"We will create a common ground, a place where people from near and far can live, eat, learn and dance together, under the open sky with their feet solidly on the earth and their spirits communing freely with each other," reads the Woodstockian mission statement for the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance. Started 13 years ago in Ithaca, N.Y. as a concert to benefit an AIDS support organization and bring together diverse musics and peoples, the festival makes its first North Carolina outing a few miles down the road from Chapel Hill in Silk Hope, from Thursday, April 10, to Sunday, April 13.
In addition to donating funds to charities (plans are in the works to donate money from the upcoming gathering to local organizations), one important aspect of the festival from the promoters' standpoint is that local music is of equal standing with the big national and international acts. That's not just in the form of overall balance, but in presentation as well. "One of real themes of the festival is to try to include every type of music," Puryear states. "The overall goal for the festival is to bring in people with different kinds of ideas and different cultures to come and mix it up in a good way."
Spokesperson Chris Tate, a 12-year veteran, adds, "I think the spark that caused us to really pull together was the events leading up to 9/11. We just really felt like it was time to try and support a more multicultural sort of event and celebration, and trying to help that way, we felt, was more of an appropriate response as festival presenters."
Performers include Zimbabwe native Thomas Mapfumo, who took the traditional music, mixed in horns, electric guitars and a drum kit and invented a new musical genre called chimurenga, which translates as struggle. Also: Statesville native Abe Reid and his Spike Drivers provide a mix of contemporary and traditional blues; the father-son team of Preston and Keith Frank present traditional and contemporary forms of zydeco respectively; the Campbell Brothers offer sacred-steel gospel; country, folk and bluegrass is covered by Jim Lauderdale, John Anderson, Del McCoury, and Tammy and Jerry Sullivan; local musicians appearing include mandolin virtuoso Tony Williamson and Melissa Swingle and Trailer Bride. For you musicians out there, Old Time & Bluegrass Fiddle, Banjo, Mandolin and Band contests will be taking place as well.
In addition to the 40 bands that will be playing over the four-day festival, attendees can participate in workshops and seminars that cover topics from the healing arts to human rights.
For the full schedule of performers, and more information on the festival, visit www.grassrootsfest.org/shakori/ShakoriHome.html.
Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, April 10-13, 439 Henderson Tanyard Road (SR 1558), Silk Hope, N.C., 18 miles southwest of Chapel Hill in Chatham County. Music, on-site camping, foods, arts, crafts, dance, workshops, poetry slam, kids area, dance tent. Weekend ticket is $65, goes up to $75 at gate, day tickets $15 on Thursday, $22 on Friday, $33 on Saturday, and $20 on Sunday. Parking is $10 for the weekend, or $5 a day unless you carpool: day parking free to vehicles with 4 or more occupants. For more information, call (919) 542-8142 or visit www.grassrootsfest.org/shakori/ShakoriHome.html. --Grant Britt