For the second year in a row at Grey Fox, Berklee’s American Roots Music Program was represented by two fine bands, in this case Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, and Chasing Blue. A seminar on the program by its loco pater familias, Matt Glaser, was super well attended, and Berklee musicians were seemingly everywhere, playing, camping, you name it. None was seen in a kilt, however.
In a Berklee first at Grey Fox, the college presented scholarships to next summer’s Mark O’Connor Berklee Summer String Program. Our inaugural winners are ace fiddler Emma Hart, of Stamford, Connecticut, and viola whiz Julia Donahoe, of Concord, Massachusetts. We were also very pleased to meet mandolinist J.D. Williams, recipient of the Grey Fox Scholarship, who will be joining us here at Berklee in the near future.
Mike Reese from Chasing Blue, and the entire Blue Moose crew, blogged about their Grey Fox Experience, and there’s some video you can see as well. Viva Grey Fox and Berklee: together forever!
Hi, this is Mike Reese, guitarist from Chasing Blue. The opportunity to represent Berklee on the main stage at one of the biggest bluegrass festivals in the world, and to play on the Masters Stage… this becomes a memory that will stay with the band forever. Performing’s not the only highlight of the weekend, it’s the all night jams with the musicians that make up the scene itself. Camping next to bluegrass legend Bill Keith, sharing new songs with others, and jamming all night until the sun breaks through the hills, is what Grey Fox is all about.
The main stage experience at Grey Fox started with a sudden approach from Berklee professor Dave Hollender. Dave had been asked if we could do a couple of demonstration tunes with the raffle instruments – a fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo — on the main stage, following JD Crowe and the New South. JD is a heavy hitter in the bluegrass world, and the instrument raffle money goes to the festival’s Kids Bluegrass Academy, so we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that!
The band and I put our heads together to figure out what songs to play, and what to talk about in between songs to advertise the raffle instruments. The Martin guitar I was using had no strap pin on the neck, so with minutes to spare I had to extend my strap and borrow shoelaces from Nick the stage coordinator so I could tie the other end to the headstock. I’m sure Nick was a little glad we played just two songs, so he was not without his shoelaces for too long!
Stepping out on stage right after JD Crowe, to see that enormous audience, going way up the hill… that’s a view I’ll never forget! Just goes to show you that you never know when or what opportunity will be thrown at you, and you’ve got to be ready for anything… I love this industry!
The Moose Tromp the Grey Fox Grounds!
Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers was so honored to be able to share our music and represent Berklee College of Music at Grey Fox! As you will see, each of us had our own unique experience, but with the common themes of joy, inspiration, jamming, and baking in the sun!
“This was my first time attending Grey Fox and what a memorable experience it was! I always find great joy in being able to introduce my nyckelharpa to new audiences, and learn to adapt it to new styles (this was one of my goals all throughout Berklee). The experience stretched far beyond performing on the Masters Stage, to hearing workshops from many of my musical idols, jamming, roaming the campgrounds and making new friends. I even managed to squeeze in a little “Wheel Hoss” nyckelharpa action, and left feeling more inspired then ever to continue expanding the nyckelharpa into the world of Bluegrass!”
“There’s nothing like going to a bluegrass festival. Even better there’s nothing like having the opportunity to play at a bluegrass festival. This year’s festival came at an ideal time punctuated by awesome picking with new and old friends, dancing every night to great bands like Donna the buffalo and of course the red stick ramblers and hour after hour of top notch, world-class bluegrass music. Being part of the Berklee contingent in such a raw primal atmosphere like Grey Fox made the good vibes stick out, especially when the sun went down and the real roaming and jamming atmosphere of the festival took hold. Festivals like grey fox highlight the reason we love to play music together and why I’ve decided to dedicate my life doing it. Despite being roasted out of my tent every morning at 7 am and my lingering human stench from not showering, Grey Fox couldn’t have been any better!”
“Grey Fox is a true jamming festival. This year, the most perfect festival weather ever led to endless fields of spontaneous tunes and songs under the hot sun or the full moon. When the festival attendees are as excited to play as the artists, you know something good is going on. The vibe is contagious Bluegrass energy – inspiring and intense. A walk through the campsites reveals a patchwork of sound; jam after jam of soulful collaboration among old and new friends echo into the night.”
“I find myself so incredibly lucky to hear and see some of the
most well respected and legendary musicians in bluegrass at
Grey Fox. There's something special about bluegrass, old-time,
any kind of folk music really, festivals where the "top" musicians
of the genres are quite accessible. You can meet your musical
heroes; ask them questions, watch and listen to them play -
all without a VIP or backstage pass. What other genres can you say
that about? Grey Fox, like many folk and bluegrass festivals,
really encompasses that sense of community. It's been a pleasure
to combine that festival community with that of my Alma mater.
Many of the headlining acts at Grey Fox are master musicians who
have pushed the boundaries of bluegrass in their day. I feel that
Berklee houses the musicians of my generation who are pushing
the envelope even more. There's a certain energy that occurs when
those two generations meet that is quite special to witness.”
Thanks again to Berklee for providing us with this amazing opportunity!