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FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival 2012

September 21- 23, 2012
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA
Temporarily sold out.

Day passes for Sunday available at the door. Please come!

Please add your name to our list to be notified about the FreshGrass in advance in 2013 by sending us an email here

Visit for festival details.

Our second annual FreshGrass Festival turns the whole museum into nothing short of a bluegrass amusement park. Besides a collection of bands and musicians as diverse and exciting as you'll find anywhere playing on multiple stages outside and in, we'll have pop-up performances in the galleries and under the trees, film screenings, banjo workshops, instrument building for kids, great food and drink (moonshine slushies, anyone?), and so much more. We'll even have a locally brewed FreshGrass IPA from Greenfield's The People's Pint, with local wet hops and a zesty, crisp flavor!

We're starting early in Courtyard C and going till past your bedtime with wild and wooly late night barn dances in the Hunter Center on Friday and Saturday nights. The lineup is chock-full of guitar gods and banjo gurus, traditionalists and trailblazers - artists you already love along with incredible discoveries to be made. Taken together, it's an inclusive group of performers who are both reaching back to the past and looking to the future to push this great music forward. Plus, it's all in a family friendly setting, and the biggest bargain in the festival world.

Check out the lineup below (times are subject to change) and join us for a day, a night, or the whole weekend. Bring your family and friends and share in the FreshGrass love.

  • 2:00 PM Berklee Roots Music Workshop: Kyle Tuttle, banjo workshop (rehearsal hall)
  • 3:00 PM Berklee Roots Music Workshop: Nick DiSebastian, developing group sound - vocals and all instruments welcome (rehearsal hall)
  • 4:00 PM Berklee Roots Music Workshop: Darol Anger, pre- and post-modern fiddle tactics (rehearsal hall)
  • 6:30 PM Porchlight Sessions film premiere
  • Barn Dance:
    8:00 PM Spirit Family Reunion with Morgan O'Kane 9:15 PM Infamous Stringdusters
Please note that Tony Rice will not be able to join us on Saturday. Sadly, he is seriously ill and under doctor's orders not to travel.
Festival passes $46 for adults, $26 for students, $16 for kids 6-16, and free for children under 6. Day passes for Saturday or Sunday only are $25 for adults, $15 for students, $5 for kids 6-16 and free for children under 6. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount.

About the Festival
Festival passes and day passes include gallery admission. The festival will be held rain or shine, moving inside to the Hunter Center in case of inclement weather. Festival-goers are welcome to bring blankets and cushions to sit on but should leave chairs, coolers, and picnic baskets at home. Limited bleacher seating is available on a first come/first served basis. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 AM until 5 PM every day. Read a press release about the event.

About the Artists

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
David Grisman Bluegrass Experience is one of the best-kept secrets of the Bay Area music scene. As a mandolinist, singer, and composer, Grisman has always been a pioneer. His music is a combination of hot jazz, bluegrass, and even old world Mediterranean folk. After founding a bluegrass band in 1973 called Old and in the Way with close friend Jerry Garcia (who gave him the nickname “Dawg”), Grisman created DGBX, with help from Keith Little on banjo, Jim Nunally on guitar, Chad Manning on Fiddle, and Samson Grisman on bass. Visit the artist's website.

Trampled by Turtles
Trampled by Turtles formed in Duluth, Minnesota, in 2003, and has become a crossover sensation. Within the contained music scene of Duluth, the members of the band did their own time in punk and rock bands, brandishing their electricity proudly before switching to acoustic instruments. While they never set out to be a “bluegrass” band, the members of Trampled by Turtles employ many of the same traditional techniques of the genre. Their difference in influences, attitude, and attack make for a unique sound. The band has performed at many national festivals including Coachella and Pickathon, and this summer will see the guys at Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. Their newest album, Stars and Satellites, was released in April. Visit the artist's website.

Carolina Chocolate Drops
Hailing from Durham, North Carolina, Carolina Chocolate Drops prides itself on presenting old-time fiddle and banjo-based music that is ever-evolving. The band has recently appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival, the Grand Ole Opry, the Cambridge Folk Festival in London, and as part of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan. Carolina Chocolate Drops' 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig garnered a Best Traditional Folk Album Grammy last year. The New York Times declares the band's work "an end-to-end display of excellence... They dip into styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and '30s-string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz - and beam their curiosity outward." Visit the artist's website.

