FreshGrass Festival Returns to Bentonville, Arkansas, for Second Annual Event
Margo Price plays the main stage at the The Momentary during FreshGrass | Bentonville 2022 – Photo by Hilary Saunders
Despite a 30-degree drop in temperature over the course of the weekend, the FreshGrass Festival | Bentonville returned to the small northwest Arkansas town to deliver two days of innovative and exciting roots music. The burgeoning festival brought a wide range of music fans and attendees to The Momentary museum; and curators (including staffers of No Depression’s nonprofit publisher, the FreshGrass Foundation) booked a diverse lineup with performers from the local Ozark region to as far away as Mexico and Nigeria.
Some of the staff from No Depression and the FreshGrass Foundation were on site to cover the event. Check out some of our team’s favorite musical moments and photos. And stay tuned, because the original FreshGrass Festival comes back to North Adams, Massachusetts, Sept. 23-25. Tickets are on sale now, and you can check out the lineup here.
Yes, I’m going to highlight Dispatch just like I did for last year’s FreshGrass | North Adams festival. Aside from the impeccable vocal melodies and nostalgic tunes, you can just feel how much fun these guys are having and how grateful they are to be playing music live in a pandemic-endemic world. They also played one of the best covers of the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band” that I’ve ever heard. — Adam Kirr, Director, Marketing and Retail, FreshGrass Foundation
It was quite simply an honor to witness Emmylou Harris perform. The country music legend shined with her originals, covers (like my personal favorite, “Pancho and Lefty”), and an a cappella version of the gospel number “Bright Morning Stars.” But when Sam Bush came out for a couple of songs (donning a Nashville Ramblers baseball jersey in honor of Harris’ live album from the Ryman in 1992), the energy seemed to shift up-tempo for the rest of the night. Plus, as Adam noticed immediately, Tammy Rogers from The Steel Drivers was by her side, stage right, all night. — Hilary Saunders, Managing Editor at No Depression
It may not have been obvious, but the place to be on Friday night was in the Tulip Barn listening to Willi Carlisle call the square dance performed by Rachel Reynolds and Clarke Buehling (and sometimes called by Steve Green). In fact, the rising Ozarkian folksinger programmed all of the local musicians who played the barn throughout the weekend, including the teenaged The Ozark Strangers and Eurekas Strings. — HS
The Black Legacy Project was one of the most exciting and inspiring discoveries for me this FreshGrass Festival. Organizers and musicians for the effort, described as “a musical celebration of Black history to advance racial solidarity, equity, and belonging,” gathered in the Fermentation Room inside The Momentary to screen a film about their work, which began in Western Massachusetts, and explain their burgeoning efforts in the local Ozarks community. The presentation culminated with three songs — some interpretations of songs from the region and others originals inspired by the work they’re doing there. — HS
Country singer-songwriter (and No Depression essayist) Hayes Carll welcomed the absurdity of Saturday’s cold, wet weather with good humor and compliments for the audience. Although many festival attendees camped out on the lawn with tarps and chairs, Carll’s most dedicated fans stood in the mud and gravel closest to the stage and sang along with every word. By the last song, the stage lights began to cut through the rainy mist and the Carll’s gratitude was warmly received. — HS
Son Rompe Pera was my first introduction to cumbia! I have no clue if they played it in a traditional style or what but I loved how they infused punk rock into the music. The blend had everyone in the No Depression Stage crowd grooving hard! — AK
Amythyst Kiah crushed it for thousands of people at FreshGrass | North Adams back in September, but it was delightful in a different kind of way to see her captivate a smaller audience at The Momentary. By the third song, someone behind me audibly declared, “I think I’m in love!” Props to bassist Emma Lambiasse too! — HS
I’ve listened to Margo Price’s studio albums for years, but I’d never experienced her performing live! She led a killer country rock band — with a funky Korg soaring throughout — with vocals reminiscent of Emmylou Harris and the stage presence of Dolly Parton. — AK
Here are photos from the weekend by Hilary Saunders. Click on any to enlarge and view as a slideshow.