Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art & Music Abound on Ocracoke Island

Painting by Ocracoke Art Walk Participant Barbara Adams

How could so many talented people live on Ocracoke? It boggles the mind, and never more so than when they get together and show off…

Photograph by Mary Haggarty of Ocracoke Photo

Ocracoke painters, bird carvers, photographers, quilters and other artisans will be sharing their creativity and craftsmanship in the 5th Annual Art Walk on September 27th.

Over 25 Ocracoke artists and craftsmen are participating in the Art Walk. Visit galleries, workshops and studios during this free event Saturday, September 27th from 9am – 5pm.

New this year is an opening reception on Friday night to meet the artists and the Art Walk organizers. It will be held at the Ocracoke Community Center from 6–8pm and includes refreshments. Live music will be provided by local band Baby Dee and the Free Moustache Rides Again. Formed earlier in 2008, Baby Dee also performed at the Ocrafolk Festival and at island fundraisers this summers. Lead singer Bob Ray is also a mixed media artist, whose work will be on display at Secret Garden Gallery.

There are 17 different stops on this year’s Art Walk, including the Ocracoke Community Center, which will also serve as an information booth. Maps are available at all artist locations, and Hyde County Transit will provide shuttle bus service throughout the village. Participating artists will be easy to find – bright yellow “Art Walk Participant” signs will be placed in front of their shops and studios.

Photograph by Susse Wright

Some of our favorite artists are a part of the Art Walk:

Kitty Mitchell, who is more talented than a person should be allowed to be, will be showing her recent paintings at Deepwater Theater.

Painting by Kitty Mitchell

Mary Bassell, Barbara Adams, Ann Ehringhaus and Elizabeth Parsons, who’ve all contributed a design for the Ocrafolk Festival t-shirt, will be participating in the Art Walk.

Painting by Elizabeth Parsons

Ann Ehringhaus is also the official photographer of the Ocrafolk Festival, taught the photography class at last year’s Ocrafolk School, and volunteers as one of the Art Walk organizers. Judith Saunders’s basketry will be on display at the Community Center, and we’re happy to say she’s also teaching a basketry course again this year at the Ocrafolk School.

Judith Sauders' basketry

Ocracoke Goes Hollywood!

Diane and Richard who??? Forget about seeing “Nights In Rodanthe” for those big name stars! Here on Ocracoke we’re all excited to see ourselves on the big screen. The movie, based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, was filmed on location on Hatteras Island, employing folks from both islands as extras.

But the really big news is that Ocrafolk’s own Katy Mitchell, Jule Garrish, Marcy Brenner, Lou Castro, Kevin Hardy, and Jubal Creech were all selected to play and sing as the “Storm Party Band” in the movie, which opens in theaters September 26th. None of them is sure yet about how much screen time they’ll get, but we do know that Katy and Jule’s songs were chosen for the soundtrack CD along with music from lesser-known contributors Emmy Lou Harris and Count Basie.

The local folks who helped out with the movie, including Gary Mitchell, who was hired as music coordinator, are all invited to the Outer Banks Premiere on September 24th in Kill Devil Hills. Word has it that Diane Lane and Richard Gere will miss the party, but who cares, when we have Katy and Jule?

For all the best in recordings by Ocracoke's musicians visit!

Ocrafolk School Offers Workshops October 26-31, 2008

The Ocrafolk School is open to adult learners of all skill levels who want to explore basketry, island cooking, pottery, watercolor painting or studies in Ocracoke history, seafaring traditions and island ecology – all in a fun and relaxed island atmosphere.

Seafaring Traditions with Captain Rob of the schooner WINDFALL

“The Ocrafolk School offers people a chance to learn something,” says founder and director Gary Mitchell, but he stresses that the focus isn’t “too academic.”

Traditional Ocraocke Square-dance

“I want the week to be more meaningful than just the class. There’s a lot more to a folk school than just learning a craft – it’s about the total experience.”

Philip Howard examines his great-great grandfather's shipwreck log from the 1800s

That total experience includes music, ghost walks, sailing, square-dancing and gathering
together for shared meals (some of which are created by the cooking class.)

Debbie Wells (creator of the Back Porch Restaurant) with the Cooking Class

The Ocrafolk School provides participants with a personal connection to the island, and to enjoy a week of fun and creativity.

Afterhours music with Coyote, Bob Zentz, & Fiddler Dave Tweedie

This is the second year for the Ocrafolk School, which held its grand opening session in October 2007.

