We wanted to share our beautiful Fall 2017 Poster Design, lovingly created by Tanya Stephens Henderson (who also designs our programs). It’s theme is an homage to the fact that there will be a full moon on the Thursday night of the festival, and it harkens back to the total eclipse earlier this summer. Please feel free to share the image around and invite folks to come out to the festival this fall!
Californian iconoclast Brett Dennen bursts out elegantly funky strands of timeless pop featuring captivating melodies that unfold in a rush of clever rhymes, often laid over subtle African pop rhythms. His sunny take on big subjects like love and death form an ideology of hope for the hopeless and strength for the broken.
Brett was last at Shakori Hills in Fall 2011, and we are incredibly excited to have him back this Spring! He’ll be playing the Meadow Stage on Thursday night at 8:30pm. Brett will be releasing his new album Por Favor in May and we’ll be the first date on his spring tour!
Enjoy his song, “Wild Child” from his last album Smoke & Mirrors.
Notes from the other desk…
This festival is going to be special, I can feel it. Of course, it always is. Spring, to me, is a season of discovery and newness which is why it suits this festival so well. We seek to be a place where people discover new things both in the outside world and within themselves. Art is so often the first step to discovery, it makes us step out of ourselves and find inspiration in what we see and hear and in the creators who make it. There are some familiar bands in this spring’s lineup, I’m sure, but I’d also like to think that a lot of it isn’t familiar, and that most of it inspires you. I’d like to share with you some of our artists that have inspired me, and I hope you get a chance to experience them as well.
Of course, all of our bands are great! The Wood Brothers are going to start it off right, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars will take us to far off places, Feufollet and Preston will help us dance the night away. I’ve compiled a short list, however, of some that I don’t think should be missed that you might not have heard before. I do realize I’ve asked you to watch two bands at once, but you’ll figure it out…
I’ve heard them described as a mix between Gary Clark, Jr. and Cream. So, that should really be enough for you to catch their set on Saturday night at 9:30 pm. These guys have been holed up in New York City for a few years. They started in 2008, and apparently stuck around, playing local shows and blowing local minds, and now they are finally hitting the rest of the country, and we are lucky for it. Put some flowers in your hair, and be ready to live out some of those music festivals of yore with the soul, psychadelia, funk, and of course, rock and roll of The London Souls!
“Old Country Road” – The London Souls
There’s a neat little Americana scene that’s been coming out of Boston for a while now. It includes Lake Street Dive, Crooked Still, Aoife O’Donovan, and many others. Beantown’s most recent delectable, musical child is Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards. Laura, however, has been to many festivals with various bands. I met her when she was in the John Paul Jones produced Uncle Earl with Abigail Washburn. She’s also just cool, she has special online shows in which she and her bandmates bake goodies and play music! When you buy your tickets to watch online, you can also purchase the goodies they make! Innovative, fun, super talented, that’s Laura Cortese! She’ll be playing the Cabaret Tent on Friday at 8:15 pm. There’s some other great stuff of hers on youtube, including this one, but I just love this song! Let’s go dance!
“Heel to Toe” – Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
My new favorite band out of Raleigh! You may have caught Jack the Radio at last fall’s fest, their brand of swamp rock is both catchy and alluring. New Revielle has George Hage in common, and while he brings some of the swamp with him, they’ve washed off some of the mud and added some amazing harmony, three strong female voices, and a banjo. Put your cowboy boots on for this one, and be ready to watch these guys climb to fame. Catch them in the Cabaret Tent on Saturday at 9:30 pm.
“Heavy Hands” – New Reveille
Her bio calls her the “best kind of trouble the South needs.” Claiming to be from both New York and North Carolina, Laila strums her guitar, searches her soul, and shares with us her “Revolutionary Love Music.” Active in the art world, the LGBT community, and anywhere there needs to be a voice for justice and love. Her songs express both her passion for life and the world around her and a sense of a commitment to make both of those better. Have a listen for yourself on Sunday at 6:45 pm in the Dance Tent. You may need it more than you know.
