You can get a unique preview of the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs this month with special performances by Trout Steak Revival (pictured) and the Railsplitters—and the Yampa Valley’s most talented elementary, middle, and high school musicians. Since October, the two Colorado bluegrass bands have been mentoring students at four schools in Steamboat and Craig as part of Strings Music Festival’s outreach programs.
Denver’s Trout Steak Revival (winners of the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival) and Boulder’s Railsplitters (2013 RockyGrass band contest champions) began their tutelage this past fall by giving intimate live performances in the classrooms. After that, the bands continued teaching their mentees via prerecorded videos while out on national tours. Students mastered simple melodies, then improvised during class time to amp up each rhythm. For one traditional band class, coursework included translating string-friendly bluegrass music into the realms of the tuba, xylophone, flute, and snare drum.
Now, after more than four months of rehearsal, the students and the bands will put it all together with two free 7 p.m. concerts—Trout Steak Revival on March 17 and the Railsplitters on March 23—at Strings Music Pavilion, just down the mountain from Steamboat Ski Resort. All that’s missing are the adoring fans (but we bet there will be some proud parents out there).
Editor’s Note 3/1/2016: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the year that Trout Steak Revival won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. We regret the error.