While officially it’s billed as a “World Music and Cultural Arts Festival,” some attendees of last year’s Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, held near Pittsboro, had a different name–Mudfest.

The festival, held amid a downpour, introduced a new twist on valet parking. Instead of handing in a ticket to retrieve their cars from the parking lots when it came time to leave, some festival-goers found themselves in search of a roving band of tractors to pull them from the lots. Most of the crowd took the muddy conditions in stride, though, concentrating on the camaraderie and the music.

The festival is a mix of blues, rock, reggae, country and world bands–most playing roots- based dance music. Originally started in Trumansburg, N.Y., 14 years ago by members of Donna The Buffalo, their friends and family, to generate money for AIDS awareness and other charities, the Grassroots Festival grew so large that it was time to split it in two.

Festival coordinator Jordan Puryear says organizers were satisfied with last year’s festival. Although they did not break even, they didn’t expect to. The weather–cold, damp and muddy–was a big factor. This year, roads and parking at the site have been improved, and organizers already are talking about adding a second festival date in October that would concentrate on local music. Puryear says the festival may move forward next year, while still keeping it in April. “We always want to not be on Easter Weekend or Merlefest,” Puryear says, “so we have to dodge around a little bit.”

The music dodges around a bit as well, with more than three dozen bands over the three-day festival. Headliners range from Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi to Kentucky’s Patty Loveless, who played the Trumansburg festival last year.

“I loved it,” says Loveless. “I love the fact that it was so different and that there was a mix of music for people who are music lovers, not just one particular style of music–they could appreciate many different forms. I wish there was more of these kind of festivals, because I really enjoyed myself last year.”

Loveless has gotten away from the pop sound that Nashville now calls country to a more traditional style. Her 2001 release, Mountain Soul, recalled her Kentucky bluegrass roots and built on her work singing with Ralph Stanley on the Down From the Mountain tour promoting O Brother Where Art Thou artists. Her latest, On Your Way Home, is down-home country in the classic vein, authored by contemporary writers like Marty Stewart, Rodney Crowell and Jim Lauderdale. Loveless believes it’ll take the listeners–her audience, not the industry, to change the face of country. “My only concern is where is the audience that we’re making country music for? It seems like some of the music today that’s played on country radio has scared some of those away. Seems like they’re in search for a more traditional sound all over again.”

Jeb Puryear, guitarist and vocalist for Donna The Buffalo and Grassroots founding family member says Loveless turned out to be a good match for the festival’s audience.

“But I think it was a real unusual type of event for her to play and to get the general country crowd is a great thing. They might stay and dance all night to a Zydeco show,” he says. “That kind of energy is a good thing.”

The guitarist stays too busy touring with D The B to devote much time to festival planning anymore, but says he still goes to some meetings, “writes some stuff, makes some radio ads and yaks, whines and moans.”

The shift to two festivals, he says, was the right choice. Organizers decided to add a second site when Trumansburg attendance reached 15,000–too big, Puryear says, to maintain the right feel. With hopes of bringing in bigger names, the festivals’ organizers hope New York and Silk Hope have room to grow.

“A family atmosphere gets generated at a festival, and you want that to persist,” the guitarist explains. “If it ever grew out of that, it’d be a problem. But as long as like the feeling’s strong enough, and the music’s strong enough, and the community’s strong enough to hold that feeling together, we can get pretty big.”

Puryear says the goal is to create something that can truly be called a festival.

“Anybody can set up a stage somewhere and have a band play,” he says. “But when a festival develops a real community feel, and it grows, and different things happen, it develops its history and sense of party, it’s the real deal there.” EndBlock

Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, April 15-18, Silk Hope, N.C. Weekend tickets $65 in advance, $75 at door.

Schedule of Events (subject to change

Thursday, April 15
Meadow Stage
Deer Clan Singers 3:15-4:45 p.m.

December Wind 5-6:30 p.m.

Pura Fe 6:45-8 p.m.

Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits 8:30-10 p.m.

John Specker 10:15-10:45 p.m.

Donna the Buffalo 11p.m.-12:30a.m.

Dance Tent
Turtle Island Dream 3-4:30 p.m.

Lonesome Sisters 5:15- 6:30 p.m.

Preston Frank/Zydeco Family 7-9 p.m.

Big Fat Gap 9:45-11 p.m.

Hula Cats 11:45-1 a.m.

Grove Stage
Stephen Smith 4-5:15 p.m.

Crow Greenspun 6-7:15 p.m.

Ryan Cavanaugh Trio 7:45-9 p.m.

Barefoot Manner 9:45-11 p.m.

Los Pochos 11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

Cabaret Tent
Amy Glicklich and Tenesi 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Randy Whitt and the Grits 5:15-6:30 p.m.

Abe Reid & Spike Drivers 7-8:15 p.m.

Cary Fridley 8:45-10 p.m.

Garrett Tucker 10:30-11:30 p.m.

Trevor MacDonald midnight-1:15 a.m.

Friday, April 16
Meadow Stage
Crow Greenspun 11a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Barefoot Manner 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Stephen Smith 2:15-3:30 p.m.

The Never 4-5:15 p.m.

Sim Redmond Band 5:45-7 p.m.

‘Lil’ Mac and Kenyetta 7:15-7:45 p.m.

Keith Frank 8-9:15 p.m.

Keith Secola 9:45-11 p.m.

Calton Coffie 11:30 p.m.-1:15 a.m.

