Photo by Justin Casey
Phenomenal songwriters and interpreters of song, their concerts run the gamut of traditional to contemporary acoustic, sweet ballads with ensnaring vocal harmonies, hot instrumentals, quirky vaudevillian pieces, and captivating stage banter stitching it all together.
Expect the unexpected . . . unexpect the expected!
The band's combination of harmony, humor, and love for the island they call home gives their work a distinct sound and vision.
~ RL, Sing Out Magazine
Where are they from?
Molasses Creek lives on the remote island of Ocracoke off the coast of North Carolina. Ocracoke is only accessible by ferry (40 minutes from Hatteras to the north or 2.5 hours from the mainland). This small sandbar is 17 miles long with a two-mile square village at the southern end. Most of Ocracoke is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, boasting some of the most beautiful beaches in the US. The 900 residents of Ocracoke Village have always exhibited an aire of self-sufficiency, and cast a perpetual eye towards the Atlantic seas watching for storms and hurricanes. A community steeped in fishing and maritime history, Ocracoke has long been home to pilots and a stopover for pirates (Blackbeard fought his final battle and lost his head right offshore!). Today this coastal community attracts artists, craftsfolk, musicians, and a large number of tourists May-November.
What kismet, what serendipity, what miracle of planetary alignment placed all these incredible musicians in this one place at the same time?
~ Recent Concert Attendee
Where have they been?
Molasses Creek performs frequently throughout the eastern seaboard and New England, and as far west as Oklahoma and New Mexico. They own and operate Deepwater Theater, performing and hosting shows June-September and touring off the island on weekends during the season and more extensively October-May. Their 11 recordings have received airplay around the world. They have won awards on "A Prairie Home Companions" out of New York City Town Hall, and have also received a nomination for European Country Music Association band of year.
Wolf Trap caliber performance without the traffic! We loved it. Thank you!
~ Recent Concert Attendee
“They exude sheer joy and talent when it comes to entertaining and more than that – they are delightful people. . . I hail them as a North Carolina Treasure.”
~ Laura Ward, Director, Davie Arts Council, Mocksville, NC
Members of Molasses Creek
Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Gary began his performing career at 13 years old with his friend Jim Harper in the folk duet “Ham & Eggs” in Burlington, NC. In his first year at North Carolina State University, he met Gerald Hampton and Stan Brown and discovered bluegrass. After recording 2 albums with “The Wahoo Revue”, Gary went on to play with a number of rock bands (including The Aliens, The Boar Cats, Good Question, and the Ocracoke Rockers) and cabaret theater with his wife Kitty. In 1993 Gary, Kitty and David Tweedie started Molasses Creek and recorded their first album at Doug Rorrer’s studio in Eden, NC. In 1994 Gary began doing his own recording here on the island and has continued engineering and producing numerous albums for Molasses Creek and many other regional artists in his “Soundside Studio”. Gary was responsible for the creation of the “Ocrafolk” label, starting with the “Ocrafolk Music Sampler” series, the “Ocrafolk Opry” variety show, the “Ocrafolk Festival”, and most recently the “Ocrafolk School”.
Fiddler Dave Tweedie
Vocals, Fiddle, Cittern
Fiddler Dave grew up sawing away on the violin in orchestras in Oklahoma. After repeatedly having his tapping foot nailed down by conductors he set aside his fiddle for theatrical pursuits. Halfway through his college career in North Carolina, Dave discovered Appalachian Old-Time and Celtic fiddling. Soon after he became Fiddler Dave (fiddling for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). When Gary Mitchell invited him to Ocracoke Island for the summer of 1993, Molasses Creek was born!
Upon graduation from Davidson College in 1994, he received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to travel for a year studying changes in fiddling in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, Ireland, and Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. After many months of walking into villages with his fiddle on his back, hunting down like-minded tune collectors, Fiddler Dave returned to Ocracoke Island, where he married Amy Howard (a descendent of the quartermaster on Blackbeard’s ship!). To this day, he continues his pursuit of great music, food, quality island life, and wrangling his pirate son, Lachlan. He loves gardening, breadbaking, and woodworking with scraps of lumber that wash up on the beach.
Vocals, Mandolin, Banjolin, Guitar, Bass, Cittern, Percussion
Marcy Brenner started her musical career Alexandria, VA, playing flute and violin in the elementary school band. She received a pawn-shop guitar for her 10th birthday and was a classical guitarist until at 14 she joined her first basement rock band. While earning her business degrees at Radford University in the Blue Ridge Mountains she found folk music. She spent twenty years in California on the “other side of the desk” of the music business until returning home to her Southern roots – finding her husband Lou Castro and together, the vibrant artistic community on Ocracoke. Marcy is also a songwriter and breast cancer advocate.
Guitar, Dobro, Pedal Steel, Bass, Vocals
Lou Castro started his musical career as a child dragging his Mickey Mouse record player behind his bicycle by its power cable in Philadelphia, PA. He soon graduated to the broom, then the badminton racket and then the tennis racket. He took classical piano lessons from age nine until eleven when he picked up a REAL guitar. Louie graduated from Berklee College of Music and is married to band member Marcy Brenner.
Mandolin, Upright Bass, Guitar
Gerald’s introduction to acoustic music came at the age of 12 compliments of his Boy Scout leader who would bring a guitar on camping trips. The tenderfoot pestered him for guitar lessons until he finally gave in and taught Gerald a few chords on his Silvertone guitar. Rock and Roll stardom did not happen as Gerald thought it should, but he continued to play guitar through junior and senior high school. During his first year of college Gerald was introduced to bluegrass music and also met Gary Mitchell. The first time they met, Gary returned to his dorm room to discover Gerald playing his guitar. We are sure Gary has forgiven him but he has not let him forget this incident. Later during his college years , Gerald took up the mandolin and thus started many years of chopping and tuning. Fast forward to the first Ocrafolk Festival: Gary invited Gerald for a visit and allowed him to play for the cloggers and also for the Sunday morning Gospel and Hymn sing. In the years following, Gerald started showing up during concerts dates with a mandolin case in hand and the band has been unable to hide from him ever since. In the fall of 2009, Gerald added the up-right bass to his instrument list so that he would feel more useful in this story.