Saturday will surely be a slow start for a lot of festival goers, as Friday night will host a pretty dance-heavy late-night lineup. For those that make it out of their campsites in the morning, yoga is always a nice way to ease into the day. However, many folks may be more likely to soak up some of the Sugar Shack's phenomenal breakfast and take it easy until the festivities really get going for the day. Greg Humphries Trio will serve as a nice way to start the day off on Saturday, Humphries is a bit of a local staple around the Triangle, playing within both Hobex and Dillon Fence, to widely loved acts from the days of yore. This low-key take on poppy roots rock will be an excellent way to get your Saturday going. At 12:30 folks can take in another dazzling set from The Last Bison, a band that will surely be the talk of the festival for those smart enough to catch their sets. I'll likely check out quite a bit of this before heading over to the Dance Tent for MC Yogi's Yoga Workshop. Workshops are an awesome aspect of Shakori that make it standout from other similar festivals, there's a wide variety of things you can learn from these events and this MC Yogi fronted Yoga Workshop will serve as a nice warm-up for his highly engaging set later in the evening. After the workshop folks will be in prime position to watch the Puppet Parade trek across the festivalgrounds, which is one of the most exciting events of the weekend. One of the acts from the festival leads a parade of adults and children alike, donning the zany masks and puppets of the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, as they happily careen through the farmlands, toting about cheerful smiles and more good vibes than you can possibly soak in at once. Even when it's raining festivalgoers come out in droves to check out the parade, it's simply something you can't miss!
After the parade it'll be nice to take a trip back to the campsite to get a mid-day break from the action. However, there's plenty of awesome tunes to hear as well, local singer-songwriter Kamara Thomas will be in the Cabaret Tent while Big Fat Gap will be sharing their traditional bluegrass sounds at Carson's Grove. Around 4:00 it'll be nice to check out yet another Driftwood set and perhaps heading to the Dance Tent for a bit of the Latin Dance Workshop. The best part of these dance workshops is that they're usually immediately followed by a highly energetic act that will allow you to show off your newly learned grooves, this time Cortadito will be bringing their traditional Cuban music to the tent for folks to dance their afternoon away to. After one form of traditional tunes you can head over to check out another traditional outfit, but of a vastly different variety. The legendary Del McCoury is back on the farm and if their set is anything like the one I saw at the IBMA last September then it's something you'll definitely want to check out. McCoury plays with mind-numbing precision, he plucks, strums and shouts with ease as the rest of his band performs awe-inspiring fills and provides beautiful harmonies. Even if bluegrass isn't your thing you'll want to check this out, McCoury is a living legend unlike any other and his talents are absolutely undeniable. Check this out and be swept away by how lively and energetic this 75-year old performer is.
After a bit of the Del McCoury Band it'll be off to the Dance Tent for MC Yogi, one of the most unique performers I've ever seen at Shakori. Yogi combines dance music with yoga mantras and soothing mindsets, whether he's rapping about the overwhelming powers of Hindu god Ganesha or driving listeners to a dance frenzy, he'll surely have the crowd in his hands throughout this performance. After Yogi I'll most likely grab some of the incredible food from the vendors (the Indian food is especially fantastic if you're bold enough to go there whilst camping), but there's plenty of great musicians performing as well like the harmony-driven Barefoot Movement. After some nommage, it's off to Meadow Stage to dance those calories off to Baloji & L’Orchestra de la Katuba. This Congolese hip-hop artist is one of the festival's marquee headliners and when you hear his incredibly rhythmic style of delivery and instrumentation you'll immediately understand why. Shakori's artists brush away language barriers, making acts like Baloji just as accessible as folks like Ben Sollee. Speaking of which, I'll be cutting out of Baloji to check out the virtuosic cello stylings of Sollee around 9:30. Sollee blew me away at a Hopscotch Day Party a few years ago with a cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and I've been hooked since then. He's like a cello-playing Andrew Bird, mixing some incredible instrumentation with his brilliant lyricism and insanely soulful vocals. From there it'll be off to see JP Harris & The Tough Choices, a gritty take on the honky-tonk stylings of yesteryear. Harris is one of the most captivating and engaging performs to perform at Shakori and he always brings along an incredibly excitable crowd. After Harris the rest of the night is really a toss-up based on your musical preference. Donna will be playing late into the night at Meadow Stage with their instantly accessible zydeco jams, Big Something will get the jam-band kids bobbing, swaying and loosely dancing the night away at Carson's Grove and Chit Nasty will bring an overwhelming amount of funk and soul to the Cabaret Tent. Saturday's late-night festivities provide a bit of something for everyone, so there's no excuse not to dance your ass off!
Sundays at Shakori are nothing short of magical. The weekend is dying down, festival goers are usually pretty worn out from the non-stop good times, but the music wastes no time in picking up bright and early. Given the Easter sunday, the day will begin with morning communion and those that don't partake in the celebration will most likely be eating candy in the woods and celebrating a different sort of holiday. Barefoot Movement will be at Meadow Stage at 11:30, serving as an incredible start to a day full of slow-packing and slow-moving fans. Bring your lawn chair or blanket out to the Meadow Stage, kick off your shoes and lose yourself in the beauty of this simplistic, barefooted folk quartet. After that you may as well stay where you are and take in the last Driftwood set of the weekend, because hell...why not?! Driftwood are one of those bands that it's easy to see three times in a weekend, their set usually varies quite a bit and there's always a handful of instantly relatable covers that everyone can shout and sway along to. Donna The Buffalo will be performing with Preston Frank at the Dance Tent shortly after Driftwood, so if you find yourself recovered and ready to dance then definitely head on over there, but fear not they'll also be closing out the festival with a monumental superjam of sorts.
After Donna it'll be nice to bounce between the soothing sounds of Morning Brigade and the late afternoon pick me up from Diali Cissokho. The Sunday afternoon world music sets are always a highlight of the weekend for me, the performers are usually radiating positivity and compel even the most exhausted of attendees to get on their feet and clap, shout and sing along to the infectious tunes. JP Harris and Baloji will have their second sets of the festival as well, so it'll be nice to stagger between the two whilst slowly packing up the campsite and preparing to trek back into the real world. Before leaving though it will be crucial to check out the sounds of Rising Appalachia, a soulful interpretation on Appalachian music that blends gospel, folk and even hip-hop to create a unique brand of music all their own. The Mint Julep Jazz Band will be at the Dance Tent at around 7:30 to rope in those that are leaving for one last swing-driven dance party as well. And as always, Donna will be closing out the festival with their All-Star Revue, a set that usually runs deep into the night and features some of the most beloved artists to perform on the farm throughout the weekend. I usually never make it this long into the festival, but something in me is really aching to stay and check out this widely beloved set to close out my evening.
All in all this Spring's Shakori is one of the most impressive lineups I've seen in a few years. There's an even mixture of beloved locals and high-profile headliners to draw in fans of all varieties. Plus, the celebration of Shakori's recent land purchase is more than enough reason to trek out to the farm once more. Whether you're a first time attendee or a long-running Shakori-ite (is that a word yet? It's got to be), this Spring will serve as an excellent escape from the daily drudgery that is everyday life.