Every year I promise myself I will sleep at least five hours each night. Every year I am still awake at 4 A.M., inhaling lungfuls of campfire smoke and bellowing Hank Williams, much to the displeasure of surrounding campers. I can’t pass up the old friends who gather at Shakori Hills to share music at all hours.
Inevitably, I get up from the campfire and head to a stage show. Sara Waters and Co. put together an amazing schedule. At Shakori, I never plan what bands I’m going to see. Instead, I wander around and count on finding a great new band (or five). My favorites this year? Easy! Rubblebucket and Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes.
Paste Magazine describes Rubblebucket as “Joyous jungles of worldly pop-funk, instrumentally rich but catchy enough to ass-kick Katy Perry off the pop charts (in a just world)—mega-melodic without sacrificing an ounce of atmosphere or creativity.” I concur.
Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes ”list among their influences JS Bach, Erykah Badu, English nursery rhymes, moonlight on a frozen swamp, Loretta Lynn, ossified remains of mammals, palindromes, and rhinestones.” These influences are evident. Especially the rhinestones. On stage, Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes construct a world in which I lose myself. I am rapt with attention, fixated on the swells of strings on strings. Awash in a sea of sequins! Bowties and beatboxing buoy me up. Ok, I’ll stop now.
But seriously, Josh Stohl plays the keys AND synth rack toms at the same time! Kyra Moore goes from banjo to bass to violin! Elizabeth Marshall maintains ferocious facial expressions AND a cello line that glues the whole thing together! Sally Mullikin brings sass and viola to the stage, and Justin… well, in addition to mad autoharp skills, beatboxing, singing, and other strings, Justin uses his songwriting and performance style to mastermind a compelling visual and emotional world. I was captive to this world throughout their performance.
Shirlette Ammons of Shirlette and the Dynamite Brothers joined Justin and the Mary Annettes on stage for “Kissin’ and Cussin’”. She blew my mind for about 5 minutes, then bounced offstage for her own group’s performance. Shirlette, Justin, Mary Annettes, can we have a play date?
I must also mention Joe Kollar of Driftwood and his enchanting sweetheart Calya (Last name? I don’t know. Maybe “Awesome.” We’ll go with that for now.). That’s a whole lot of magic in just two people. Next time you see them, ask them about Molly Pitcher. And last but not least, Greg Humphreys and HOBEX blew me away with the closing jam. Rain didn’t put a damper on the late-night Sunday show. They inspire serious booty shaking. On Monday morning I woke up sore in every limb.
After Shakori, I took a good long rest. I was up and running again in time for a euphoria-inducing concert with Greg Humphreys at Ira Planer’s house concert series. Think two acoustic guitars will put an audience to sleep? Think again. A rousing rendition of “Sexual Healing” can make anyone dance. And I mean rousing.
Saturday Apr. 28 had us headed to Winston-Salem for the Piedmont Earth Day Fair and a set at Foothills Brewing company. My favorite thing about Foothills is the staff. At the end of the night, we play for them. One long, dark drive home later, I collapsed in bed. Spent Sunday playing guitar and celebrating my little sister Lucy’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Lucy! She’s way too cool to read my blog. Never mind.
If you’ve made it all the way to the end, I must thank you for not being too cool. Thanks for reading, and thanks for listening. Come say hi at the Apex Peakfest this Saturday, May 5. It’s a free show and we’ll start playing at 1:30.
Until then, have a lovely week!