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From Cajun to country, reggae to improv, zydeco boogie to roots-rock riot, GrassRoots festival host band Donna the Buffalo aims for the best of what music has to offer. Their singular sound features upbeat grooves, inspirational lyrics, memorable hooks, superb musicianship and an overwhelming sense of celebration. They’re an American institution – socially conscious yet eternally danceable. Donna the Buffalo started the GrassRoots Festival almost 30 ago outside of Ithaca, NY to raise funds for local charities and showcase the talents of their friends and inspirations from around the world. The band consists of multi-instrumentalist Tara Nevins, guitarist Jeb Puryear, keyboardist Dave McCracken, bassist Kyle Spark and drummer Mark Raudabaugh.
Lettuce is a veteran New York-based funk and groove ensemble for whom almost no beat-heavy music is off limits. Their good time party music and powerful live performances mix bass-heavy pure '70s style retro funk with groovy jazz, hip-hop beats, dub effects, and heavy psychedelia that shimmers with an old-school electric boogie vibe. Buckle up for an explosive dance party, with dynamic horn arrangements sizzling above the riveting and razor-edged rhythms. With members who have toured with everyone from Dave Matthews to Lady Gaga, Lettuce is a funk supergroup whose hard groove go-go is not to be missed!
Locos Por Juana is a Latin urban orchestra from Miami whose wide-ranging musical approach draws from tropical styles such as reggae, cumbia and salsa as well as urban styles such as hip-hop, rock and Latin alternative. This burning, rapid-fire multicultural ensemble heats up to a high-energy hyperactive sizzle with biting social commentary that integrates a message of unity and their philosophy of “One Sound.” Bring your dancing shoes!
Boston-based singer/songwriter Ryan Montbleau plays a soulful mix of rock, folk, R&B, Americana and funk, offering up tough but tender rockers and a soulful, rootsy brand of barroom blues. Contemplative and richly emotive, the relentlessly traveling troubadour has a true gift for melody, and his powerful songs of happiness and heartbreak draw you in with soul-gripping lyrics. He can also be heard at Shakori Hills this fall in the lovable new duo Yes Darling with Hayley Jane.
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m., Meadow Stage
Grammy Award-winning pianist Tony Perez plays Afro-Cuban jazz at the highest level. One of Cuba’s most accomplished musicians, he's also a longtime member of Irakere, perhaps the most renowned Cuban group of all time. His inventiveness and lyricism creates passionate musical explorations that build to intense, percussive moments before transforming into complex webs of soulful salsa-flavored improvisations.
Boston-based Hayley Jane combines gorgeous Americana, passionate soul and fearless rock & roll with rich lyrical imagery that electrifies the heart. Her powerful vocal range, vibrant dance choreography and dramatic performances deliver a genre-bending jamboree bursting with clever, over-the-top lyrics and Vaudevillian-style storytelling. She can also be heard at Shakori Hills this fall with Ryan Montbleau in the lovable duo Yes Darling.
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m., Carsons Grove
Consider the Source is an instrumental trio from NYC playing “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion,” a hypnotic blend of styles with complex time signatures that groove and move like rolling thunder. They balance the intellectual and primal, as progressive rock meets jazz frenzy bursting with white-hot musical interplay. With kaleidoscopic soundscapes and bone-shaking riffs, their alien approach was described as "mesmerizing world metal."
Yes Darling is the lovable new duo of Ryan Montbleau and Hayley Jane. Ryan is an acclaimed singer and guitarist with a gift for melody and open-hearted songwriting that perfectly complements Hayley's massive vocal talents. As a singer, songwriter and dancer, she commands the stage with style, grace and a dynamic force that brings joy and inspiration. They're also both appearing with their own bands at Shakori Hills this fall.
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m., Meadow Stage
G Yamazawa is a Japanese-American poet and rapper from Durham who is a devout Buddhist and a Cultural Diplomat for the State Dept. With notable performances at the Sundance Film Festival, Bonnarroo and the Pentagon, the young wordsmith challenges the American perspective of race and culture, poetry and rap, and the phenomena of the human condition, with a continuous hunger for the betterment of himself and others.
