26, 2013 | 12:00 am 0

For the second time, the fundraiser Fiddles, Vittles and Vino will feature a bluegrass group that has won Best Band in two of the region's largest bluegrass competitions: RockyGrass in Lyons a year ago and Telluride Bluegrass in Telluride in June.

Front Country, a San Francisco Bay area-band, performs at the bluegrass and culinary arts festival on Sunday at the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. The event attracted 1,200 people last year, says Mark Gardner, talent director for the event.

"To win those you have to be really good," says Gardner. "It says a lot about the dynamics of that group. As a person who picks bands, we have a limited budget and we can't go after Alison Krauss, but the bands who win competitions are just as good as the big bands that are out there."

Melody Walker is a guitar player and vocalist for the six-piece band that loosely formed in 2011 and got serious, she says, in 2012. They released their first EP, the five-track "This is Front Country," in February.

"We do a very progressive thing," Walker says, "but we have strong songs and vocal harmonies. ... We're progressing it with foundational elements of good original songs and instumentals and vocal harmonies. We have no lead singer. Everybody is welcome to bring stuff to the group and be a featured vocalist. That democratic element is part of our magic."

The Honey Dewdrops, an Americana and traditional folk band from Virginia, and I Draw Slow, an Americana roots band from Dublin, Ireland, are also set to play the two stages at the event, along with Jody Adams and the String Dudes, a local folk, gospel and bluegrass band.

The fundraiser is in its ninth year. Initially, the food was the draw, Gardner says. This year, more than 30 restaurants will offer food samples, including Craftwood Inn, The Margarita at Pine Creek, Tapateria, Paravicini's Italian Bistro and Sonterra Grill.

Three years after the event started, word got out about the music, Gardner says, and the "hardcore bluegrass fans" showed up.

Wine donated by local stores rounds out the affair. Beer is also available.

All proceeds from the fundraiser go to the living history programs at Rock Ledge Ranch. Past events have helped fund the purchase of apple trees for the ranch's orchard.

"I don't know anybody who doesn't like music or food," Gardner says. "It's the only festival of its type in Colorado or the West. I can't think of any other bluegrass and culinary arts festival in this type of beautiful historic ranch setting."

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Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270.

fiddles, vittles and vino

When: 2-8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, 3105 Gateway Road

Tickets: $45, $20 kids; 578-6777, fiddlesvittlesandvino.com

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