New band contest in search of fresh bluegrass sound

(North Adams, Massachusetts) A panel of industry insiders and musicians is assembled to judge the inaugural FreshGrass Award at this year’s FreshGrass bluegrass festival. The addition of the FreshGrass Award provides a platform for up-and-coming bluegrass bands with a knack for song-writing and a twist on the traditional.

More than 50 bands entered the contest via an online application, where they submitted performance videos of both a traditional and an original composition. FreshGrass supports the next generation of bluegrass with this contest, and seeks bands with a fresh sound and original material.

“We are thrilled and excited by the level of talent in the contest pool,” says FreshGrass producer Chris Wadsworth. “We wanted the FreshGrass Award to focus on original songwriting, from lyrics to composition, and I think we got exactly that.”  Six finalists will perform live in front of the judges at FreshGrass 2013. 

The centerpiece grand prize for the FreshGrass Award is $5,000, plus a recording session with Compass Records in Nashville, with mentoring by Alison Brown. The winner of the 2013 FreshGrass Award will also be invited to perform on stage during FreshGrass 2014. The runner-up will receive a cash prize of $2,000. All non-award-winning semifinalists will receive a $250 honorarium.

About the Judges

Matt Glaser

Matt Glaser is chairman of the String Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, a position he has held for 18 years. He performs widely in a variety of idioms with artists such as Stephane Grappelli, David Grisman, Lee Konitz, the Waverly Consort, Fiddle Fever, and Wayfaring Strangers, and he has published four books on contemporary violin styles, including "Jazz Violin" co-authored with the late Stephane Grappelli.

Alison Brown

Alison Brown heads the Nashville-based music label Compass Records, and performs internationally as a banjoist and songwriter to a wide-ranging and loyal fan base. Compass is a great partner of FreshGrass, supporting the festival in a myriad of ways, and along with her role with the FreshGrass Award, Alison will perform and leads a banjo workshop for the second year in a row. 

Rachel Chanoff

Rachel Chanoff has worked in performing arts and film for thirty years and is the founder and director of THE OFFICE performing arts + film, a New York City-based programming, consulting, and production company. She is the Curator of Performing Arts and Film for MASS MoCA, Director of Programming of the CenterSeries at the '62 Center for Theater and Dance at Williams College, consultant to the feature film and theater programs for the Sundance Institute, and the Artistic Director of Celebrate Brooklyn!, New York’s longest running free outdoor performing arts and film festival. 

Chris Wadsworth

Chris Wadsworth is co-Founder and Managing Director of Manitou Media and co-producer of FreshGrass Festival. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Williams College with a major in music composition, and is a founding member of the Golden Elixir Bluegrass Band.