Notes from the other desk…
If you work on booking a festival, you can’t really talk about which bands are your favorites. I am not lying, however, when I say that there’s something that I love about every single one of the bands playing this spring’s festival, and there are lots of bands that I’m really thrilled about having here. I decided, though, that I wanted to share a few that I am most excited about introducing to our audience. Here at Shakori Hills, it’s important to us not only to have great music, but also to share great music that most folks who attend the festival would never have heard otherwise.
Here are a few that you probably haven’t heard of before, why I think you won’t soon forget them, and why they embody our little GrassRoots world.
Blitz the Ambassador – Meadow, Sat. Midnight
Soon after I was introduced to the music of Blitz, I found out that a friend and another great Shakori Hills artist, Pierce Freelon was also a fan. Pierce and his band The Beast already had a plan to bring Blitz to the area, so we worked together and are both really excited about his performances both at Shakori and at UNC. The fact that Blitz’s friends also include Chuck D. and Les Nubians, make him all the more interesting. Blitz has incredible progressive lyrics, his rapping style is mesmerizing, and his band is just fantastic. His life, from Ghana to Brooklyn, his conscious and forward thinking, and his musical talent create the perfect combination of musical stories, and he has many to tell. Blitz the Ambassador’s way of merging the music of his African homeland – djembes and koras not forgotten – with the spoken word poetry that hip hop can become make his sound accessible while at the same time inspiring our minds to reach beyond what we thought possible.
A lyric about comparing himself to the likes of Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti “bridging the gap…playing the djembe with a fedora” made me smile and the decision to bring him to our GrassRoots festival complete. Keeping great music alive, bringing it to younger generations, putting your own twist on it, that’s what we’re all about here.
“Best I Can” from Native Sun
Elephant Revival -Meadow, Fri. 10:15pm and Sat. 4:15pm
Indie or “Transcendental” folk group from Nederland, Colorado, Elephant Revival, will likely be a musical experience that even the well-heeled, string-drowned crowd here in the land of fiddlers’ conventions and the birthplace of bluegrass and old-time will call new and different. They seem to float in with their traditional instruments, simple yet attractive looks, and ethereal voices and give us something on which to be transported. So, while a photo makes them seem like any old back-porch roots act, their music will prove otherwise. Come ready for the journey.
People tell me that their live show is better than their recorded music, all the more reason to look very much forward to seeing them on the Shakori Hills GrassRoots stages. From their bio: Elaborating on Elephant Revival’s live shows, independent film director Mike Eberle explains, “When I hear Elephant Revival I am struck by my inability to define it. I am forced to confront the music as it is, connecting to it with a virgin spirit of mind. Consequently it feels like I am experiencing music and all its joys for the very first time.”
Again, “experiencing music and all its joys for the very first time” – what we’re all about.
“Remembering a Beginning”
Old Man Luedecke – Cabaret, Friday 6pm; Frontporch Songwriting Workshop, Sat. noon; Grove, Sun. 1:30pm
It was years ago, soon after being laid off from a job I actually loved, that a friend who lived in Canada sent me a mix cd with a song called “I Quit My Job” on it by a guy named Old Man Luedecke. The guy, also from Canada – Nova Scotia to be exact – sang some of the best lyrics I’d ever heard about how much more to life there is than jobs and paychecks and the daily grind. “Take your heart’s candle, and re-light it,” he says in “I Quit My Job,” “…you can always live on rice and potatoes.”
A few years and two albums later, Old Man Luedecke is still singing about the important things in life. With his banjo on his knee, a gentle spirit, and a folksinger’s view of the world, this Juno Award winning songwriter channels Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger but brings his own light to an old craft.
Old Man Luedecke’s official bio says that he’s “equally at home on festival main stages, theatres and living rooms, he can hold court in the occasional indie rock bar.” Sounds kind of perfect for our crowd here in North Carolina. Relighting your heart’s candle is another thing we like to do here at Shakori Hills.
“The Rear Guard” from My Hands Are on Fire and Other Love Songs
Rubblebucket – Dance Tent, Thurs. 11pm
Rumored to be Trey Anastasio’s favorite band, Rubblebucket will wow Phish fans, but just as likely knock the socks off of the most stoic hipster in the middle of his yawn. I saw them first at Virginia’s Floyd Fest last summer and as they ran through the crowded meadow with fluorescent ribbons and crazy outfits, I knew they’d have to make a trip to Shakori Hills.
A solid band with horns and all, and led by a charismatic young female (her name is Kalmia AND she plays the tenor and bari sax), Rubblebucket will have the crowd dancing and moving close to get a good view. They are definitely as much fun to watch as they are to hear.
And Paste says this, which I can’t help but love: “Joyous jungles of worldly pop-funk, instrumentally rich but catchy enough to @$$-kick Katy Perry off the pop charts (in a just world)—mega-melodic without sacrificing an ounce of atmosphere or creativity.”
On a cold February Sunday night in Miami at Virginia Key Beach Park, some GrassRoots Festival attendees got a great preview of what this band will be bringing to the festival this spring.
Bands that blow everyone’s minds in the Dance Tent – what we’re all about.
“Breatherz” from Live in Chicago
Speaking of which, we held our first annual Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival in Miami in February and we are very excited to bring a few of our new Miami friends up here to North Carolina. This spring, check out Suenalo, Equanimus Minds (back to back on Saturday night in the Dance Tent for a Miami dance party), and Raffa & Rainer. Be sure to check the Fall 2012 lineup for more Miami guests. We’re 4 festivals a year now, one for every season!
Enjoy it all, dance, share, love, experience…
Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival co-Coordinator