This Weekend’s Fresh Grass Festival in The Berkshires

Mandolin Orange - Photo by Alex Loops
Mandolin Orange is our pick of the festival. – Photo by Alex Loops

Just a short 3.5 hr hop from Brooklyn, this weekend MASS MoCA hosts its four-stage and music snob approved Fresh Grass festival in the Berkshire town of North Adams, MA.  The lineup is stellar without one bad act on the bill, spanning traditional folks like Ralph Stanley and Del McCoury, newgrass folks like The Infamous Stringdusters and Sam Bush, music school prodigies like Sarah Jarosz, mountain jammers like Leftover Salmon and even poppy, soulful Americana acts like The Lone Bellow and Lake Street Dive.

Of special note are two bands that we’ve been watching grow over the last year – Elephant Revival, a new favorite from the bill at Telluride in June, and North Carolina’s Mandolin Orange. Mandolin Orange, the Carrboro-based duo made up by Andrew Marlin & Emily Frantz, met at a Chapel Hill jam in 2009. The band released its third album last month. This Side Of Jordan (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) is possibly my favorite release of the summer and was inspired by a near-fatal accident involving Marlin. With storytelling that leaves you hanging on every line and flawless true-to-North Carolina gospel, folk, and bluegrass tunes, the band is our pick for the weekend. Check out the video below of the band singing “Calvary” one of my favorites off the new album.