Updated March 19, 2016
Ocracoke Alive, Inc. and musical hosts Molasses Creek announced the list of performers for this year’s Ocrafolk Festival June 3 to 5 along School Road and Howard Street.
Lipbone Redding has traveled the world with his guitar, nightly sharing music and tales with audiences for the past 15 years. He weaves funky rhythms, catchy original songs, brash humor, soulful singing, and inventive guitar playing with exotic and percussive vocal sounds such as throat singing, bass and beat-boxing, and his astonishingly realistic lip-tromboning. The result is an experience that is hypnotic, groovy and, for a solo artist without the aid of electronic efx, amazingly complete. http://www.lipbone.com
Diali Cissokho, Kaira Ba’s bandleader and kora player, hails from a long line of Griot musicians in Senegal. But moving an ocean away from his musical past has only strengthened Cissokho’s resolve to enliven the traditional sound. With four Tar Heel natives behind him, Cissokho & Kaira Ba create a universally appealing sound full of bright tones and driving polyrhythm.
“The dynamics at work within this five-piece—the way the songs build, spiral and surge into moments of sudden triumph—should sync well with new Western listeners. Kaira Ba just might be the state’s next great export.” –Grayson Currin, Indy Weeklywww.kairabamusic.com
The Bucket Brothers
The North Carolina-based Bucket Brothers—Logan and Casey Valleroy, ages 15 and 12—have captivated audiences since 2012 with their sophisticated arrangements, seamless improvisation, and beyond-their-years mastery of jazz. Fans enthuse over their amazing musicianship, composure, and stage presence. Both brothers display a depth of musical understanding and an ability to listen to one another that is rare at such a young age. Derek Kratzer, who has shared the stage with David Grisman and Del McCoury, says, “Technical proficiency and performance can be learned, but listening to one another requires a different kind of understanding and awareness that can only come through experience.” thebucketbrothers.com
The Blue Eyed Bettys
With Daniel Emond on banjo, Sarah Hund on fiddle, and Ben Mackel on guitar, this NYC based trio delight with their folky-bluegrass sound, but what always seems to grab audiences immediately are their powerful vocals in three-part harmony. All actors by trade, The Blue Eyed Bettys met while doing a play together at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, FL. “Their theater-influenced performances and immaculate harmonies have earned them the admiration of local musicians and showgoers alike.” http://www.theblueeyedbettys.com
The Yes Team
Back in 2010, Jonathan Walsh and TJ Moss took a big chance. They bought a used purple van on Craigslist and drove it from New York City to San Diego in search of sunshine and harmony. Since then, recognizing that they’re not just a band, but facilitators of good music and good vibes, they have crossed the country 10 times (including some summers in Ocracoke) “spreading unity through harmony.” Their smiles are infectious. Their voices ring true. (…think the Beach Boys meet Jack Johnson meet Peter, Paul and Mary). www.yesteamgo.com
De Tierra Caliente
De Tierra Caliente delivers the sabor, spice and alegría of warm-weather countries to American audiences, where formidable winters and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic sometimes overshadow simple pleasures like sharing a meal with friends or going out dancing. At a show, you can’t help but heat up as intoxicating songs in Spanish, English and Portuguese sing out the bright colors and familial warmth of a South American kitchen. Since its formation in 2014, this flavorful quartet from Philadelphia and Puerto Rico has released two full-length albums and played over 140 shows in cities throughout the U.S., Colombia and Puerto Rico. www.detierracaliente.com
Mahalo Jazz 2
Mahalo Jazz 2 is Alison Weiner (piano, vocals, and watch out for the melodica) and Robbie Link
(upright bass), two eclectic musicians coming together to have their delightful way with jazz standards and original tunes. Blossom Dearie comes to mind often when hearing Alison sing, and Robbie’s sensitive and passionate playing makes the music soar around the room. The result of their collaboration is always inspiring and memorable. www.mahaloArts.com
Martin Garrish and Friends
A master of ‘old time’ country, rock, bluegrass and folk music, and a favorite of visitors and locals alike, Ocracoke native and guitar virtuoso Martin Garrish has been at the heart of the Ocracoke music scene since he was a teenager. He and his talented band will perform Saturday on the Live Oak stage, and a special workshop set looking back at 40 years of his musical legacy on the island.
