Rules and Submissions - FreshGrass Festival

Rules and Submissions

The submission window for 2021 is now closed.

The FreshGrass Awards celebrate and reward emerging artists who offer innovative interpretations of bluegrass and roots music traditions. With multiple categories and prizes totaling more than $25,000 cash each year — plus brand new instruments and studio time at Compass Records — we’re proud that our awards are the most ambitious of their kind.

The 2021 award categories are the following:
Band, Fiddle, Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin

We will not be offering duo or singer songwriter awards in 2021. Stay tuned for future years.

If you are an up and coming artist or ensemble in any of the above categories with wicked skills, and are performing music that’s deeply informed by bluegrass even as it tests boundaries, we want to hear from you.  FreshGrass celebrates creativity and innovation in everything we do, and we are eager to connect with the next generation of musicians who feel the same way.

FINALIST GRANTS AND PRIZES

Finalist Grant (each finalist receives) Grant Prize (winner only) Compass Recording Day (winner only) Instrument Giveaway (winner only) Set and pop-up
on festival (all finalists)
Band $1,000 $5,000 Yes Yes
Banjo $500 $2,000 Yes Yes
Fiddle $500 $2,000 Yes Yes
Mandolin $500 $2,000 Yes Yes
Guitar $500 $2,000 Yes Yes

The Submission window each year is open until May 15th. The submission form can be found here.

Freshgrass will invite three finalists to compete for a grand prize in each category. All three finalists will receive a Finalist Grant, which varies between $500 – $1,000 depending on the category. Each finalist needs to show up to the final competition and compete to receive the Finalist Grant.  The finals will take place at the Freshgrass festival in North Adams in front of a live audience. The grand prize for each category varies between $2,000 – $5,000 depending on the category, plus new instruments and studio time from Compass Records.

The finalists in each category will be chosen by Freshgrass from the submissions and will be invited to compete for the Grand Prize. The finalist decisions will be made no later than June 30th.

On the festival weekend, the winners in each category will be judged by a panel of industry experts and professional musicians. Winners will be chosen based on originality and creativity of music and arrangements, instrumental and vocal skills (if applicable), proficiency in the traditions and innovations to those traditions. The Grand Prize winners will be announced Sunday afternoon of the festival weekend from the main stage.

  • $500-$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 finalist and/or band member
  • Permission to sell albums at the festival
  • Name listed in the Freshgrass line-up online and in any marketing materials
  • Chance to win the grand prizes!

Submission Rules

  • 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 musician or 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
  • The submission must include one original tune composed or written by the artist or by one or more band members in the case of bands
  • For bands at least one of the two submissions should have vocals and harmonies

COMPETITION RULES ON FESTIVAL WEEKEND

  • Each finalist will play two songs in front of the jury and a large live audience (one original song and one standard or traditional bluegrass tune)
  • Each finalist 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 original material, written by the finalist or if band or duo, by one or more members
  • For bands 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
  • No band finalist member may participate in more than one band. Instrument finalist sare welcome to also participate in the band contests
  • 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.

Festival Partners