As we enter October, the time draws closer to the bi-annual Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival next weekend in Pittsboro, NC. I’ve been to Shakori Hills a number of times and the lineups are always a diverse blend of local, national, and international groups from a wide spectrum of genres.
Many of the band’s I love checking out are the local, North Carolinian groups. The band I’d suggest to check out on Thursday would be The Holland Brothers, from Pittsboro. Following in the tradition of the Everly Brothers, The Holland Brothers keep tight harmony and play a mix of old-time and blues. Friday features a full day of music, but if you had to check out one band I’d suggest John Howie Jr. & the Rosewood Bluff, from Mebane. This group is true to the honky-tonk country music tradition, they’ve played the Grand Ole Opry, and even opened for the legendary George Jones. This is a band that’ll be sure to have you two-stepping in the Cabaret Tent.
On Saturday, I’d recommend checking out singer-songwriter Shannon Whitworth, from Brevard. She has an interesting take on Americana music and it’s something I would call atmospheric. I find there to be a big Mark Knopfler influence, especially since there’s a cover of the Dire Straits song “So Far Away” on her album High Tide. The local group on Sunday I’d suggest checking out is the duo of Lynda Dawson & Pattie Hopkins, from Raleigh. Both members of the Kickin Grass Band, their duo focuses more on harmony vocals and their fiddle and guitar work.
Something I love about Shakori is that there’s some bands just don’t play on one day, like Donna the Buffalo, Frank Fairfield, and The Duhks. Based out of Winnipeg, The Duhks play a blend of bluegrass, folk, zydeco, and all things roots. I saw them play at Merlefest, the “traditional plus” festival founded by Doc Watson in Wilkes County, and they blew the audience away. If the new-time music isn’t your thing, then Frank Fairfield is about as old-time as you can get. Hailing from SoCal, you’d think Frank Fairfield hails from a totally different time period with his knowledge of fiddle, guitar, and banjo tunes and of old gramophone records. His take on old classic tunes is not only awesome to listen to, but also educational as he explains the meanings of the songs. Donna the Buffalo, from Trumansburg, NY, play a similar blend of music like The Duhks, but more electric and with a heavier zydeco influence. They’re one of the founding bands of Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival and are a favorite act of the festival.
Other than the music, there’s plenty of art, workshops, kids’ activities, and vendors to check out at the festival. Shakori’s one of my favorite community festivals I’ve been to and it’s like it will certainly be another great fall festival! Tickets for the festival are still available in advance online until 4pm, October 6th.