Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

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Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance Fall 2018 discount tickets end Friday, Aug. 17

If you, like me, are a fan of FloydFest, Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival and Front Porch Fest, you’ll love Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance.

Hosted by one of MerleFest’s fan favorites, Donna the Buffalo, Shakori has a similar vibe and similar artists to the aforementioned festivals. But if you live in or near the Triangle, it’s just a short drive to Shakori’s home in bucolic Chatham County.

And for music festival lovers, it offers not one but two chances to camp out and catch some great live music each year — one in the spring and one in the fall.

I had the pleasure of meeting up and hanging out with some of my fellow die-hard festivarians (yes, it’s a word) at the spring 2017 festival featuring some amazing sets by Rising Appalachia, Violet Bell, Dangermuffin, The Mastersons and Steve Earle and the Dukes, just to name a few.

But if you don’t want to take my word for it, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine named it among its Bests of the Fests of 2018.

And for $90, you can take advantage of the 2018 fall festival, Oct. 4-7, and its 50-plus acts including headliners Lettuce and, of course, Donna the Buffalo, as well as Ryan Mountbleau, Urban Soil and Shiloh Hill, among others.

But don’t wait. Tickets go up after Friday, Aug. 17, and before the rest of the acts are announced on Monday, Aug. 20.

In the meantime, catch some of the acts who presumably will be at Shakori this fall on “The Road to Shakori” tour.



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Labor Day Weekend 2018 offers myriad music festival opportunities for fans in Virginia, North Carolina

Listen up music festival lovers: Labor Day Weekend 2018 has plenty of opportunities in North Carolina, Virginia and beyond. Continue reading

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Front Porch Fest celebrates 10 years of music, memories over Labor Day Weekend 2018

Tired of listening to the same old music? Front Porch Fest, held at the picturesque Spirit Haven Farm in Stuart, Virginia, over Labor Day weekend, may be just the ticket. You’ll not only be exposed to some new tunes, you’ll also have the opportunity to support some great causes.

“Front Porch Fest is a great place to hear someone you have never heard of and leave with new music in your heart,” festival Executive Director Chris Prutting told me in 2015. “I’ve grown up with music and friends playing in bands. I love the bands no one has heard of. If you come to Front Porch Fest, you will leave with a whole new catalog of music. We’ve always prided ourselves on getting bands right before they make it.”

Among the acts lined up for Front Porch Fest set for Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 include Perpetual Groove, Zach Deputy, the Larry Keel Experience, Big Daddy Love, Annabelle’s Curse, the Couldn’t Be Happiers, Urban Soil, Slick Jr. & the Reactors, among others. A distinctive feature of this festival, which attracts a few thousand attendees, are its three stages with no overlapping sets so music lovers don’t have to miss a beat.

I personally love the laid back feel of this festival that is smaller more intimate version of some of its neighbors including FloydFest and Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival.

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First Listen: Couldn’t Be Happiers release ‘His and Hers’ tunes on Spotify

A year after the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based dynamic musical duo, Couldn’t Be Happiers, formed, they will release two tracks — “Cajun Spider-Man” and “Mad” — on July 24 that couldn’t be more different or more reflective of the artists. The two-track CD is appropriately called “His and Hers” and is available on Spotify.

Jordan Crosby Lee (vocals, guitar) is a tattooed Texas troubadour who blends melodies and shares harmonies with a Jodi Hildebran (vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion), a sassy blonde country crooner from North Carolina. Hildebran is a singer/songwriter whose love of pop and Americana music permeates her writing.

I have written in the past that the Couldn’t Be Happiers combine all the best things about classic country music.

That hasn’t changed with the release of the duo’s latest two tracks. I find Lee’s up-tempo “Cajun Spider-Man” tune reminiscent of the storytelling song genre the great Tom T. Hall and Roger Miller, among others, made famous. It’s outlandishness also reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen’s more recent “Outlaw Pete.”

Hildebran’s “Mad” is unique in its delivery allowing her the depth of her vocals to shine with a Rhiannon Giddeons’ quality I haven’t heard from Hildebran until now. “Mad” sounds like it should be listened to in a dim speakeasy lit only by candlelight while sipping on a Manhattan.

But don’t take my word for it. Take a listen for yourself:

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Catch Nashville’s Forlorn Strangers at Appaloosa Roots Music Festival, IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, Front Porch Fest

I had the pleasure of catching the Forlorn Strangers, a foot-stomping, Nashville-based string quintet, at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, a few weeks ago when they opened for Celtic rockers Scythian at an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)  Wide Open Bluegrass preview show for its upcoming festival Sept. 29-30.

It also turned out to be a preview show for Scythian’s Appaloosa Roots Music Festival set for Sept. 1-3 in Front Royal, Virginia, at which both Scythian and Forlorn Strangers are set to perform. And Front Porch Fest fans will be happy to know they can catch Forlorn Strangers at the festival on Sept. 3 in Stuart, Virginia.

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Front Porch Fest 2017 announces initial lineup for Labor Day Weekend

Once again, Spirithaven Farm in Stuart, Virginia, will be filled with sweet sounds of music Labor Day weekend. The ninth Front Porch Fest will take place Aug. 31 – Sept. 3, 2017. This family-friendly weekend celebrates music and art on the front porch to the Blue Ridge mountains, thus the name.

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Annabelle’s Curse, Will Overman Band heading to Charlotte’s The Evening Muse on Saturday, Oct. 22

Two of Virginia’s hottest up-and-coming alt folk rock bands — Annabelle’s Curse and Will Overman Band — will light up the stage at Charlotte’s The Evening Muse  in NODA on Saturday, Oct. 22. Tickets for the late-night show that begins at 10:30 (Doors open at 10) are only $5. Trust me when I say you need to catch these bands at this price while you still can because you won’t be disappointed.

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