The biannual grassroots fest at Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, NC, gets underway today, running Thursday through Sunday, April 21-24.
FULL SCHEDULE and TICKET INFO: Shakori Hills Website
Diali Cissokho & Kairaba performing at Nightlight in February
The beauty of Shakori is there is music going on on four stages all the time, so there's always something to do. Performers include The Lizzy Ross Band, Mount Moriah, Birds and Arrows, Greg Humphreys, John Howie Jr, Dave McCracken, Pura Fe, Deer Clan Singers, Kooley High, Big Fat Gap, The Travelin' McCourys, Tift Merritt, Midtown Dickens, The Beast and Dark Water Rising. With that wealth of entertainment in mind, here's a targeted selection of my personal picks:
THURSDAY: Cool John Ferguson and Arrested Development this evening. 7:30 - on...
FRIDAY: Umalali, the Garifuna women's collective from Central America. Meadow Stage, 10 pm. Repeats again on SATURDAY.
SATURDAY: Diali Cissokho and Kairaba. My strongest recommendation for a must-see new band on the rise. Led by Pittsboro-resident Cissokho, a Jimi Hendrix of the kora, with his nephew talking drummer Sidya Cissokho, plus an American-style backing band of drumset, congas, bass and electric guitar. The West African harp-lute may be dreamy and poetic solo, but Cissokho uses it to stoke a bluelight basement party in Kairaba, a word which means "love and peace" in Manding. Diali's natural charisma as a vocal performer may come from his centuries-old griot heritage, but he will also put you in mind of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and other griots of New World soul. Dance Tent, 4:15-5:30.
ALSO SATURDAY: Orquesta GarDel promises special guests and '80s nostalgia during their salsa set at the dance tent, starting just after midnight.
SUNDAY: Shake it all out with zydeco guru Preston Frank in the Dance Tent, 4:15-6:15. An earlier dance with Frank's band happens FRIDAY around 3 pm.
But don't take it from me. Mix and match your own agenda at www.shakorihills.org.