April 6, 2017

Hatterasity Returns with a Bang in May
 after Hurricane Matthew Cancellation

For those who have never witnessed it, the phoenix-like ability of Hatteras-ers to recover from natural disasters is at once daunting, inspiring and heart-warming.  

Six months after Hurricane Matthew’s relentless inundation of the Southern villages on Hatteras Island, “Hatterasity,” a bluegrass celebration that was originally scheduled for October of 2016, will be given a springtime chance to shine on May 5th and 6th at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.

“We had some major talent lined up for the festival - Special Consensus and Danny Paisley with the Southern Grass, along with other talented performers,” said Peter Pappalardo, festival coordinator and one of the musicians involved in the festival.  “For ten days, I watched every spaghetti model there was - courtesy of Beth Midgett’s incredible links and updates - and for a day or so it looked like we might actually be spared.  Of course, Mother Nature had other plans.”

Up to six feet of water covered Hatteras village, causing damage not seen on the Island in decades.

“The year before, Joaquin came through the weekend before Hatterasity, and there was still a ton of water left by mid-week, but by the weekend things had settled down pretty well. Of course, by then many travelers opted out of a trip and our attendance was on the light side.  We figured, ‘What are the chances of this happening two years in a row?’ and went ahead with the event for 2016.  I guess we got our answer,” joked Chad Darou, the other half of the promotional team for the event.

The first Hatterasity, in 2014, came about on a whim because Pappalardo had recently completed a house yards away from the Hatteras Village Civic Center and thought it might be a good idea to reach out to some of his fellow musicians who were going to be attending another event the weekend afterwards.  

The first year, it was intended to be a fundraiser for the Cape Hatteras Methodist Men, and Hatterasity attracted the robust support of area businesses, who sent thousands of dollars to help support the food pantry, disaster relief and the many other support services the Methodist Men have provided to those in need on the Island.  The following year, a portion of the door went to the Hatteras Medical Center, although attendance did not cover the cost of national headliners like Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, IBMA pick for instrumental group of the year in 2016, and the five other bands that performed for a decent crowd over three days.

“When it was clear what was going to happen with Matthew, we had no choice but to cancel the event, even though evacuation orders for Hatteras and Ocracoke hadn’t yet been declared,” said Pappalardo. “It turned out to be the right call, but that left us in a pickle.  Dennis Robinson and the folks at the Outer Banks Visitors’ Bureau, who have provided grant money all three years we have tried to do this, suggested we reschedule the event in May. Most of the bands had that date open, and here we are.” He added that some locals had suggested the move to a spring date after the first event, but the promoters were reluctant to change the date once it had been settled because it might confuse festival-goers.

“It may be a blessing in disguise,” said David Carey, who with Darou and Pappalardo make up the core of the Hatteras Irregulars - one of the four bands who will be performing at Hatterasity.

“In 2015, after Joaquin, the weather was glorious, but the skeeters were deadly.  We had hoped to have the music outside, but we decided against it for that reason.  Hopefully, May will give us great weather and maybe a few less skeeters,” Carey said.

Music was an integral part of many societies where few people read or wrote, a way of passing down the generations worth of wisdom, sorrow, redemption and humor that made such a hard life bearable.

Bluegrass in particular was born of a desire by Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley and others to hold on to the old-time fiddle and pipe music of the Scotch-Irish, which had settled into every fold, nook and cranny of the Appalachians from the Canadian border to the Tidewater region in the time during and after the American Revolution.  The back-bone of the “singing songs” of that time were the ballad, usually a tale of loss and woe, and sacred songs from church, which morphed into what is today called gospel.

Although most bluegrass songs are musically simple, the instrumentation is complex, and bluegrass harmonies rely on tick-tight vocals that rival any musical form.  According to many musicologists, Monroe’s genius was combining the simpler, older forms with elements of jazz, blues and gospel in the 1940’s in a completely new way.  That is the distinction between bluegrass and old-timey music, which uses the same instrumentation and repertoire but stays closer to the original songs and tunes.

Doors open for Hatterasity at 4 p.m. Friday and music begins at 5 p.m., then again on Saturday at noon.

There will be a two hour dinner break on Saturday from 5 until 7 p.m., and the event winds up with a grand finale at around 10 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are cash only, at the door, $25.00 for the day or $40.00 for the weekend.  Locals, veterans and active service members’ ticket prices are $20.00 and $30.00 for one-day and two-day tickets, and kids under 12 are free.

For more information, go to http://www.hatterasitybluegrass.com or call 570-856-2545.

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