Three hours driving due west from Boston where Massachusetts borders New York and Vermont lies North Adams. Here, in and around a 19th century textile printing factory converted into the thriving Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the annual FreshGrass Festival is held. Produced by the FreshGrass Foundation this three day event features roots music from some of the biggest names in the genre to those seeking their first opportunity. Whether on the main stage in “Joe’s Field”, the smaller courtyard stage or just dotted around this sprawling site these are three days brimming with all the ingredients that make americana.
Aoife O’Donovan has been a regular at FreshGrass over the years, both solo, with Crooked Still and with Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz in I’m With Her. Four years ago she was “FreshGrass Artist-in-Residence”, a unique position on the bill that includes introducing highly talented musicians from Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
This clip comes from one of those sets where O’Donovan was joined by that year’s ‘Berklee Instant Strings’. The intricacy of ‘Beekeeper’ from her second album released in 2013, ‘Fossils’ gives O’Donovan scope to highlight not just her own abilities but as importantly, those of her new partners. Her solo acoustic shows are filled with versions of songs stripped of their studio production. O’Donovan’s haunting vocal range and guitar are always hypnotic, the quartet’s strings add a further immersive layer.