FreshGrass Festival draws mountain music


NORTH ADAMS -- Offering an eclectic -- but talented -- mix of cutting-edge and traditional Bluegrass music, the third annual FreshGrass Festival promises a host of musical experiences for both the casual music fan and Bluegrass fanatics.

The event is scheduled for Friday to Sunday at Mass MoCA on Marshall Street.

This year, a total of 25 bands from throughout the Bluegrass world are schedule to play, according to Mass MoCA spokesman Jodi Joseph.

These include jam-band masters and Bluegrass top sellers the Del McCoury Band, Bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley, emerging stars The Infamous Stringdusters and folk-punk Californians Devil Makes Three.

"We've got every iteration of the genre covered," said Joseph, "from Bluegrass to ‘new grass.' "

A late addition to the lineup, said Joseph, was The Wandering Rocks from Williamstown. They were just announced this week as the festival opener.

"We are honored beyond belief to be playing FreshGrass," said Karl Mullen, a spokesman for The Wandering Rocks. "Artists like Del McCoury and Ralph Stanley were our heroes when we were growing up. We're very excited to be on the same bill with them."

In addition to the music itself, the festival offers what organizers term "family programming." This is children's music, including a set from Dan Zanes.

Zanes is better known to older music fans as the driving force behind the iconic Boston-based The Del Fuegos. But Zanes has, for more than a decade, performed and recorded several children's CDs.

This year, festival organizers have also set aside a downtown camping area at the city's Noel Field Athletic Complex about a mile from Mass MoCA.

Ticket sales, said Joseph, have been "extremely strong." The festival expects to host more than 2,000 concertgoers over the three-day weekend, she said.

About half the tent sites at the Noel Field Complex are sold, she said.

"We're finding that people are coming and staying the whole weekend," she said. In addition to the tenting area, a number of local hotels have reported elevated reservation numbers for the weekend.

The increased number of bands, coupled with a corresponding jump in ticket sales, has moved festival organizers to add a fourth stage on the sprawling Mass MoCA campus.

Another new wrinkle at this year's festival will be a total of $10,000 in prize money -- The FreshGrass Awards -- for new and original Bluegrass bands.

The six semifinalists have already been chosen, according to the Mass MoCA website. On the last morning of the festival, all six bands will each perform a brief set for a panel of judges (and the audience) and a winner and runners-up will be chosen.

In addition to a $5,000 first prize, the overall winner will receive recording time at a Nashville studio and a slot in the 2014 festival.

If you go ...

What: FreshGrass festival
of bluegrass music

Groups include ...

Sam Bush

Devil Makes Three

Deadly Gentlemen


Sarah Jarosz

Del McCoury

Leftover Salmon

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Wood Brothers

The Lone Bellow

Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys

Bill Evans

Jerry Douglas

Alison Brown

Edgar Meyer and Mike Marshall

Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell

Lake Street Dive

The Gibson Brothers

Noam Pikelny and Friends

John Reischman and the Jaybirds

Elephant Revival

Darol Anger

Mandolin Orange

Where: Mass MoCA, 87 Marshall St., North Adams

When: Friday to Sunday

Admission: Day passes $18- $38; three-day passes $38-$78

Information: Complete
schedule of the performers,


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