From the pool of submissions, FreshGrass organizers invite three 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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2018 Band Award winners

Man About A Horse — 1st Place

Man About a Horse has been making acoustic music that cuts across generational lines since 2014. With their blend of heartfelt originals, unique versions of popular tunes, and traditional bluegrass, the quintet has built a devoted northeast following and is on the rise, with a recent IBMA nomination.


All three 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 line-up online and in any marketing materials
• Chance to win the grand prize!

1st Place: $6,000 additional cash grant, one-day recording session with Alison Brown at Compass Records Studio, and a main stage performance slot at FreshGrass 2020.

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 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.