Alison Brown
Although she grew up a musician, Alison Brown's career as a legendary banjoist took a detour when she pursued a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and then an MBA from UCLA. Returning to music after a stint as an investment banker, she garnered national acclaim for joining Alison Krauss' band Union Station in 1989. She has worked with other greats including Vince Gill and the Indigo Girls. Brown's solo album Simple Pleasures was nominated for a Grammy, and in 1991 she was recognized by the International Bluegrass Music Association as Banjo Player of the Year. She later started her own record company, Compass Records, with husband Garry West. Visit the artist's website.

Infamous Stringdusters
The Infamous Stringdusters' unmatched virtuosity has enabled them to take acoustic music to a completely new level. In 2007, the International Bluegrass Music Association awarded the band with Album of the Year for Fork In The Road, Song of the Year for the title track, and Emerging Artist of the Year. The band wields an expansive repertoire touching on masters from Jimmy Martin to John Hartford, but its strength lies in original compositions. Dedication to arrangements sets the Infamous Stringdusters apart, and extended improvisation makes every performance completely unique. The live experience is anti-formulaic, groove friendly, and mind-expanding - not your granddaddy's bluegrass. Unless your granddaddy was Jerry Garcia, that is. Visit the artist's website.

The Devil Makes Three
Formed and based in Santa Cruz, California, The Devil Makes Three breathes a slightly punk perspective into vintage American blues. Laced with elements of ragtime, country, folk, and rockabilly, the critically praised drummer-less trio - consisting of guitarist Pete Bernhard, stand-up bassist Lucia Turino, and guitarist Cooper McBean - brings forth a genuine approach to acoustic music that is deeply steeped in rhythm. Signed to Milan Records, the band's most recent album Stomp and Smash: Live at the Mystic Theater drew acclaim from critics and fans alike. As The Devil Makes Three gains momentum, the word is spreading to a vast array of music fans, from Deadheads to punk rockers to bluegrass barflies and beyond. Visit the artist's website.

Lonesome River Band
2012 marks 30 years that Lonesome River Band has been making bluegrass music together. The band's 2010 album Still Learning made Bluegrass Music Profile's top 10 list, while its 2008 album No Turning Back hit number one on Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine's top 15 album chart. The band is currently comprised of Sammy Shelor on banjo, Brandon Rickman on vocals and guitar, Mike Hartgrove on fiddle, Barry Read on bass, and Randy Jones on vocals and mandolin. Shelor recently received fellow musician/actor Steve Martin's award for excellence in bluegrass and banjo, which was presented to him on The Late Show with David Lettermen, prior to a collaborative performance by Lonesome River Band with Steve Martin on banjo. Visit the artist's website.

Joy Kills Sorrow
With its bold new brand of acoustic music, Joy Kills Sorrow pushes right through the envelope and out the other side. The Boston-based stringband brings a decidedly modern sensibility to an old-world sound, channeling the prodigious talents of its individual members into elegant arrangements and well-crafted songs. Boasting a full arsenal of original songs, Joy Kills Sorrow plumbs the entire spectrum of its spare instrumentation, effortlessly merging influences as diverse as folk, rock, pop, and jazz. The songs that emerge are dark and often funny, ruminating on modern life and love with wit. The result is a radical new strain of folk music that bravely breaks with tradition even as it salutes the past. Visit the artist's website.

Cahalen Morrison and Eli West
The roots of Cahalen Morrison and Eli West are strong, their branches are shady, and their guitars, banjos, mandolins, bouzoukis, and harmonies will carry you far off the beaten path to a place under open Western skies. After only knowing each other for two years, Morrison and West have bred a new sound, complete with old-time music, bluegrass, and original songwriting. Morrison blends American roots music with the dusty sounds of rural New Mexico, where he grew up, and West is a multi-instrumentalist with bluegrass roots and a distinctive sound. Together they have toured the United States, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Visit the artist's website.

