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Friday, October 24, 2008

Shakori Hills Gets Rave Reviews

My friend Andy Wood spent a couple of weekends ago at Shakori Hills Festival. I have never been there myself, so I asked Andy to give us his impressions.

D: What performances did you get to see? What were the highlights for you?

A: We saw Donna the Buffalo on Thursday, Saturday, and the Sunday finale. They are the anchor band and they always put on a fine show. They invite other artists to the stage with them on Sunday night. It’s very interesting to hear what they make up and how well they can fit in with other musicians' vibe.

We watched Eileen Ives on Thurs night. She was great. High energy and a very talented group. We bought her album and had a nice conversation with her after the show. My daughter, Hannah, really enjoyed her music and we got a chance to speak with her back stage after the show. She was very personable and encouraging to Hannah.

We caught the end of a group out of Greensboro, Thacker Dairy Road. They had a nice sound and played a wide variety of genres.

Friday we saw The Duhk’s, always a good show. They are regulars now to the festival and when you see their talent and hear their beat, you’ll know why. Some very interesting new stuff mixed in with some great older ones. They really feed on audience participation, and also a great way to learn French.

Toubab Krewe was awesome, a very different sound, mixing an African sound with reggae and jazz. Come to their show ready to dance. Very intoxicating.

Saturday started with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, on to Del McCoury Band, Donna the Buffalo at the Meadow stage, and ending with Soludos Compay and The Duhk’s in the Dance Tent. This is the stuff of great times and great memories. You can get as close as you want to the stage and the musicians all seem to really thrive on the energy of the crowd.

Carolina Chocolate Drops: great old time bluegrass that would have been lost if these folks didn’t learn it and keep it alive. Go see them when you get the chance. A history lesson with every song!

Del McCoury: what can you say? They are the best at what they do. They played some of their new album, but otherwise took requests from the audience. There was no lack of requests. They played to a special mic arrangement, none of the instruments were electronic and none of them had any special equipment. They all moved to the mics on cue and didn’t miss a beat, even when Del forgot the last part of one of his new songs. They just kept the song going, took turns playing solos, and Del went to his case and got his notes, came back on stage and they finished the song. From then on, when anyone forgot their lyrics, it was know as having a “Del

Soludos Compay was great, even though there were some technical issues. Come ready to dance if you see them. It would even be worth taking some lessons. Lots of ladies were looking for partners!

The Duhk’s rocked to the limit of the noise ordinance. They took the stage at 1:15 am and played to 2:35am. They were tight, the tent was packed, and it was a great way to end the night (or begin the day if you want to see it that way).

I started Sunday with Bubba George String band. Check their bio for group info, but they were unbelievable. They didn’t really have a playlist--they would have a group meeting and play through a couple of openings before deciding on a song for the moment. They were all very talented and played extremely well together. I got the impression they were all members of other groups and just decided to throw in together to see what happened. It was old time sound of bluegrass.

Stephanie's Id put on a good show, creative in their sound and good showmanship.

The Duhk’s and Donna closed the night, awesome as always.

D: How was it camping out?

A: Once you get your spot, it’s very nice. We car camped, and it was nice to truck our supplies in and out. The other campers are typically very nice and generous.

D: What activities did the kids enjoy most?

A: We played a lot of caroms. They have a tent set up with about 10 tables and anyone can play. We played teams with one other friend. Ben and I against Hannah and Tom. We played the best of three every day. The final game was the highlight of the weekend. Tom was not having a good game at all, missing easy shots. Then he had the most amazing combination shot and another tricky shot to win the game. You had to be there to appreciate it, but suffice it to say that game will live in infamy for the rest of our days. We also practiced our juggling, played catch, and made up some other games.

D: I noticed they had a solar project this year. Tell us about that.

A: They are promoting a program to help them get hardware in place to support 100% of all their energy needs. It sounds very ambitious, but it is very doable.

D: Are you doing solar installations now?

A: I am doing my own solar energy stuff, nothing for customers just yet. I need to practice on my own home first.

D: It sounds like this was a really great festival. What advice would you give to those planning for next year?

A: I think car camping is the best way to go. Bring what you need for 4 days, set up camp, and wander around and listen to music all day and night. Bring friends--it's a great time.

Thanks for that great weekend review Andy! Andy Wood runs a small residential remodeling company, is married with two kids who homeschool (the festival was part of the curriculum), and he practices and teaches Aikido in Carrboro and Hillsborough at Open Sky Aikido.

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