The Stringband Molasses Creek Plays in Harrisburg November 2nd

By John Hope

Inspiration for the five members of Molasses Creek started in the exotic fig trees and rich tidewater marshes of isolated Ocracoke Island, off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The group members bring their high-energy performance and love of their coastal home to a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert on Friday, November 2, at Fort Hunter, 5300 N. Front Street, Harrisburg. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

The band’s elegant harmonies and arrangements, blazing instrumentals, and quirky sense of humor have won them loyal followers throughout the U.S. and around the world. They were award winners on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and have recorded 12 albums over the past 19 years. Earlier this year, Molasses Creek’s new release “An Island Out of Time” reached the #4 spot on the National Folk Radio DJ charts.

Members of Molasses Creek are Gary Mitchell (vocals, guitar, bass), Dave Tweedie (vocals, fiddle, cittern), Marcy Brenner (vocals, mandolin, banjolin, guitar, bass, cittern, percussion), Lou Castro (guitar, dobro, pedal steel, bass, vocals), and Gerald Hampton (mandolin, upright bass, guitar).

Mitchell began his performing career 13 years ago as part of the folk duo Ham & Eggs. He discovered bluegrass after meeting Gerald Hampton and played with a number of rock bands. Gary, his wife Kitty, and Dave Tweedie started Molasses Creek in 1993. He has engineered and produced many of the group’s recordings and created the Ocrafolk label. Tweedie grew up playing violin in orchestras in Oklahoma. Hearing many complaints about tapping his foot in time to the music, he dropped violin for the theater but then discovered Appalachian old-time and Celtic fiddling and became “Fiddler Dave.” When Mitchell invited him to Ocracoke Island for the summer of 1993, Molasses Creek was born. After graduating from 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.

Marcy Brenner played flute and violin in her Alexandria, VA, elementary school band. She received a pawn shop guitar for her 10th birthday and was a classical guitarist until she joined her first basement rock band at age 14. She found folk music while earning business degrees and spent 20 years in California in the business side of music until she returned home to her southern roots and married Lou Castro. Castro began his musical career as a child dragging his Mickey Mouse record player behind his bicycle by its power cable in Philadelphia. He took classical piano lessons from age 9 until 11, when he got a guitar. He was graduated from Berklee College of Music. Hampton’s introduction to acoustic music came when his Boy Scout leader brought a guitar on camping trips. He played guitar through junior and senior high school and in his first year at college was introduced to bluegrass music. He also met Gary Mitchell at that time. Hampton later took up mandolin and in 2009 added the upright bass to his instrument list.

The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner. Bring a dish to share; place settings and beverages will be provided. Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com. This concert is supported, in part, through grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Cultural Enrichment Fund. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society web site at http://www.sfmsfolk.org.

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