Minnesota Bluegrass Winter Weekend

Friday-Sunday, February 28– March 2, 2025 • Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West, Plymouth MN

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Grass Seeds Academy & GS2 


`<img alt="Picture of multiple children playing Violin on stage"`>Grass Seeds and GS2 are MBOTMA-sponsored youth workshops held in conjunction with the Winter Bluegrass Weekend. The groups meet for one session Friday night, two sessions on Saturday and one session Sunday morning. The kids then have the opportunity to show us all what they have learned with a main stage concert on Sunday at 1:00.

The program is designed for youth ages 8-18 and is open to all experience levels. No bluegrass experience is required, just an instrument and a willingness to learn!

The students learn about jamming etiquette, ensemble playing, how to play back-up, how to take a lead break, plus singing lead and harmony vocals. The kids have a lot of fun, but they work hard too.

Grass Seeds is NOT just for beginners or little kids – or just the really talented kids. Students who can play a few common chords or fiddle a few tunes will fit in at Grass Seeds. 

GS2: For more experienced students who are at least 14, there is GS2, which includes advanced instrumental technique, 3 and 4 part vocal harmonies and improvisation. Please see the information below pertaining to selection for GS2.

If you have any further questions, please contact Anthony Ihrig at anthony.ihrig@gmail.com.

Instruments/Vocals Options

  • Guitar
  • Banjo
  • Fiddle/Viola/Violin
  • Mandolin
  • Dobro
  • Bass 
  • Vocals


Friday:  7 -  9 p.m.
Saturday:  10 a.m. - 12 noon, and 1 - 4 p.m.
Sunday:  10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and concert at 1 p.m.


Fee: $85 if registered by January 31. $100 after January 31. 
Registration includes admission to all festival concerts and activities.


Registration is not complete until payment has been received.
Students can only register for one instrument.
Be sure to register early, as space is limited. Fiddle tends to fill the quickest.


The Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association is quite honored to have a dedicated fund to support scholarships for Grass Seeds Academy. The Tom O'Neill Endowment fund was established to ensure that MBOTMA's educational programs are well-supported. Do not hesitate to request a scholarship, or to refer others to it! Bluegrass is for all!

Please complete THIS FORM to request a scholarship. We will contact you as soon as we can to confirm the scholarship, and get you registered!


Payments can be made online with a credit card or by check mailed to the address below. Note that registration is NOT complete until payment is received.

Minnesota Bluegrass
attn: Grass Seeds
PO Box 16408
Minneapolis MN 55416

Faculty: The High 48s

This year, longtime Grass Seeds favorites The High 48s (thehigh48s.com) will return as instructors. In addition to being one of the busiest bluegrass bands in the upper Midwest, the High 48s are also in demand as instructors, both in person and – more recently – online. They’ve also been a huge success as faculty at MBOTMA’s summer jam camp over the years. The High 48s are Clint Birtzer on guitar, Rich Casey on bass, Eric Christopher (ericonfiddle.com) on fiddle/violin/viola, David Robinson (davidrobinsonmusician.com) on mandolin and Anthony Ihrig (anthonyihrig.com) on banjo.

Chris Silver (chrissilverband.com) will teach GS2. If there are strings on it, Chris plays it -- and plays it well. Before forming the Chris Silver Band, he was a member of Stoney Lonesome and is also well known for his songwriting. Chris has firm roots in bluegrass, but his playing draws on influences well beyond the genre, making him perfect instructor for GS2.

What is GS2?

It has always been a struggle in Grass Seeds to accommodate such a wide variety of ages and ability levels. The past several years, we couldn’t help but notice how many young, advanced players were showing up at the festivals. There has also been an increase in the number of Grass Seeds registrations in the 14 to 18 year-old age group, many who have attended Grass Seeds several times.

It was obvious these older kids needed a very different, more age-appropriate experience than we were offering in Grass Seeds. We needed to provide them with their own social experience and move away from teaching only the traditional bluegrass tunes. They clearly want to learn to play what they listen to. We experimented with a few different things, but didn’t really hit on anything that worked. That is until 2011, when we started GS2.

