John Golen 2
John Golden. Photo by Mary Ellen Golden

By Peter Vankevich

At bottom, click play to listen to The Pioneer Bounty

Anyone fortunate to have attended the Ocrafolk Festival that takes place in June every year, or has been to some of the many great music performances in the Deepwater Theater should recognize John Golden, a songwriter, performer, and lover of sea history.

Indeed, John’s interest in and knowledge of coastal Carolina history goes all the way back to the Lost Colony, the pirates Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, colonial times, and the Civil War blockade runners and pilots. He has written sea songs such as the one you are about to hear, based on this fascinating history.

Originally from Florida, he got a degree in civil engineering from Duke Univsersity and went to work on dam projects for the Army Corp of Engineers in West Virginia where he became acquainted with Appalachian music and folklore.

Ocracoke has become practically a second home starting in 2000 when he made his first album in Gary Mitchell’s Soundside Recording studio.

“I love to visit with the music people on Ocracoke; they are excellent musicians and we love to get together in jam sessions,” he notes.  “The Ocrafolk Festival is the finest folk festival of its kind in the country and the storytelling is unique.”

He has teamed up with Martin Garrish to play and record 1950s rock and roll songs.  His next album will be “Old Jake’s Place” that celebrates a store run by Jake Alligood on Ocracoke where Martin used to listen to the jukebox as a boy.

John is a popular speaker for the Ocracoke Preservation Society’s summer Porch Talks program on the topic of sea songs and stories.


This song, “The Pioneer Bounty,” written with Philip Howard and recorded with Molasses Creek, is from his “Hatteras Memories” album.

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