The third annual FreshGrass festival rolls into MASS MoCA in North Adams for three days next month, Friday-Sunday, September 20-22. One of several new spins on this year’s FreshGrass is the inaugural band contest, the FreshGrass Award.
Six finalists have been selected from more than 50 band entries that were submitted. The finalists were selected by a panel of judges that included FreshGrass performer Alison Brown, FreshGrass executive producer Chris Wadsworth, Berklee School of Music String Instrument Department Head Matt Glaser and MASS MoCA Curator of Performing Arts Rachel Chanoff.
The six finalists will perform live at FreshGrass on Sunday morning, September 22, as they compete for $10,000 in cash prizes as well as a Nashville recording session in Compass Records studios with mentoring by banjoist-record label head Alison Brown.
Here’s the line-up of the six FreshGrass Award finalists:
SIX DEADLY VENOMS
New York City-based sextet Six Deadly Venoms are as adventurous as they are bluegrass-literate; smartly arranged traditionals are seasoned with jazz-inspired melodic explorations.
THE VICKIE VAUGHN BAND
Vickie Vaughn is Nashville to the core, with a tremendous country warble, endless youthful energy and a band of crisp harmonizers.
CRICKET TELL THE WEATHER
The music of Brooklyn’s Cricket Tell the Weather is full of twists, turns and surprise influences. One moment speedy and swinging, the next luxurious and lilting.
MOLLY TUTTLE, JOHN MAILANDER & ETHAN JODZIEWICZ
A classically trained bluegrass convert, an unusually gifted poet/flat-picker and a dynamic fiddle phenom, this trio is an amazing chemical reaction whose sound is even larger than the sum of its parts.
THE LONELY HEARTSTRING BAND
With influences ranging from bluegrass to the Beatles, the Lonely Heartstring’s sound incorporates pop stylings and a foundation of deep technical ability and tasteful solo-swapping.
These five musicians, who come together from all across the country to nurture their tremendous musical talent, are evidence that the next generation of bluegrass is in mighty good hands.