Spellbinding old-time singer Sierra Ferrell freighthopped out of Charleston, WV with her wicked and wild songbird heart playing, stomping and yodeling out the utter essence of honky-tonk country blues. With gorgeous guitar riffs animating the sound, her soulful songs weave a tapestry of suffering and triumph that fully embrace the complexities of the human spirit.
Friday, Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m., Meadow Stage
Tamboka is inspired by Gypsy Latin grooves, soulful jungle jazz, cumbia funk swing and flamenco fusion, all fused through the lens of Latin culture. These masters of the new Miami sound were born to make you move!
Friday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m., Carsons Grove Saturday, Oct. 5 at 9 p.m., Dance Tent
Yarn’s music owes as much to Gram Parsons and Earl Scruggs as to Jerry Garcia and the Exile On Main Street-era Rolling Stones. These Grammy-nominated Brooklyn natives straddle the genres of Americana and alt-country, with a dash of jam band thrown in for good measure. This is real country music with an outsider’s edge – a virtuosic collective blending fluid musical runs with lovely close vocal harmonies.
Accordionist Preston Frank has laid down his blazing bayou boogie and fearless yet traditional Louisiana zydeco for over half a century. His trademark swamp groove combines Cajun, funk and soul to cook up smooth and flowing Creole tones that instantly make you move. With jumping rhythms and festive vibes, he remains an important force in preserving traditional zydeco and Creole French music.
Dr. Bacon is a musical detonation - a genre-defying Appalachian soul-grass funk-rock band from Asheville breaking the sound barrier with an infectiously uplifting blend of bluegrass, soul, hip hop, blues and more. Their unique and multicultural voice is a joyous shout from the mountaintop!
Keith Secola combines rock and roll with Native American sensibilities, adding flutes, indigenous drums and native chants to his musical vision. His Tempe, AZ-based sound is a unique blend of folk, rock, reggae and world beat - what he calls Native Americana music - with an ample dose of humor and style. An inspirational eclectic soundscape is the goal, with hopeful lyrics aiming for a unified world.
Brooklyn afro-funksters Kaleta & Super Yamba Band features legendary Afrobeat veteran Leon Ligan-Majek aka Kaleta who toured the world with Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade. Super Yamba Band's vintage take on timeless psychedelic African grooves creates the perfect backdrop for their absolutely explosive live shows. Don't miss this unforgettable experience of world-class dance music!
Winston-Salem native Caleb Caudle is an Americana singer/songwriter equally inspired by alt-country and modern rock, blending elements of '70s country-rock with more modern elements to create his pristine and rootsy music. With empathetic lyrics both biographical and universally relatable, Rolling Stone called him “the musical equivalent of high-proof bourbon – rich in flavor, with a subtle, satisfying bite."
Root Shock dreams up high energy reggae with positive and conscious lyrics, skanking out of Syracuse with heavy drum and bass spiced with American roots music. Spearheaded by the stunning vocals of bona fide soul powerhouse Jessica Brown, they crank out seductive dance music that's sophisticated and smooth, elevating and energizing.
Bass virtuoso Jose Albizu delivers a performance packed with intricate, soulful, soaring improvisation. Noted for blending modern styles with the traditional, Albizu brings the Miami heat to move your feet!
Friday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m., Dance Tent Saturday, Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. Carsons Grove
Cyril Lance Collective
Whether ripping into meaty, slashing slide guitar or delicately spacey Hendrix-like phrases, Cyril Lance’s virtuosity on electric guitar and lap steel is undeniable. Based in Carrboro, Lance and his band wade into swampy blues-rock that sizzles and smokes with astounding passion, combining rootsy grooves with deep and spontaneous improvisational explorations.
Maddy Walsh and The Blind Spots are a five-piece “moxy rock” band from Ithaca, NY featuring electrifying lead singer and magnetic force of nature Maddy Walsh. Rich with imagery and metaphor, her powerhouse vocals leap over bold and inventive electric guitars and an eclectic library of vintage keyboards to create a tight sound and uplifting musical experience.
Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., Meadow Stage Friday, Oct. 4 at 10 p.m., Carsons Grove
Black Sea Beat Society
Black Sea Beat Society is a new act featuring Keith Smith and Sparrow of the Resonant Rogues (also playing at Shakori!) bursting out thrilling Balkan, Turkish and Arabic dance party music. Based in Asheville, they make high energy music for your dancing pleasure.
