Friday, February 27, 2009

2009 Ocrafolk Festival Artwork is Unveiled

2009 Ocrafolk Festival Poster Image by Kitty Mitchell

By unanimous decision, festival organizers chose Kitty Mitchell as this year’s artist for the 10th Ocrafolk Festival poster and t-shirt design. Now, Kitty may possibly be the busiest woman on Ocracoke, what with teaching grades K-12 at Ocracoke School, co-directing the School Music Club and Pep Band, organizing the annual Arts Week at Ocracoke School, AND working on her National Board Certification as an art teacher. She graciously agreed to be the Festival artist, as long as she could submit something she’d already painted. We ended up with six possible designs – all of them beautiful – so Dave Tweedie let people vote for their favorite. This lighthouse was the clear winner. (A few stubborn people are still holding out for the heron… maybe next year?) The quote on the back will be “I'll hoist my sails and set my ship back here to Ocracoke!” from the musical “A Tale of Blackbeard” by Julie Howard.

Soundside Records Winter Projects

During the busy summer months on Ocracoke, everyone plans and schemes about all the time they’ll have and all the projects they’ll get to come winter. Why does winter seem so long when in the beginning, but not long enough when it’s halfway over and the projects aren’t even started?

Not everyone has procrastinated through January and February, and in this blog post we’d like to highlight one Soundside Records folks who’s working hard to check some items off on his to-do lists.

Gary Mitchell, a.k.a. Guitar Gary of Molasses Creek, a.k.a. Recording Studio Executive and Engineer Extraordinaire hasn’t been idle this winter, or at least that’s what he wants us to think. He’s been keeping busy in Soundside Studio with some interesting recording projects.

A new recording is hot-off-the-presses! The latest CD from Soundside regular John Golden is Minstrel of the Times. John was accompanied in the studio by the “usual local gang” of Soundside musicians, and also an import – his friend Jeff Morris on electric guitar. Jeff traveled all the way from Denver, CO to record with John and Gary.

Minstrel of the Times is rumored to be John’s best album yet. We’ll tell you more about it next week, but meanwhile, you can be the first one on your block to order one from the new and improved Soundside Records website.

Gary has two new Ocrafolk ensemble CDs in the works. One is the highly-aniticpated Women of Ocrafolk CD, which will feature local performers Marcy Brenner, Jamie Tunnell, Sundae Horn, Katy Mitchell, and April Trueblood. We don’t want to give anything away, but rest assured that you’ll hear some of your favorites from the Women’s Opry and maybe even some new ones you’ve never heard before. Gary promises the CD will be ready and available at the Ocrafolk Festival in June.

The above-mentioned songstresses, along with their male counterparts, are working on an festive Ocrafolk Christmas album. Yes, we’ve been talking about this for years, and as Gary admits, it’s hard to find time to record Christmas songs during the holiday season and even harder to be merry and bright, holly and jolly-ish, in mid-February. He’s thinking of setting up a Christmas tree in the studio just to keep people in the mood. He’d like to promise this project will be done for the Festival, too, but, well, he needs a little encouragement. So, if you can dredge up some Christmas spirit as we’re heading into spring, please let Gary know you want an Ocrafolk Christmas album!

Some other Soundside projects include a recording of storyteller and Ocrafolk Opry performer Lou Ann Homan, talking about her travels following in the footsteps of the great poet Robert Frost, and an album by acclaimed guitarist Danny Gotham of Chapel Hill.

Ocracoke Preservation Society commissioned a unique recording project from Soundside Studio. Gary transferred a 1965 LP recording of Theodore Rondthaler’s Commencement Address to the Ocracoke School Class of 1965 to a digital archive and burned CDs for OPS and some of the ’65 grads.

Last, but certainly not least, is (drumroll, please)… a new Molasses Creek album! It’s going to be fantastic and will include fan favorites that haven’t been recorded yet and all-new originals that no one has heard! This is a transition album for the band; Kitty Mitchell is phasing out so she can have more time to paint, while Marcy Brenner is phasing in, joining husband Lou Castro who joined Molasses Creek two years ago. Gerald Hampton, who plays mandolin with the band when they tour, will also be on the new CD. The new CD will be available at the Ocrafolk Festival in June.

Gary’s Not the Only One Keeping Busy…

Busy Bees (Quilting Bees, that is)

The Ocracoke Needle and Thread Club meet twice a week to create beautiful quilts, most of which they donate to worthy causes. (They make a commissioned quilt once in awhile to earn more money for fabric and batting.) They are currently working on three new quilts – a Crazy Quilt will go to OPS for their annual quilt raffle, a Block Party quilt will be raffled off at the Ocrafolk Festival, and another Crazy was commissioned by Needle and Thread Club member Rosemary Wetherill as a gift for her granddaughter.

‘Way back in December, a very special quilt was donated to the Ocrafolk Festival. Festival fans and artisans Rita Horn (Sundae’s mom) and Jill Malone of Columbus, Ohio sewed a traditional Ocracoke Cracker pattern – with a twist. They turned it into a Christmas Cracker! Using only holiday fabrics with holly on them, (except for one red fabric with anchors, in honor of Ocracoke’s maritime history) Rita and Jill started a new quilting tradition.

The Christmas Cracker was raffled off at the Ocrafolk Christmas concert in December. It raised $270 for the Festival and the lucky winner was Reggie Mosser, who is delighted with her quilt. She says she’s still using it everyday while she and her husband are on Ocracoke.

And speaking of her husband…his name is George Brown and he’s an incredible photographer. George and Reggie rented a cottage on Ocracoke for four months this winter, and he’s been shooting pictures all over the island. You can see some of his stunning work at his photo blog,, where he posts one photo a day. Sundae Horn wrote a story about him and his work for Island Free Press. Read her article here.

We Told You Kitty Was Busy…

Duck Stamps

Here’s a small sampling of the artwork that her students have painted for the annual Junior Duck Stamp Contest. Started in 1989, the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of a curriculum that teaches students about wetlands habitats and the waterfowl that live there.

Each year, over 27,000 students nationwide participate in the contest, and the winning entry is used as the official Junior Duck Stamp, available at the U.S. Post Office for $5 each. The proceeds are used to support conservation education, and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program. The artwork will be judged by grade level, and state finalists will compete at the national level.

by Waylon Underwood

by Matteus Gilbert

by Kyle Tillett

by Diana Perez

Brandon O'Neal

by Caroline Temple

by Ashley Zito

Pep Band Celebrates End of Season

The Pep Band, a.k.a. The Last Rebels of Rock, directed by Kitty Mitchell and Lou Castro, played the halftime show at all the home games this year, and they’re also slated to perform at the Variety Show on February 28th, the school talent show (tentatively scheduled for May 22) and the Ocrafolk Festival.

Farewell to a Friend

Lawton Howard & Fowler O'Neal play some tunes

We are sad to announce that a beloved Ococker passed away on January 28th. Fowler O’Neal was a sailor, a fisherman, a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a traveler, a reader, a hunter, a teller of tall tales – and a maker of meal wine.

Rob Temple has this to say about the meal wine: “A few years ago Philip Howard and I decided to make up a batch of Ocracoke meal wine just to ensure that the time-honored tradition wouldn’t die out. Fowler was our historical expert on the subject and not only made sure that we observed the right procedures but also kept us constantly entertained with recollections of his own youthful exploits. But he always strictly refused to sample our product. Philip and I often lamented not having known him in his “drinking days.” Fowler will be greatly missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.

Fiddler Dave, Philip Howard, Fowler, Captain Rob Temple & little Lachlan

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