Dance Tent
Tai Chi 9-10a.m.

Lonesome Sisters 10:30-11:45 a.m.

The Buvas 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Swing dance w/ Jo Serrapere 2:15-3:45 p.m.

Contra/Square dance w/ The Case Courters 4:15- 6:15p.m.

The Blue Rags 6:30-8 p.m.

The Horseflies 8:30-10 p.m.

The Red Hots 10:30-11:45 p.m.

Zydeco Experiment midnight

Grove Stage
Eric Ginsberg 9-9:45 a.m.

Fiddler/Banjo Contest 10a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Deer Clan Singers 12:45-2 p.m.

Paper Hand Puppet Intervention 2:30-3:15 p.m.

Willie Lowery 3:45-4:45 p.m.

Project Mastana 5:30-6:45 p.m.

Steep Canyon Rangers 7:15- 8:30 p.m.

Jim Lauderdale 9-10:15 p.m.

The Two Dollar Pistols 11 p.m-12:15 a.m.

Snake Oil Medicine Show 12:30 a.m.

Cabaret Tent
Tensegrity Practice 8-8:45 a.m.

Peace Seminar 10-11:30 a.m.

Poetry Workshop 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Ami Worthen’s Mad Tea Party 1-2:15 p.m.

Ben Suchy 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Kathy Ziegler 3:45-4:45 p.m.

Michael Hurley 5:15-6:15 p.m.

Valorie 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Bedtime Stories 8-8:30 p.m.

Cool John Ferguson, Captain Luke, Macavine Hayes, Whistlin’ Britches 8:45-10:45 p.m.

Jaafar 10:45 p.m.-midnight

Los Pochos 12:30 a.m.

Saturday, April 17
Meadow Stage
The Dance of Peace 9-10 a.m.

Pura Fe 10:30-11:45 a.m.

Hugh Swaso 12:15 –1:30 p.m.

December Wind 2-3:15 p.m.

Project Mastana 3:45-5 p.m.

Carnavalito 5:45-6:45 p.m.

Campbell Brothers 7:30-8:45 p.m.

Mamadou Diabate 9-9:45 p.m.

Donna the Buffalo 10-11:30 p.m.

Jump Little Children midnight-1:30 a.m.

Dance Tent
Yoga 8-9 a.m.

Tai Chi 9-10 a.m.

Across the Sea 10:15-11:15 a.m.

Clogging Workshop 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Turtle Island Dream 1:15-2:30 p.m.

Salsa Dance Workshop 2:45-3:45 p.m.

Cane Creek Cloggers 4:15-4:45 p.m.

Contra/Square Dance with the Case Courters 5-7 p.m.

Los Pochos 7:15-8:30 p.m.

Katherine Whalen’s Jazz Squad 9-10:15 p.m.

Shout Lula 10:45-11:45 p.m.

Keith Frank Zydeco Band midnight

Grove Stage
Eric Ginsberg 9-9:45 a.m.

Band Contest 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Garrett Tucker 1:15-2:30 p.m.

Amy Glicklich & Tenesi 3-4 p.m.

Bluegrass Experience 4:45-6 p.m.

Galumpha 6:45-8 p.m.

The Horseflies 8:45-10 p.m.

Jo Serrapere & the Willie Dunns 10:45-11:45 p.m.

Barefoot Manner 12:15 a.m.

Cabaret Tent
Tensegrity Practice 8-8:45 a.m.

Feldenkrais 9-9:45 a.m.

Peace Seminar 10-11:30 a.m.

Cary Fridley 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The Shelbys 1-2:15 p.m.

Five 2 2:45-3:45 p.m.

Randy Whitt & the Grits 4:30-5:45 p.m.

Poetry Slam 6-8 p.m.

Paper Hand Puppet Intervention 8:15-8:45 p.m.

Michael Hurley 9-10 p.m.

Skeeter Brandon 10-11 p.m.

Willie Lowery 11:15 p.m.–12:15 a.m.

The Hula Cats 12:15 a.m.

Sunday, April 18
Meadow Stage
Welcome to the Circle 9-10 a.m.

Dear Clan Singers 10:15-11:15 a.m.

Campbell Brothers 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.

Sim Redmond Band 1:30-2:45 p.m.

Keith Secola 3:15-4:30 p.m.

Mamadou Diabate 5-6 p.m.

Patty Loveless 6:30-8 p.m.

Donna The Buffalo 8:30-10 p.m.

Dance Tent
Yoga 8–9 a.m.

Tai Chi 9-10 a.m.

Charles Pettee 10-11:15 a.m.

Bubba Hots 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

Snake Oil Medicine Show 1:45-3 p.m.

Zydeco Experiment with Preston Frank 3:30-4:45 p.m.

The Buvas 5:30-6:45 p.m.

Grove Stage
Songwriters Circle 10-11:30 a.m.

Brown Mountain Lights 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Shout Lula 1:15-2:15 p.m.

Tony Williamson 2:45-4 p.m.

Big Fat Gap 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Across the Sea 6:15- 7:15 p.m.

Cabaret Tent
Sacred Stories 9-9:45 a.m.

Peace Seminar 10-11:15 a.m.

Ben Suchy 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Valorie 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Lonesome Sisters 2:30-3:45 p.m.

Lightnin’ Wells & George Higgs 4-5:30 p.m.

Stephan Smith 5:45-6:30 p.m.