Bubba George Stringband
Playing rave-ups and breakdowns at breakneck speeds, Bubba George Stringband combines the influences of the legendary fiddlers with the feel of rock and roll, reggae and punk. Growing out of the Ithaca, NY old-time music scene, they've played together in various formations since 1974, spawning numerous bands including Donna the Buffalo and the Horse Flies.
Asheville's Resonant Rogues are the songwriting soul child of partners Sparrow and Keith Smith who craft theatrical pop thrills from an intense mix of hot jazz, gypsy swing, Appalachian old-time and Balkan folk music influences. They weave the threads of European, Middle Eastern and American folk music together into a beautiful tapestry that simultaneously showcases tradition and innovation. Be sure to also check out their new dance party side project Black Sea Beat Society, playing this fall at Shakori!
New York native Laila Nur is a singer-songwriter and musician currently residing in Greensboro. Raised Sunni Muslim and now a proud lesbian activist, she applies her life journey to what she calls “Revolutionary Love Music.” Playing hints of folk, funk, rock, pop and blues, she creates a musical experience of equal love and global connectedness with catchy songs about life, love and politics that speak to all walks of life.
Ithaca, NY's Tenzin Chopak plays stunningly beautiful progressive chamber folk music with hints of worldbeat, prog and electronica mixed into the sound. His multi-instrumental versatility and deeply rooted spiritual beliefs instill his art with rustic and religious overtones that add a mystical sheen to his creations.
Emma's Lounge burst out of Asheville playing a dynamic blend they call "Space Age Folk Wave." Their gritty sound includes heavy measures of vulnerability and soul - an invitation to break down the walls and find authentic connections. Their raw, pure energy will make you dance and sing, laugh and cry, with sweet healing soul vibrations and bright funky dance parties lighting up their expansive mood.
Brooklyn-based progressive funk quartet The Phryg brings old-school funk back to life, constructing intricate compositions with hard-hitting grooves and virtuosic solos. They weave infectious grooves and tantalizing melodies into exploratory soundscapes seething with mind-blowing musicianship and fiery fusion.
Best known as the front man for House of Fools, country roots-rocker Josh King delivers deeply personal Americana and humable guitar pop that shimmers brilliantly in the Southern sun. Blending blunt, hard living storytelling and clever melodies into a walloping punch, King's music is a hopeful meditation on forging bold new paths and finding your sense of purpose.
The Triangle-based Counterclockwise String Band performs at the intersection of traditional and progressive bluegrass, creating original interpretations of time-tested bluegrass, rock, country and old-time favorites, with some long forgotten melodies sneaking in along the way. Both compellingly new and warmly familiar, their dynamic tunes are always energetic and genuine.
Richie Stearns performs gorgeous music rooted in the Americana tradition. He became a lynchpin of today’s American roots music revival as a member of bands including Donna the Buffalo and The Horse Flies. His spooky mantra-groove banjo expands the boundaries of traditional music to create an experience that is sometimes ethereal and sometimes just plain old down home.
Hailing from Hillsborough, the Eno Mountain Boys draw from roots in punk, metal and hardcore alongside traditional Country and bluegrass to deliver their own take on true North Carolina rock and roll. With songs about friends, family, drinking and personal enlightenment, they're described as "grittier, good ol' boy Country", and they're guaranteed to play their hearts out for you.
Chicken Coop Willaye unleashes a fresh and fiery blend of porch-pickin', knee-slappin' Appalachian roots music splashed with jugband, bluegrass, country and blues seasonings. Experience the sonic intersection of rural and urban, low and high brow, bluesman and farmhand, featuring a rarely seen mix of homemade Appalachian percussion instruments.
Relocated from NC to the Bronx, one-man Americana jazz groove orchestra Lipbone Redding's high-spirited live performances employ throat singing, beat-boxing and astonishingly realistic lip-tromboning to create a heartfelt and joyful sound. Weaving engaging stories with funky rhythms, catchy melodies, brash humor, soulful singing and inventive guitar playing, this unique musical experience is not to be missed.
