Sunday, February 05, 2012

Island Out of Time released! Kids Winter Fun. Soundside Studio News. Lou Guitar Advice

Molasses Creek’s new national release 
An Island Out of Time” is back from the presses!
Hey there fans!
The quest for Molasses Creek world domination is still on track!  We just received the new album back from the duplicators and we think it's a gem, pleasing to the ears and the eyes!  Those of you who picked up a copy of our last regional release, Catharsis, might notice track similarities to “An Island Out of Time.”  Here is the story behind the new album.
         Back in 2011, Molasses Creek crossed paths with Kari Estrin at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance in Montreat, NC.  Kari specializes in Artist Consulting and Management, assisting musicians in developing their careers and music.  In the fall of last year, we completed a workshop with her and decided to continue work with her on the national promotion of a Molasses Creek album with the aim at increasing our US touring.  Instead of creating an entirely new project, we returned to our 2011 release, Catharsis, asking her advice on transforming the recording into an album that would showcase and introduce Molasses Creek to the national/international stage. After two month of analyzing, re-shaping, re-recording, and mixing, we fired off the new release (complete with new title and layout) for reproduction. 
         Mid-February “An Island Out of Time” will be sent to 540 folk radio DJs in the US, Canada, and Europe.  We’ll keep you posted as the reports come in from the radio airplay in March.  The album is available now on iTunes as well as through the Molasses Creek website.  Later this month it will be up and running Amazon mp3, Spotify, EMusic, Zune, Rhapsody, Nokia, & VerveLife.  Here is a link to the iTunes site if you want to download tracks.
Molasses Creek - An Island Out of Time
 (more newsletter below! Click "Read More")
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What do Ocracoke Island kids do with their extra time? 

A Howard Street Daredevil

The Mudapult!  

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Molasses Creek to play at LEAF Festival & Floydfest

We are very excited that Molasses Creek has been invited to perform at LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival) in Swannanoa, NC and at the Floydfest, Floyd VA this year.  Here is our list of upcoming performances. 

February, 16, 7 PM, Molasses Creek at Outer Banks Sounds Concert Series, Kelly's Restaurant, Kitty Hawk, NC
 March 3, 6 PM, Music Across the Sounds, Swan Quarter, NC
April 7, 7:30 PM Ocrafolk Festival Fundraising Concert, Ocracoke Community Center, NC
April 20, 7-9 PM ~ MartinArts Council, Williamston, NC
April 21, 8-10 PM ~ Shady Grove Coffeehouse Series, Glen Allen, VA
April 22, 3 PM ~ Washington Theatre, Washington, VA
April 25, at 8 PM ~ Johnny D’s, Sommerville, MA
April 24, at 8 PM ~ Molasses Creek at the South Congregational Church, Granby, CT
April 25, at 7:30-9:00 PM ~ Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, VT
April 26, at 8-10 PM ~ Cafe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY
May 3, at 7 PM ~ Metropolitan Jewish Health System Foundation Fundraiser, Great Neck, NY
May 9, 7:30-9:00 PM ~ Institute of Musical Traditions, Takoma Park Community Center, Takoma Park, MD
May 10-11, LakeEden Arts Festival, Swannanoa, NC
May 13, Mountain SpiritCoffeehouse Series, Asheville, NC 
June 1-3, Ocrafolk Festival, Ocracoke Island, NC 

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What do Ocracoke Island kids do with their extra time? 

A Howard Street Daredevil

The Mudapult!  

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“Dead Girl Walking” Film Showings

In several of the recent Molasses Creek tours, we have worked with non-profit groups to present Ray Schmitt’s film “Dead Girl Walking.”  This independent documentary focuses on Molasses Creek’s Marcy Brenner and her fight against breast cancer.  Last November the film showed at the Carrboro film festival.

 Marcy is currently working on a date for a combination film showing & Molasses Creek concert with the Metropolitan Jewish Health System Foundation (MJHSF) of Great Neck, NY (Thursday, May 3).  Here is more about the film and how it came to be!
While filmmaker Ray Schmitt was visiting Ocracoke he found the vibrant music scene here, discovering Marcy and Lou’s music and the underlying story of Marcy’s breast cancer survival.  Through subsequent emails they agreed to make a documentary film.  The rest, as they say, is history, and a film bearing the same title as Brenner/Castro’s song “Dead Girl Walking” was filmed on the island.  The world premier was held at Deepwater Theater on Ocracoke to a capacity crowd of supporters in September of 2008.
Ray Schmitt was given the Amazing Grace award at the first BreastFest Film Festival in Toronto, Canada (November 2008) and has since received other recognitions for the film.  Marcy has travelled widely in response to requests for film screenings, advocacy speaking engagements and concerts to share the back-handed gift her life-threatening experience has given to her.  “I’ll go anywhere and do anything to offer a hand in the darkness of a cancer diagnosis,” she says.  “We need each other.”  Her message in the song “Dead Girl Walking” is to “live while you are alive!”
Marcy Brenner & filmmaker Ray Schmitt

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News from Gary Mitchell’s Soundside Studios

Hi everybody!

Back in October I had my first experience teaching "Ocracoke Music Appreciation" as a part of the yearly Ocrafolk School curriculum. We spent a week exploring different aspects of Ocracoke's vibrant music scene, including local music history with Martin Garrish and Jack Willis, rehearsal time with Molasses Creek, a visit to our local radio station WOVV, and a fun recording session with the 6 students for our 'show and tell'.

Most of the fall was spent in my studio working hard on Molasses Creek's national release "An Island Lost in Time". Kari Estrin, a very talented producer and promoter from Nashville, worked closely with us to fine tune our sound, and push us to go the extra mile to make this a recording that

really brings out the best of Molasses Creek. Having an 'outside ear' that you trust is so valuable! We're very proud of the result, and hope you guys enjoy it.

Soundside Studio was busy with more projects including John Golden's (with Martin Garrish) fun new take on the oldies, "Backin' to the Fifties, Vol. 2". I just completed mixing and mastering that album, and it will hopefully be available in time for the big "Sock Hop" at the Ocracoke Community Center on Feb. 11.

Just a reminder to any of you who would have interest in recording a song or story, it's a lot of fun and you can do it right here at Soundside Studio. All of our wonderful local music community are available to play along and make it something really special! Give me a call at 252-928-4280 or email at if you'd like to talk about it.

See ya, Gary
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Island Garden by Fiddler Dave

A raised bed keeps the plants from flooding with tidewater (yes it can almost get that high with a hurricane!)

Red Oak Lettuce
What in incredible winter we have had so far on Ocracoke!  I’m sure there is a possibility of freezing weather coming our way in the next two months, but I’m blissfully unaware.  Because of its close proximity to the gulfstream, Ocracoke Island is in climate zone 3.  So far in 2012, the weather has been a mild 60 degrees prompting some Cedar trees to turn yellow with pollen and me to put in my lettuce garden.

         All last fall I sowed my lettuce and spinach seeds hoping to have the young plants well on their way for some wintertime feasting. After repeated germination failures, I finally pulled back the top layer of soil in my raised bed hypothesizing that the August hurricanes might have left a layer of salt that the sprouts found offensive.  Finally in late November, my little seedlings took hold and a cold snap cut down on slug invasions.  Mid-December, Amy, Lachlan and I headed to Oklahoma for Christmas and returned mid January to a crowded family of happy Red Oak Leaf Lettuce ready for transplant.  I set the plants out in rows and gave away the extras to friends.  The days are slowly getting longer . . . my hope getting stonger.  Come April we’ll feast!
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Come to the Annual Ocracoke Sock Hop, Saturday, February 11 at 7:00pm at the Ocracoke Community Center!  Featuring John Golden, Martin Garrish, Lou Castrom Jamie Tunnell, April Trueblood, and more friends!
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 Getting Starting on on Guitar: A tutorial for beginners by Lou Castro.
To get started, try playing the E chord at the top of the page. The strings are the vertical lines in the chord block diagram. The top horizontal line is the “nut”. The horizontal lines below it are the frets. For now, we will be playing the chords down by the nut, in open or first position. The dots are your fingertips; the 0’s above the “nut” are open strings. If there are numbers above the “nut” and the dots, at the top of the chord diagram (below the letter “E”) they are suggested fingerings that correspond with your fretting hand’s fingertips. if you are left handed, let me know and I will post left handed versions of these chords, no big deal! 1 = index finger, 2=middle finger, 3= ring finger, and 4=is your “pinky”, or “brownie”, or in my case my “olivey”! (Remember these numbers are suggestions, use whatever works for you!)  
Get a clear sound from each string involved in the chord, if there is an x over a string do not play it or mute it somehow.

I keep saying fingertips because for now you will be using your fingertips to push the strings directly behind the fret wire to produce a good tone. When you are looking down at the frets, you want your fingertips directly behind them on the left side (right side of the frets for lefties) scootch up close to fret as possible with all your fingers. 

You also need to keep your thumb behind the middle of the neck, the thickest part of the 
 neck, do not hold the neck with your thumb wrapped around it!  Be sure your fingers are perpendicular to the fret board as much as possible. So, goodbye nails on your fretting hand. Long nails will force your fingertips to contact the strings at an angle and deaden/mute other innocent strings. For the same reason, you don’t want to hold the neck in the palm of your hand like a tennis racket.
Imagine holding a small ball in your fingertips with your thumb opposite your fingers, drop your thumb! I saw that! The only points of contact in your fretting hand should be your fingertips and your thumbprint. After a while, a good tone will come from ALL THE STRINGS on the guitar with the E chord. 

Learning how to play the guitar is easy - but it requires patience, practice and some time. Like all worthwhile things in life, you get out of it what you put into it! Playing a musical instrument can give you hours of pleasure; it can make you feel better, and helps other people feel good too! Once you have music inside of you no one can take it away!  There are a ton of other great things that learning an instrument will do for you. It’s great for eye-hand coordination and is a great form of self expression. Nothing against video games but, playing a REAL guitar is actually much easier than “Rock Band” or “Guitar Hero”. I’m sure these games will get more and more realistic but you can take an acoustic guitar OUTSIDE and keep playing!  It’s a great stress reliever and can console you when you are down. 
Good luck and have fun. Next time we will look at changing from one chord to another!

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