North Carolina’s 2015 season of more than 100 outdoor music festivals begins this month with five in the Triangle and one little farther out (but worth the drive).
The largest and most well-established of the Triangle festivals is the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance set for April 16-19 near Pittsboro. The 13th spring festival (it’s also held in the fall) brings about 50 acts to four stages, including hosts Donna the Buffalo, Dillon Fence, Billy Joe Shaver, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and the Music Maker Revue of North Carolina blues musicians.
In addition to music, Shakori Hills is strong on games and other activities for children (including the inclusive Paperhand Puppet Parade), and offers musician workshops and several art, craft and food vendors. The festival is on a 72-acre farm and allows tent and RV camping for a fee. Outdoor showers are available for campers.
Here are other festivals taking place in April:
▪ In Raleigh, the second Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon on April 12 brings ’90s hit-makers SmashMouth and supporting acts to Red Hat Amphitheater downtown and stations a couple dozen local bands at various sites along the 26-mile marathon course – all for free.
▪ The same weekend as the Shakori Hills spring festival, North Carolina ’Cuegrass Festival (April 18) brings Town Mountain, Billy Strings and Don Julian, The Moore Brothers and three more bands to downtown Raleigh. The festival is put on by The Pit restaurant in the Warehouse District, which means there will be barbecue as well as locally brewed beer on tap. It is from noon-6 p.m. and costs $5 (food and drinks are extra). Proceeds benefit BackPack Buddies, a program that provides weekend meals to schoolchildren.
▪ In Durham April 24-26, the nonprofit Art of Cool Project presents about 25 performances at the American Tobacco campus in Durham’s Central Park and at five indoor music venues for the Art of Cool Festival. The lineup includes shows by the Robert Glasper Trio, Roy Ayers, Snarky Puppy, Marc Carey Rhodes Ahead Trio and Avery Sunshine.
▪ On Saturday, April 25, the Triangle Beach Music Festival presents Band of Oz, Fantastic Shakers, Sleeping Booty and The Dickens at Bryan Farms in Garner.
▪ Farther afield, one of the Southeast’s top festivals, MerleFest, takes place April 23-26 in Wilkesboro. Featured this year are Dwight Yoakam, the Avett Brothers, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Robert Earl Keen, North Mississippi Allstars, Steep Canyon Rangers and dozens more.
Get details about these and six more April music festivals at carolinamusicfests.com/april.html.
When: April 16-19
Where: 1439 Henderson Tanyard Road, Pittsboro
Cost: $32 Thursday, $42 Friday, $49 Saturday and $32 Sunday; $124 at the gate for four days ($64 for ages 13-15, and free for younger kids). Weekend passes are $10 less in advance ($5 less for youth prices) and $5 less for daily admission. Tent camping is $34 per night ($29 in advance); vehicle camping is $94 ($86 in advance).
North Carolina ’Cuegrass Festival
When: April 18
Where: 328 W. Davie St., Raleigh
Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon
When: April 12
Where: Across downtown Raleigh
Art of Cool
When: April 24-26
Where: Durham’s Central Park, venues across downtown Durham
Cost: $65 daily or $125 for Friday and Saturday; a variety of VIP and single-show tickets also available
Triangle Beach Music Festival
When: April 25
Where: Bryan Farm, 1832 New Bethel Church Road, Garner
Cost: $25 in advance, $35 at the gate.
When: April 23-26
Where: 1328 S. Collegiate Drive, Wilkesboro
Cost: $40 Thursday, $55 Friday, $60 Saturday and $45 Sunday; $165 for a four-day general admission pass; $235-$260 for four-day reserved seats.