It’s opening night under the striped tent of MeadowGrass festival last Memorial Day weekend, and as headliners Woodshed Red take the stage, fans in the front are already dancing in anticipation of their first song—before a note is even played.
The Westside Colorado Springs-based band has been steadily building a dedicated fan base over the last six years in town, and now increasingly throughout the state. Known for dynamic live sets, Woodshed Red combines bluegrass, fiddle and funk to reinvent songs from across a variety of genres and make something uniquely theirs. The songs “noodle and flow like a river,” says frontman Rob Fulton.
The band formed in 2013, with Fulton on guitar and vocals, Deirdre McCarthy on fiddle and vocals, Craig Haughton on upright bass, and Skye Lewis on drums plus a fair share of vocals. Jason Gilmore, also known for playing around town with Joe Johnson and the J. Miller Band, joined on mandolin in 2017.
“It’s something that just fell together completely naturally,” Fulton says. “It never felt forced at all, but just happened on its own.”
The symbiotic ensemble has grown from regular Front Range BBQ shows—where they still draw quite the dancing crowd—to headlining this year’s MeadowGrass, opening for Leftover Salmon at its Boogie at the Broadmoor fest, and selling out Stargazers Theatre as headliners.
“The town of Colorado Springs has really been very kind to us and so supportive,” Fulton says. “It makes it easy to enjoy what you do when you get all this energy and passion and positive feedback from the community. It keeps us going.”
Literally. When the band’s trailer full of all their musical equipment was stolen from in front of Fulton’s house (someone was caught, but nothing was ever recovered), the community rallied around them with a GoFundMe page that allowed them to replenish the tools of their livelihood.
The band has released two albums, most recently Live in Manitou in 2018. Their live shows have a reputation for bringing a rollicking blend of originals and cover songs from across a head-turning range of styles. They recently covered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon at Cervantes’ Other Side in Denver. “We clocked in at about half the time the album itself takes to play, because we put everything to a bluegrass rhythm,” McCarthy says with a laugh.
And the band regularly puts its own spin on songs as varied as “I Am the Walrus” (The Beatles), “Ramble On” (Led Zeppelin) and “Tighten Up” (The Black Keys). “We just cover songs that we like,” Fulton explains. “We look for a hip chord change and a groove we can improvise on.”
Bluegrass is known for improvisational jams, but the band often discards or radically alters its set list while on stage, based on the energy in the venue. “With this band, I’ve really learned to adapt to the energy and be in tune with what’s happening now,” Fulton says.
So is the band ready to break out beyond Colorado? “We’ve always waited for the right opportunity to string together a tour beyond Colorado,” Fulton says. He adds that the band hopes to find a way to do that in the future as their audience continues to grow.
“So far it’s been an awesome opportunity to get to play regularly in a lot of different parts of the state,” McCarthy says. “I feel like it took a life of its own, and I’ve been along for the ride.”
Upcoming Woodshed Red Shows
Get your groove-jam on with Woodshed Red at one of their many local shows. Follow their concert schedule on Facebook.