2015 FreshGrass Award Open for Submissions!

2015 FreshGrass Award Open for Submissions   Over $25,000 in prizes offered to the brightest up-and-coming bluegrass stars in four categories, Band, Duo, Banjo, and new this year, FiddleThe FreshGrass Award, a highlight of the eponymous three-day bluegrass and roots music festival held each fall at MASS MoCA, crowns up-and-coming musicians who offer a fresh take on the genre.

Now in its third year, the Award expands from three categories to four — giving unsigned bands, duos, and banjo and fiddle players a chance to compete for cash prizes totaling over $25,000, recording time at Compass Records’ studio in Nashville, and a slot on the stage at FreshGrass 2016.

The competition, judged by a panel of industry professionals led by the legendary FreshGrass favorite Alison Brown, is held during the festival on September 18-20, 2015, and contest performances are open to the festival audience.


Contestants submit two videos via the festival’s website, freshgrass.com — one live performance of an original composition and one live performance of a bluegrass traditional. Notes festival producer Chris Wadsworth, “We want to hear musicians who know the rules well enough to break them!”

Award submissions are judged by compositional originality, instrumental and vocal skills, bluegrass proficiency, and stage presence. Submissions open April 15 and close on July 31.

Award finalists are notified in mid-August, and the contest takes place on an indoor stage throughout the three-day festival. Finalists also receive two chances to play their tunes for festival-goers on pop-up stages across the museum campus, including in its galleries.  Winners are announced from the festival main stage on Sunday afternoon, September 20.

Developed in an effort to boost the careers of promising young musicians, the FreshGrass Award looks for future stars of the bluegrass festival circuit.

The 2014 Best Band winner, Twisted Pine, has filled clubs around the Northeast since its FreshGrass debut last year, and performs at this year’s festival. Twisted Pine’s Ricky Mier (who was also the winner of the 2014 Best Banjo contest) says, “FreshGrass is about treating artists and audiences well and creating an environment where everyone can be at the top of their game. The Award is part of that — all the best young bands in the country come and feel very nurtured.”

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