RLR: Why am you excited for Freshgrass this year?
Stash: Other than the obvious reasons that I get excited about any bluegrass festival – that is to see the amazing acts (of which there are far too many to even begin to list here at Freshgrass), and hang and pick with other bluegrass zealots like myself who live for the ancient tones and harmony of Bill Monroe’s music – I’m excited to walk around North Adams, catch some art at Mass MoCA, and see the leaves turn color; nothing beats coming down the mountain on Route 2 west entering North Adams.
RLR: A big part of what Red Line Roots stands for is collaboration, community and bringing folks together and fostering an environment where artists help each other. How do you feel about that preservation of unity and family sentiment as it applies to a festival like Freshgrass?
Stash: The effort the staff at Freshgrass makes to reach out and connect with former performers, fans and pickers across the country is a testament to Freshgrass’ dedication to unity and the grass roots tradition of the music itself and how it comes together. The unique aspect of the bluegrass community as a whole is that the majority of the fans are players themselves. As an example, Freshgrass having contests for different instruments, bands and duos allows pickers from the community to be on both sides of the festival, performing and spectating, without necessarily being entrenched in the music business, but giving ample opportunity for those who want to get a start in it.
RLR: How does it play into your own music and where you come from?
Stash: Festivals like Freshgrass allow musicians to meet each other in natural, friendly ways. This includes sharing tunes, trading music, and exchanging ideas about the music. I’m a relative newcomer to Bluegrass having come from Heavy Metal originally. I only started playing Bluegrass seriously in 2007, and the bluegrass community has introduced me to some of the most inspiring musicians who have taught me a lot about the business and the craft. Festivals like Freshgrass are particularly unique in that the folks who run it and in turn the folks who attend, along with respecting the tradition of the music, want it to expand and encourage artists who maybe want to take a few acoustic- heavy metal flights on stage after playing an old Stanley Brothers tune.
RLR: If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive) musically, who would it be?
Stash: Frank Zappa, it would have been amazing to see that guy in action.
How about seeing anyone on stage together or joining you for your set this weekend?
Stash: Well, he’s not playing this year, but the first time I saw Ralph Stanley live was at Freshgrass 2013. If I could ever sing a song with Ralph Stanley on stage or off, that would be a dream come true. Does that count?
RLR: What is 1 record that shaped you when you first started playing and also, who is 1 ‘lesser known’/independent artist or an album that you are listening to now that you think folks really need to hear about?
Stash: Pantera- Cowboys from Hell shaped me significantly. Hearing Dimebag Darrell’s guitar playing and the band’s grooves and riffs changed my life. He’s a superstar to me, but I think that Cello Master Rushad Eggleston is the best entertainer alive right now and if anybody ever gets the opportunity to see him live they need to do it. He encompasses all the things I value most about music: creativity, individuality, and entertainment – being true to yourself.
RLR: Anything else you want to plug?
Stash: I’m released my debut solo album to the world, “Stash!”, on September 15, 2015. The music is my heavy metal past colliding with my love of bluegrass and acoustic music, not necessarily on purpose but that’s what came out. 19 songs, 40 minutes, all original. The band that recorded the album is different than the one that performed at Freshgrass. The band that recorded and will be playing the release shows in NYC and Cambridge is Sean Trischka (Drums), Noam Wiesenberg (Bass), and Duncan Wickel (Fiddle).
Check out the new record at: www.stashwyslouch.com