Friday, September 20, 2013

Show Preview: Shakori Hills Fall 2013

Mason's Apron @ Fall Shakori 2012
Few things in life get me as excited as Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. That's not even an exaggerated statement, the two weekends out of the year that I get to spend camped out on the gorgeous farmlands out in Pittsboro, NC are always the happiest days of my year. Perhaps it's because my dearest friends that are now spread across the state all reunite for a weekend filled with fantastic music, but I think there's more to it than that. The festival is--to quote Das Racist here-- a "pos-vibe emanator." Basically the minute you drive into that dirt-filled parking lot you feel like you've become a part of the family. After attending the festival a few time you grow to recognize the faces, make dear acquaintances, and the entire thing feels like a gigantic reunion of kindred spirits. Maybe I'm just wrapped up in the hippy-ness of the whole thing, but if so I've got zero problems with that.

The festival takes place from Oct. 10-13 and provides an awe-inspiring blend of music from all across the globe. Shakori Hills can somehow maintain a local focus while providing an outlet for highly acclaimed artists from a wide array of backgrounds ranging from Ethiopia to Canada. Shakori Hills is filled with laid-back vibes, it's a festival that allows you to roam around aimlessly and catch some incredible music that you may have never even thought to listen to. I know when I first started attending the festival I had a small interest in Afropop stylings, but after I saw acts like Diali Cissokho and Fatoumata Diawara I began to immerse myself in the throughs of African music. This festival is a chance to broaden your musical horizons, to leave your cell phone behind and wind down--or let loose! Shakori has a bit of both quite frankly, if you want to have a chill weekend filled with low-key acoustic acts then you've got a slew of options. However, if you're looking to release your inhibitions and dance away your troubles, there's plenty of that too.

I'm not sure what it is about the fall that brings the big names, but since I've been attending for the past three years it's always been the season that left me floored. My first fall experience was brightened by acts like Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Bela Fleck, while last year the festival boasted Trombone Shorty, The Wailers and Steep Canyon Rangers. This fall is no different, I and the rest of my Honeybadger crew (you've got to name your campsite!) collectively dropped our jaws upon the announcement of Robert Randolph & The Family Band and Yonder Mountain String Band. But despite the big name headliners, the draw of Shakori lies in its lineups depth. Local upstarts like Virgins Family Band and Morning Brigade will be playing their first Shakori alongside some local mainstays like Holy Ghost Tent Revival, The Brand New Life and Bombadil. Rain or shine Shakori is always a whimsical experience, whether you're hiding out from a tornado warning like last spring or basking in the sun soaked fields while taking in the Paperhand Puppet Parade, you'll consistently find something to put a smile on your face.

Whether your draw be reuniting with old friends or tuning out from the constant buzz of your everyday life, Shakori Hills is a bit like an oasis. You count down the days until you make the journey out to Pittsboro and firmly plant yourself in the middle of the woods for a weekend filled with nothing but good times. Early morning yoga, face painting, dance workshops, you name it--there's a bit of something for everyone at Shakori. Unlike many festivals, there's not really a niche market for the attendees. Sure you get plenty of old-time peace-loving hippies, but they're peppered throughout the families, the hipsters and the frat-boys. But there's no judgement being passed at this festival, everyone's there for the music and the environment which is the way it should be. Shakori Hills is a festival that sheds any pretensions associated with "the scene" and lets the music speak for itself.

Throughout the next few weeks we'll be highlighting some of our favorite artists that will be playing the fall festival this year in our Shakori Spotlights piece.

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