August 25, 2016
'Coolest little festival on Eastern
Seaboard' coming to Hatteras
bluegrass talent will once again be riding the bluegrass trail to
Hatteras for Hatterasity 2016, three days of bluegrass music
presented at the Hatteras Village Civic Center and nearby venues from
Hatterasity, billed as “the coolest little festival on the Eastern
Seaboard,” has been modified somewhat since the first three-day event
“I’m defining 'Eastern Seaboard' as any music festival within 50 feet
of the Atlantic Ocean,” joked Peter Pappalardo, the event coordinator
and one of the 20 or so musicians who will be appearing on stage.
“The challenge for us was to re-create the atmosphere of a traditional
bluegrass festival, where many people camp and enjoy jamming.
Last year we were all set to have the event outside the Civic Center
and to use the inside for food and vendors, weather permitting.
We had a named storm, then significant flooding, but the weather for
the festival was great. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were just out of
hand and we had to move the music inside. There is something to
be said for climate-control,” Pappalardo said, explaining that he had
just returned from a festival in Connecticut where daytime temps were
in the high 90s and even the strings were wilting.
“It’s not a real festival if there aren’t any good jams, “ said Brett
Mowrey, guitar and bass player for the Crop Circle Agents, the host
band for the festival. “So this year we’ve got a band from Ivor, Va.,
Blackwater Tradition, that will be staying at Frisco Woods Campground
for jamming when they are not busy on stage,” Mowrey explained.
“We decided to add a two-hour dinner break from 5 until 7 p.m. on both
Friday and Saturday, so the Civic Center will be open for food and
jamming for those times, too, or folks can get a chance to get
something to eat at nearby restaurants,” Mowrey added.
One new event is a free Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum self-guided
tour with a mini-concert on Friday morning at 10 a.m. that highlights
the link between Celtic music, sea-chanties, and bluegrass.
“People might think of bluegrass as only a back-woodsy art form,"
Pappalardo said, "but it’s really one of the newest musical genres on
the planet. It didn’t exist before Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass
Boys took the stage in the '40s, and Monroe incorporated elements of
jazz, rock-a-billy, R&B, and gospel vocals over Scots-Irish fiddle
and pipe tunes that evolved in the mountains of Appalachia
"So the foundation of bluegrass is what people now call 'old-timey' or
'mountain music,'” he added. "It might have ended up in the mountains,
but it came in by sea. I even tried my hand at writing a
chanty and came up with the song 'Hatteras Light' that we’ll play at
the mini-concert,” Pappalardo said.
Music begins on stage at 2 p.m. on Friday, and at 1 p.m. on Saturday,
with national acts Special Consensus and Danny Paisley and The Southern
Grass joining the Crop Circle Agents and Blackwater Tradition for
afternoon and evening concerts. The evening session begins at 7
p.m. with an hour dubbed the “Variety Hour” during which special guests
or odd pairings of musicians from different bands will perform.
“There are usually as many pickers in the audience as there is on stage
at most bluegrass events, so this will be a chance for folks to get up
and sit in for a tune or two, “ Pappalardo said.
The impetus for developing the festival was to help draw visitors to
the village after Labor Day, while the water and air are still warm and
the fishing is still hot. But like all bluegrass aficionados,
event organizers also wanted to spread the bluegrass gospel among
locals and natives of Hatteras Island by bringing national talent to
the very small stage.
Far from being a simplistic musical genre, the best bluegrass demands
instrumental virtuosity and skill, something the award-winning
headliners of Hatterasity have in spades.
Wes Lassiter, long the standard-bearer of bluegrass on Hatteras Island,
will be appearing on stage and hosts a Wednesday evening concert at his
business, Red Drum Pottery of Frisco. He is excited to see and
hear the weekend line-up.
“I can’t believe the level of talent we’re getting here on our little
island for this festival. This is easily as good as the better
show-cases at the IBMA in Raleigh, with what I think is a way prettier
and more intimate venue,” Lassiter said.
In many cases, these bands have taken popular songs and applied
traditional bluegrass instrumentation and vocals to them, like Frank
Solivan’s version of “My Baby Just Wrote Me a Letter,” a rock-and-roll
hit for the Box Tops back in the '60s. Solivan’s hard-driving
bluegrass version proves Monroe knew exactly what he was doing when he
created bluegrass by melding other musical forms into the traditional
“I’ll be honest with you, I was always a bluegrass fan, but now I
follow Frank Solivan on social media and YouTube, and he’s got hundreds
of thousands of likes and hits on there. I would never have heard
of him if I hadn’t heard him at the Civic Center at last year’s
Hatterasity,” said Dan Oden, one of the Hatteras Village Civic
Association volunteers who helped man the door and serve the food at
last year’s event.
Oden said he is looking forward to hearing the twang on Thursday
evening’s event at his family’s restaurant, The Breakwater Inn, where
early bird musicians will descend to jam out, either on the deck or
inside, weather depending. There is no cover charge for the jam,
which begins at 7 p.m.
Concerts will be held at the Civic Center on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets are $25 at the door, or $45 for both days. Tickets for
students and veterans are half price, as are Hatteras workers passes.
“There were people who wanted to come last year, but were working and
could only get off for a couple hours. So anybody with a Hatteras
address on their driver’s license or who can show a pay stub from a
Hatteras business gets in half-price. Of course, if they love the
music and want to throw an extra $5 at us, we will gladly take it!”
For more information, see http://www.Hatterasitybluegrass.com or like Hatterasity on Facebook.