When: Oct. 8-11 2015
SHAKORI HILLS GRASSROOTS FESTIVAL
THURSDAY, OCT. 8–SUNDAY, OCT. 11
SHAKORI HILLS, SILK HOPE—If the forecast holds and we hit and hold a mid-week stride of mostly sunshine and very little rain, the rut-like driveways and red-clay walkways of Shakori Hills festival grounds in Silk Hope should be better than passable. (A good thing, too, since the biannual event in Chatham County doesn't have a sprawling convention center waiting as a welcoming rain site.) And if that weather lasts through the weekend, you may find that there are few local music pictures as potentially pleasant as Shakori Hills in the fall, when the breeze tickles the changing leaves from the trees surrounding the expanse of campgrounds, stages and hillside sets.
In recent years, the Shakori Hills booking budget has favored a dense crew of roots-plus welterweights, with headliners doing a little less of the heavy lifting. This edition seems to follow the same plan, with many of the highlights drawn from local—or, at the very least, familiar—talent pools. On Thursday, for instance, The Old Ceremony returns to an area stage for the first time since releasing its great new Sprinter. Look for them after the folk curios of Canadian roots bender Old Man Luedecke, who precedes locals Brett Harris (one of the best pop singer-songwriters in the state) and Birds and Arrows, soon to be headed west, in the Cabaret Tent. And in an incredibly smart programing move, Shakori Hills lured DISHOOM to bring its global dance party out of The Pinhook and into a field for an 11 p.m. fête.
The festival reaches its big-name apogee early Friday, when the affable and excellent Tim O'Brien plays solo before joining the reunited Hot Rize for a set that should match some of the best bluegrass playing you did see at last week's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh with some of the genre transgression that you probably didn't see. (Their set last year at World of Bluegrass remains a highlight of the event's Raleigh run so far.) And then zydeco master Preston Frank adds some pep to Donna the Buffalo's late-night step on Friday.
On Saturday, look for an intriguing duo set between Cedrick Watson and Blind Boy Paxton early in the evening, followed by Jon Lindsay's sweet songs. Stay late to hear the exhilarating Rubblebucket get weird and wild. And if you make it to Sunday, there's a bonus at the end of Shakori Hill's rainbow: Portland's Liz Vice has just issued a fantastic old soul album—it's R&B, rebuilt with modern design, really—on Ramseur Records, the label that launched The Avett Brothers. Find the time to find her set, hopefully just before the light fades on a remarkable autumn weekend. $27–$124, 1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd., Pittsboro, 919-542-8142, www.shakorihillsgrassroots.org. —Grayson Haver Currin
Price: $27-$124, 12 and under free