4848 Festival headliners Greensky Bluegrass love Snowshoe as a venue—here’s why.
Photography by Dylan Langille
If you’ve never been to the 4848 Festival, you’re missing out on one of the premier music gatherings in West Virginia. There’s still time to check it out this year—the fourth 4848 takes place at Snowshoe Mountain Resort July 13–15. We caught up with Paul Hoffman, who plays a mean mandolin for headliners Greensky Bluegrass, to talk about the band’s ties to the Mountain State and what makes Snowshoe a great festival venue.
The Sky is Always Greener
Greensky Bluegrass brings serious talent to a mix of genres, all layered on a bluegrass base—“a psychedelic rock band that plays bluegrass instruments,” says Hoffman. “Or maybe a bluegrass band that plays psychedelic rock music.” Whatever their genre, they’re just the kind of jam band that transports a field full of people to music festival bliss every time. The five-member band—banjo, guitar, mandolin, dobro, and upright bass—got its start in Michigan in 2000 and now has eight studio albums to its credit. Listen to “Stress Dreams” and “Grow Together” from the 2022 album Stress Dreams to get a feel for their vibe.
Greensky has special ties to West Virginia. “The first out-of-state gig we ever took was at the Purple Fiddle, in Thomas,” Hoffman says. That was in 2004, almost 20 years ago. “Around that time, there was a story on the Purple Fiddle in The Washington Post, and it felt like a big deal. We played there a lot after that.” They also played at the storied All Good Music Festival at Marvin’s Mountaintop outside Morgantown and elsewhere in the early 2010s.
That’s how they got to know All Good Presents founder Tim Walther. They loved working with Walther and, since 2019, All Good and Greensky have co-organized 4848—named for the altitude at Snowshoe.
If you’re wondering why a band goes to the trouble of organizing a festival when they could just show up and play, it’s obvious as soon as you hear the answer. “Normally at a festival, there would be bands that I’m not familiar with,” Hoffman says. “We booked all these bands. It gives us a chance to invite people that we enjoy collaborating with.” For the Greensky fan, it’s a tour of the band’s collective mind, an immersive three-day experience of some of its closest friends and influences.
These guys have been playing the festival circuit for the better part of two decades, and they love Snowshoe—not least for the climate. “The first time we did the event, we’d been playing everywhere, and it was like 100 degrees,” Hoffman says. “We showed up at Snowshoe, and it was this pleasant 75.”
Compared with WinterWonderGrass at the famed Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado, Hoffman raves about the way 4848’s stages take in the wide mountaintop views. “In Colorado, the village is at the base of the mountain,” he says. “At Snowshoe, it’s on the ridge. It’s so beautiful up there. To the east, it’s the national forest, and to both east and west you get sunrises and sunsets over the valleys.”
It’s a perfect set-up for a music festival, he says. “All the lodging is right on-site, including camping down the hill, and the bars and restaurants are all right there.” Music takes place in the middle of everything, starting with lunchtime sets at the dock on Shavers Lake. “You can ride the lift down there and get a view of the valley. It’s a mellower songwriter thing you can enjoy while eating lunch or swimming, or between swims.”
One of the two main stages is in the ski village, conveniently overlooked by many of the room balconies. 4848 also offers a perspective you don’t find anywhere else. “A zipline runs through the center of the village,” Hoffman says. “One of my bandmates rode it during a friend’s set. That’s an activity you can enjoy only at 4848—I’ve never seen a zipline across the concert ground.”
The festival brings lots of its own pizzazz, Hoffman says. “There’s fireworks, there’s this dance troupe that comes in to do burlesque-style circus dancing with flame shooting, sword swallowing, stilts. Tim Walther has a playful, imaginative style—he’s in it for the love of music and fun.”
And beyond that, summer recreation at Snowshoe goes from ahh to adrenaline: golf and water sports, hiking and scenic lift rides, clay shooting, horseback riding, off-roading, and truly world-class mountain biking. If you don’t get your fill during the festival, you can stay an extra day or two.
Greensky will play long sets Friday and Saturday nights. Asked what else festivalgoers can look forward to this year, Hoffman enthuses about the line-up. “I’m excited to have our friends Umphrey’s McGee back—they’ve done this event before, and they’re the other headliner,” he says. “Cory Wong, he’s an incredible guitar player, it’s his first time this year. Keyboardist Holly Bowling, she’s played almost 50 shows with us.”
Many of the bands have opened for them in other places: Kitchen Dwellers, Ryan Montbleau, Daniel Donato. “Sierra Farrell is playing with us this year. Wolf! is the only band I haven’t seen before; that’s with Scott Metzger from JRAD”—Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, which covers a lot of Grateful Dead. There’s lots more—17 bands in all. “I’m excited for all of it.”
Tickets for the three-day festival start at $295 for adults and $85 for kids ages 4 to 12, with add-on packages for activities, tent and RV camping, and a wide range of lodging.
For Hoffman, 4848 is a return to some of the band’s earliest roots. “West Virginia has been part of our story since the beginning,” he says. “It’s great to be able to throw a festival there.”