North Adams, MA -- FreshGrass, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MASS MoCA) 3-day bluegrass and roots music festival, announces the first round of bands set to play its annual September festival, with headliner the Punch Brothers, a late-night hoedown by Leftover Salmon, Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester, I’m With Her featuring Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan, festival favorite Alison Brown, Peter Rowan, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Flatt Lonesome, Darol Anger’s Mr. Sun, Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem, and 2014 FreshGrass Award winners Twisted Pine and Quiles & Cloud. FreshGrass, to be held on September 18-20, 2015, features bluegrass traditionalists and trailblazers on four stages and throughout every nook and cranny of its 28-building, 16-acre campus.
FreshGrass, nominated for “Event of the Year” last year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, is three days of concerts, pop-up performances, instrument and industry workshops, and a bounty of Berkshire harvest-season food and spirits. The event takes over the entire museum campus, including all courtyards, galleries, and spaces in between. Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Music Program and Happy Traum’s Homespun Tapes return to lead workshops in which festival-pickers can fine-tune fiddling skills and learn from bluegrass veterans about the inner workings of songwriting, producing, and marketing music. No Depression, the leading online community for roots music returns, as does The Fretboard Journal, the boutique magazine for guitar, mandolin, and stringed instrument players. Top it all off with Compass Records’ pop-up record store, luthier workshops, and a group of entrepreneurial start-ups called FreshSeeds, and FreshGrass 2015 is off to its best start yet – and it’s only February.
“The FreshGrass community has really taken root over the past three years. From banjo and fiddle workshops to downtown camping, late-night dance parties, and pop-up performances in the galleries, everyone seems to find a special niche here,” says MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson. “And that doesn’t even touch on the great music itself, which is some of the most exciting new work being made and played today.”
The festival continues to promote fresh takes on the tradition of bluegrass music with the growth of its FreshGrass Award, a music contest judged by industry professionals, featuring up to $25,000 in cash prizes and recording time at Compass Records’ studio in Nashville for the winners. The annual categories have been expanded to include band, duo, and banjo, and now the fiddle category, new for FreshGrass 2015. FreshGrass Award-winners also earn a main-stage slot at the 2016 FreshGrass festival. Grammy Award-winner banjoist Alison Brown returns to judge the contest for the third year, saying, “I grew up playing banjo in a hot bed of banjo contests… and I think that’s an important part of the tradition because it gives young players a chance to get on stage and test out their tunes, and get their legs on stage; you get used to playing in front of an audience. It was huge for me, and so I was really happy to see FreshGrass incorporate that aspect into the festival.” The FreshGrass Award is funded by the newly formed FreshGrass Foundation, whose mission is to promote, produce, and create innovative grassroots music.
In addition to the contest, workshops, and the festival’s legendary jam sessions — during which professional musicians pick and play among the crowd, many of whom bring their own instruments — festival events include children's programming and camping, located a short distance from MASS MoCA’s campus. Admission to MASS MoCA's galleries is included with a festival pass, and festival-goers enjoy dozens of pop-up concerts set among dramatically scaled exhibitions of contemporary art.
Advance 3-day adult tickets are now available for $93, with free admission for kids under six. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount on festival ticket prices. Single-day tickets may be offered closer to the event, as space allows. FreshGrass details will be updated on the festival website, FreshGrass.com, and on Facebook at FreshGrass Festival. FreshGrass is held rain or shine.
MASS MoCA is one of the world's liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today's most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
During the winter and spring, MASS MoCA's galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition reopens April 15, 2015. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MassMoCA.org. Tickets are available online here.