Best Music Festival 2019 Awards Finalists - FreshGrass


Meadow Mountain

Denver, Colorado
The musicians in Meadow Mountain are young, but they walk on stage with the confidence of a well-seasoned Bluegrass band – and indeed, they are. These five close friends have logged thousands of hours playing together. They have given a TED talk on the history of Bluegrass, they have opened for Del McCoury and Sam Bush, and they have even worked as the house band on a cruise ship. In 2017, they won the prestigious Rockygrass band contest, and this year they opened the 2018 Rockygrass festival to hundreds of cheering fans. In late 2017, they caught the ears of Infamous Stringduster, Chris Pandolfi, who produced their debut album, recorded at Mighty Fine Productions.

The Trailblazers

Wilkesboro, North Carolina
The Trailblazers are an award-winning band from North Carolina, carrying tradition and pursuing progression. Their sound was created by friendship and love of music, and it continues to evolve as they traverse new trails of music. Their awards include: 2017 Merlefest Band Champions, 2018 International SPBGMA Band Champions, and most recently 2018 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year.

Blue Summit

Santa Cruz, California
Blue Summit is a genre fluid bluegrass band that first formed in 2016. They are a remarkable group of young musicians who have grown up performing in the California bluegrass community. One of their latest achievements includes a CBA showcase at the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) event held in North Carolina. They have been gaining traction with their unique sound, sharing their music all over the west coast. Later this year, they plan to travel overseas for the first time.



Raye Zaragoza

Los Angeles, California
Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer-songwriter who carries an acoustic guitar and a message. Her quiet yet powerful song “In the River,” written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, resonated strongly with listeners and went viral in late 2016, garnering half a million views on the video, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar. This summer, she joined Dispatch and Nahko and Medicine for the People on their Summer

Abigail Lapell

Toronto, Canada
Call it prairie noir or Canadiana desert rock: Toronto songwriter Abigail Lapell sings haunting, gorgeous modern folk songs. Her sophomore album, Hide Nor Hair, won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album of the Year in 2017. Since then, Lapell has been on the road, touring across Canada, the U.S. and Europe and performing on vocals, piano, harmonica and finger style guitar. She’s shared stages with the likes of Tune-Yards, Andy Shauf and Jenn Grant, and appeared at festivals like Pop Montreal, Mariposa and Folk on the Rocks. Her latest album, GETAWAY, was released this February.

Anna Tivel

Portland, Oregon
Anna Tivel reaches for that thread of understanding with her music, that moment of recognition, of shared experience. There are hundreds of thousands of miles on her touring odometer and each town is a tangled web of heartache and small reasons to believe. Tivel’s characters are both common and unforgettable. Ann Powers of NPR writes, “She possesses a genuine poet’s sense that words matter more than persona, or a showy performance. Her images linger, and become populated with the energy of the real.” With three full-length albums out and a fourth due out this April, Tivel continues to touch on a common human thread.


Brad Kolodner

Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore-based clawhammer banjoist Brad Kolodner represents the next generation of Old-Time musicians pushing the boundaries of the tradition into uncharted territory. Awarded the 2016 IBMA Momentum Award for Industry Involvement, Kolodner is helping to lead the charge as a performer, teacher, DJ for Bluegrass Country Radio and Radio Bristol, jam leader, community builder and ambassador for Old-Time and Bluegrass music.

Max Allard

Chicago Illinois
Max Allard is a 17 year old banjo player from Chicago. He has been playing banjo since he was 11. He studies with Greg Cahill, Chris Walz and Ryan Fisher at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Max plays in the Americana trio From the Start as well as in the duo Bushel & Peck with his brother Otto Allard. Max won the 2018 RockyGrass Banjo Competition in Lyons, Colorado.

Alex Edwards

Salisbury, NC
Alex Edwards from Salisbury, NC, plays the banjo for the band The Trailblazers. In 2014, Alex won the South Carolina State Banjo Contest, and in 2017 took home titles of both North Carolina and Georgia state champion. His banjo influences come from both traditional and new grass style players. He works full time as a Mechanical Engineering in his hometown. Alex plays a Huber Ron Block Model banjo.


Eli Slocumb

Colorado Springs, Colorado
Eli Slocumb is an 18 year old mandolin player from Colorado. He is currently attending Berklee College of music where he will begin his sophomore year this fall. He started on fiddle before moving over to mandolin at age 8, and now leads his own bluegrass band.

Tristan Scroggins

Nashville, Tennessee
With a signature raw mandolin groove and keen sensitivity to style and artistic innovation, twenty-four-year-old mandolinist Tristan Scroggins is quickly becoming a highly influential voice of both music and community in the world of bluegrass. As a teenager, he and his dad Jeff formed the band Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, which found international success, touring 300 days a year at its peak and appearing at festivals such as Merlefest and Wintergrass. Although he is known for his traditional mandolin chops, Tristan also has a keen interest in pushing the boundaries of the genre. With his duo Scroggins and Rose, (with Grammy-nominated violinist and composer Alisa Rose), he has worked on incorporating classical song forms and arrangements into bluegrass-inspired tunes

Teo Quale

Alameda, CA
Teo Quale, age 12, is a mandolinist and fiddler from Alameda, CA who has been delighting audiences with his inventive and heavily grooved mandolin playing. Teo is fearless on the mandolin, playing with both a rhythmic and melodic creativity that never abandons the groove. Teo is also an accomplished contest fiddler and picker, having won several picking contests in California. On mandolin, Teo is the 2017 Champion of the Jr. Division CA State Picking Contest and holds 1st Place in the 2017 Open Division of the CA Western Picking Contest and 1st Place in the 2018 Open Division CA State Picking Contest.


Libby Weitnauer

Brooklyn, NY
Libby Weitnauer is a fiddle player, violinist, and educator currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Libby recently completed her Masters of Music at NYU, where she served on adjunct faculty while studying with Gregory Fulkerson. She is a member of the oldtime stringband, Ginny’s Kitchen and just released a record, Pretty Little Mister, with banjo-fiddler Jake Blount as the emerging duo Tui. In addition to these projects, Libby can be found subbing in the orchestra of Oklahoma! on Broadway, collaborating with other musicians around New York City, and sharing her love of the music of Appalachia through education and performance. She has presented at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, and the University of Tennessee.

Carley Arrowood

Union Mills, North Carolina
Carley Arrowood has been playing fiddle for almost 13 years, and has performed professionally with the husband-wife duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge for 4 1/2 years. Carley has won several awards, including one of IBMA’s 2017 Instrumentalists of the Year. She has also made about 9 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry with Darin and Brooke, has appeared on Larry’s Country Diner on RFD-TV, and has taken the stage multiple times with Jimmy Fortune and John Cowan.

Miles Quale

Alameda, CA
Miles Quale, age 15, is a fiddler from Alameda, CA who plays and sings with depth beyond his years. Miles plays bluegrass fiddle with a fierce edge, playing dynamic and inventive solos with a melodic sophistication. Miles is an accomplished contest fiddler, having won several contests in California and placed runner-up nationally. He is the 2017 California State Fiddle Champion in the Junior division and the 2019 runner-up in the CA State Fiddle Contest Open Division. Miles has also been the runner-up in the 2017 and 2018 Grand Master Fiddlers’ Championship Jr. Division in Nashville, TN.