“The Untitled Song” – Laila Nur
Love & peace,
One of my favorite things to do at the festival is, while watching a band on stage, taking a moment to watch all of you watching and listening. Joy is contagious. Music can fascinate, soothe, make us reflect, learn, and make us bust a move. I LOVE watching people experience all of these feelings while standing in front of our stages. Here are some bands I can’t wait for you to hear…
Everyone needs some New Orleans spirit in their lives! In that city, they know how to dance, they know how to eat, they know how to party, they even know how to have funerals better than anyone else! Last spring we had the Dirty Dozen Brass Band who were so much fun and definitely brought us to New Orleans. The Soul Rebels continue in the DDBB’s traditions while adding a newer, younger approach. The Village Voice claims they are “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” A bridge between present day New Orleans and always New Orleans. Try not to move your feet in front of the Meadow for this one on Saturday night at 10:30pm!
The Soul Rebels Play “Let It Roll” a the New Orleans hotspot, The Blue Nile
These guys are an up-and-coming band out of Brooklyn, NY. They are sweet and mellow and man, she has great hair! She (Kari Spieler) also has a powerful and captivating voice. They’re young, but they’ve got a mature and reflection-filled weight to them. These guys met in college and have been touring all over since then. They have that indie-folk vibe that everyone’s looking for these days (think Lumineers), but there’s something new and pure about them too. Their harmonies are infectious, and their live show is sure to be a treat! See ’em on Saturday in the Meadow at 2:45.
Swear & Shake “Hum Our Tune”
This folk duo from Greensboro calls themselves a “multisensory artistic collaboration,” using visual art, print, and even smells in their performances, allowing the audience to be a part of their show; “reducing the space between artist and listener.” With just percussion (toe tapping included) and a guitar, they bring their sweet harmonic songs to life and tell us tales of travel and turmoil. They bring a message of peace through music and art, and their love for the craft and for each other is visceral. You’ll get two chances to experience them, Friday in the Meadow at 4:30 and Saturday in the Cabaret Tent at 3:45, so don’t miss out!
Lowland Hum, “Twine” from their living room
Based in LA, 7-member Las Cafeteras uses Afro-Mexican rhythms, zapateado flair, and a good amount of fun to convey thier community-focused political message. They have a unique and engaging mix of punk, hip-hop, and rock, but you can still hear their traditional immigrant folk roots. As their bio expresses, they “tell stories of a community who is looking for love & fights for justice in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles.” This is the type of band Shakori Hills is known for, you haven’t heard of them, but you will leave glad you found them! See them on Saturday in the Cabaret Tent at 11:45pm.
I can’t help but share their version of one of my favorite songs!
Las Cafeteras, “This Land Is Your Land”
Don’t just stick with the ones you know…we promise you’ll find a new favorite!
Love & Peace,
Notes from the other desk…
When we knew we were close to getting the Indigo Girls, I had to pinch myself a little and keep a very positive outlook until I knew it was in the bag. I can’t tell you how many sunny, road tripping, friend filled days of mine have consisted of “Get Out the Map,” “Closer to Fine,” and “Least Complicated.” Expect to see me front and center listening to Amy and Emily sing my heart home. And, there’s no high and lonesome voice that I’d rather hear than Del McCoury’s supported by “the boys” and their bluegrass. But I’m here to tell you about the bands you may not know about. The surprises that, hopefully, you have come to love and expect at each Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival – they are the ones I’m most excited to watch you discover and take home with you to add to your collection of sunny roadtrip (and other occasions) music.
I imagine that many of our attendees will know about Ben Sollee, but just in case you don’t, I’ll include him in the list of folks you may not know, but should. Ben embodies “singing with your heart” and his heart is often talking about tough issues like mountain top removal coal mining, the dangers of consumerism, and religious freedom. He has strong beliefs and is not afraid to share them with you! But, if you listen, you’ll know why he feels that way too, and you’ll likely agree.
