FreshGrass announces new songwriting competition

FreshGrassBluegrass and related music styles has a long history of competition, contests for the various instruments, and for bands taking place going back several decades.

The latest entrant to the field of competition, this year’s FreshGrass festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, which takes place from September 20th to 22nd, launches the FreshGrass Award which boasts of $10,000 in cash prizes, a Compass Records recording session in Nashville, mentoring with veteran musicians, and a performance spot at next year’s FreshGrass festival.

Returning FreshGrass performer Alison Brown fondly recalls that for many in her generation, it was often the contest circuit that fueled their work.  Contests encourage new songs, more travel and the honing of skills …………….

Alison Brown“Back when I was learning to play, the contest scene was a great way to hone your skills and get experience playing under pressure and the contest circuit created a great community. While there are still a handful of active contests around the country, there just aren’t as many as there were 20 years ago. So I think the FreshGrass folks are really on to something in revitalizing this important vehicle for young players to polish their craft. I’m delighted and proud to be a part of it.”

According to FreshGrass producer Chris Wadsworth, FreshGrass will focus on song-writing in its inaugural competition …………………

“Excellent chops and good knowledge of bluegrass traditions will be among the criteria for our award. But our main emphasis will be on original approaches to song writing – new slants in composition, musical arrangements, and lyrics that we hope become a distinguishing feature of this contest.”

Bands can apply for the award by posting a performance video of a traditional and an original composition. Details can be found at the FreshGrass website.

Six finalists, selected by a jury comprised of Alison Brown and two other national musicians, will be invited to perform live, before the jury, during this year’s FreshGrass festival. Finalists must appear in person to be eligible for awards.

The grand prize for the FreshGrass Award is $5,000, plus a recording session with Compass Records in Nashville, with mentoring by Alison Brown. The winner of the 2013 FreshGrass Award will also be invited to perform on stage during FreshGrass 2014.

The runner-up will receive a cash prize of $2,000. All non-award-winning semi-finalists will receive a $250 honorarium. The closing date for submissions for the contest is August 1st and the six finalists will be announced on August 15th.

Alison Brown continues …..

“The folks at FreshGrass recognize that some of the most vibrant and culturally important new music being made right now is happening around the fringes of bluegrass, and they’re supporting it in a big way.  The FreshGrass band contest is a great example – honoring the tradition as well as the spirit of innovation – with cash prizes big enough to make any picker sit up and take notice.”

For details of those scheduled to appear at this year’s FreshGrass festival and to get tickets visit the FreshGrass website.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.