Come explore the amazing world of Paperhand Puppet Intervention! NC's imaginative puppeteering troupe uses cardboard, papier mache, trash and a variety of puppetry styles to help promote social change, peace and hope for a better world. Their magical environmental program includes giant puppets, masks and music. Join the puppets in a parade around the festival grounds on Saturday and be prepared to let your spirits soar!
The Apple Chill Cloggers were formed in 1975 to preserve, interpret and teach the traditional style of Southern Appalachian Mountain clogging. The team performs for festivals, benefits and other events around North Carolina and beyond, inspiring audiences with high energy clogging to live traditional music. Bring the kids!
Winston-Salem's upbeat and eclectic Shiloh Hill layers traditional folk instruments over a rock band rhythm section to create dance-worthy grooves and breezy acoustic pop ditties splashed with colorful accents. With a perfect mix of folk and pop, married ringleaders Nick & Mamie Hofstetter weave passionate and earnest harmonies into stories of love, addiction and following your dreams.
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 4 p.m., Carson's Grove
A Different Thread is a refreshing British-American trio from Lichfield, England influenced by the 1970s folk revival and Appalachian old-time music, with shades of country, blues and more. Mournful harmonica, soulful guitar and distinctive voices blend with tight harmonies, impulsive fiddle licks, and the driving beat of a suitcase drum kit to tell stirring tales of adventure, romance and travel.
Bulltown Strutters are a sparkling and fun community parade band delivering a raucous mix of old-school New Orleans second line classics and new-school funk. Boasting over 20 members, they bust out hip-shaking, smile-making boogies powered by an epic horn section and an extra dose of Durham craziness. Don't miss them leading the Saturday parade!
Sons of Paradise are a high energy powerhouse from Raleigh playing explosive and extraordinary jam rock reggae. Energetic horn lines float graciously over deep rhythms while supporting powerful lyrics and melodies. With influences from Rebelution to the Grateful Dead, their tight-knit tropical vibrations spread an uplifting message of unification.
Secret Monkey Weekend is one of the region’s most beloved family bands, boasting a swampy, southern rock sound that feels as classic as it does contemporary. Join local rocker Jefferson Hart and his two daughters, Lila and Ella, for a set full of rock ’n’ roll gems.
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 11:30 a.m., Cabaret Tent
Once again, Okeechobee Music Festival was a success. Thank you Moksha artist collective for having me and big ups to the Incendia crew! Here's 24 seconds of head banging glory.Posted by The Galactic Effect on Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The Galactic Effect
The Galactic Effect brings a vast array of styles and visuals to their forward thinking and wide-ranging electronic music. The Miami ensemble emanates a fusion of analog, synthetic and organic textures which embraces the elegance and darkness of classical music, blues, chopped up rock and roll and more.
The Kids Downtown
Tre Mars is a hip hop artist from Raleigh who has established a soulful, funky, acid jazz band alongside The Kids Downtown. Influenced by all forms of creative hip hop, they invite you to come vibe with them to celebrate peace, love and life.
With live music by Will & Gabe and facilitators: Aubrey Griffith-Zill & Julia Hartsell, Ecstatic Dance is a safe, sacred space in which to move, express and heal within the warm embrace of community. It's a continuous free-form dance party that ebbs and flows, builds and releases, based on the energy of the audience and performers. Facilitated by the amazing dancing of Aubrey Griffith-Zill of Durham's Living Arts Collective and Julia Hartsell of Carrboro's The FlowJo, dancers will be inspired by live performances from Will Ridenour and Gabriel Pelli of Kaira Ba.
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m., Dance Tent
School of Rock is a music school providing young local musicians with opportunities in the music industry, offering one-on-one lessons that blossom into full band performances. Catch this superbly talented group of youngsters performing hits from both classic and contemporary acts.
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m., Cabaret Tent
The Shakori Hills Vinyl Lounge features local DJs spinning grooves throughout the festival. Located at the Meadow Stage alongside the beer and wine, it’s the perfect place to mellow out with friends and dance to your favorite timeless tunes and the deepest rare cuts. This fall, we’ll also feature a Vinyl Lounge set late night in the Cabaret Tent.
Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) is an after-school program for children in grades 4–8 offering fiddle, banjo and guitar lessons alongside dance and vocal classes and history lessons in Appalachian culture. Kids experience the joy of performing traditional mountain music, helping forge connections and inspiring them to strengthen their communities for future generations.