By: Paul Kerr

Donna the Buffalo at GrassRoots Festival
By Todd E. Gaul
Summer is winding down, but there's still one more festival to look forward to. The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance takes place October 5th - 8th in Silk Hope, North Carolina, just outside of Chapel Hill. With four stages pumping out music for four days, there's a wide variety of styles and sounds suited to everyone's tastes. Started by Donna the Buffalo 17 years ago in upstate New York, the non-profit charitable festival expanded southward in 2003, bringing along the commitment to music, dance, and a huge assortment of cultural activities. Everything from dance classes to composting is available, alongside early morning yoga, late-night zydeco, and tons of fun for the kids too.

Highlights this fall include the explosive bluegrass of master musician Sam Bush, the eternally danceable roots-rock of Donna the Buffalo, and the progressive soulgrass of The Duhks. Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band bring their endlessly funky Southern swing alongside his pop Preston Frank who appears with his own Zydeco Family Band. Cyril Lance will be on hand to unleash his incendiary blues guitar, while the Sim Redmond Band adds a Caribbean touch to their breezy rock sound. Dubconscious and dub Addis provide the laid-back reggae grooves, while the CX-1 Blackhole Bluegrass Boys take traditional bluegrass instruments straight into outer space. The gypsy punk of Luminescent Orchestrii never fails to bowl over the audience, and the heartfelt rock & roll of the Ralph Roddenbery Band will get them back on their feet and dancing again. The funk is well represented by Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, while the Biscuit Burners provide some earnest mountain bluegrass. Carolina Chocolate Drops will lay down their own brand of Southern stringband traditions, and Michael Holland will mix a little folk into his bluegrass.

Other artists appearing at the festival include fiddle master John Specker, songstress Jennie Stearns, local bluegrass heroes Steep Canyon Rangers, folk re-interpreter Jonathan Byrd, Southern jammers Little Green Chairs, novelty jazz goofballs Mad Tea Party, Jamaican reggae legends The Overtakers, pop noir aficionados The Old Ceremony, cry-in-your-beer geniuses Two Dollar Pistols, and local rockers Memphis the Band. Also featured is the Middle Eastern jazz funk of Jaafar, the pop rock of The Never, the infectious oldtime sounds of Pilot Mountain Bobcats, African dance troupe Kusun Ensemble, the raucous bluegrass of Big Fat Gap, and the country twang of Randy Whitt & the Grits.

The rest of the packed schedule includes a variety of dance troupes, including Apple Chill Cloggers, Elikem African Dance Company and Green Grass Cloggers. Bluegrass is always on the agenda with Andy Thorn & Bolin Creek, Locklear Bluegrass Family, Bearfoot, and Turtle Duhks. Rounding out the bill are Corinne West, divine MAGgees, Erin Regan, The Everybodyfields, Benton Flippen, Eric Ginsberg, Eilen Jewell, Pura Fe, Quetzal, Rajamani Ensemble, Eduardo Moran, Gigi Dover, Ray Abshire, Saludos Compay, Bombadil, Joe Thompson, The Believers, The Gravy Boys, Didgeridoo, Hollywood Red, Bigtime Party Band, Shoot the Moon, The Talk ToMes, and Tercer Divisa Nacional.

The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival is a comfortable, inviting place where everyone smiles and relaxation is the order of the day. Why fight your way through massive crowds when you can enjoy a huge variety of music in the rolling fields and serene woods of central Carolina? No traffic, no lines, no hassles – it's truly a festival space created with the best of intentions and the most welcoming of vibes. Check out more details at

JamBase | North Carolina
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[Published on: 9/28/06]

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lowbillyjim starstarstar Thu 9/28/2006 09:10PM
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Herd, whats' up? Is this a stock photo or is Jim Miller back with the band or for the fest?

DainBramage starstarstarstar Fri 9/29/2006 05:56AM
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They could stand to get a new up-to-date photo.

cliftonhanger420 starstarstarstarstar Fri 9/29/2006 06:27AM
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i haven't seen donna the buffalo in probably at least 10 years, but they used to rock a joint called "joyce's kegroom" up in jamestown, new york, on a regular basis. they were always one of the "highlights" at the great blue heron music festival up in sherman, new york as well. i'm glad they're expanding down south and spreading the vibe of these family type festivals and letting some of these unheard of bands be known. there will be a lot of good music hear at a fairly decent price. Donna the Buffalo are a great live band. i missed them by a day when they played at alpine/ reunion. they've come a long way. keep jamming that reggae/bluegrass. peace.

pkerr Fri 9/29/2006 08:11AM
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Stock photo.

Emo starstarstarstarstar Fri 9/29/2006 05:11PM
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OMG The kegroom was taken for taxes last year and they opened it up as an....alternative lifestyle bar. Think Studio 54. It is great for Jamestown, but it isn't the keg room. If there were no Donna there would be no Great Blue Heron. After upwards of 80 Donna shows I thought I was kind of over it, but they had one amazing set at Shakori Hills Fall and one at Blue Heron this year that made me really appreciate them agian for the first time in 3 or 4 years. Shakori is totally a magical venue. I wish them the same success they have been having at the worst karma venue I have ever been to The Trumansburg fairgrounds. F Cayohoga Security. They are bad people.

maxthebear Mon 10/2/2006 08:43AM
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Man, shakori is my favorite grassfest ever! First of all the weather is beautiful (as long as it doesnt rain again). But NC is awesome and the surrounding woods and beautiful farm make the festival ten times better. Not to mention the music. We are blessed with Donna and Keith Frank again. Hope to c alot of your families out there.