FreshGrass — Fall comes in with festivals #Berkshireweekend

What I remember about FreshGrass festivals in the last 10 years or so … is all over the map. It’s a mild fall day and I’m in the courtyard, sitting on the wall and playing Farewell to Whiskey. The local music jam shows up early and plays Irish and Quebeçois tunes for the folks waiting in line, so we get a glimpse behind the scenes and the music moves familiarly between us. I can swing a low note and feel it in my chest.

Then I slip away to hear Rhiannon Giddens singing her festival composition, and the heartbeat of her voice fills auditorium. The room feels open to the air, and we’re all on our feet in the kind of crowd the pandemic hasn’t allowed us now for years. She’s singing a contemporary ring cycle to enslaved women in Islamic Spain and North Africa a thousand years ago who held the knowledge of 20,000 songs.

Allison Brown and Friends play the Music of The Band at FreshGrass 2016. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA.
FreshGrass

Allison Brown and Friends play the Music of The Band at FreshGrass 2016. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA.

Later, on a hot afternoon out in the field, Hanggai is on stage and the crowd is dancing and calling out to them. Electric guitar, punk rock percussion and Mongolian folk instruments and throat singing — the combination feels so inspired I want to laugh for the sheer zany rush of it. The drums and the low strings hit a gallop. The lead singer holds a long note and opens his arms, and the energy of hundreds of voices is rising to meet him.

Trumpets sound high brass across the bridge, and I walk into the mill courtyard to hear Rana Santacruz singing en la plaza de la flor … invoking an old town square on a warm night.

He calls his music bluegrass mariachi — Mexico City meets acoustic banjo and Balkan brass in Brooklyn — and the words are beautiful. He writes his own music and lyrics. It’s music to make you sit up and pull to your feet, and half the tunes are Mexican polka or triple-time waltzes, so even I know how to dance to them, and I’m up and moving …

Crowds gather for live music at FreshGrass. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA.
FreshGrass

Crowds gather for live music at FreshGrass. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA.

Global roots music at Mass MoCA

The 2022 FreshGrass lineup brings a host of acclaimed musicians, from blues icon Taj Mahal and the Berkshires’ own Misty Blues band to rising stars like Yola and Sierra Ferrell, bluegrass and Americana from Aoiffe O’Donovan to Miko Marks to Old Crow Medicine Show, awardwinning mandolin virtuoso Sierra Hull, Italian violinist Luca Ciarla, rock and Rap artist Skip Marley, Brooklyn duo Mafesa and many, many more.

A woman lifts a child in a courtyard full of people listening to live music at FreshGrass. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA
FreshGrass

A woman lifts a child in a courtyard full of people listening to live music at FreshGrass. Press photo courtesy of Mass MoCA

Events coming up …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

Kimberley, a Native woman, looks out from Nayana LaFond's painting with somber eyes. LaFond will show her artwork at the Lichtenstein Center as part of The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project. Press image courtesy of First Fridays Artswalk
Sep 26 2022 @ 10:00 am
Internationally known artist Nayana Lafond will show her portraits of women in 'The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project.'
Kimberley, a Native woman, looks out from Nayana LaFond's painting with somber eyes. LaFond will show her artwork at the Lichtenstein Center as part of The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project. Press image courtesy of First Fridays Artswalk
Sep 27 2022 @ 10:00 am
Internationally known artist Nayana Lafond will show her portraits of women in 'The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project.'
Kimberley, a Native woman, looks out from Nayana LaFond's painting with somber eyes. LaFond will show her artwork at the Lichtenstein Center as part of The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project. Press image courtesy of First Fridays Artswalk
Sep 28 2022 @ 10:00 am
Internationally known artist Nayana Lafond will show her portraits of women in 'The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Project.'

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.