With a name like Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, you know that it’s a community event and one heck of a good time.  This family friendly festival in Pittsboro, NC is produced by the non-profit Shakori Hills Community Arts Center and takes place this week, October 4-7.  The lineup includes funk legends Lettuce, Donna the Buffalo, Locos Por Juana, Ryan Montbleau, Consider the Source, Hayley Jane and the Primates, and many more.

Shakori Hills is family friendly and kids 12 and under are free.  Tickets for those between the ages of 13 and 15 are only $59. If you buy your ticket before 10/1 you can save money off the gate price!  An adult 4-day ticket is currently $114, but will be $125 at the gate. Considering that most festival ticket prices are upwards of $200 these days, even the gate price is a steal.   Buy your advance ticket here.

Urban Soil. Photo by Roger Gupta

One of the bands on the lineup that caught our eye is North Carolina band Urban Soil, who offers a unique blend of Americana and jam.  We talked to guitarist Eric Chesson to gain a little bit of insight into their music as a preview for their set this weekend, Saturday night at 11:30PM and Sunday at 4:30PM.

First and foremost how are you guys holding up after hurricane Florence? Everyone’s homes and families ok?

Florence was and still is a very desperate situation for a huge part of our state here in North Carolina. Our home base in Raleigh really dodged a bullet and did not take a direct hit from the storm, for which we are very thankful, but our minds have been on our many friends and neighbors to the south and east that took the brunt of the hurricane, particularly Wilmington and all of our many coastal and sound-side communities. We’ve jumped on a benefit show put together by our friends at The Lincoln Theater here in Raleigh that will be held on October 13th to try and do something tangible to help out people who’s lives have been turned upside down by this storm.

Did you all grow up in Raleigh? How do you feel that where you grew up affected you and your music?

Most of us grew up in Central North Carolina, three of us in the Raleigh/Durham area.  Sarah is originally from Detroit Michigan area and her family relocated to NC in her teenage years.

When and how did you meet each other and how did the band come to be?

Urban Soil was born of a collaboration between myself and my then 17 year old daughter. After about a year of gigging she decided to move on (maybe tired of spending every weekend with her old man?) and I recruited Sarah to join the band.  I had seen her playing at some open mics at a bar that I was tending at the time and was really impressed with her style, voice and songwriting so I decided to approach her about joining the band. Turns out that that was a good decision as Sarah has since developed into an absolutely brilliant, accomplished musician over the course of her time in the band and I feel privileged to have been so closely involved in and a small part of her growth as a musician and artist.  We were a four piece for about a year after that, then Gregory joined on violin in 2014. Leo and Jonathan are the newest members and we have had this lineup for about a year now.

How would you describe your music as far as the genre? What feelings do you hope to invoke in your audience?

As far as a genre, we consider ourselves roots rock fusion.  We are a true fusion band as we have styles from straight classic rock to hard rock, Latin, gypsy swing, jazz, soul, bluegrass, blues, world music and even a little country music.  Sometimes hitting several of these in the course of one song or a medley of songs. We always are looking to elevate the mood and spirit of our audiences and take them out of their heads for a little bit of time.  The themes in our music are all about mostly positive, uplifting or introspective things and we typically avoid negative or divisive content as a rule. We want our music to bring people together and make them feel good!

Why are you excited to play Shakori Hills Grassroots music festival? What’s a different band on the lineup you are excited to check out?

Having been in the area since Shakori’s origin and having seen its growth and success, we are huge fans of the event. Some members have attended as fans for many years. We love that Shakori Hills has proven that an event like this is sustainable and can be successful for a really long time. We love the diverse nature of the bill, I have discovered many bands that I never would have otherwise and the whole festival and staff is just top notch. The bill for Shakori Hills Grassroots this fall is full of great bands so it’s hard to pick a top must see. We are currently reveling in IBMA week and the World of Bluegrass Festival here in Downtown Raleigh so bluegrass is front and center and we are loving it, so we are looking forward to seeing the Counter Clockwise String Band play the fest