Tucked into the northwestern corner of Massachusetts, the now annual FreshGrass Festival delivers bluegrass to the Berkshires each autumn. During a New England roadtrip, I was lucky enough to swing in here on Sunday, the last day of the festival. The vibe in North Adams is so relaxed that when I opened my car door, a girl standing there said, “Don’t mind me. I’m just changing,” as she shimmied out of her skirt and into a pair of pants. Glancing up at the forbidding storm clouds, I followed her lead and switched out of shorts, grabbed a raincoat, and headed to the venue.
And what a venue. Fresh Grass takes places on the campus of MASS MoCA, a massive former industrial complex filled with brick buildings and hidden courtyards. The main stage, situated on the edge of a large grassy field, boasts a view that includes the college and trees just starting to catch the brilliants colors of fall foliage. Over a bridge and tucked into the heart of the college is the secondary stage.
With a Sunday lineup that featured Bluesky Greengrass, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, The Infamous Stringdusters, and The Del McCoury Band, I couldn’t have been more stoked. All of these acts are festival veterans, comfortable and intimate with large crowds and a hell of a of lot fun, especially Del McCoury who just puts on one of the best shows out there.
The hidden perk of this festival is that MASS MoCA throws open the doors of their brilliant museum. In between sets, festival fans wandered the surreal passageways of the former mill checking out marvels of modern art. There’s also plenty of nooks and crannies for some unique perspectives of the stages.
Camping is located just down the road (within walking distance), but I didn’t get a chance to check it out. Didn’t need to — I’m already making plans to get back to FreshGrass for a full weekend next year.