Ben often rides his bike (yes, while towing his cello) to gigs all over the country to speak out about energy consumption, and also, to experience the world a little differently. He’s a story collector, and as is true of the great storytellers, he’s able to see the world for everything that it is: one filled with both great sadness and trial but also with great beauty and love. He’s a serious man, but he’s got a smile that lets you in enough to ensure you that if we work together, we’re gonna be ok.
I love to watch great music come out of UNC. Or really college students in general. They’re just getting started and have some great emotions to fuel their song. Morning Brigade has been my favorite example of that in a long while. Their creativity and music professionalism is quite impressive for such a young age, and they build their music with thick imagery and textures that are tactile and effective. They’re in the indy rock category, for sure, but like the Decemberists, they are obviously fans of folk and acoustic instrumentation, they are North Carolinians, of course. These guys are having fun and you can feel it and hear it. They’re going places, and I hope they will send us postcards along the way.
When I saw Kamara’s photo in the Indy I knew I had to know more about her. Her image just exudes beauty and art. She and her family recently moved to the Triangle from Brooklyn for a slower pace and a place to write songs with a more Southern drawl than her previous punk roots. We had her at last fall’s festival, and at last summer’s NC Stars in the Round, so you may have caught her then, but if not, treat yourself this time around. She’s grasped Southern folk and storytelling quite nicely, and her slide guitar accompaniment (usually Nathan Golub who always seems to make a Shakori Hills appearance) slips her right into a slow country afternoon. She’s got a deep and soothing voice, with which she takes us from deep hearts in hollers to busy city street-scapes with her lyrics.
Kamara is part of the family now, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome her to North Carolina. We’ll hope that our Pittsboro local, Saranpreet, makes another appearance next to her on stage. Such beautiful, bold women should really be seen and heard often.
It was suggested that I should look into Baloji & L’Orchestra De La Katuba for an upcoming festival. I went to his website, saw this video, and was hooked. I wanted to go right to the Congo, disappear into the sweat and spice of a little club where this music was playing, to experience the other side of the world in such a participatory way, dancing, singing, rapping, the poetry of a country so filled with strife but one that hasn’t forgotten that music is life, music is story, music crosses borders in ways the we can’t in other ways.
Baloji is from the Belgian Congo city of Lubumbashi. His music consists of hip-hop, soul, and soukous. Soukous, is a dance music born from the influences of Cuban’s rumba and Congolese music that gained popularity in the 1940s. His band, Orchestra de la Katuba – named after a commune in his home town – includes horns, guitars, drums, and the dance moves to back them up.
Baloji’s tour this spring is supported in part by the globalFEST Touring Fund. Find out more at globalFEST.org. At one point in his NY City GlobalFEST appearance, he said, “This isn’t world music, this is our music.” I love that! And you will love this band!
I’m also really excited to bring you guys Phil Cook & The Guitarheels, with some new tunes played by old friends, Toon & The Real Laww to show you some of the best new hip hop in the area, as well as Leyla McCalla, J.P. Harris & The Tough Choices…too many to talk about each one! Just…enjoy!
Love & Peace,
Notes from the other desk…
There is something I love in every band on the lineup this spring. I can’t wait to see what Keller and those McCoury boys dream up for us on Thursday, I love the memories of Miami from Locos Pour Juana, I’m excited to disappear into Hindugrass, but here are the ones I’m most excited about watching you guys discover and love, if you haven’t already…
One of the agents I love working with called a few weeks before the festival last October to say that the Ben Miller Band was really close by and they’d love to play the festival. I said that I’d love to have them, but we were full. He pushed a little more, I watched some videos, and couldn’t help but make the effort to make some room for these guys on Sunday afternoon. It was raining and cold, and a little quiet at the Cabaret Tent, many folks had gone home because of the weather and the rest were spread out waiting on the closing show. I showed up to at least show a little support for a band I knew nobody knew about. What happened was exactly what you want to happen when you take a chance on a band you believe in.