New this year are class offerings in watercolor painting with Mary Ellen Golden and pottery with Wes Lassiter and Rhonda Bates.

Mary Ellen, owner of the Golden Gallery in Wilmington, NC, and wife of Ocrafolk performer John Golden, has taught painting classes on location and in her home for thirty years, including workshops for the Wilmington Art Association and the Waterway Art Association.

A watercolor by Ocrafolk Instructor, Mary Ellen Golden

Wes Lassiter and Rhonda Bates own Red Drum Pottery in Frisco, NC, and have the only wood-fired kiln in eastern North Carolina.

The Red Drum Pottery Wood Fired Kiln

Wes is also well-known around these parts as heckuva banjo player, another reason to have him at the Ocrafolk School.

Exploring Ocracoke's Wild Side

Classes are limited to 6-10 students, and the registration deadline is October 1.
The workshops cost $545 (local discount-$325) per week including group meals and evening activities. Housing is the responsibility of the students, but contact the Ocrafolk School for recommendations. Some classes will have additional fees for materials.

Visit for more information or call Gary Mitchell at 252- 928-4280.

Classes offered in the 2008 session:

Basketry: Materials & Techniques ~ Judith Saunders

Island Cooking ~ Debbie Wells

Ocrafolk Sampler:Ocracoke’s History, Seafaring Traditions and Island Ecology ~ Philip Howard,
David Senseney, and Capt' Rob Temple

Vision in Clay: Pottery ~ Rhonda Bates and Wes Lassiter (
New for 2008)

Painting in Watercolor with Grace and Ease ~ Mary Ellen Golden
(New for 2008)

Touring Ocracoke Island with Philip Howard

In Other News, Tropical Storm Hanna Brushes Past Ocracoke

Mariah-Daisy Braves the Storm

Tropical Storm Hanna had minimal impact on Ocracoke – we suffered intermittent and annoying power outages, but no damage to homes or property. The Emergency Management team decided not to announce an evacuation, and although the island was quieter than usual, most businesses stayed open on Friday, and re-opened after the winds died down Saturday morning.

Ocracoke had peak wind gusts of about 59mph, and no reported damage to homes or property. Most of the rain that Hanna brought the coast landed west of us, and there was no soundside flooding or ocean overwash.

These photos were taken around Silver Lake on the morning of September 6th, 2008, while the wind was still gusting about 40mph.

Ocracoke Harbor

Later in the day, the other photos were taken at the National Park Service campground beach.

Ocracoke Beach

At about 5pm, the wind had died down to a tolerable 25-30mph.

We all wish the folks in Texas well as they evacuate for Hurricane Ike.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ocracoke Island Summer Summary 2008: Music and More!

The Soundside Records/Molasses Creek newsletter has a new editor. . . Welcome Sundae Horn! Sundae is not only a wonderful writer, but she is also a member of the Ocrafolk Opry and can frequently be found performing with her husband, Captain Rob Temple. She will be keeping us up-to-date on Ocracoke happenings in this weekly blog. Thank you Sundae!

Ocracoke’s summer season kicked off in June with the always wonderful Ocrafolk Festival, which was well-attended in spite of record high temperatures and near 100% humidity. It was a great two days of music, storytelling, arts, crafts, and sweat. Louis Allen, an old school friend of Gary’s who performed at the festival (with the trio Warren, Bodle and Allen) for the first time this year, summed it up thusly: “I knew y’all had a good festival, but it was much better than I imagined. Had it been 20 degrees cooler, it would have been too perfect and the rest of my life would then be meaningless.”

Deepwater Theater started its summer season of shows and events the week after the Ocrafolk Festival. For details visit

With the Ocrafolk Opry on Wednesday nights, Molasses Creek on Thursdays and Coyote and Noah Paley on Friday nights, the theater stayed busy with happy audiences all summer. The Rumgagger show was back this year in a new time slot, with Captain Rob Temple, Fiddlin’ Dave Tweedie and Guitar Gary Mitchell providing a piratical experience for kids of all ages on Thursdays at 1pm.

Fiddler Dave, Capt. Rob, & Gary Mitchell

The second annual Women’s Opry performed on August 2nd to a sold-out house. If you beg, the ladies might agree to do another show next year.

Jamie Tunnell and Marcy Brenner

Kitty Mitchell paints live during the show!

