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Steamboat Magazine

WinterWonderGrass Artist Spotlight - Big Richard

02/17/2023 08:00AM ● By Ski Town Media
(Photo: The members of Big Richard, (from left to right) Eve Panning [fiddle], Bonnie Sims [mandolin and vocalist], Emma Rose [bassist and guitarist], Joy Adams [cellist] atop Mt. Werner during the 2022 Steamboat Springs WinterWonderGrass Festival. Courtesy of WinterWonderGrass Festival / Molly McCormick. )

This year, WinterWonderGrass will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in Colorado, set to take place right here in Steamboat Springs on March 3-5. Each week, we will be featuring artists who are performing at this year's festival. Get an inside look at what this weekend is like for the artists and bands, and find out what goes into creating an iconic festival. 

The world-class musicians in Big Richard initially convened in 2021 for a one-off festival date. The quartet performed like it had been together for years, bursting with jaw-dropping virtuosity; playfully irreverent stage banter; stunning four-part harmony vocal interlace; and a healthy dose of lady rage. Quickly, things for the Colorado-based, neo-acoustic supergroup morphed into something way bigger than a one-and-done appearance.The sellout club shows and the confirmed festival dates across America drastically changed its members’ lives. To date, the quartet has issued three singles, the Live from Telluride album, and it has new music on the way as they are poised to penetrate the Americana music world and beyond. We connected with Bonnie Sims, mandolin and vocalist from Big Richard, to talk about the upcoming WinterWonderGrass festival and what 2023 has in store for this quartet of incredibly talented women.  

Ski Town Media: How did you guys first get involved with WinterWonderGrass and how many WinterWonderGrass festivals have you performed at since your first?

Bonnie Sims: I have played WWG events in previous years with the WinterWonderWomen so I was connected to Scotty Stoughton from those gigs. Once Big Richard started in May of 2021 and we played our first gig I knew there was a ton of potential for us on the scene. So I reached out to a handful of professional contacts I had and got Scotty on board early. WinterWonderGrass was our first big festie to book, followed quickly by RockyGrass 2022. 

STM: In your opinion, what is it that makes WinterWonderGrass so special and why do you think that the four of you, along with the other artists, all try to return each year?

BS: WinterWonderGrass has a special group of fans that support it. At so many of our shows that we’ve played, people have come up and said, “We saw you at WinterWonderGrass!” so we knew it was a powerful fan-building festival. It’s also a serious party, and our very own Dr. Joy Adams (Skiboi) wishes she could ski at every festival so this one will stay on the books as long as we can keep doing it. 

STM: From an artist’s perspective, what is the WinterWonderGrass weekend in Steamboat Springs like for you?

BS: It’s a whirlwind, we end up seeing a lot of our friends playing music which is always fun. We also get roped into a fair amount of sit-ins, so you never know who’s gonna pull you onstage that you’ll get to jam with. 

STM: Does prepping for your set at WinterWonderGrass differ from your typical pre-show preparations at non-winter/outdoor venues? Do you try to pull inspiration from the surrounding mountain landscape when assembling your set-list?

BS: As a Colorado band I think the mountains and our gorgeous Colorado landscape is always a factor and driving force in our creativity. We prep for this festie a lot like the others though, we get ready to ROCK and put a fun set together of things people have loved and new things we want to try. 

STM: Do you have a favorite WinterWonderGrass memory that you can share?

BS: Riding the gondola up to the mountain to play our morning set and just getting to soak in the mountain scenery is a powerful moment. It’s also a nice little moment of peace and quiet that sets you up to really be present at the festie and soak in the whole experience. It’s a good energetic reminder. 

STM: Which other artists are you most looking forward to seeing perform at this year’s WinterWonderGrass? Are there any other artists that you’re hoping you’ll get a chance to play with?

BS: This lineup is packed with friends for us, so there’s a lot of folks who we’ll be jammin’ with and watching their sets. The Stringdusters, Daniel, Mama Magnolia, Lil Smokies, Lindsay, Pixie, Trout Steak, AJ Lee—we really love all the bands on the lineup. 

STM: You all as individuals are well-established career musicians prior to the formation of Big Richard. What inspired the four of you to combine as a quartet, and how has performing as a group differed from your solo endeavors?

BS: The formation of Big Richard was very casual at first - we were just gonna play a one-off festival set, but the musical and energetic connection was too powerful for us to not try to make a serious go of it as a band. The group dynamic really lends itself to highlighting each member’s skill and each of us facilitate between being the focus and playing an equally important support role so the others can really shine. 

STM: You guys have been on tour all of 2022, you released a new live album earlier this year along with a handful of singles, and 2023 will likely be an even busier year for you all. What motivates you all to continue writing music and growing as a band while managing your fast-paced schedule?

BS: The fans really motivate us to keep learning and writing new material, there are so many people who come to all of our shows and we want to keep growing musically as a group and giving them something to look forward to that’s unique at each show. We are also starting to find our groove as a writing group, which is so exciting creatively, so we keep making time to experiment with that. 

STM: What are some of Big Richard’s goals for 2023?

BS: Our goals are recording a kick ass studio album, and expanding our team to include a producer and label. We’re playing some incredible shows and festivals, so we’re getting really excited for our 2023 season. Come see us at the Boulder Theater on April 8th! We’ll be there with our fellow WinterWonderGrass artists AJ Lee & Blue Summit.

To learn more about the upcoming Colorado 10-year anniversary of WinterWonderGrass, visit: 

To learn more about Big Richard, visit:

WinterWonderGrass 2022, Steamboat Springs, CO. Courtesy of WinterWonderGrass Festival / Molly McCormick.