May 2, 2016

Rock the Cape is growing into a
three-day, island-wide arts movement


The annual Rock the Cape event – an extravaganza of arts and music – has morphed from a single day’s concert and artist showcase into a three-day collection of events, classes, demonstrations, gallery showings, and music which will be spread out all up and down Hatteras Island.

Rock the Cape OBX, which is orchestrated by the Dare County Arts Council (DCAC), started in 2013 as a day-long celebration and concert at the Koru Village's Beach Klub in Avon.

While the Avon concert will still take place this year, a full line-up of events have been planned over the course of the multi-day event -- Wednesday through Friday, June 8-10 -- as an effort to get artists of all mediums and styles involved.

The transition, according to Chris Sawin, executive director of the Dare County Arts Council, occurred simply because of feedback from island artists.

“Artists on Hatteras Island have shaped this event to what it is,” he says. “Our commitment as an organization is that we’ll continue to host the event, and will pull together the collective advertising. Then everyone plugs in any way they want to.

“I’m hoping that everything that we’re doing to make improvements this year can be tied to a recommendation or feedback from a Hatteras Island artist,” he adds. “For example, a handful of folks said ‘You have to get people past Avon’ – that was the genesis of reaching out to the folks at Hatteras Landing to see if we could do a live event there. Not just have everyone come to Avon, and head home.”

The push to get more people involved for a more extensive period of time is part of a long-term goal as well.

The DCAC has plans to keep the focus on island artists long after the event is over. A website is dedicated to showcasing artists of all mediums – including musicians, healing arts practitioners, and culinary artists – and future plans are in the work to create “art trails” for visitors that are spending the day exploring the island and which highlight each distinctive region from the tri-villages to Hatteras.

“The real push this year is expansion and expandability,” says Sawin. “If we just come down there for a few days each year and then go back home, it doesn’t make much sense. We hope that after the event, we continue to grow.”

In the short-term, however, the island’s attention is on Rock the Cape.

More than 40 artists have gotten involved in the event so far, through various mediums, and the number is expected to grow as the DCAC reaches out to new varieties of island artists.

“We’re starting the process of reaching out to restaurants – to find out if there’s a specialty of the house, or if they want to feature their chef as a culinary artist,” says Sawin. “We’ll add them to the website as soon as possible and have a complete directory of everyone who wants to participate within four weeks.”

With so many artists of all varieties signing on, bringing new ideas to the table, and showing an enthusiasm to help out and grow, Sawin thinks the future is looking very bright for arts in general on Hatteras Island.

“The arts council’s role is to get people over that bridge and let them know about everything that’s happening on the island. If you look at the gallery map, it’s like this long string of pearls that starts in Rodanthe and goes to Hatteras village. There’s an amazing array [of art] here,” says Sawin.

“This event has exceeded my expectations, and reinforces the idea that it doesn’t take a ton of effort to be part of the larger movement. When everyone goes in the same direction, you can make some real progress.”


Rock the Cape attendees who are used to the traditional one-day format will soon discover that this year’s festival-style event has a lot more options.

The “big” components of Rock the Cape are actually three separate events that are being held in Hatteras village, Avon, and Rodanthe, respectively.

On Wednesday, June 8, there will be a live art celebration at the Hatteras Landing Marina in Hatteras village from 3 p.m. until sunset. During this outdoor event, visitors can see artists as they showcase and promote their work, from plein air painters and music to live hoop performances.

On Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m., the Beach Klub will host the annual Rock the Cape concert, with headliners Unknown Tongues -- a Cajun zydeco band out of Gloucester, N.C., that blends progressive folk, Americana and bluegrass.

The Midatlantic band out of Wilmington, N.C., will also perform. This band will bring back a local musician -- Jason Andre, who grew up on Hatteras Island while his parents managed the Cape Pines Motel in Buxton.

Tickets are $12 in advance or $18 at the door, and can be purchased online and at a number of local businesses.

On Friday, June 10, The Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center will host a community art show that showcases at least 25 different island artists. In addition to the works and crafts on display, the event will also feature live art happenings, a raffle, food from Waves Market & Deli, and music provided by Blurky’s Quirky Friends.

In addition to these three major components of Rock the Cape, a number of local galleries and businesses will also be hosting special trunk sales, painting and art classes, art demonstrations, and meet-and-greets with local noteworthy artists. Coined the “Experience Art” component of the event, this part of Rock the Cape is fluid and is held at various shops and businesses throughout the island. A full list of these events can be found here:


Right now, the DCAC is sending out a call to action for artists of all mediums who want to participate and get involved with Rock the Cape OBX.

There are a myriad of ways that the community can participate. For example:

  • If you own an art gallery, you may want to host a special exhibit, artist demo, workshop or sale.
  • If you run a restaurant, you may want to do a special culinary arts event one night during Rock the Cape -- or possibly host a musical event.
  • If you are involved in a healing arts business, such as yoga or alternative medicine, you might consider hosting a special event highlighting your business.
  • If you are a local artist, you could get involved in a number of ways - live painting, performing at a show, volunteering, etc.
  • Businesses can also use Rock The Cape as an advertising platform – several sponsorship options are still available.

“The bottom line is this -- if you want to participate in Rock The Cape, just let us know and we will find a way to connect you,” says Sawin.  “If we are to sustain the program, we want it grow with the advice and leadership of the people who live and work on the island.”

Anyone who wants to get involved can send an email to [email protected] and let the DCAC know how they want to participate. The DCAC will take it from there, and find ways to announce and promote their event on the site, fill a volunteer position, secure a sponsorship, or connect to the organization and event in a limitless number of ways.

“I would love for this year’s event to be a catalyst for people’s imaginations – how do you further identify Hatteras Island as an artist destination?” says Sawin. “Everyone who has stepped up for us this year has been amazing. I’m hoping by next year, it’s a full-fledged community of artists who can evaluate what to do next, and who can come to us and say ‘This is what we want to do, help us.’”


Tickets for the June 9 Rock the Cape concert are available at Lisa’s Pizzeria in Rodanthe, Koru Village Spa in Avon, Indian Town Gallery in Frisco, Blue Pelican Gallery in Hatteras, Dare County Arts Council in Manteo, Cloud Nine Gallery in Nags Head, and online at

For more information on the event, sponsors, tickets, and other information about Rock the Cape, visit

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