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Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival Fall 2017 Recap

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.

If you want to check out past years: Sakori Hills spring 2017Shakori Hills fall 2016

Here are a few more links, so that you can check out some of the other performing artists below.

The Tan and Sober Gentlemen

Lobo Marino

Barbara Barnes- Art Images Live

Nick Napoletano – Feature Image

Emily Wimbish



the Tan and Sober Gentlemen


The Tan and Sober Gentlemen


Carson Grove Stage



Nick Napoletano


Nick Napoletano


John Howie Jr. with Sarah Shook & the Disarmers


Sarah Shook



Photo by Chrissy MacInnes


Laney Sullivan of Lobo Marino


Jeb Puryear of Donna the Buffalo


Kyle Spark of Donna the Buffalo


David McCracken of Donna the Buffalo


Barbara Barnes doing a live drawing of Donna the Buffalo



Emily Wimbish doing a live painting of Lobo Marino


Emily Wimbish doing a live painting of Lobo Marino

#DARETODISSENT a New ACLU Mural in Downtown Raleigh

Last night at 6 pm Dare Coulter and the ACLU of North Carolina unveiled the New Mural entitled #DARETODISSENT.  The Mural is a collection of iconic images from protests throughout recent history.  The scenes depicted include images of the 1968 Olympics and even Woke Baby from the recent Women’s March.  When the ALCU in conjunction with the Raleigh Murals Project approached Dare about the idea for a mural in downtown Raleigh, she suggested a protester’s rights theme.  In the current political climate, Dare feels the importance of our constitutional right to protest the government, and wanted to share that with Raleigh through her art.  The ACLU was on board and they got the ball rolling.

I have known Dare for several years now, we had classes together back at NCSU. I have always loved her art and have been eagerly waiting for her to land a Mural in downtown Raleigh.  I’m super proud of her for her work on this Mural.  She has worked long nights and hard days with no shade in the baking North Carolina sun to finish this painting in 10 days.  Her hard work paid off and now Raleigh has a beautiful 30 foot by 20 foot protest piece smack in the middle of Downtown.  If you want to go by and see it for yourself, it is on the back of the abandoned Boylan-Pearce building on South Salisbury Street, between Hargett and Martin.  Feel free to join the protest and promote the mural by taking a picture under the #DARETODISSENT tag and sharing it on social media.

Check out more of Dare’s art at


LBLB with Travers Brothership

The Travers Brothership,  Nick and the Babes, The Dapper Conspiracy played Local Band Local Beer this week.  If you’re unfamiliar with LBLB it’s an event put on each week, by 88.1 WKNC and Younger Brother Production at The Pourhouse, on Thursday.  This weeks LBLB was up there with the best I’ve been to.  The Travers Brothership, who I got to see for the first time at Shakori Hills this past spring, made the evening with their funk n’ soul rock n’ roll.  The 7 peice band from Asheville was whittled down to only four for this show, but that didn’t stop them from putting on a killer show.  What struck me most about the band was how clean and percise each individual part was.  Every note and beat was in the right place without sacrificing that sexy smooth funk vibe.  I actualy hadn’t planned on shooting that night, but got so excited during the show I had to bike home and grab my camera. The band hit us with several killer solos. Kyle Travers at one point crushed a solo out with one hand that blew me away, while other times he was shredding without a pick.   Then Josh Clark gave us a lesson in funk slapping out some fat bass solos.  He even stole the show for a song with some of the best soul vocals I’ve heard in the song “Hold My Name.”  Seriously check it out on Spotify and then go hear him sing it sometime. 

Kyle Travers one hand solo

Josh Clark

Eric Travers

Sound on Sound Returns for Year 2

Sound on Sound Fest has officially announced it’s second annual lineup and as we expected it’s stacked and full of diversity! We couldn’t be more excited for a second year. Year one was pure magic: The Sherwood Forrest renaissance fairgrounds (located just about 35 miles outside of Austin, TX) made for a whimsical experience, the campsites felt homey and the natural scenery was a gorgeous escape from all the fun inside the fest, the crowd was respectful and full of distinctly unique individuals, and the food vendors tho! SOS Fest is the perfect balance between fun and vacation.

SOS_lineup_SQ_final (1).jpg

Grizzly Bear
Iggy Pop
The Shins
Blood Orange
Electric Wizard
Pusha T
Vince Staples
Washed Out
Dinosaur Jr.
Taking Back Sunday
Digable Planets
Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Real Estate
Ariel Pink
The Story So Far
Cannibal Corpse
Hot Chip (DJ Set)
Cloud Nothings
Twin Peaks
Cherry Glazerr
Power Trip
Snow Tha Product
Mild High Club
Wolves In The Throne Room
Blanck Mass
The Menzingers
Egyptian Lover
Sweet Spirit
The Hotelier
Juan Maclean (DJ Set)
Sorority Noise
Peanut Butter Wolf
Holy Wave
Mannequin Pussy
Tim Sweeney
The Frights
Helms Alee
Honey Sound System
A Giant Dog
Alex Napping
Street Sects
Midnight Stroll
Sam Lao
DJ Sober
Flying Turns
Chulita Vinyl Club
Kydd Jones
Tank Washington

