August 25, 2016
'Coolest little festival on Eastern
Seaboard' coming to Hatteras

National 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 Oct. 6-8.  

Hatterasity, billed as “the coolest little festival on the Eastern Seaboard,” has been modified somewhat since the first three-day event in 2014.

“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 old-timey music.

“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!” Pappalardo said.

For more information, see or like Hatterasity on Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus