The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival Is This Weekend (May 4 – 8)

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

Each year, hundreds of music and art fans gather in Chatham County’s Silk Hope, North Carolina, to celebrate the culture, education and sustainability of performing arts. And listen to performances from bands —  lots and lots of bands, representing all types of musical styles and genres.

From the Carolina Ukelele Ensemble to Freewheelin’ Mamas to Hobey Ford’s Goldenrod Puppets, there is no shortage of unique, entertaining shows during the four-day weekend.

The 2016 Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival is this weekend, May 4 – 8, and you can find official details on tickets, parking, and performance line-ups here. Otherwise, keep reading for an overview of what’s in store.

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds (Pictured above) will be performing at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival this weekend.

About the festival:

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is presented by The Shakori Hills Community Arts Center, a nonprofit formed in order to provide an environment for community building through arts and education for Chatham County and beyond. In addition to the Spring Grassroots Festival, the Arts Center also hosts a Grassroots festival each fall and a bluegrass festival in September.

This weekend, more than 40 bands, spanning world-wide traditional styles and genres, will perform for four days. The festival includes four stages: two large stages, a dance tent, and an intimate cabaret tent. Bands that play the festival come from all over the world and from right in Chatham County.

Events and performances are family-friendly, so don’t hesitate to bring the little ones. In addition to music, there are opportunities to enjoy games, crafts, and interactive workshops, which include everything from fiddle lessons to yoga. The festival is also environmentally-friendly, and other workshops encompass gardening or current green-based topics affecting society today.

About the bands:

While every style from clogging to Afrobeat is represented, common themes include folk, bluegrass, latin, and jazz. Some of the ones I’m looking forward to most are:

Derek Gripper: This South African musician enchants crowds with solo acoustic guitar versions of songs originally written for the 21-stringed kora. His blending of African folk styles with jazz and classical influences creates a beautifully unique performance that you won’t forget.

Driftwood: Based in Binghamton, New York, Driftwood blends old-time folk style with a modern sound. Fiddles, banjos, an upright bass, clapping hands and stomping feet contribute to their exciting performances.

Driftwood Band

Driftwood (Pictured) will be performing at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival this weekend.

Hobey Ford’s Golden Rod Puppets: Yes, you read that right. Puppets! Ford created the puppets back in 1980, and since then he has received several awards for adapting folk tales to his performances. He’s based in Asheville but has performed his original works all around the globe and was chosen as a Kennedy Center Partner to share his innovations in the craft of puppetry. This one will be a real treat!

Krekel & Whoa: Also based in Asheville, this duo is for anyone who is a fan of quirky mountain music. Their upbeat mix of catchy and eccentric originals, vintage mountain tunes, and rock ‘n’ roll will add some fun, funky enjoyment to your weekend.

Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen: If you want soul, this is the performance for you. Cohen sang in New Orleans at the House of Blues and other venues almost every night until Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home. She relocated to North Carolina where she expresses her life experiences through her deeply soulful music. Her inspirations include Billie Holiday, Koko Taylor, and Etta James, and this performance will be just as moving as those of the female blues legends.

These are just a fraction of the performers who will be at the festival this weekend. As you can see, no matter your musical interests, there is something for you.

Other activities:

Of course, music is not all there is to see and do. The festival is geared toward enjoyment and education of performing arts as a whole, so you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy crafts, workshops and a dance tent.

Some of the vendors include:

  • Caranvanserai Body Care Apothecary is a traveling nature apothecary of herbal body products using only the finest essential oils and essences, organic herbs and base oils.
  • Julie Johnson Pottery uses sgraffito work, unique glaze decoration and atmospheric firings to make functional stoneware pottery, designed to be an inspiring part of everyday life.
  • Moon.Flower.Child hopes to please the wanderlust family using ecologically friendly, organic fabrics and some vintage renewal to make their clothes a one of a kind fashion that is unique and handmade.

At the workshops, you can learn salsa dancing, clogging, harmonies, drum beats, yoga, tai chi, and much more. For a complete schedule, go here.

Also, be sure you check out the activities related to the Sustainability Fair. Learn how to make your workplace more sustainable with the UNC Sustainability Office’s Cindy Shea at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Then stay until 3 p.m. to get the low-down on composting and zero waste practices with Bob and Camille Armantrout, two zero-waste advocates who have been composting for more than a decade. You can also learn about green drinks, solar panels, and the Tiny House movement.

Chatham County discount:

Prices vary depending on the size of your group and how long you plan on attending (just one day vs. the entire weekend), and all pricing information is here. There’s good news for Chatham County residents — Enjoy $5 off DAY tickets with proof of residence at the gate. Chatham residents can also receive $30 off of 4-day gate price either at the gate or in advance by calling the office and verifying address. Total 4-day ticket price for Chatham residents is $94.

If you’re a mom, make sure you head to the festival on Mother’s Day. On Sunday, May 8th, all mothers will receive a 50 percent discount on Sunday day tickets at the gate.

The festival also offers discounts to children, seniors, students and large groups. There’s no excuse not to go!

Danay Suarez

Danay Suarez (Pictured) will be performing at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival this weekend.