As the day’s activities came to a close Friday afternoon at Loudy-Simpson Park, the carvers of Whittle the Wood and the people watching them craft works of art from old trees needed the chance to kick back, relax and enjoy some tunes.
Carvers and spectators alike got just the serenade they needed as Whitewater Ramble took the stage. The Fort Collins-based band quickly filled the air that had been heavy with sawdust and the noise of carving equipment with the sounds of their unique tunes.
The Front Range group focuses on the soulful sounds of bluegrass with their own regional twist, resulting in what they describe as “Rocky Mountain dancegrass.”
Whitewater Ramble’s repertoire is representative of the vast array of influences held by its five-member roster, said Guitarist Patrick Latella.
“We’re influenced by everything from classic rock to post-punk,” he said.
The crowd of hundreds was quickly grooving to the group’s performance, which included songs from their recently released album, “Roots & Groove,” such as “Dear Mr. Bankman,” “Standard Deviation” and a cover of U2’s “One Tree Hill.”
“We do a lot of Grateful Dead covers, too,” mandolin player Patrick Sites said.
The new album has been well received by critics and longtime fans, but few things compare to playing live venues, Site said.
“It’s great because we get to see people experiencing it,” he said. “The whole state of Colorado we do well in, especially in the ski towns.”
The band will be performing around the state throughout the month of June, stopping at Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Gunnison and Denver before the month is done.
Whitewater Ramble’s show is just the first in the Whittle the Wood musical lineup, which continues today with performances by country-rock act The Michael D Band and alternative rockers Cracker.
This is the second year the event has offered multiple days of music, as well as the second year it’s been held at Loudy-Simpson. Craig Parks & Recreation worker Jessi Moser said the change has worked well.
“There’s so much more room here to wander around and look at the carvers and listen to the music,” she said. “It’s also easier to clean up. It’s great for the community to be able to come out here and people are really excited about tomorrow.”
Though few people had complaints about a greater number of musical acts, some still prefer Whittle the Wood’s former location at Craig City Park.
“You didn’t have to drive as far to the park, or you could walk home, that’s what bothers me,” Craig resident Chad Lawton said. “So far, it’s still been good and it’s been a pretty nice day here.”
Still some attendees like the wider spaces afforded by holding the event at Loudy-Simpson, as well as the extended musical schedule. Brenda Whiteside and her family have come from Hayden regularly for each Whittle the Wood event for the past several years.
“It’s a major weekend for some people, and I think it’s great that they have music on both days now,” she said. “They’ve really stepped it up from where it was when it started, and they always get really good bands.”
Whitegrass said she’ll definitely be in attendance for the Whittle the Wood finale today, which includes judging on the carvings and plenty more live music.
“We definitely want to see which one of the carvers wins, and I think Cracker’s going to be awesome,” she said.