Dance, music, yoga at Shakori Hills Festival

Apr. 19, 2014 @ 05:30 PM

While the cold made it harder to move his fingers, George Stewart and his partner in the two-man band Ed and George walked away with a positive feeling from a competition on Saturday that included bands playing old-time, bluegrass and other types of music.

“We really enjoyed it; we think it’s nice that people came out (to) show their appreciation,” said Stewart’s band partner Ed Davis, as they walked away from the stage where the competition was held as part of Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Dance and Music.

The competition was just part of the line-up of the four-day festival. There were more than 50 bands and performers expected at the event including musicians playing rock, folk, zydeco, bluegrass. There were also opportunities for yoga, arts and crafts, and dancing.

Now in its 12th year, the spring festival is held on about 72 acres in Silk Hope. Last year, the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center, which puts on the semiannual event, bought the land where the festival is held.

For Saturday’s competition, several people stood outside in rain coats and umbrellas to watch. At least one onlooker danced barefoot to the music in the soft, sometimes muddy ground.

The competition also included the John Hardy Band, a five-man band with fiddle, banjo, wash board, bass and mandolin musicians.

“I’ve played all my life,” said fiddler player John Fullam of Asheville, who said he plays using his grandfather’s fiddle.

He started playing with the John Hardy Party band after meeting the other members playing informally at previous Shakori Hills festivals.

People stay outside playing music together until the sun comes up, he said.

“Every 20 or 30 yards, you find another lesson,” said Shawn Hagan of Charleston, S.C., who played washboard for the band.

The festival showcases a wide range of music, he said, and also draws singers and songwriters who are creating original music.

“We just congregate together; share what (we) have for the time being,” he said.

Commenting on the weather, Hagan said he liked people’s attitude on Saturday in that despite the rain, nothing was “really getting them down.”

Under the Cabaret Tent nearby, people were crowded in to hear Bulltown Strutters, a Durham-based parade band whose is style is inspired by a street band tradition from New Orleans.

Some wearing hats and others brightly colored beads, band members invited people to circle up to dance to the “Hokey Pokey.”

Nearby in the Dance Tent, people were crowded in to practice yoga in a group. Just prior to that, people had joined in a dance coordinated by dance caller Rodney Sutton to old-time string band music.

Sutton had people dancing sometimes in pairs, sometimes in groups of four and sometimes in a circle. He said he had led them in a friendly, traditional dance of rural America.

From Marshall, N.C., Sutton said he’s a member of the Green Grass Cloggers, a clogging team that has hosted clogging and dance workshops at previous festivals.

“Especially on days like today, they like to get up and move around,” he said of Saturday’s participants.