NORTH ADAMS — The blazing banjo, soaring fiddle and high-energy lyrical talents of Old Crow Medicine Show will soon be heard echoing through the Hoosac Valley when they play at FreshGrass this September.
Old Crow is one of more than a dozen bands and performers announced by Mass MoCA for this year's festival, and, even more, will be announced at a later date.
Other performers slated for the celebrated three-day event include Glen Hansard, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, The Devil Makes Three, Rosanne Cash, The Infamous Stringdusters, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Aoife O'Donovan, Alison Brown, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Stephane Wrembel, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Mr. Sun, and the 2015 FreshGrass Award winners Old Salt Union, Zoe & Cloyd, and Mile Twelve.
"Old Crow, Cash, Hansard, Skaggs, The 'Dusters and Frank Solivan — one of the hardest working guys in bluegrass — and that's just for starters," said Joseph Thompson, director of Mass MoCA, in a prepared release. "FreshGrass presents one of the liveliest and all-encompassing lineups of any music festival in the nation. Musical chops, songwriting innovation, community participation, great food and drink in a really beautiful arts complex — all that makes for a special weekend, and we are so proud to host this flagship event in North Adams."
This will be the sixth incarnation of the annual event, which has grown from an audience of about 400 over two days during its first year to a crowd of more than 5,000 people for what is now a three-day event.
Old Crow Medicine Show, a six-piece bluegrass band, which got its start busking on streetcorners in 1998 in New York state and across Canada. Members eventually found themselves in Boone, N.C., where they caught the attention of folk icon Doc Watson, who invited the band to play at his festival, MerleFest.
The band has gone on to receive the honor of being inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry, has won two Grammy Awards — most recently for Best Folk Album for their record, Remedy (2014), and their classic single, "Wagon Wheel" — and received RIAA's Platinum certification in 2013 for selling over 1 million copies. This will be their first appearance FreshGrass.
The band has toured the world playing festivals and venues such as Bonnaroo, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Cambridge Folk Festival, Coachella, London's Roundhouse, The Ryman Auditorium, The Barclays Center, New Orleans Jazz Fest, The Fox Theater Atlanta, The Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Summerstage in Central Park NYC, and several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion.
They've toured with artists such as Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Willie Nelson, John Prine, and The Avett Brothers.
They've also recorded two songs, "Wagon Wheel" and "Sweet Amarillo," which were co-written with Bob Dylan.
In 2011 Old Crow performed on the historic Railroad Revival Tour with Mumford & Sons, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
This tour had the bands riding a vintage train from California to New Orleans, playing shows along the way. The magic of this musical excursion across America's vast landscape is captured in the Emmet Malloy-directed documentary, "Big Easy Express."
Old Crow Medicine Show also has produced five studio albums: "O.C.M.S." (2004), "Big Iron World" (2006), "Tennessee Pusher" (2008), "Carry Me Back" (2012), and "Remedy" (2014).
The FreshGrass festival also aims to nurture new directions for bluegrass music with 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 include band, duo, banjo and fiddle, adding over 20 performances to the festival lineup throughout the weekend.
This year's FreshGrass Award winners will earn a mainstage slot at the 2017 FreshGrass festival. The FreshGrass Award prizes are funded by the FreshGrass Foundation, whose mission is to promote, produce, and create innovative grassroots music and support emerging artists.
"Great music, strong community, preservation, and advancement will always be the guiding lights of FreshGrass," said Chris Wadsworth, festival producer. "With the success of the FreshGrass awards and FreshScores, we offer our audience a singular festival experience and access to truly innovative ideas in grassroots music."
The event also will feature films, workshops, children's programming and the festival's legendary jam sessions, in which professional musicians pick and play among the crowd, many of whom bring their own instruments.
Art is on view all weekend, as admission to Mass MoCA's galleries is included with every festival pass, and festival-goers enjoy dozens of pop-up concerts set among dramatically scaled exhibitions of contemporary art.
There will be camping a short distance from Mass MoCA's campus.
Advance three-day adult tickets are now available for $96, with student tickets priced at $86, $46 for kids 6-16, and free admission for kids 5 and under. Mass MoCA members receive a 10 percent 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.