Now in its 12th year, GS2 has been quite a success! These kids have had a great experience and are really an inspiration to the younger ones. Our goals for GS2 are the same as Grass Seeds and the structure of the weekend is pretty much the same, we are just raising the bar by including advanced instrumental technique, three and four part vocal harmonies and improvisation. GS2 decides as a group what songs to work on. We encourage them to choose more progressive songs from the contemporary artists they enjoy listening to. Then they get to work creating their own arrangement, not just reproducing it as recorded. They will focus in on what it takes to be a member of a performing group. The discussion topics are also determined by the group so we can best meet the specific needs of the kids that year.

The minimum age to participate in GS2 is 14 and space is limited to about 10 students. We recommend at least four to five years of playing with a good working knowledge of common chords and scales. Basic instrumental technique should be solid and familiarity with ensemble playing is expected. Students must be able to learn quickly by ear. Previous participation in Grass Seeds is not required. Everyone who is interested in GS2 will participate in a jam session first thing Friday night, the instructors will make their decision at that time. All participants must register for Grass Seeds, we cannot guarantee your child will be selected for GS2 at time of registration. There is no additional cost for GS2 and no refunds will be given if your child is not selected. GS2 will have the same schedule as Grass Seeds and students will be required to perform in the concert on Sunday.

Support Grass Seeds

Grass Seeds is a unique opportunity to develop young musicians as there are few programs like this one. Our goal is to keep the registration fee as low as possible and the quality of instruction as high as possible. Tuition alone does not cover the cost of the program.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Minnesota Bluegrass to support Grass Seeds. You can do that online at the Donate page of Minnesota Bluegrass or by sending a check to Minnesota Bluegrass at PO Box 16408 Minneapolis MN 55416 and specify your donation is for Grass Seeds. 

Winter Bluegrass Weekend 2022

Here's what Grass Seeds & G2 Parents had to say:

"Everything was excellent.  The High 48's are master teachers. 
Thank you so much for this wonderful program!" - William

"Hi!  Both our [children] really enjoyed the weekend! Registration was simple, cost appropriate, venue great, and the teachers were fabulous!" - Leslie

"My child LOVED Grass Seeds. He literally was begging for the next thing when he came home on Sunday. It was really his first time playing with other musicians (and he's been tinkering with piano for nearly 6 years). He loves being pushed instead of feeling like he's at the top (as in elementary orchestra) and the dynamics of being able to change the music, not just play what is on a page. Bluegrass and fiddling was entirely new to him and he adored it. He listened to the teachers, he admired them, he was excited to see their sets over the weekend. He's totally on board with continuing to learn and to play bluegrass." - Erica

"I asked [my son] about Grass Seeds, “It was amazing. Don’t change anything. Learned a lot.” Said with a big smile. Thanks for the program, what a way to make a difference in a child’s life." - Peggy

I cannot say thank you enough for hosting the Grass Seeds youth workshop this weekend.  We signed Sophie up without really knowing what we were getting into.   The quality of instruction and supportive environment were just what she needed to further foster her love of this style of music.  She’s hooked!  In looking at the schedule ahead of time, I wondered if she’d be willing to stick with it for so many hours.  But by midday Saturday, she came out of the workshop saying things like, “This is amazing, I’m coming every year.” and “This is like a new holiday for me, I’m going to come back from college every year so we can come to this.” (She’s currently in 7th grade, so this is definitely planning ahead!) Thank you for all the work behind the scenes to make this such a positive experience. - Kathryn

Here's what Grass Seeds & G2 Students had to say:

I participated in Grass Seeds Academy for multiple sessions during my middle school years, and eventually helped the High 48s instruct the Academy for a couple years as well. 

This program is where I learned one of my first bluegrass guitar solos, and while I play bass professionally now, I will not forget the experience of learning in that environment! The Academy also helped me learn how to play with other people in a band setting, something that is so valuable to know as a musician.

I attended college at East Tennessee State University (as so many MBOTMA kids have, and continue to do so) from 2014-2018 and received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies. I don’t think that if I hadn't had such a great experience with the Grass Seeds Academy that I would have continued to pursue music in the direction that I have. I play upright bass and sing harmony in the band Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, based out of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We are so excited to be on the lineup for August Festival 2022! I am still friends with many of the people that I met my first year at the Academy and even went to college with them! I will always be thankful for MBOTMA and the Grass Seeds Academy and their continued support of young musicians! - Max Etling

Let us know what your child thought of their Grass Seeds or G2 experience.

Give us your feedback here. 

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