The FreshGrass and No Depression Awards celebrate and reward emerging artists who offer a fresh take on the tradition of bluegrass and roots music. With four categories and prizes totaling over $25,000 cash — plus brand new instruments and studio time at Compass Records — we’re proud that our awards are among the most ambitious of their kind.

FreshGrass awards

If you are an unsigned band, banjoist, or fiddler, have wicked skills, and are performing music that’s deeply informed by bluegrass even as it tests boundaries, we want to hear you. Once you’ve submitted and been pre-screened, a panel of judges led by banjo legend Alison Brown will invite four finalists in each category to participate in a head-to-head performance at the Freshgrass Festival.

Each finalist will need to perform one standard or traditional tune and one original composition. Finalists will receive a cash grant along with performance time at the festival.

The grand prize winner and runner-up — selected on the basis of compositional originality, instrumental and vocal skills, stage presence and performance, and proficiency in the tradition — will take home an array of additional prizes, including a large grant, the opportunity to perform at the following year’s festival, recording sessions at Compass Records, and hand-crafted instruments.

Important note: There will be no DUO contest in 2018. Any duos considering a submission should add a third player and enter the band contest (minimum of three members).

fresh grass
Emily Keener
Emily Keener, 2017 No Depression Singer-Songwriter Award winner

NO DEPRESSION SINGER-SONGWRITER AWARD

In 2017 we introduced the No Depression Singer-Songwriter Award, which recognizes and rewards up-and-coming roots music singer-songwriters from the U.S. and beyond. A preliminary committee will narrow the field of submissions to four finalists, who will travel to the FreshGrass Festival to perform in front of a live audience. A panel comprised of No Depression editors and artist judges will select from four finalists based on the merits of their lyrics, music, instrumentation, and overall performance. All music is original in this competition, and all performances are solo.

Contest rules and more details:

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Submissions are open from March 1-May 15

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at: awards@freshgrass.com

Past Winners:

BANDS:
2017
The Lonesome Days (1st)
The Buck Stops Here (2nd)

2016
Last Revel (1st)
Cabin Creek (2nd)

2015
Old Salt Union (1st)
Mile Twelve (2nd)

2014
Twisted Pine (1st)
Many Night Ahead (2nd)

2013
Cricket Tell the Weather (1st)
Lonely Heartstring Band (2nd)

BANJO:
2017
Stephen Moore (1st)
Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose (2nd)

2016
Victor Furtado (1st)
Takumi Kodera (2nd)

2015
Catherine Bowness (1st)
Victor Furtado (2nd)

2014
Ricky Mier (1st)
Gabe Hirshfeld (2nd)

NO DEPRESSION SINGER-SONGWRITER:
2017
Emily Keener (1st)
Rachel Laven (2nd)

FIDDLE:
2017
Andrew Vogts (1st)
Shona Carr (2nd)

2016
Julian Pinelli (1st)
Jordan Rast (2nd)

2015
Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (1st)
Kathleen Parks (2nd)