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4/17/08 Shakori Hill GrassRoots Festival,
Silk Hope, NC
Big Parade, Wood and Stone, Positive Friction, If You Only Could, Voice in My Head, You're Breakin' My Heart, Hot Tamale Baby (Joe Thrift on rubboard), River of Gold, Conscious Evolution
By Paul Roberge
A gorgeous day here in central North Carolina, which
ushered in a cool, comfortable evening, with a nearly
full moon overhead. It seemed to me that there were
more people for the Thursday opener than in the past.
One of the volunteers in the ticket booth told me that
they did a brisk business today, and it does seem that
the word is out on this festival. Still, this evening's
gathering had the intimacy of past Thursday
Shakori openers, and for this, I am grateful.
The band opens with "Big Parade," which is one
of my favorites and which is peformed with grace
and delicacy. I think, for a few moments, that I am
one with Jeb's silvery notes, the gentleness of the
spring evening, and ambient good will of friends,
family, and Herd. (I guess that's a tautology.) I am
reintroduced to a daughter of a dear friend, a tenth-grader who is just brimming over with raw talent and
who I hope (and expect, if that is still what she seeks) will
be a student at my university in a couple years. Her promise
reaffirms my faith as an educator.
The moment is fleeting, however, as the band settles into
a workmanlike performance of the next three songs.
But then, "Voice in My Head" finds some spark, and the set takes off.
I watch Tom Gilbert detail an intricate rhythm with his left hand
on the cymbal and high hat during "Hot Tamale Baby." I am
for a while riveted to his careful attention to detail.
"River of Gold" is, I think, exactly right for
Thursday evening at Shakori. "Conscious Evolution"
shows a most intriguing interaction between Jeb and
the band's newest member, David McCracken, whose
musicianship I have come to appreciate deeply. The
eye connection, the trade-off of licks, the respectful
generosity of these musical interlocutors all augur well for the
future. My daughter, Uncle Don, and I talked briefly
with David as we were leaving the venue, and it is
beyond doubt that he is a superb succesor of the chair
long occupied by Kathy Z.