Talking WinterWonderWomen with Megan Letts

Have you heard of Megan Letts yet? If not, you will soon. She’s hard to miss these days - making a huge showing in the music scene in Colorado and beyond. Megan is the frontwoman for Mama Magnolia and the day to day manager for The Motet; she sings, plays piano and trumpet and seems to be the first call for all the superjams in Denver lately.

Megan has also been a big part of the WinterWonderGrass community since 2015, when she came on to record and archive every set at every Festival, using her expertise as the studio and record label manager at Immersive Studios and later Immersive Records.

As with many of the WWG staff, she grew and changed and adapted to several roles at the Festival from there doing ticketing, marketing and eventually, artist relations, where her passion lies - being an artist herself and being a music manager, she understands the importance of making sure artists are warm and taken care of.

One of the huge benefits of the WWG community is that there is room to grow into roles and really shine. Not just artists, but as participants in the larger community and efforts to put on an event in freezing temps and rain and snow. Which leads us to the point of this sit-down with Megan, the amazing new supergroup called WinterWonderWomen.

HG: How did WinterWonderWomen come to be?

ML: It all started with a conversation between Bridget Law and myself about how being women in a generally male-dominated music scene can be empowering and also frustrating. Knowing your instrument and coming to the table with knowledge is really powerful, but you also look around the room and wonder why you’re the only woman there.”

Last year, the first year in Vermont, Bridget Law (of Elephant Revival) was getting geared up for her Bridget Law & Friends set, which tapped, Lindsay Lou and Megan, in addition to Jay Cobb Anderson (Fruition) & Craig Brodhead (Turkuaz). This was pop-up and unrehearsed with songs they knew, and very female focused. WWG Founder Scotty Stoughton saw the set and was immediately called to action to make this a more regular occurrence. There was magic there, and despite WinterWonderGrass’ women-heavy lineups, entire sets that are women-focused just don’t happen often. He gave them a few slots (each day?) to perform at WinterWonderGrass in Steamboat this year as the WinterWonderWomen.

Megan and Bridget immediately set to work, forming a band that included Tiffany Christopher, an incredible guitar player from Denver. The idea is to have a few consistent women who curate the set, picking songs to highlight the core members, and make space for some of the other women present on the WinterWonderGrass lineups, including Pixie & Party Grass (Katya and Amanda), The Shook Twins, Lindsay Lou, Mimi Naja (Fruition) and more.

HG: This was a special moment in time. Let’s be real, super jams are standard by now, but it’s very rare that you look up and every single person on the stage is a woman. Megan and Bridget really set out with this project with the intention of letting these women shine.

ML: “It was such a hit! People were packing it out. Having a full female band and feeling that energy was intense and powerful. Every single woman on that stage is a crusher, and holds their own. Usually working with men, and often having to work twice as hard to be noticed on the scene. Bringing all that energy together on stage was other-wordly. That was the first time I had ever felt that.”

Steamboat was amazing and then we set about to plan the sets for Squaw. These last sets of the WWG season featured some of the same tunes from Steamboat, and added even more. We did a Tram Jam up into the mountains of Squaw Valley. How fun to sing Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” right into a Reverend Gary Davis tune, “I Belong to the Band”.

HG: Having done both WinterWonderGrass, and Bonfire Entertainment’s summer Festival, Campout for the Cause, how do you see the community translate between the two?

ML: My first Campout was in 2015, recording sets, working artist hospitality, and performing with Reed Foehl and Schleppin’ Wolf. The way I see it, the hive mind of WinterWonderGrass is so powerful that it can be translated into any situation. Campout is a huge exhale for everyone involved - an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done over the past year, and to breathe together.

WinterWonderGrass… it’s cold, it’s extreme! Campout is sunshine, and being surrounded by the community of people around you who you’ve spent these cold winter nights with at WonderGrass. It’s some of the same music, the same staff, and the same vibe, just with a different backdrop.

Two years ago when Mama Magnolia played Campout, I had just started working with The Motet at 7S Management. Our performance was the same night that The Motet was headlining Red Rocks so I played the last note, packed up my things and got in my car to drive to Red Rocks. I even bought a police radar to make sure no one was going to catch me as I was going 95 the whole way. I caught the first notes of The Motet’s sound, and it all hit me -- this was how important Campout was to me. I won’t miss it. I get an itch after WinterWonderGrass and Campout is the thing that can hold me over until the next winter.

HG: I feel so fortunate to have seen all the WinterWonderWomen sets this year! You ladies sure know how to put on a show. It’s an important time to celebrate women!

I need to make a point here: celebrating women is important, but including men in the conversation is just as important. We always try to include a man in the sets, because in order to succeed we need them to support and lift us. These men are out there, supporting us, and we always try to highlight them.

WinterWonderWomen is not the same lineup each set, it can change even between sets at a Festival. The core two people are Bridget Law and myself. Lindsay has also been at each one, and taken on more of the planning recently. Each lineup we look at which women are a part of the Festival, what kinds of songs we can play to highlight them -- and we ask! What songs have they been itching to play, what inspired them the last go ‘round?

Often times we have too many women to choose from, there were so many women at Steamboat you couldn’t even get all the women involved in the set. What an incredible problem to have. WWG and Campout for the Cause have always been focused on highlighting women and letting them shine, both on stage and behind the scenes. I really love the addition of the WinterWonderWomen because it allows artists and fans to engage in these really fun moments with amazing feminine energy at its core.