Any of y’all who have followed my posts know that the Grassroots Festival at Shakori Hills is my favorite event in North Carolina, and probably anywhere. I have no shortage of desire to share my thoughts and feelings about this wonderful gathering. I only hope my words don’t become too repetitive or dry. Every year I’m blown away by the love and community found tucked away in the woods of Pittsboro. Although Shakori has felt like home to me since my first time four years ago, it has been inspiring to feel that love grow as I become more intertwined in the Shakori community.
This year I got to dance with and talk with some of the old-timers who have been attending and serving for quite some time. I felt a real connection with Honey Badger, one of the established camps, that adopted me in last spring. “Oy! Oy! Oy!” I even got to spend some time with a boy who has literally never missed a Shakori since birth. He told me he has been to either eighteen or nineteen Shakori festivals, his parents pushing him around in a stroller the first year. When I spoke with him, he was roasting an apple over the drum circle fire because of an allergy to raw fruits and veggies.
I don’t wish to detract, however, from the value of the performances that the Grassroots Festival books for us – the festival truly would not be the same with out them. In fact, it wouldn’t even exist with out them. Thank you Donna the Buffalo for bringing us all together. However, the spirit of Shakori, to me, is in these interactions. A coming together of a group of people for no other reason than to celebrate love and life for four days.
This is, after all, a music and art blog, so I’ll take a few moments to fill you in on the wonderful music that can be found at The Grassroots Festival.
Most of my favorite local artists were present this year, bringing a range of music from soul-funk to outlaw country. Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Dr. Bacon, Rebekah Todd & The Odyssey, Travers Brothership, and Urban Soil are all bands that I have seen at the Festival in years past, and who continue to get me dancing no matter how many times I see them.
When it comes to the artists, the presence of talent and variety is another factor that sets Shakori above other festivals. You can walk from Carson’s Grove Stage over to the dance tent and travel all the way across the world, musically speaking. The best surprise for me this year came in the form of the Warpaint Singers – a group of young men keeping their traditions alive, while at the same time not being afraid of their present. They sang traditional Lumbee and Tuscarora music. To add to their tradition and make it their own, they performed songs they had written in English but sang in their native style and cadence. The raw emotion conveyed through their rhythmic wails struck me to the core. There is a purity in that style of singing that I haven’t come across elsewhere. Their style is just one example of the magic that can be found in the music at Shakori. Feel Free to come and dance with us next spring.
Oh, and for all of you wondering, don’t worry. It did rain this year, but just enough to cool us off.
Here are a few more links, so that you can check out some of the other performing artists below.
Nick Napoletano – Feature Image