The Ocracoke Youth Center commandeered the theater on Tuesdays for Movie Nights for kids and families. They didn’t charge admission, but sold drinks and snacks to raise funds for the non-profit’s programs. OYC provided a whole summer’s worth of fun classes and events for the island’s youngens, from soccer practice and boogie boarding, to quilting and gardening. In August, the theater was the venue for the 1st Annual Ocracoke Island Surf Film Festival, which raised over $2400 for OYC.

Mr K & the Famous

Sponsored by the Global Surf Network, the film fest included several different documentaries and short films, and one feature movie (shown on the sort-of-big screen inside), interspersed with live musical performances (on the theater’s front porch.)

The Ocracoke Needle and Thread Club, also know as “the quilters” meet in Deepwater Theater twice a week to work on their beautiful handmade quilts. They donate one to the Ocrafolk Festival each year for a fundraising raffle, and another to Ocracoke Preservation Society.

Ocracoke Needle & Thread raffle quilt for this year

The theater is also used for yoga and pilates classes, and the occasional party.

Not everything on Ocracoke happens at Deepwater Theater…

In other news, Ocracoke residents and visitors were thrilled with the grand re-opening of the historic Community Store on the harbor in the heart of the village. Established in 1918, the store has been an important part of village life ever since. (For more details read Philip Howard’s complete history of the store at After being closed for more than two years, the Community Store was open for business starting May 1. Recently leased by Ocracoke residents Susan and James Paul, the historic waterfront building is once again stocked with groceries, produce, beer, wine and sundries.

James and Susan have made changes to the layout of the store’s interior, but kept the country store atmosphere. They’ve added a coffee machine and fountain drinks, and a large produce display. In keeping with the store’s old-fashioned style, there are gingham curtains and large ceiling fans, glass jars of candy and bushel baskets of apples.

The walls are adorned with antique tools and framed photographs of the store’s younger years. In spite of some modern additions including an ATM, lottery tickets and a money-wiring service, James and Susan have succeeded in their goal of making the store “authentic and welcoming.”

The Community Store will stay open all winter, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Stay tuned for posts about upcoming music at the Community Store – James and Susan are hoping that Gary will organize some musical gatherings around the old, pot-bellied woodstove come winter.

Summer Fun
Other notable events and stories this summer included: a fun-filled 4th of July, with the best fireworks anyone has ever seen anywhere;

4th of July performance of the Flat Cat kids at the Ocracoke Preservation Museum

homecoming celebrations for Emma Lovejoy, who spent a year as an exchange student in Denmark; fish-fry fundraisers at the fish house to support Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association; informative, yet informal, Porch Talks at the OPS Museum (including a few Rumgagger appearances); art openings at local galleries (Kitty Mitchell’s at Down Creek Gallery was not-to-be-missed)

Sandpiper Moonrise by Kitty Mitchell

; Bingo on Tuesday nights at the Fire Hall to support Ocracoke’s volunteer fire department; a new ambulance for Ocracoke’s EMS squad; lots of live music all over the island; a concert/fundraiser to support WOVV, Ocracoke’s soon-to-be radio station; an outstanding fig crop; and plenty of sea, sand and sun for those lucky enough to get out to the beach.

The tourist season is winding down and hurricane season is picking up…

As this gets posted, folks all over the island are battening down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Hanna, and keeping a weather eye on her buddy Ike. And in between watching the tropical updates and scoping out the high ground where we might park our cars, Ocrafolks are trying to enjoy a little of the post-Labor Day quiet.

Ocrakids went back to school on August 25th, and among them was Lachlan Howard, who started pre-Kindergarten with the Ocracoke School Class of 2022.

Ocracoke Pre-K class of 2008

He’s off to a fine start in his academic career, having already learned to say the word “loquacious” and use it in a sentence (and that was before he was enrolled!)

Opry Star Marcy Brenner is Now a Movie Star, Too

We’re excited to announce that Deepwater Theater will be the venue of the first public screening of a documentary titled “Dead Girl Walking” on Friday, September 12 at 7:30pm. The event is free and refreshments will be served.

Marcy is a Ocrafolk musician, and a wife, mom, and writer. She’s also a cancer survivor and the subject of a documentary film about her experience with advanced breast cancer. Ray Schmitt of Real Earth Productions was inspired to make a film about Marcy after hearing her original song “Dead Girl Walking”.