Jenny Besetzt // Natural Velvet // Konvoi at Ruby Deluxe Recap

Sunday night Ruby Deluxe put on a post punk show featuring two local bands and a third band, Natural Velvet, on an album release tour from Baltimore.  If you missed the show don’t worry, these bands are three more reasons to get excited for Hopscotch this September, as they all have been booked.  Jenny Besetzt, all the way from Chapel Hill, closed out the night.  Their sound is both fluid and layered, with songs you can easily get lost in. Their drummer, Thomas McNeely, keeps up an impressive cadence that manages to stay balanced with the calm flow of the melodies.  Konvoi the second NC band, coming down the mountains from Asheville, opened up the night with a high energy.  In the middle we heard Natural Velvet on tour for the release of there new album Mirror to Make You. Corynne Ostermann, the band’s front woman, and her vocal range gave them a unique sound.  Since the show I came across a music video Natural Velvet put out entitled Its All Mine.  The production of their videos stood out to me and I enjoyed them enough that I figured I should post a link. I hope you enjoy it along with a few photos I took of the night.

It’s All Mine- Music Video

Featured Image –  Sean Bos of Konvoi


Jay Saltonon of Konvoi


Corynne Ostermann of Natural Velvet


Spike Arreaga of Natural Velvet


Nathan Price of Jenny Besetzt


Sarah Bell of Jenny Besetzt

Moogfest 2017 Recap

Preceding Moogfest 2017, we heard a lot of whispering that the lineup seemed less than enthusing. With 2016 headliners like Grimes, Odesza, GZA, Explosions in the Sky, Gary Numan, and Blood Orange, Moogfest 2017 had a reputation to live up to. At first glance, we can all agree that the lineup didn’t seem nearly as stacked, but look a little deeper and this lineup had a completely different agenda that was intentionally more curated toward a movement that focuses on the future of music– and not just the way we listen to music, create music, and absorb music. Moogfest took it a step further this year, with a purposeful lineup equipped with more POC and women than Steep In has ever seen in a festival lineup. Moogfest 2017 was pure art, soul, and imagination–with every single artist bringing out a new way of expressing. This weekend illustrated the utter importance of music with purpose, music with movement, and music with a reach beyond the stars. We were proud to be there and hope to see you next year! Check out some of the amazing acts we saw below(Photos  by Julia Conlon & Missy Malouff):


SHAKORI Hills Grassroot Festival Spring 2017 Recap

We went from the wettest possible Shakori Hills to perhaps the driest Shakori ever.  After the incessant downpour that Hurricane Matthew brought to the festival last fall, Shakori Hills was in need of some good weather.  That seemed to be a tall order for the festival, but the stars were aligned for an unprecedentedly dry Shakori.  The only real rain we got this year was late Thursday night – just enough to quench Shakori’s usually insatiable thirst.  This allowed for a good-sized crowd to show up on Saturday and for the festival to begin to make up for its losses last fall.  Fortunately, the love found at the Grassroots Festival isn’t dependent on rain to blossom.  The festival was full of the cheer and warmth of spirit I have grown accustomed to over the years.  As crowds swelled and the forest grew dense with tents on Saturday, the sense of community only grew stronger.

As always at Shakori Hills, among the numerous performances it was easy to find music for everyone – no matter what you fancy. Of course, if you wanted to jam to the bouncing of the accordion for hours every night Donna the Buffalo had your back, and if you wanted psychedelic space rap Telekinetic Walrus was there to take you away.  One of my favorite local acts, Ellis Dyson & the Shambles, shook the dust off the dance tent on Thursday with their own special blend of jazz and Appalachian mountain music. The saxophonist, Danny Abrams, and fiddle player, Johnathan Ng, had some fun with mockingbird-style trade offs, mimicking one another’s melodies.  Later that night, we were graced with the presence of Durham’s future mayor, Pierce Freelon, leading The Beast in a hip hop/jazz set focused on love and freedom.

During the beautifully dry days, kicking back at one of the main stages and letting the sounds of one of the international bands wash over you while soaking up the rays was definitely the right call.  FABI was one such act. An Afro/Latino groove band from Mexico, they popped up all over the three different days of the festival to jam.  Muningu, an Afro-fusion jazz band also played the Meadow Stage on Sunday morning.

Shakori Hills always seems to remind me of the simple joys of life.  I feel like a child again, playing with bubbles and running about the woods with little to worry about.  Its easy to fall in love with an event where grown-ups are more preoccupied with blowing bubbles and dancing than what is happening in the “twitter-sphere.” Rain or shine, smiles abound.  If life was a little more like Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, there would be far fewer problems in the world.


Ellis Dyson & The Shambles


Johnathan Ng of Ellis Dyson & The Shambles


The Beast


Joe Kollar of Driftwood


Holy Ghost Tent Revival


Kevin Williams of Holy Ghost Tent Revival



Dance Tent



Life is the bubbles at Shakori!!



Sarah Shook and The Disarmers


Kyle Travers of Travers Brothership photo by Marie Rasdorf


Dr. Bacon


Micheal Crawford of Dr. Bacon


Danny Abrams of Ellis Dyson & the Shambles playing along with Miles Dunder and the rest of Dr. Bacon