It's a GrassRoots World: Spring Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival – April 18-21


The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance from Martorana Productions on Vimeo.

Pittsboro, NC – “There is something for everyone!” It’s the truth at Shakori Hills GrassRoots, but sometimes that phrase sounds too cliché to describe what can be discovered at this twice-yearly event in the hills of Chatham County. As a way of illustrating the reality of the cliché, here is the festival from the perspectives of some attendees, some real, some only based on possibility.

A refugee from Zimbabwe just arrived in Durham 7 months ago. A social worker at the community center that had been to the festival before, urges him to come along with her family to the festival for the afternoon. The hour long country drive gives him a rare sense of peace as he is still getting acquainted with this foreign land and still missing his family back at home. He arrives in the Meadow just as Oliver Mtukudzi takes the stage. Tuku, old friend in a musical sense, transports him over oceans and over time, and for a moment he is home. He looks around and sees so many others sharing in this joy and he thinks, “maybe this is now my home.”

Mark, he’s 13, and is NOT excited about where his mother has brought him to spend the day. There are no tvs, no ipads, and eww, what is that? A violin? And girls? Gross.  His mom pushes him toward The Outpost while his little sister gets her face painted, so he goes, head down, not expecting to find anything cool. He sees a circle of kids, mostly his age and older, they’re laughing and blurting out weird words. Two hours later he is smiling and telling his mom all about the Improv Workshop and how he wants to sign up for drama class next fall.

Karen recycles and is pretty sure there’s something to this “global warming” thing, but feels like the world is so big and that mankind’s damage is inevitable, so what else can she do about it? How could she even attempt to make a difference? She comes to the festival on Saturday with her boyfriend who wants to check out one of his favorite bands, John Brown’s Body. As he meets up with some of his college roommates, she wanders over to the Sustainability Pavilion. There’s a man reading from his own book about ways to change the local economy to be greener and more sustainable, there are booths and workshops going on, and she begins to find hope.

A woman in her 60s was just saying to her husband the other day, “Hey, Wayne, I’ve always wanted to clog dance!” He laughs a little bit and pulls out a booklet he picked up the other day at the grocery. “Well it says here, that this may be the place you can learn.” He calls and orders them 2 4-day passes. He wants her to be happy.

Jacob came by himself. He loves to camp, he loves music, he even brings his banjo. His wife had to work and they are new to the area, so he couldn’t think of anyone else to invite. He begins to put up his tent and a college student and his girlfriend notice he’s having trouble with his extra long poles and only two hands. So, they come to help. Another man with his 10 year-old realizes Jacob’s dropped his sleeping bag a ways off and brings it to him. “Hey, nice banjo, man!” his neighbor says. “We should jam later!” Jacob smiles.

A local woman and her husband drive by the gates after church on Sunday. They’ve never been to the festival before, always thought it was a little too wild for their taste. But, it’s a beautiful day, and they are feeling adventurous so they turn in. They walk down the road and watch a woman create a vase on a potter’s wheel. The wife notices some soaps for sale made with lavender and they remind her of the fields at home where she grew up. She buys some to take home. They hear banjo trickling out of the yellow and white striped circus tent and wander by. An old gospel tune she hadn’t heard in years draws her front and center and the words bring a tear to her eye. The song ends, she looks at her husband, holds his hand and whispers an amen.

Food adventurers eat curries, Asian short-rib tacos, French toast with freshly harvested maple syrup, tofu stir fry with local veggies, biscuits and gravy, and more in one day!

An inspired young artist learns from the masters and buys a beautiful new dress from a local vendor.

A 40 year old ex-record exec, dragged out by his girlfriend finds a new band and adds to his album collection.

Julie, a club music fanatic, not used to going out in the daylight to dance, and definitely not used to acoustic music – “what’s blue grass?” – eats a late night slice of pizza and is drawn to the tent by the drum and dj sound of Equanimous Minds and dances the night away like she’s back in the clubs of Miami.

Lisa just misses speaking her native language. She loves the Bachata so she makes her way over to see Joan Soriano. She eyes the cute guy dancing in the crowd, takes a deep breath and makes her way over. They talk into the morning, in Spanish.

So many stories, so many connections, so many ways to open eyes and hearts and look at the world in a new way, or remember something of ourselves we have forgotten.

Come out to Shakori Hills this weekend and find your place in the GrassRoots world!

Lineup information can be found here:

Ticket information here: