Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Soundside Releases, Molasses Creek Tour Dates, Fall Happenings

Molasses Creek in Concert at the Southern Coastal Bluegrass Festival in Wilmington, NC

Deepwater Theater Season Finishes for 2010

We wrapped up our summer season at Deepwater Theater with an extra Molasses Creek show in October. Our shows for 2010 included an Ocracoke Stories evening with Amy & Philip Howard on Monday nights, Ocrafolk Opry on Wednesdays, and Molasses Creek on Thursdays. A lot of new visitors came out to the island this year, and we were thrilled to get to meet them. Our 2011 season on Ocracoke will begin in June right after the Ocrafolk Festival. Find out more about the performance season, ticket purchasing, and times at http://www.deepwatertheater.com.

Molasses Creek Plays the Southern Coastal Bluegrass Festival (and Gets Lost on a Battleship)

In September, Molasses Creek traveled down to Wilmington, NC to perform at the Southern Coastal Bluegrass Festival. The beautifully sunny weekend brought out listeners to enjoy the food and frolicking at Battleship Park across from the Wilmington waterfront. During a break, Gary, Dave, Marcy, Lou and Gerald toured the USS North Carolina Battleship, all seven stories of it! Fiddler Dave almost got lost several times while Gary and Gerald fantasized about the ship’s donut making facilities. The ship could hold 2-3 times the population of Ocracoke Island and at times during the self-guided tour it felt like a ghost town. The different stations on board were accompanied by wonderful photographs, text descriptions, and fascinating narratives by the men who served on the battleship.

Upcoming Molasses Creek Concerts

We missed Rhonda Vincent’s performance in Wilmington at the Coastal Bluegrass Festival last month, so we are especially looking forward to opening for her band this Saturday at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. Tickets available by calling 252-247-3883 or at http://www.CrystalCoastCivicCtr.com. Hope to see everyone there!

In November, Molasses Creek will be joining John Golden and Geoffrey Morris for a concert celebrating the release of John’s new album “Minstrel of the Times” at the Scottish Rite Theater, in Wilmington, NC on Friday, November 19 from 8-10 PM

The next day we will give a concert performance at Playhouse 211 in St. James near Southport (south of Wilmington). Tickets can be reserved by contacting Ken Perrin at keyfla@gmail.com or (910) 274-3971. For directions to Playhouse 211 visit the theater website at http://playhouse211.com.

If you are heading for Ocracoke Island for Thanksgiving, you will be in the neighborhood for the Ocrafolk Festival Thanksgiving Fundraiser at the Ocracoke Community Center at 7:30 PM on Friday, November 26. The concert will feature many of the island performers and storytellers that bring their talents to the main festival in June.

Molasses Creek Northeast Spring Tour in the Works

Molasses Creek is also working hard filing in dates for a northeast tour in March-April of 2011. Confirmed dates are as follows.

Friday, March 18 ~Turnage Theater, Beaufort County Arts Council, Washington, NC

Saturday, March 19 ~ Washington Theatre, Washington, VA

Tuesday, March 22 ~ Dutilh United Methodist Church, Cranberry Township, PA (Tentative)

Wednesday, March 23 ~ Cindy Harris House Concert, Pittsburgh, PA

Thursday, March 24 ~ Benefit Concert for YWCA Northeast Regional Council, Buffalo, NY

April 1 or 2 ~ Concert at The Grange, Whallonsburg, NY (Tentative)

April 16 ~ Amazing Things Arts Center, Framingham, MA

April 17 ~ The Vanilla Bean, Pomfret, CT

We are looking for concerts across New York State (between Buffalo and Albany), March 28-April 1 and April 4-9 around the Vermont area. Let us know if you have suggestions of places to contact. You can email Fiddler Dave at info@molassescreek.com, or give a call at our office at 252-928-3411. Our mantra is . . . “We would love to come to your town, stay in your house, eat your food . . . oh, and play for you too!”

Ocrafolk School 2010 Kicks Off on Sunday
On Sunday, October 24, the Ocrafolk School begins its fourth season by welcoming over 30 students to a "Meet the Instructor" dinner at the Pony Island Restaurant on Ocracoke. This year's courses include Ships in Bottles with Jim Goodwin, Island Photography with Ann Ehringhaus, Island Cooking with Debbie Wells, Beginning Jewelry Making with Barbara Hardy, and the Ocrafolk Sampler with Philip Howard, Capt. Rob Temple and Dave Frum. Students come to the island to focus on a single course and participate in group activities including history and nature walks, a shrimp boil, a night at the Ocrafolk Opry, and wonderful meals at local restaurants. For more information, visit the Ocrafolk School website at www.ocrafolkschool.org

Soundside Records News

Fiddler Dave just finished renovating the Soundside Records website. Newly added are two releases for 2010, More Better Molasses Creek, and Women of the Ocrafolk Opry. To take a listen to either album, click on the album cover and you will be taken to the page at Soundside Records. The new Molasses Creek album features 7 brand new tracks and 7 audience favorites off past Cds (It has been 10 years since the last Best of Molasses Creek album!). For more about the new Women of the Ocrafolk Opry CD, read the listener review below.

