FreshGrass Fest Gears Up for a Record-Breaking Weekend @ MASS MoCA [Berkshire On Stage]

Del McCoury
Del McCoury is back at FreshGrass again this weekend

By Larry Murray
Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Each year the FreshGrass Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams has grown in size and attendance. But even as it has become larger, it has not lost its small town friendliness, nor some of the best – and most interesting – American music around. This year the festival runs from Friday-Sunday (September 18-20) and is bigger than ever.

With the addition of musicians such as Dwight Yoakam, whom MASS MoCA describes as a pioneering honky-tonker with a Kentucky crooner’s sound, the event takes another step forward. Yoakam has continued to passionately sing, write and play music brimming with hard country and rock & roll. And that signals more changes in the FreshGrass Festival, as its evolution continues into more diverse music, not just bluegrass and roots. For musical omnivores like me, the fusion of cutting-edge bluegrass with traditional acts like the Del McCoury Band keep things interesting. Perhaps that is why the festival chose such a generic name as “Fresh” for its title. At its core, it is glorious tradition made fresh and new again.

It is also continuing to expand its focus with outreach to new bands, new music and new artists, some 19 finalists in the FreshGrass Award contest take to the stage as MASS MoCA spotlights band, duo, banjo, and fiddle sets throughout the festival.

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