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FreshGrass Award Finalists Compete for $10,000 in Prizes

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MASS MoCANorth Adams, MA -- FreshGrass, MASS MoCA's fall festival of bluegrass and roots music, chooses six finalists in its inaugural band contest, The FreshGrass Award. The finalists compete for $10,000 cash prizes as well as a Nashville recording session in Compass Records studios with mentoring from FreshGrass performer Alison Brown. Bands were selected by a panel of industry insiders and performers, and bands will perform for that same jury during FreshGrass, held September 20-22 at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass.

"The response to our first-ever band contest was overwhelming," says Chris Wadsworth, whose Manitou Media co-produces the festival with MASS MoCA. "Narrowing it down to six finalists seemed impossible at the outset- every submission we received was brimming with talent!"

The six band finalists will play for FreshGrass Award judges on Sunday morning during the festival. The panelist of judges includes FreshGrass performer Alison Brown, FreshGrass executive producer Chris Wadsworth, Berklee School of Music String Instrument Department Head Matt Glaser, and MASS MoCA Curator of Performing Arts Rachel Chanoff. Festival ticket-holders will be invited to watch the performances.

The FreshGrass Award Grand Prize is $5000 cash and a one-day recording session at Compass Records studios in Nashville (valued at $1000). Studio time includes engineering time as well as production and mentoring from Compass Records' Alison Brown. Second-place FreshGrass Award finalists will receive $2,000, and third-place finalists will receive $1,000. Each of the three remaining band finalists will receive $250. In addition to the cash prizes and recording studio time, the winning band will receive an invitation to play the FreshGrass festival in 2014.

Each of the six qualified finalists are now featured on the, with access to music and links to learn more about these talented acts:

Six Deadly Venoms
New York City-based sextet Six Deadly Venoms are as adventurous as they are bluegrass-literate; smartly arranged traditionals are seasoned with jazz-inspired melodic explorations.
The Vickie Vaughn Band
Vickie Vaughn is Nashville to the core, with a tremendous country warble, endless youthful energy, and a band of crisp harmonizers.
Cricket Tell The Weather
The music of Brooklyn's Cricket Tell the Weather is full of twists, turns, and surprise influences. One moment speedy and swinging, the next luxurious and lilting.
Molly Tuttle, John Mailander, and Ethan Jodziewicz
A classically trained bluegrass convert, an unusually gifted poet and flat-picker, and dynamic fiddle phenom, this trio is an amazing chemical reaction whose sound is even larger than the sum of its parts.
The Lonely Heartstring Band
With influences ranging from bluegrass to the Beatles, The Lonely Heartstring's sound incorporates pop stylings and a foundation of deep technical ability and tasteful solo-swapping.
Chasing Blue
These five musicians, who come together from all across the country to nurture their tremendous musical talent, are evidence that the next generation of bluegrass is in mighty good hands.

The FreshGrass festival grows in other substantial ways this year. The festival debuted a dynamic new website, and adds a second large-format outdoor venue on a grassy field in the middle of the MASS MoCA campus. The festival still boasts downtown tent-site camping, extensive family programming, late-night barn-dance style hoedowns, and now infamous FreshGrass moonshine slushies. The 2013 FreshGrass festival roster will include over 25 bands, more than almost double its performance slate from last year.

FreshGrass is a wonderland of bluegrass and roots music, rich in both traditional and cutting-edge bluegrass, and presented in a wide array of venues tucked appropriately into a 19th-century-factory-turned-21st-century-museum in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts.

FreshGrass is one of the best values in the festival world. Festival passes are available for $78 for adults, $68 for students, $38 for kids 7-16, and free for children 6 and under. Friday tickets are available for $28 for adults, $18 for students, $8 for children 7-16. Saturday and Sunday tickets are $38 for adults, $28 for students, $18 for children 7-16. Children 6 and under are admitted for free. Museum members receive a 10% discount on the regular prices, but membership discounts do not apply to the early-bird prices. Tickets are available through and or by calling the MASS MoCA box office at 413.662.2111 x1. The Box Office is located on Marshall Street in North Adams. In July and August, the box office is open from 10am to 6pm every day. The box office is open from 11am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays, beginning in September. Festival-goers are welcome to bring chairs, blankets, and cushions to sit on in most venues, but should leave coolers, picnic baskets, and long camera lenses at home. The festival will be held rain or shine.

Exhibitions on view during FreshGrass include, among others, Xu Bing: Phoenix, a monumental display of sculptural phoenixes each stretching nearly 100 feet in length and weighing over 20 tons in all; One Minute Film Festival 2003-2012, featuring over 600 micro-films; Life's Work, focusing on two artists, Tom Phillips and Johnny Carrera, who have spent their entire careers making art from - and about - single books; Love to Love You, a show of artists who explore the essence of being a fan in today's popular culture; and two solo exhibitions, one of New York-based painter Joseph Montgomery and the other of Paris-based sculptor Guillaume Leblon.

MASS MoCA is one of the world's liveliest (and largest!) centers for making and enjoying the best new art of our time across all media: music, art, dance, theater, film, and video. Hundreds of works of visual and performing art have been created on the museum's renovated 19th-century factory campus during fabrication and rehearsal residencies, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. MASS MoCA is an open platform that thrives on presenting art and learning experiences that are fresh, engaging, and transformative.

In July and August, MASS MoCA's galleries are open from 10am to 6pm every day. Gallery hours are often extended on evenings featuring performing arts events. Galleries are open from 11am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays, beginning on September 3. Gallery admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for children 6-16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. For additional information, call 413-662-2111 or visit

MASS MoCA is an independent 501(c)(3) whose operations and programming are funded primarily through admissions and commercial lease revenue, corporate and foundation grants, and individual philanthropy. Except for a construction grant from the Commonwealth, and competitive program and operations grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MASS MoCA is privately funded: 90% of MASS MoCA's annual operating revenues come from earned revenues, membership support, and private gifts and grants.

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