Shakori Grassroots returns for 17th year

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/1/19

The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, set for this weekend, continues to grow in popularity while maintaining its mission of bringing quality music to Chatham County.

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Shakori Grassroots returns for 17th year

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The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, set for this weekend, continues to grow in popularity while maintaining its mission of bringing quality music to Chatham County.

The event, which was the vision of Jeb and Jordan Puryear of the world famous roots band Donna and the Buffalo, connected with the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center 17 years ago and has hosted the 4-day Grassroots Festival twice a year ever since to raise money for the center.

The brothers will share the history of Shakori during a session at Shakori’s “front porch” at 12:30 Saturday.

This year’s festival with host more than 50 musical acts on its four stages. The headliner, aside from Donna and the Buffalo, will be Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, a project by the son of country music legend Willie Nelson. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have been Neil Young’s band on multiple albums and tours since 2015 and recently appear as Bradley Cooper’s band in the film “A Star is Born.”

Nelson, who co-produced the hit movie’s soundtrack, was a recent recipient of a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for the original music in the film, along with his co-writers Lady Gaga and Cooper. Nelson will play the Meadow Stage at 8 p.m. Thursday, fol- lowed by Donna and the Buffalo.

Another highlight will likely be Ellis Dyson & The Shambles, a swing-ragtime group from Chapel Hill, who will be playing on both Friday and Sunday. For Sunday’s set, the group will welcome Katharine Whalen from Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Turkuaz is a nine-piece funk band from Brooklyn that has been making a name for itself on the festival circuit. The band includes horns, two female singers and a male singer/ guitarist, who together create rhythms and har- monies that will make you get up and dance. They will play Sunday night just before the all- star jam that will close the event.

Songwriter Kat Wright, who will play on both Saturday and Sunday nights, is a soul singer supported by an eight-piece band including bluesy jazz horns. Wright’s voice has a soulful sound with a hip spin to it which hearkens to the sound of Amy Winehouse.

Driftwood, an Americana/Folk-Rock band, fresh from a performance at Merlefest, will play Friday night. And if you like country, check out the stylings of Blue Cactus, a Chapel Hill husband and wife duo. Steph Stewart’s vocals have the high lone- some sound similar to Patsy Cline. Along with her husband, Mario Arnez, the pair create “cry-in-your-whiskey” country.

For an international flair, check out Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba with their full band for Senegalese sounds on Saturday. Or see the performances of Albizu, who will perform three times. The band combines jazz from Miami with a Cuban/South American influence.

Shakori Grassroots Festival has collaborated with another music-driven non-profit, The Music Maker Relief Foundation whose mission is to give back to the roots of Southern American music, for the Music Makers Blues Review on Friday. The performance will feature artists that Music Maker has supported over the years including Cool John Ferguson, Pat ‘Mother Blues’ Cohen, and Harvey Dalton Arnold.

The Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival is likely the biggest event to occur in Chatham County each year. While seeking to find quality music to share, the festival also maintains a family-friendly and Chatham-centric mentality.

Children under the age of 12 are allowed in for free and youths aged 13-15 are charged at about half the price of the adult ticket. In addition, Chatham County residents are offered special rates of about $20 less than the regular rate. Tickets can be purchased as four-day passes or for individual days. Tent, vehicle, and recreational vehicle camping passes are also available.

For specific rates, visit the festival’s website at

Casey Mann can be reached at



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