The Oak Grove String Band
The Oak Grove String Band formed in 2012. Tommy Brooks and Brian Edmonson have performed
together in various bands over the years, most notably Harvest. Collectively over the years, Brian and Tommy honed in on their stringed techniques, lead vocals and harmonies. Their roots began to flourish into thoroughbred bluegrass, jam, folk, and jazz. Progressively leading up to the advent of OGSB, Thomas Fitts on bass and Tim Spence on banjo were committed to make this lineup complete. http://www.oakgrovestringband.com
Beleza is back and we are so happy! United by musical interests that include samba, funk, soul, blues, bossa, jazz and Spanish flamenco, Humberto Oliveira Sales and Madeline Holly Sales blend the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic riches from North and South America. Berto, a native of Brazil, pursued a formal education in classical guitar. His knowledge of Brazilian rhythms and study of Spanish Flamenco add to the unique finger picking style he uses.
Madeline brings with her the strong influence of soul, jazz and blues. She sings in Portuguese, English and Spanish. Her sensual, rich voice, playful interpretations, and strong stage presence make their combination extremely unique.
As a duo, they enrich their performances by including live percussion and vocal loops. With a full band, they get people out of their seats. http://www.belezamusic.com
Maggie and Cassie MacDonald
Cassie and Maggie MacDonald encompass everything you could ask for in a musical act. Their talent is only surpassed by the joy with which they so generously share it. Exciting and innovative, they have found the perfect balance between musical integrity, and sheer entertainment. While still staying true to their Celtic roots, they have explored and tested the boundaries of traditional music, bringing a breath of fresh air to the genre with their original compositions and arrangements. Sisters, friends and collaborators, Cassie and Maggie have been enchanting audiences far and wide with their infectious energy, driving rhythms and lilting melodies. Recent awards include the 2015 Live Ireland Radio “NEW GROUP OF THE YEAR,” 2015 “Emerging Artist Album of the Year” winners from the Chicago Irish-American News, “WORLD SONG OF THE YEAR” http://www.cassieandmaggie.com
Integrating musical influences from many parts of the world, Craicdown creates a distinctive and unique sound which defies easy categorization, but is simultaneously familiar and appealing. Their ability to harmoniously blend instruments and styles from all over the world serves to reinforce their message that music has the power to heal and unite. Hailing from the musical hotbed of Chapel Hill, the band features three spirited players with a fire in their fingers and a love for their art: Rob Sharer on guitar, flute, fiddle and vocals; David DiGiuseppe on accordion and Irish cittern; and Jim Roberts on percussion. www.craicdown.com
Come join Lou Castro, April Trueblood and friends for great music and an electrifying performance.
Bob Zentz and Jeanne McDougall
Hailing from Norfolk, Va., Bob and Jeanne are old friends and life partners who share a love of music and history. With a voice as deep as the sea, Bob is a troubadour of songs, old and new, about people, places, and times gone by. A nationally known icon of the Folk world, and master of dozens of usual (and unusual) “unplugged” folk instruments, Bob’s extensive collection of stories in verse and tales behind the songs, celebrates the “ecology of the human spirit.” This year, Bob and Jean will once again host the Workshop Stage and will perform aboard the Admiralty Dock Party aboard the Skipjack Wilma Lee on Saturday night. www.bobzentz.com
Longtime host of the Live Oak stage, 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 songs about local shipwrecks, Virginia Dare, pirates, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War, and has published many recordings of folk songs and stories. Of late, John has turned his attention to recording some of the great songs of his youth, releasing the CDs “Backin’ to the 50s” (vols. 1 and 2), featuring ‘guitar slingers’ Martin Garrish and Geoff Morris accompanied by a variety of Ocracoke musicians.
This special Saturday evening show features all of the wonderful female performers at this year’s festival, including Ocracoke’s own Marcy Brenner, Jamie Carter, April Trueblood, Desiree Ricker and Katy Mitchell.
