When you open yourself to something new, opportunities seem to open themselves to you. At least, that’s how I felt when I met Sarah Bauer at a Conifer coffee shop to hear about her musical journey, including her band, Sarah Bauer Band, and Grass on the Gulch Bluegrass Music Festival, an event she started that in turn launched that band project.
“We started Grass on the Gulch in 2020,” recalls Sarah. “I grew up going to festivals, and live and thrive off of live music. And COVID year—no music.” A few years before, Sarah and her husband had left the Denver area to fulfill their dream of ranch life in Conifer. Their property is 80 acres, and they were able to safely host 200 guests for the first Grass on the Gulch concert. “It was a small thing. And that’s where my band was born.”
Doc Whan, along with a few other members of Blood Wolf Moon, recruited Sarah to form the Sarah Bauer Band, and continuing Grass on the Gulch became, if nothing else, an opportunity for the community to come together for a good time and live music—not the least of which were Sarah Bauer Band performances. “The event has actually doubled every year,” Sarah says. This year, thousands of guests, mostly from the 285 Corridor, are expected to attend. “The word’s getting around. It’s the first year I’ve gotten other people involved in planning.”
This year’s Grass on the Gulch, which just ran August 11-13, featured local favorites like The Wrecklunds, Jax Jordening, Blood Brothers, and Sarah’s band, plus other Colorado groups like Big Hooray Bluegrass, Cousin Curtiss, High Road Home, and Trouble Bound. “We had 10 bands play—four on Friday, five on Saturday, and Sunday is a bluegrass gospel set.” Festival attendees are welcome to camp on the property for all three days of music, which adds to the community feel. “We keep it free to attend, and couldn’t do it without our sponsors like Conifer Community Church, Snowpack Taproom, DI4U Creations, Sunbelt Rentals, Conifer Gutter, Best Awning, Spectrum Electric and June McKenzie at RE/Max,” all of which are Conifer businesses.
Not only has Grass on the Gulch grown exponentially, but Sarah Bauer Band—comprised of Sarah, Doc on vocals and guitar, John Kendal on vocals and guitar, Bob Brown on bass, Taylor Mead on drums, Jay Genender on fiddle and Don Bush on keyboards and percussion—is solidifying themselves as a mountain-area favorite, hitting the hotspots in all of the mountain towns, with a devoted Conifer fan base following them from show-to-show. They have an upcoming performance at The Woodcellar in Evergreen on Saturday, August 25 at 8 pm.
Sarah says she never anticipated launching a music festival, nor did she have plans to front a honky-tonk-americana-bluegrass band. “When I was little, singing was all I wanted to do, but I had stage fright,” she says. She spent her school years singing in choirs, but always felt too nervous to break out on her own. “I think it took getting older, feeling comfortable in my own skin. And my husband encourages me a lot.”
Though Sarah Bauer Band formed at the first Grass on the Gulch, Sarah and Doc knew each other through church. “I’ve always led worship at church, but Doc said, ‘No, you should be in a band!’” This encouragement warmed Sarah to the idea, so that when the other talented musicians stepped forward, she was ready to rise to the challenge, musically expanding, not only with the band, but accepting an invitation to lead worship for the Easter sunrise service at Red Rocks.
She also co-writes some of Sarah Bauer Band’s original music with Doc. “Songwriting is new to me, but I’m enjoying it. Doc has a studio at his house, so we try to play at least once a week—try to record once a month, at least.” Their debut EP came out last October, and with enough music for a full-length album, they’ll be releasing more soon.
You can listen to Sarah Bauer Band and get more information and showtimes at
sarahbauerband.com or follow along on Instagram at @sarahbauerband. For more information on Grass on the Gulch 2024, keep watch at grassonthegulch.com.