"Women of the Ocrafolk Opry"; reviewed by Dan Brocklebank, Loganville, PA

For more than a decade, the Ocrafolk Opry has been a weekly happening during Ocracoke summers. I have often failed, trying to tell folks back home about the Opry and what it is like. I have made the mistake of calling it a “variety show” or a “local talent show.” Somehow they seem to get the message that it’s, well, amateurish or maybe even embarrassing. Whew!

They don’t get it. I feel inadequate as a communicator ... until I reach for a recording and play some tunes recorded live at the Opry. Soundside Studio has released a series of sampler CDs over the years, “Ocrafolk Music,” which have captured much of the breadth, local color, and beauty of these strikingly enjoyable shows. I can talk to folks enthusiastically and still be ignored or misunderstood, but when they listen to the actual music they finally “get it.” It’s like a big secret suddenly revealed.

It seems to me that people are born to Ocracoke, drawn to Ocracoke, or carried to Ocracoke by winds, tides, dreams, significant others, or just by ferries. When these people are musically-gifted, and they resonate with this place and this community, they stay here -- and they grow -- and they just get better and better and better at their art.

Illustrating this is the “Women of the Ocrafolk Opry,” a recent CD release which brings us a fresh cross-section of this Opry and its engaging music. Six women (Marcy Brenner, Sundae Horn, Katy Mitchell, Jamie Tunnell, April Trueblood, and Rachel Reeder) come to the foreground as masterful performers, singing eleven well-chosen songs, with a true Opry-like variety of styles. They have performed these at Deepwater Theater, and now they have brought them into the studio to enrich them and send them on for all of us to take everywhere.

The worst thing about a CD like this is that I have no idea how to categorize it for a shelf in a music store. It is “folk,” and it is “rock,” and it is “opera,” and it is “pop,” and it is “country,” and it is “soundtrack,” and it is “funk,” and it is “art song,” and it is “spiritual,” and ... ah, fooey ... show me to the shelf that just says “Excellent Real Music.”

Another problem with this CD is that is isn’t ideal as background music for your barbecue or block party. Thankfully, there are plenty of other CDs for this purpose. This one is way too interesting and captivating, unless, of course, your party is specifically a music-sharing experience.

Several key things strike me, overall, about this CD:

Many of the women are heard in various roles: sometimes as the lead singer, sometimes providing an exquisitely blended harmony part, sometimes as an instrumentalist. The musicianship and versatility of these performers is fabulous, and there is strong evidence of community -- of women working together to make a whole experience that is beyond their individual efforts.

The singers often accompany themselves, vocally and/or instrumentally, thanks in part to the seamless recording craftsmanship of Gary Mitchell of Soundside Studio, but also to the musical depth of the singers.

While I think of this as a vocal music CD, the instrumental work is both superb and in the right proportion to the singing. All too often we hear commercial releases with bass and percussion boosted way beyond the scope of the human voice. Even some of our most popular vocal performers are essentially drowned-out in their mix. When you listen to this CD, you will actually hear, clearly, the women of the Ocrafolk Opry, plus their fine accompaniments ... exactly what we want to hear.

I’m not going to review each individual song -- you will want to do this for yourself as you experience each one -- we all respond differently to different styles. I will tell you that at my first hearing, I check-marked seven performances, any single one of which would justify owning the CD. That’s a real high percentage for me. Only seven out of eleven? I’m up to nine after listening again.

These songs expose and share, truthfully, energetically, and lyrically, key things about the life experiences of women in our culture. I recognized women friends, mothers, daughters, neighbors, etc. in many of the songs. I am grateful that these six women made time in their super-busy lives to reach for their creativity and their music skills and make this nurturing recording for us.

A brief word of warning: not all the songs are in English. The Italian is so beautifully sung, however, that you can easily imagine meanings of your own even if you don’t understand the language. The music, you will understand.

Listening to this CD, I had tears in my eyes. Repeatedly. You will, too.

While you are listening, read the short notes and credits so you can know who is doing what in each song. And let yourself revel in the wonderful graphic design, photography, and artwork of the CD insert.

I believe that if you are looking for simply excellent music -- something to really listen to -- you will welcome this CD with open ears and pure joy.

[Daniel Brocklebank, papadan@mac.com, arranges music for, and performs with, two of his groups in Pennsylvania and Maryland, “The Christmas Singers” and “April to May.” He has been listening to music in Ocracoke yearly since 1980.]

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