Just add guitars: Musicians gather for fall Shakori Hills Festival
Donna the Buffalo, Robert Randolph, and Mipso are among the local and regional musicians who will draw crowds to the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance this weekend. While many come to listen to music, many campers also come to play music, bringing their voices or instruments, hoping to meet other like-minded musicians.
In that spirit of musical freedom and camaraderie, Matthew Klever of Hillsborough was playing tunes on a melodica Friday, the first full day of the fall edition of the Shakori Festival. “I’ve been here a bunch. It’s a good festival. I just love the people,” Klever said.
“There’s music going on constantly,” said Klever’s friend Anna LaRocco Masi, who said she came to hear the band Driftwood on Thursday night, but likes the eclectic mix of music at Shakori.
“You know what makes Shakori wonderful?” asked Chelsea Scott of Chapel Hill. “If a sausage biscuit costs $3 and you only have $2, they’ll sell it to you for $2 if you’ll dance,” she said.
As Klever, LaRocco Masi and Scott walked toward the Jam Tent, they met James Oden of Raleigh. Klever and Oden got into an impromptu jam. As Klever played “Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, Oden, a multi-instrumentalist, played along with hand percussion instruments.
Brian Patana and Mike Mansfield were setting up the Jam Tent, which Patana said starts filling up with musicians toward evening, with music often continuing after the official stage performances are finished. “You never know who’s going to come by,” Patana said.
Patana and Mansfield said the music and camaraderie keep drawing them to the festival – both of them have been at the festival six years, for both the spring and fall festivals. “I like the music and I love the little community” that happens during the festival, Mansfield said.
Patana first learned about the festival when he went to hear Donna the Buffalo at a local venue. A friend told him the band also would play at the Shakori Hills event. “I came out here and I never left,” he said.
Behind the Carson Grove tent, musicians were warming up for the fiddle, guitar, banjo and mandolin competition. David Thornberry of Greensboro, on banjo, and Racy Maness of Seagrove, on mandolin, were practicing some tunes. Thornberry said he learned the bluegrass style from hanging around musicians like Maness. During his six years coming to the festival, Maness said he had heard “some of the biggest names in the business here.”
As musicians competed on stage, visitors could hear guitarists backstage quietly playing along with the melody on their instruments.
Banjo player and guitarist Mathias Kamin, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and guitarist Greg Newton of High Point, traded pointers about music. Kamin’s parents and grandparents originally were from West Virginia, so “the music of Appalachia is in my blood,” he said. He said he has tried to teach himself a certain type of syncopation in the clawhammered style of banjo playing. He has not been successful, so he said he developed a different style of hammering the strings.
Mason Via of Danbury, N.C., was competing in the mandolin division, and played a tune he composed titled “Meraki.” He learned traditional music from his father, David Via, who plays mandolin in the band David Via and Corn Tornado. The younger Via said he likes to mix funk styles with traditional bluegrass. “I like to call my music R&B – rhythm and bluegrass,” he said.
The festival continues today through Sunday at Shakori Hills Farm.