NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS — Cheered on by festivalgoers and past winners alike, the 2015 FreshGrass Award highest accolades went to Old Salt Union in the band competition; Zoe & Cloyd won the duo; Catherine Bowness was judged best in banjo; and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes captured the fiddle prize.
The winners receive cash and prizes totaling $25,000, recording sessions at Compass Records in Nashville, Tennessee, and hand-crafted instruments from Deering and Eastman.
All competitors in four categories performed both an original and traditional tune for a jury led by Grammy Award-winner and master banjoist Alison Brown during Saturday and Sunday of the FreshGrass festival.
All four winners return to North Adams in 2016 to perform at that year’s festival.
Previous FreshGrass Award winners in attendance included 2013 Band Winner Cricket Tell the Weather, 2014 Band Winner Twisted Pine, 2014 Duo Winner Quiles & Cloud, and 2014 Banjo Winner Ricky Mier (of Cat and the Moon), who gave crowd-favorite performances on the main stage and concert courtyard stages, as well as the pop-up stage throughout the weekend. Cricket Tell the Weather fiddler and singer Andrea Asprelli noted that, “The FreshGrass Award has become a favorite annual tradition for our band — it's exhilarating to watch so many talented musicians compete for such a rewarding opportunity, and to remember what an exciting experience it has been for us."
2015 FreshGrass Award Winners
Old Salt Union finds influence in the bluegrass roots of The Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush, while stretching the boundaries of traditional bluegrass music by incorporating in-depth musical arrangements, catchy hooks, and an uncanny pop sensibility. The band won the STL Riverfront Times “Best Bluegrass Band” in 2013 and “Best Country Band” in 2014, all while touring its music across the country. In 2016, Old Salt Union returns to North Adams to play the FreshGrass main stage.
Husband-wife duo Zoe & Cloyd swap fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin in tightly woven arrangements for a sweet bluegrass sound. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, their songwriting is equally at home in the Smoky Mountains or the Berkshires, where the group performs for next year’s festival audience.
Boston-via-New Zealand banjoist Catherine Bowness studied with Tony Trischka and Bill Evans, and has worked with David Grisman and Julian Lage. Her rhythm is impeccable, earning her second place in the prestigious RockyGrass competition in 2012 and now a coveted top spot on the FreshGrass podium.
Bronwyn Keith-Hynes is one of the country’s most in-demand young fiddle players, appearing onstage with Peter Rowan, The Milk Carton Kids, Anais Mitchell, Joe Pug, and Tony Trischka. Last year she won first prize in the Walnut Valley Fiddle Competition in Winfield, Kansas, arguably the highest honor in the field. She adds her FreshGrass Award to an already impressive résumé.
FreshGrass returns in 2016 with three jam-packed days of all things bluegrass and roots on September 16-18. 2016 festival tickets are now on sale for 2014 festival prices.
About FreshGrass Festival
FreshGrass is a wonderland of bluegrass and roots music, rich in both traditional and cutting-edge bluegrass, presented in a wide array of venues tucked appropriated into a 19th-century factory turned 21st-century museum in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. FreshGrass is held annually over three days at the end of September. freshgrass.com
About MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, through November 30. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit massmoca.org.