From the pool of submissions, FreshGrass organizers have invited 5 finalists to compete for the FreshGrass Band Award. On the festival weekend, the finalists travel to North Adams and perform in front of a jury and a large live audience. The jury will select a runner-up and winner, and they will be announced on Sunday afternoon from the main stage.
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From The Lonesome Days’ beginning in 2014, the band has evolved into a tight-knit 4-piece ensemble with a common vision to create great original music mixed with timeless classics. The band’s authentic songwriting and musicianship brings emotion, power, and soul to music that makes it seem familiar, yet fresh and new. The band was awarded second place at the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, first place at the 2016 UllrGrass festival, and is rolling full steam ahead!
The Buck Stops Here is a versatile group of instrumentalists and vocalists from up and down the East Coast. While the band is steeped in the tradition of American old-time and bluegrass roots, its sound maintains a creative and open-minded attitude that propels it into the exploration of unknown musical territory. Shona, Gailanne, and Ethan play music that celebrates the beauty and tragedy of life, their vulnerable yet strong voices weaving together, and their instruments flashing as they dive into the void.
The Buck Stops Here: Fly Bird
Minneapolis-based quartet Ginstrings blends blazing traditional instrumental playing with a taste for modern songwriting. With three vocalists, they can capture tight three-part harmonies or belted unisons. The band is fresh off a grand prize win at the 2016 NW String Summit Band Competition.
Miles Over Mountains is a progressive bluegrass band based in McHenry, Illinois. The band’s live shows are high energy, centered around an arsenal of original material and a refreshing variety of cover songs served up with unique style. In the words of Andrew Prissing at Live for Live Music, Miles over Mountains offers “a paradoxical calming, yet exciting experience.” They’ve opened for such groups as Town Mountain, Hot Buttered Rum, Ben Miller Band, Danny Barnes Henhouse Prowlers, Cornmeal, and The Big Wu.
Honeybucket is a high-energy, whiskey-drinkin’ newgrass trio from Cleveland, Ohio, that formed on a fateful Halloween night in 2011. The band plays modern, original pop/rock tunes with traditional bluegrass instruments, with boot-stompin’ rhythm thrown in, and rounded off with sweet, soaring three-part vocal harmonies that create something truly original and authentic.
GRANTS and PRIZES
All five finalists will get the following:
• $1,000 award grant each (but you must show up on the festival weekend and perform in the competition in order to collect this)
• One 45-minute set on the Courtyard C stage on Saturday or Sunday
• One pop-up performance in the museum on Saturday or Sunday
• Complimentary three-day pass to the festival for each band member
• Permission to sell band albums at the festival
• Name listed in the Freshgrass 2017 line-up online and in any marketing materials
• Chance to win the runner-up or grand prize!
Runner-up: $1,000 additional cash grant
1st Place: $5,500 additional cash grant, one-day recording session with Alison Brown at Compass Records Studio, and a main stage performance slot at FreshGrass 2018
• There is no fee or payment of any kind to enter the contest.
• All participants must fill out the online submission form to be considered for a finalist slot.
• No band may be signed to a record label or be subject to a pre-existing third-party publisher agreement. Self-released CDs and DIY distribution are OK.
• Finalists will be chosen by the FreshGrass organizers based on originality (40%), instrument and vocal skill (35%), proficiency in the tradition (25%).
• Bands should be between 3-8 members (no duos).
• A band must include at least two of the following instruments: banjo, acoustic guitar, dobro/steel guitar, mandolin, fiddle, or bass. Other acoustic instruments are also welcome.
• The submission must include one original tune composed or written by one or more band members and one traditional or standard bluegrass tune.
• Each song should be no longer than 5 minutes.
• At least one of the two submissions must have vocals and harmonies.
• Each finalist band will play two songs in front of the jury and a large live audience.
• They will have a maximum of 10 minutes on stage (not including set-up), or 5 minutes per song. Songs that go over 5 minutes will negatively affect your score.
• One song must be a standard or traditional bluegrass tune, and one song must be original material, written by one or more members of the band.
• At least one of the songs should have vocal harmonies. One of the songs can be an instrumental, if you choose.
• The jurors will be looking for dynamic range in your choice of song tempos, rhythms, and tone.
• You must provide your own lodging and transportation to and from the FreshGrass festival.
• The finalist live competition will be recorded and, at the discretion of FreshGrass, may be included in a FreshGrass compilation video, or may be aired on PBS, or streamed on No Depression.
• No band finalist member may participate in more than one band. Banjoists or fiddlers in finalist bands are welcome to also participate in the banjo or fiddle contest, or any band member can compete in the No Depression singer-songwriter contest.
• The contest stage will be set up with a line of vocal and instrument mics specific to each instrument in order to expedite the changeover of bands during the contest. The arrangement will be sent to you before the festival weekend.