From the pool of submissions, FreshGrass organizers invite 5 finalists to compete for the FreshGrass Fiddle 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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At age 4, Andrew Vogts began studying classical violin, becoming passionate about fiddle music while on a fiddle train tour across Canada led by the legendary Scottish fiddler, Alasdair Fraser. After a week studying with Bruce Molsky, Andrew decided to focus primarily on Appalachian old-time fiddle style. He continues to win awards in fiddle competitions and state championships across the country, including Clifftop (West Virginia) and Galax (Virginia), the two biggest Appalachian old-time contests in the eastern U.S. In addition, he performs and competes with his duet, The Psycho Exploding Orangutans, which consists of Andrew and his friend, Victor Furtado (2016 FreshGrass Banjo Award winner).
Grant Flick, of Bowling Green, Ohio, has been playing and performing violin, mandolin, and tenor guitar for the past seven years. He has received numerous music awards including the 2013 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, and he was a 2015 finalist in the Walnut Valley Festival Fiddle Competition in Winfield, Kansas. He has performed at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Red Wing Roots Festival, Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering, and many other festivals. Frank Vignola, Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, and Darol Anger are just some of the notable musicians with whom Grant has appeared on stage.
Jordan Rast is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Lancaster, PA. He writes accessible old-time and bluegrass songs that inspire community. In addition to his singing, he’s usually playing fiddle or picking the guitar. He returns to the FreshGrass Fiddle Award after receiving the runner-up prize in 2016.
Joe D’Esposito started playing violin at the age of seven and as a young teen studied with the legendary and multi-genre violinist Earl Maneein. Joe was raised in a musical family that gave him constant exposure to American jazz, Celtic, rock, bluegrass, and classical performances, all in a family-band setting. Outside of his role with Boulder, CO-based band, The Railsplitters, Joe is a Denver-based music educator and collaborator.
Shona Carr grew up in the old-time and folk community of upstate New York, with traditional music serving as lullaby. Though she played electric music for a few years, she eventually circled right back around and found her roots as both an instrumentalist and songwriter, winning Best Original Tune at Clifftop in 2015. She plays with Staunton-based band Lost Indian while home in Virginia, and is working on an album of all originals due out next year.
GRANTS and PRIZES
All five finalists will get the following:
• $500 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 finalist
• Permission to sell your albums at the festival (if applicable)
• 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: $300 additional cash grant
1st Place: $1,200 additional cash grant, brand new top-of-the-line fiddle, 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 HERE to be considered for a finalist slot.
• You may not 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 skill (35%), proficiency in the tradition (25%).
• The submission must include one original tune composed or written by the performer and one traditional or standard bluegrass tune.
• Each finalist will play two songs in front of the jury and a large live audience.
• You may have one accompanying musician playing with you.
• You 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 the performer.
• The jury 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 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.