Masterful Sauvé Guitars, the Fretboard Journal, and lutherie schools set up shop
NORTH ADAMS, MASSACHUSETTS – FreshGrass, MASS MoCA’s three-day festival highlighting every angle of bluegrass and roots music, returns this year with a comprehensive lineup of luthiers and instrumental professionals who set up shop to share and demonstrate their craft. FreshGrass takes place on September 18-20, 2015, and turns all of MASS MoCA into a stage.
Festival partners The Fretboard Journal and Steve Sauvé of Sauvé Guitars lead an unrivaled group of instrument artisans who offer a variety of luthier activities throughout the weekend. Located in the center of the festival, these professionals offer construction demonstrations and discussions about fiddle, mandolin, banjo, open-back banjo, guitar, and ukulele. Participants include Adam Buchwald of Circle Strings, Nicholas Lenski of Brier Road Guitars and Berkshire Stringed Instrument School of Lutherie, Martin Macica of the Macica Workshop (specializing in mandolins and violins), and Scott Hausmann of the Whetstone School of Lutherie. With more contributors still to be announced, this year brings new and familiar faces to the luthier tent and a specialized demonstration area, where access to instruments and their craftspeople is unparalleled.
Steve Sauvé sets up a bench and works on an in-process guitar, and festival goers are welcome to bring their own instruments for basic repairs. Says Sauvé, “FreshGrass presents a wide range of bluegrass music to one of the most active audiences—everyone stops by the luthier tent to see what we’re doing and to ask a million questions.” A veteran of the trade, Sauvé has been building individually hand-crafted guitars and repairing instruments for 35 years.
New this year, Brattleboro’s Whetstone School of Lutherie sets up a workbench and space for instrument display where all luthiers and instructors are able to work, and connect with festival-goers and answer questions from workshop participants about their particular realm of expertise.
Burlington, Vermont-based Circle Strings is represented by principal luthier Adam Buchwald, a working musician who understands the importance of a well-crafted instrument. Buchwald combines his love of mandolin and guitar to focus primarily on those two instruments, while also branching out to tenor guitars and double-course tenors.
FreshGrass newcomer Martin Macica of the Macica Workshop in Schuylerville, New York, brings an array of handcrafted mandolins and violins that he constructs using the finest quality European and Adirondack solid spruce and maple. All of Macica’s hand-carved instruments are one-of-a-kind items that pay respect to an old-world feel and influence.
Local luthier Nick Lenski of Brier Road Guitars specializes in hand-crafted acoustic steel-string guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles in a variety of models. His Berkshire Stringed Instrument School of Lutherie offers comprehensive, hands-on courses in guitar, mandolin, and ukulele construction, and Lenski offers demonstrations and tips to aspiring luthiers during the festival.
Also attending the festival are Eastman Handcrafted Guitars and Mandolins and D’Addario. Eastman presents the winner of the FreshGrass Fiddle Award with a Rudoulf Doetsch violin, outfitted with Peter Infeld Pi strings, a fiberglass violin case, and a woven carbon fiber bow. Eastman also partners with Parkway Music to present an array of flat-top acoustic guitars, arch-top jazz guitars, and mandolins for purchase. D’Addario is on hand with strings for guitars, mandolins, and fiddles, as well as accessories for instruments. Deering Banjo Company presents the Banjo Award winner a Sierra Banjo during the culmination of the FreshGrass Award Contest. Celebrating and rewarding innovative artists, the contest continues to accept artist submissions in the band, duo, fiddle, and banjo categories until Friday, July 31. Finalists will be announced in mid-August and receive a spot performing on the FreshGrass stages during the festival.
In addition to its killer lineup of top-of-their-game performers that includes Dwight Yoakam, Punch Brothers, The Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz & Aoife O’Donovan, Greensky Bluegrass, Houndmouth, Alison Brown, Willie Watson, Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin, Peter Rowan, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Mr. Sun, Flatt Lonesome, The Ballroom Thieves, Birds of Chicago, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Twisted Pine, Quiles & Cloud, Cat and The Moon, and a FreshGrass tribute to Johnny Cash, FreshGrass offers a full slate of stimulating workshops to be announced later this summer, a contest with over $25,000 in prizes, FreshGrass IPA brewed locally by the People’s Pint in Greenfield, Mass., family programming, downtown camping, and—an unrivaled experience for fans— the best bluegrass and roots music in the country bouncing off the bricks in every corner of the historic museum campus.
FreshGrass, to be held on September 18-20, 2015, at MASS MoCA, continues to be one of the best values on the festival circuit. Three-day festival passes are available for $99 for adults, $89 for students, and $46 for children 7 to 16. Available for $340, FreshPass is a deluxe festival experience offering preferred seating at all stages, meet-and-greet opportunities with FreshGrass artists, access to the FreshPass lounge, and locally sourced snacks and beer. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Single-day tickets may be offered closer to the event, on a space-available basis. Museum members receive a 10% discount on the regular ticket prices. The festival will be held rain or shine.
Sponsorship and Partners
FreshGrass is sponsored by No Depression, Compass Records, the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music, Deering Banjo Company, Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, Eastman Guitars, Stop & Shop, Chronogram, D’Addario, the Porches Inn, Berkshire Magazine, WKZE, the Fretboard Journal, and Take Magazine. Additional support is by Berkshire Gas as part of its music series at MASS MoCA.
About MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on its 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA among the most productive sites in the country for the creation and presentation of new art. More platform than box, MASS MoCA strives to bring to its audiences art experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.
Through September 7, MASS MoCA’s galleries are open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays, when performing arts events are often featured. Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit massmoca.org.