They started playing – pulled out the washtub bass, some swampy guitar, and…a trombone – and they ROCKED it! People started flocking. By twos, fours, then tens, the crowds came. They came because they could hear it. And they could feel it. Their feet drew them, maybe even more than their ears. And there we all were, four or five songs in, in a packed and dancing Cabaret Tent that felt a more like Saturday night than Sunday afternoon. At once we felt like we were at church – albeit a strange, Southern, snake-handling type one – and in a juke joint on a sweaty bayou. There was a washboard, some spoons, I think they even played Billy Idol. So, this spring…we brought ‘em back, for the folks that heard it then, and those that will hear it now. Move your feet, hoop ‘n holler! Enjoy!
When someone like Pierce Freelon messages you from Panama to say that he’s met someone that he thinks should play the festival, you have to pay attention. So, over an Indian dinner cooked by a mutual friend, we watched a video of Yomira John of which Pierce and members of The Beast had been a part. In a studio that had lost power because a local festival had tapped the city of its electricity, the musicians and engineers did their best to capture what was obviously a once in a lifetime musical experience.
By candlelight – accompanied by the band – she sang from her heart in a language I did not understand, but I knew that Pierce was right, that the folks at Shakori Hills needed to know this woman, hear her voice and catch some of her laughter and spirit. She’s old enough to be the mother of any of the musicians around her, but she flirts like a teenager in French and in Spanish, quite the charmer. If we were in Panama, we’d be lucky to see her, as she’s quite the celebrity. Which means we are doubly lucky that she will be joining us at Shakori Hills – aren’t we always!?
Yomira will be a guest with The Beast on in the Meadow on both Friday night at 12:30am and Sunday at 2:45pm.
Check out Pierce’s project Beat Making Lab at www.youtube.com/beatmakinglab
Somehow these two, from the cold north of Boston, are able to capture a warm afternoon in a dusty but very comfortable village in Mexico. Their songs – catchy, dancey, and fun – and will draw you in at first listen as something both familiar and something you’ve never heard. They play a jaw bone, for goodness sake! These guys are the epitome of folk, from our country and from our neighbors to the south, but they also bring to the genre something modern and fresh. It’s beautiful and engaging, it’s a journey while standing in one place, it’s exploring a foreign land with some exciting tour guides, it’s a museum! Catch them on Friday at 5 in the Meadow and Sunday at 6 in the Grove.
I am also very exited about seeing Kym and Will of Loamlands, their newest musical invention. These guys are local treasures, even at such a young age, and they capture so much of what is local here in our lil’ music haven, they are also longtime festival veterans at this point, so I’m sure it will feel just like home. Check out the full band set on Friday at 5:30 in the Grove, but make sure to wake up on Saturday morning and come see just the duo in the Meadow at 10:15am!
And I don’t even know what to say about Oliver, except that you have to see him! If you’ve ever questioned “World Music” or wondered why we should be listening to songs from somewhere across the world, all of your questions will be answered at his set. Open your hearts and be ready to fall in love! In the Meadow on Saturday at 8:30 pm and Sunday at 6:30pm.
Can’t wait to see you at the festival!
Love & Peace,
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
Well, this is cool. Bearfoot, one of the bands playing the festival, wants to offer all Shakori Folks a free mp3 from their upcoming album! This is from the band:
Bearfoot, the award winning acoustic quintet, forged in Alaska now based in Nashville, TN, will be playing at Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance and they want to give you their new single, “When You’re Away,” off of their upcoming album, for FREE! Just visit the MyStore tab on the Bearfoot Fan Page (on Facebook) and enter: “shakori” into the promo code box to get an exclusive mp3 download. “When You’re Away” is one of the tracks on Bearfoot’s new album, “American Story” which will be released on September 27th on Compass Records. The band is all fired up about playing in NC, so enjoy the music and hope to see you at the show!