Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival is the most magical time of the year for me and definitely my favorite event in NC. Where else would you find people knee deep in mud with grins on their faces from ear to ear. It seems to be a law of nature that rain must fall on Shakori weekend, be it Fall or Spring. This year was no exception. The weather from Hurricane Matthew brought the festival as close as it has ever been to canceling due to weather. As most of you are surely aware, it rained non-stop from Friday evening to Saturday night. If you’ve ever been to a festival at Shakori Hills though, you know that rain is only another reason to celebrate! As the rain began to fall Friday night, A. J. Ghent preformed a special cover of Purple Rain with a few lines of “Shakori Rain”. Although many campsites were flooded and much of the crowd decided to retreat on Saturday, the festivities were not halted. On Saturday, the Main stage did shut down. However, after some shuffling around of the schedule Shakori planners were able to make the best use of their two tent stages and no shows were canceled.
The music, as always, was soulful, ethnic and something you couldn’t help but dance too. Although Shakori is still a rather local, small scale festival year after year, it has a multicultural and global focus. This year there were bands representing African, Latin American, Cajun, Appalachian cultures and many more. Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba as well as Kinobe & the Wamu Spirit brought us African rhythms From Senegal and Uganda, respectively. Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba are actually a gem of the Triangle music scene that you can see year round. Two bands made their way up from Miami while Hurricane Matthew was hot on their tails, Elastic Bond and Electric Piquete. The front woman for Elastic Bond told me after the show that she felt like the storm chased them all the way to Shakori and decided to hang out there for the party. Dirty Bourbon River Show added the unique sounds and energy from The Big Easy. Their front man’s intensity was almost as exciting as the flames that shot from the sousaphone player’s horn (photo below). Abigail Washburn and her husband Béla Fleck didn’t let the rain stop them even though the Meadow Stage was unusable. They packed out the Dance Tent instead and played some music inspired by our own mountains.
The music is only half of the draw to a Shakori Hills festival. It has a rare and loving atmosphere that you don’t tend to find even at other music festivals. Everywhere you turn you meet a friend you didn’t know you had and are greeted with “Happy Shakori”. All anyone seems to be concerned about is having a good time and making sure everyone else is too. It’s not uncommon to see crowds of people making up group choreography or just dancing around in circles together. Campsites are just as community oriented. You can walk up to just about any fire ring and feel right at home. Shakori Hills consistently achieves the ideal community festival spirit that is the goal of most festivals. I have never left Shakori without a warmed heart and a lasting smile. Be sure not to miss it this spring!!!!
Band Pages: http://ajghentband.com/ http://www.kairabamusic.com/ http://kinobemusic.com/home http://elasticbond.com/ http://electricpiquete.com/ https://dirtybourbonrivershow.com/ https://www.belafleck.com/touring-with-abigail-washburn/