FreshGrass Foundation


The FreshGrass Foundation mission is to create and celebrate innovative grassroots music.

It is our belief that the simple acts of making and sharing authentic creations are among the most effective ways to spread joy and love, to improve lives and communities, and to make a profoundly positive impact on the world. To achieve our mission, we produce FreshGrass Festivals in North Adams, MA and Bentonville, AR; we offer a variety of grants, commissions, and awards to musicians and writers for new works; we produce and publish No Depression, the quarterly journal of roots music; we produce, publish and stream Folk Alley, the 24-hour online listening for roots music; we are a founding partner of Artists At Work, a program that provides living wages for living artists; we administer the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, a prestigious award founded by Steve Martin (actor/comedian) that recognizes an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in banjo; and we operate and manage Studio 9 in North Adams, MA, a state-of-the-art recording studio and venue. Through a cutting-edge, multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, Freshgrass continually strives to help promote new artists and create new art through each of its entities.

FreshGrass is committed to making our organization completely sustainable and carbon neutral. Learn more about our pledge by reading our FreshGrass Manifesto.


Chris Wadsworth: Chris is the Founder, President and Executive Director of the FreshGrass Foundation. He started his music career as a bluegrass lead singer and guitarist in the Golden Elixir Bluegrass Band. He was a music major at Williams College and began a masters degree in composition at the New England Conservatory before dropping out to become a picker/packer at Rounder Records. He started following his accountant instinct and eventually got his MBA from the University of Chicago which led to 15 years of work in the technology, financial and venture capital sectors in both the US and China. He’s come full-circle back to roots music via FreshGrass. Chris has recorded and released two albums with his daughter as the MileRocks Duo and is a musician, writer and composer.

Rachel Chanoff: Rachel Chanoff is the chief strategic and artistic advisor and director for FreshGrass. She is the founder and director of THE OFFICE performing arts + film, an independent curator and production company based in New York and London that works in ongoing partnerships with festivals, venues, and institutions to create cultural programming that is unique and mission specific. THE OFFICE also produces events around the world, and consults on programming with organizations ranging from museums to universities to libraries to performing arts centers. In her position as director of THE OFFICE, Rachel Chanoff is the Curator of Performing Arts and Film for MASS MoCA, Director of Programming of the CenterSeries at the ’62 Center for Theater and Dance at Williams College, a Consultant to the Feature Film and Theater Programs for the Sundance Institute and to the RAWI screenwriters lab in Jordan, Curator of The New York Jewish Film Festival and The Margaret Mead Film Festival, and the Artistic Director of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, New York’s longest running free outdoor performing arts festival.

Olli Chanoff: Olli Chanoff is the director of programming for FreshGrass and has been the lead programmer of the festival since it started in 2011. As the managing director of programming for THE OFFICE performing arts + film, he has helped to shape scores of performing arts seasons at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, MASS MoCA, and elsewhere, and has been lead producer on events at major venues and festivals around the world including the Sydney Opera House, the Brighton Festival, Lincoln Center, and the Dublin International Theatre Festival.

Joe Thompson: Joseph Thompson is a director of FreshGrass. He is the founding director of MASS MoCA, having guided the museum’s development and arts programming since its inception in 1987. Opening with 200,000 square feet of renovated space in 1999, the arts complex has grown to over 500,000 square feet of galleries, stages, workshops, and commercial tenant space. One of the liveliest and largest centers in the world for making, showing, and enjoying important new art, music, theater, dance, and film, MASS MoCA is renowned for its daring programs of large-scale exhibitions and performances that capitalize on the museum’s vast 28-building, 16-acre site. It is also the home of long-term exhibitions from Sol LeWitt, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Laurie Anderson, and James Turrell, among others.

Maureen Cross: Maureen is the Secretary and Treasurer for Freshgrass. She oversees all the accounting, tax, compliance and operations functions including for the No Depression Journal and the Foundation Awards, Commissions and Freshscores. Maureen is a CPA registered in Vermont and has worked with businesses, non-profits and high net worth individuals for over twenty years in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Vermont. Her particular interest lies in working with creative people especially musicians. Maureen has an MA in Economics from Northeastern University in Boston, a Certificate in Advanced Accounting from Champlain College in Burlington, VT and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Trinity College in Burlington, VT.

Hilarie Spangler is the Director of Programs, Grants, and Ventures for Freshgrass. In her work, she actively uses her background as a musician and storyteller to explore authentic, collaborative and musical community-building exercises and workshops. Her work and interests are deeply rooted in the connection between rural, urban and international art practice and community healing. Hilarie is a native of Appalachia and serves as the co-founding Artistic Director of Cardinal Cross Arts Company: a growing, betwixt-and-between team of misfit female-identifying creative artists. Most recently she served as an advisor and speaker for the Rural Assembly’s Women’s Summit alongside Ashley Hanson and Amy Brooks, was a featured teller for the International Storytelling Center’s Young Appalachian Story Summit and served as the Company Manager at Beth Morrison Projects.

Adam Kirr: Adam is the Director of Digital & Retail for FreshGrass. Since 2008, Adam has been successfully building online communities and managing digital marketing campaigns for brands and artists of all sizes. Adam oversees the digital and retail marketing operations for FreshGrass, and plans + executes strategic marketing campaigns for the Foundation, No Depression, Folk Alley, and FreshGrass Festivals. Adam is a native of Baltimore, Maryland where he currently resides and is also the CMO, Partner of Charm City Bluegrass – a popular event brand in the area. Adam is a proud alumni of IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass program and is passionate about effectively connecting fans with brands.


Hilary Saunders, Managing Editor
Stacy Chandler, Web and Copy Editor
Sonja Nelson, Advertising
Adam Kirr, Digital and Retail
Marcus Amaker, Design
Ivan Lima, Technology
Confit, Technology


Adam Kirr, Social Media & Digital Marketing
Barb Heller, Host
Chris LeFevre, Web Design & Development
Cindy Howes, Host/Producer
Elena See, Operations & Communications Director/Host
Henry Carrigan, Writer
James Kelleway, Web Design & Development
Jeff Oehler, Audio Engineer/Videographer (Beehive Productions)
Kelly McCartney, Writer
Kim Ruehl, Writer
Linda Fahey, Executive Director/Producer
Matt Reilly, Host
Redia Spada, Producer
Sue Bibeau, Videographer/Photographer/Graphic Design (Beehive Productions)

The Freshgrass Foundation is supported through private donations and proceeds from our festivals, subscriptions and advertisers. If you are interested in making a donation or supporting us in some other way, please send us an email at