Carolina Chocolate Drops to headline FreshGrass Festival at Mass MoCA


NORTH ADAMS -- FreshGrass organizers say expanded workshops, demonstrations, and more will be coming to the fourth annual festival at Mass MoCA.

The three-day bluegrass festival, will take place Sept. 19-21, will feature at least 18 acts. These include Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush, and The Infamous Stringdusters. Included in the ticket price is admission to the museum galleries.

"It's really a lovely group of people excited about music," Mass MoCA Deputy Director Larry Smallwood said Tuesday. "To see little kids and your retired folks in RVs all at the same festival is kind of a great environment."

Returning to MoCA will be The Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band headlining opening night, Smallwood said.

"They were here a couple years ago and people absolutely loved them," he said. "Last year, the No. 1 question we got was if they are coming back."

Additional acts will be rolled out early this summer, Smallwood said. Festival details will be updated on the festival website,, and on Facebook at FreshGrass Festival.

"A bluegrass weekend that spans The Gibson Brothers to Sam Amidon, The Carolina Chocolate Drops to Rodney Crowell," Mass MoCA Director Joseph Thompson said in a release. "That's our kind of festival, positioned just on the cusp of New England's fall foliage season."

Returning for a second year will be the FreshGrass award, a music contest judged by industry professionals with $15,000 in cash prizes and recording time at Compass Records studio in Nashville for the winner. Last year's winner, Cricket Tell the Weather, will take the stage for a full set this year.

"This year, we're expanding it into three categories, which we're really excited about," Smallwood said. "We're going to have separate contests for bands, duos and solo banjos."

Children will be able to take part in age-appropriate activities with Kidspace, Smallwood said, and people of all ages will be able to grab a drink or a bite to eat from one of the food vendors.

"We're hoping to add workshops on Friday this year," Smallwood said. "Last year they were only on Saturday and Sunday."

Organizers are also planning for additional pop-up performances around the museum campus, as well as expanded camping and luthier demonstrations.

Attendance at last year's festival was about 4,000, Smallwood said, double what it was previously, and organizers hope it continues to grow.

"The FreshGrass community has really taken root over the past two years. And this festival is the heart and soul of it," Producer Chris Wadsworth said in a release. "Great music, a strong community, preservation and advancement -- those are the guiding lights of this festival. The audience has responded."

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What: FreshGrass bluegrass festival

When: Sept. 19-21

Where: Mass MoCA

Passes: Adults $87; students $77; kids 7-16, $43; children under 6, free; museum members receive a 10 percent discount on full-price tickets.

More information:, and on Facebook at FreshGrass Festival


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