Spirit Family Reunion
The old-timey music of Brooklyn-based Spirit Family Reunion is a fresh twist on country charm. Band members include Nick Panken on vocals and acoustic guitar; Maggie Carson on vocals and five string banjo; Stephen Weinheimer on vocals, bass drum, washboard, and tambourine; Mat Davidson on fiddle and accordion; Ken Woodward on vocals and bass, and Peter Pezzimenti on vocals and drums. From humble beginnings of singing in New York City subway stations, the band is now on the rise: Spirit Family Reunion has performed with rockers Alabama Shakes and indie group David Wax Museum, and Paste Magazine included Spirit Family Reunion on their Best of What's Next list. Indie music blog Love at First Listen compares Spirit Family Reunion's sound to Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and The Band - high praise for certain. Visit the artist's website.

Morgan O'Kane
Every so often, just when you think the well is dry and the tradition is dead, you are gratefully reminded that there is still water down there and that the tradition was only sleeping. Morgan O'Kane from Charlottesville, Virginia, is one of those reminders. A virtuoso banjo player, shouter, and activist now based in New York City, Morgan recalls two other transplanted legendary southern artists: Rev. Davis and Aunt Molly Jackson. Like Rev. Davis, O'Kane honed his skills by making a living as a busking street artist. Like Aunt Molly, he has kept his connection to his Appalachian home, taking part in the campaign to ban mountaintop removal mining. O'Kane clearly knows his way around the old tunes, but he is more interested in creating his own. That's how the tradition survives: new songs are created on old foundations. This ain't no revival... this is a contemporary artist who knows where he comes from. Visit the artist's website.

Leyla McCalla
After growing up in New York City, Haitian-American cellist, banjoist, and guitarist Leyla McCalla is now based in New Orleans, where she works at the New Orleans String Project, an institution that teaches inner-city youth to play stringed instruments. She has recently performed at Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival and the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Currently performing a stint with our headliners the Carolina Chocolate Drops, McCalla is also affiliated with Morgan O'Kane, Magnolia Beacon, and Sarah Quintana. Beyond being a musician, she is a composer, poet, and avid fan of Langston Hughes. McCalla has been compared to jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone and Haitian singer Emeline Michel. Visit the artist's website.

Old-Time Kozmik Trio
Old-Time Kozmik Trio is made up of fiddler Bruce Molsky, cellist Rushad Eggleson, and fiddler Darol Anger. Molsky explores traditional Appalachian folk music and has traveled the world - including places as far as Finland and Macedoni - to further this investigation. Eggleson is a contributing member of bluegrass band Crooked Still, which played our first FreshGrass festival in 2011. Anger has collaborated with FreshGrass 2012 headliner David Grisman. The group seeks to reinvent traditional music from many cultures, including American rock, bluegrass, and jazz. Visit the artist's website.

Bill Evans
Bill Evans is an internationally recognized five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer, and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion to all things banjo. He has had thousands of music fans and banjo students from all over the world during his musical career, which now spans over 35 years. Evans' banjo artistry is best experienced in live performance and on his recordings Native and Fine, Bill Evans Plays Banjo, and let's do something... with Megan Lynch. He successfully bridges traditional and contemporary playing techniques, creating a new music that is firmly within the bluegrass tradition yet draws upon a broad knowledge of classical, jazz, and world music. Visit the artist's website.

Mamie Minch
Mamie Minch is one of the youngest old-school blues guitarists and singers you've ever heard. She sings and plays songs of her own devising that sound like they've been stored in her old National guitar for decades. Raised on the music of John Hurt, Rev. Davis, and Memphis Minnie, Minch can sometimes sound like her predecessors, but don't mistake her for a revivalist: she is most definitely a product of her own time. Her musicianship and writing are so singular that she establishes her own musical reality with it's own stylistic chronology. Minch is also known as one fourth of the Roulette Sisters, and is a member of the group Midnight Hours with Jolie Holland and JC Hopkins. Visit the artist's website.

The festival is co-produced with Manitou Media.

1040 MASS MoCA WAY    NORTH ADAMS, MA 01247    413.MoCA.111 (413.662.2111)    INFO@MASSMoCA.ORG