MASS MoCA’s FreshGrass Festival began as a relatively small gathering in 2011, with only a few hundred people in attendance. It has since grown into a major bluegrass and roots music festival, with over 40 artists appearing on four stages over the course of three days.
The festival returns to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 16-acre campus in North Adams, Mass., this weekend (Sept. 23-25) with its usual stellar lineup of roots music traditionalists. The festival is notable for pairing old-guard legends with fresh-faced innovators. When I attended eight years ago, Twisted Pine – a young five-piece bluegrass band from Boston – stole the show with their wild and heart-pounding performance.
Up-and-coming artists to watch this year include East African retro-pop combo Mesafa, Ozark folksinger Willi Carlisle, Portland Americana band Never Come Down and San Diego trio Thee Sacred Souls.
This year’s big names include classic country icon Tanya Tucker, Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr., Grand Ole Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, infectious string band Trampled by Turtles, masters of the bluegrass The Del McCoury Band, soul-pop singer Yola and the legendary roots of the Taj Mahal.
The festival includes a competition open to all festival-goers: banjoists, violinists, guitarists and bands compete for the FreshGrass prize, performing a standard or traditional tune and an original composition. The grand prize winner in each category wins cash, free recording sessions, and the band winners can perform at the next festival.
Other highlights of the festival include FreshScores, a silent film with original live music, pop-up shows in museum galleries, and local food and liquor vendors. Passes for a full festival, a day and some camping packages are still available at the time of publication.
Freak Out in a ‘Moonage Daydream’
So far the reviews have been mixed, but I’m excited to see David Bowie’s ‘Moonage Daydream’ now playing in local theaters until the end of the month, including the Regal Crossgates IMAX theater. in Albany. Brett Morgen’s film (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Cobain: Montage of Heck) uses David Bowie’s voice narration and never-before-seen archival footage to tell the story of the groundbreaking artist’s creative, musical and spiritual journey . A recent review called it “a mess,” but the trailer makes it feel like the kind of movie you can sink into and enjoy: a kaleidoscopic collage of visually stunning footage and incredible songs. by Bowie.
The week ahead
– Downtown Albany is hosting another music and arts festival this Saturday, Sept. 24, with its much-loved Art on Lark fair that celebrates local artists, small businesses and musicians. The city’s historic Lark Street (between Madison and State) will be closed to traffic and filled with artist booths for painters, photographers, jewelers, sculptors, ceramicists and more. Music lineup includes an outlaw band Brule County Bad Boysthe psychedelic-experimental TV doctorsHudson Valley dream-pop songwriter Kendra McKinleyAlbany hip hop group Capital crooksand Saratoga bluegrass-folk attire Sullivan’s smirk jerks. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
— Yo La Tengo’s The 30+ career is unparalleled in its creative breadth. The indie-rock trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have collaborated with everyone from Homer Simpson to Ray Davies, even creating a holiday tradition with their legendary annual series of sold-out Hanukkah shows. The group show at Room of the larks (351 Hudson Ave, Albany) on Monday, September 26, promises more of their sometimes muffled, sometimes loud magic. 8 p.m.
— Not funny (275 River St, Troy) continues to push musical boundaries, welcoming medicine singers on Wednesday, September 28, as part of a collaboration between the Native American band and the Israeli guitarist Yonatan Gat. The Medicine Singers’ live performance is legendary: the band settles in a circle, the audience surrounds the band, and performs a trance set involving powwow drumming and shamanic chanting, while the boundaries between the performer and the audience are blurred. 8 p.m.
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts