Friday, January 27, 2006

I Believe in Pot Lucks!

Katy Mitchell with Peepers, 1995. Ya come a long way!

Although the weather has turned a windier and colder as of late, the past two weeks have been more akin to spring than winter. Last week Fiddler Dave and Amy, Philip Howard, Julie and Gary and friend Tom Pahl celebrated the 60 degree weather with a cookout (an event that they never have time for in the summer).

As young Katy Mitchell enters her final semester of high school, she is completing applications to UNC Asheville and Appalachian State University. Marcy and Lou Castro of Coyote are knuckling down on their house projects to prepare for an upcoming open house on February 4. Sundae and Capt. Rob held a music potluck last week, and Nancy Leach hosted a werewolf party potluck.

There were a number of community meetings in the past two weeks. Ocracoke Civic and Business Association held a meeting on January 11. Presentations at the meeting included an update of the proposed Ocracoke-Hatteras passenger ferry and the planned bicycle paths in the village and along Highway 12. The SIDCO diving team also made a request to the community for additional funding for their underwater archeology in the area.

Ocracoke School hosted a county commissioners meeting to discuss new issues. Included on the agenda were new courthouse proposed for Swan Quarter, taxes, funds for the Ocracoke School building project (to replace two mold infiltrated outbuildings – hauled out this week), and citizen involvement in government.

In music related events, a myriad of performers paraded through Gary Mitchell’s Soundside Studio (read about them later) . . . Gary squeezed them in between his and Kitty’s birthday celebrations. Public Radio East broadcast an interview by host George Olson with Molasses Creek about their new release, “Strangest Dream.”

Gary Mitchell’s “I Believe” essay was also selected by Public Radio East for airing on Friday and Monday. For those in the listening area of Public Radio East, they can catch Gary’s “I Believe in Pot Lucks” on the Down East Journal Friday at noon, or Monday at 8:35 am during Morning Edition. You can read Mr. Mitchell’s essay below.

On Island
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Performers at Soundside Studios

These past two weeks, a number of performers recorded at Gary Mitchell’s Soundside Studios. Storyteller Donald Davis popped through to begin work on a number of new albums for August House. He was soon followed by John Golden of Wilmington, Donald Thompson (a Delta style blues), Coyote (working on recordings for a new Ocrafolk album), and Fiddler Dave who finished up the fiddle tracks on his new recording. A young troupe from the Washington area, Carolina Still, also visited last weekend to work on a new recording. All of the aforementioned folks will be at this year’s Ocrafolk Festival (as will their recordings) so come on out June 2-4!

Ocrafolk Festival Sponsors “Chill Chaser” Contra Dance Weekend

February 24-5 the Ocrafolk Festival Outreach Program is sponsoring a free contra dance weekend. Dance caller Joan Kelly and her husband Ernest are coming all the way from Memphis, TN to instruct the weekend, and contra musicians David DiGuiseppie and Pete Campbell will be traveling from Chapel Hill to provide music and teach a workshop on performing for dances. To keep tabs with the workshop details visit The weekend will kick off on Friday with a beginner workshop to be followed by more workshops on Saturday.

“I Believe in Pot-Lucks” by Gary Mitchell

I believe in ‘pot-lucks’. You might call them ‘covered dish suppers’, but we do them so often we have to use the most abbreviated term possible. A friend will say “pot-luck at Julie’s Friday” and about 30 of us will show up around 6 o’clock with a dish in hand and a smile on our face. We kinda know what everybody’s gonna bring; Miss Kitty’s special lima beans, Sundae’s pineapple and cheese casserole (Sundae is a woman’s name, not the day of the week, although she did say she was conceived on a Sunday in a Dairy Queen parking lot). Linda and Julie will bake something terrific; if Donald’s in town he’ll have some kind of delicious thing he’s cooked in a dutch oven over coals out in the back yard. Merle is the “Julia Child” of the crowd. We don’t know WHAT we’re eating from her, just that it looks, smells and tastes great. Anne will have a tasty and healthy vegetable dish; David’s got a wonderful fruit pie (with a homemade crust), and the young folks not quite up to speed yet will bring drinks, chips, salsa and napkins. (Did I mention Karen’s green bean casserole, Marcy’s sausage rolls, or Phillip’s deviled eggs?). There are always some surprises too; people to meet, like the new doctor or school teacher, or somebody’s out of town relatives here for a visit.

Usually pot lucks just kinda happen, but sometimes there are special events like the “January Birthdays pot-luck”, or the “some-sort of solstice” pot-luck. (I can’t keep those solstices straight). My own family’s most special dinner of the year is our Thanksgiving pot-luck. We’ve been doing it since “before you was born” as they say around here, and it absolutely forces us to clean our house (a little) at least once a year, whether it needs it or not (I’m not sure our guests fully realize that we’ve cleaned our house). We always try to have oysters on the grill at Thanksgiving, but this year we had a blow, and neither Stevie nor Roger Lee could get out to Hog Shoal in their boats. It was nearly a disaster, but Chuck and Liz saved the day and found a bushel over at Rose Bay.

Anyhow, we discovered early on that folks really just like to be together, and food gives them a good excuse. The food doesn’t have to be anything special, except that it comes from the hands and heart of somebody you know and love, and somehow it just tastes twice as good ‘cause of that. ...And then, of course, there’s the conversation: “When is the Pony Island Restaurant closing for the winter?”; “Tell us about Capt. Rob or Al’s latest sailing adventure”: maybe we’ll hear a tale of Uncle Homer or Grandpa Lawton...”Its all good”. You know, you CAN develop a technique for laughing with a mouthful of mashed potatoes and gravy; it just takes practice and real commitment.

I believe I’ll take a ‘pot-luck dinner’ over a 5 star restaurant anytime (especially if I’m paying).

Off Island
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