Marcy was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, just after her mother died of ovarian cancer. She went through two bouts with breast cancer, and was treated with high-dose chemotherapy and radiation, had a mastectomy, and also underwent a bone marrow transplant. Today, she’s in remission, but continues to be a support person for people facing a cancer diagnosis. She was the keynote speaker at the 2000 and 2008 Outer Banks Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Marcy says that cancer gave her backhanded gifts.

“If I was offered a deal to go back in time and live my life without cancer, and all I would have to give up was the insights, experience and purpose that have come to me as a result, I wouldn’t make that bargain. My cancer experience was a wakeup call to life.”

In the film, Brenner describes how having cancer taught her to live while she’s alive, and to ask herself what she really wants to be doing with her life. She met her husband, Lou Castro, while she was still undergoing treatment for cancer, and says it was “a miracle to fall in love again when I didn’t dare dream of a future.”

Together they moved to Ocracoke and became the musical duo Coyote. They are regulars at the Ocrafolk Opry and the Ocrafolk Festival, and have their own Coyote show with Hatteras singer-songwriter Noah Paley on Friday nights during the summer at Deepwater Theater. Castro also plays with Ocracoke’s Molasses Creek and travels with them when they go off the island. Brenner and Castro, along with David Tweedie and Gary Mitchell of Molasses Creek, have been playing Sunday nights at the Jolly Roger Pub this year and will continue through September.

Coyote has recorded four CDs: Coyote Live on the Outer Banks, Home to Me, Another Year Blooms, and Live at Deepwater Theater with Noah Paley. Brenner is also writing a memoir of her cancer experience.

Brenner opened her keynote address at Relay for Life with an original song “Another Year Blooms,” which she wrote for her “two Charlottes.” The first was her mother, Charlotte Brenner, and the second is her daughter, Charlotte Castro, whom she and Castro adopted at birth last year. “Another Year Blooms” is a loving tribute to Brenner’s mother and a bittersweet song of hope, perfectly captured in the line “even still now, without you, in spite of winter’s gloom, another year blooms.”

The “Dead Girl Walking” film includes interviews with Brenner and Castro, home-video footage of Brenner during her illness, and lots of music including the songs “Dead Girl Walking,” “Another Year Blooms” and others inspired by Brenner’s wake-up call to life.

Everyone is welcome to the first public screening of “Dead Girl Walking,” on Friday, September 12 at 7:30pm at Deepwater Theater. The event is free and refreshments will be served.

New Releases at Soundside Records

Soundside Records featured three new releases this summer. For more details and ordering information, go to

The "Ocrafolk 4 Music Sampler" was unveiled for the annual Ocrafolk Festival in June. This collection features Molasses Creek, Skye Zentz, Phil Kelly, Katy Mitchell, Michael Stanwood, Ruth Wyand, The Barnraisers, and Fiddler Dave Tweedie.

Fiddler Dave Tweedie and Michael Stanwood also released a brand new Cd this season, entitled "Brothers from Another Time." Fiddler Dave (of Molasses Creek) and Michael Stanwood met a number of years ago on Ocracoke at the Wayfarer Hostel. Michael is an award winning autoharpist and songwriter from Colorado who has performed at the Ocrafolk Festival for the past three years. The album brings together these two musicians in a wonderful tapestry of original songs and tunes from the mountains of Colorado to the sandy shores of Ocracoke Island.

Coyote and Noah Paley also released a brand new album for this season "Live from Deepwater Theater." The album features songs recorded during their live show from the 2007 Deepwater Theater season.

Stay tuned next week's update!

Our Ocrafolk Musicians featured in the Warner Brothers movie "Nights in Rodanthe"
The Upcoming Ocrafolk School 2008 (October 26-31)
The Ocracoke Art Walk

Molasses Creek Upcoming events off Ocracoke (click here for on Ocracoke)
September 27 -- Currituck Wine and Food Festival, the Sanctuary Vineyards (at the Cotton Gin), Jarvisburg (near Currituck). Afternoon (around 2-6)
October 12-16 -- In residency at Kanuga retreat center, Hendersonville, NC
October 17 -- Our State Magazine presents Best of Our State, Kitty Hawk, NC. Details TBA
October 18 -- Private Event in Ocracoke, NC
November 21-22 -- Festival celebrating the 25th Anniversary Commemoration of the Christening and Launching of the Elizabeth II, Roanoke Island Festival Park, Manteo, NC
December 31 -- First Night Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA. Details TBA