From his early days with the seminal folk-fusion band, Fingers Akimbo, through the experimental Gitangali and the family music of Yeahbut Shoehead to the magical BUZZ BAND, Michael Stanwood has led an eclectic life in music that has won him five Westword Magazine’s “Best of Denver” for everything from his recordings to performances. Acknowledged as “one of the finest autoharp players in the country today,” he toured extensively for the State Department throughout Southeast Asia, where he also picked up many of the ethnic instruments he now plays, like the didjeridu, the Thai Khaen, and the mbira. He has composed scores for theater, dance, and film. He tours nationally with both children and adult shows. His school assembly program “Sound Ideas,” has been seen by thousands of students across the country. www.michaelstanwood.com
Storytellers and Characters
A featured storyteller at festivals around the world, Donald Davis makes his home on Ocracoke Island. He was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world also rich in stories. “I didn’t learn stories, I just absorbed them,” he says, as he recounts tales (and more tales) learned from a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same Western North Carolina land since 1781. Davis grew up hearing gentle fairy tales, simple and silly Jack tales, scary mountain lore, ancient Welsh and Scottish folk tales, and most importantly, nourishing true-to-life stories of his own neighbors and kin. It was Uncle Frank, a man who “talked in stories,” who helped Donald capture the real and daily adventures of life. . . and it was Uncle Frank who gave him the creative courage to tell about them.
Recipient of both “Circle of Excellence” and “Lifetime Achievement” awards from the National Storytelling Network, author of 17 books and producer of more than 40 audio recordings, he is also a popular teacher and workshop leader. Subject of the PBS television special, “What’s Your Story?” Donald and his original stories often inspire listeners to search for meaningful stories of their own lives. http://www.ddavisstoryteller.com
In addition to performances during the day on Saturday, that night Donald will be at the Community Center from 8 to 9:15 for a special storytelling session. Because of the limited seating, we are requesting that folks who wish to attend pick up a free RSVP ticket during the day on Saturday. The evening telling will start promptly at 8 p.m. Please be in your seat and ready for the show. Late arrivals may be held at the door.
Hailing from Saxapahaw, NC, Donovan and his crew use cardboard, corn starch, bamboo, your old house paints, and other assorted junk to create fantastic giant puppets, masks, shadow plays, and performances for all ages. They tell stories, beat drums, paint cardboard, sew cloth, get sweaty, push boundaries, and carry heavy things to help make the world a better place. This spring, Donovan and family came to Ocracoke to join island students at Arts Week, creating some fabulous critters that will make their debut in the Ocrafolk Festival parade.
Louis and his trio “Warren, Bodle and Allen” have been at a previous Ocrafolk Festivals. This year, he will be emcee for the Howard Street stage. Apart from his ‘side job’ as the head of the Federal Public Defenders office in Greensboro, Louis’ connection to the Ocrafolk Festival goes back to 1970 at Walter Williams High School in Burlington, where he and festival co-director Gary Mitchell were singing harmony together in the boys’ bathroom. Were it not for those formative years, Gary might have gotten a real job and the Ocrafolk Festival would have never come into existence.
Remember “Old Jake,” “Phoene Bell Gillikin,” and “Duke the Duck Dog?”
A crowd-pleaser and proven ‘spellbinder’ of adults and children alike, Eastern Carolina’s beloved Rodney Kemp is a Morehead City native who managed to actually remember all those Down East tales he heard while growing up. His humor comes not only from his folksy manner but also from his knowledge of, and affection for, the people and places of his boyhood days along the Carolina coast. He is often featured at festivals and events in the coastal region, was a performer at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC. He has been with the Ocrafolk Festival since its beginning in 2000.
Jef the Mime
Jef is a variety, mask theater, and mime artist who makes his home in Lumberton, and is often found sharing his wacky brand of roving artistry at fairs and festivals throughout the South, including Merlefest in Wilkesboro, Kids Day Columbia in Columbia, SC, The Fine Arts Festival of North Charleston, SC, and the Very Special Arts Festival in West Jefferson, NC. www.jefthemime.com
Clyde (standing, pictured with Fiddler Dave’s dad) Hailing from Bynum, north of Pittsboro on the Haw River, Clyde has been making his chain-saw creations since 1982, and he and his critters have travelled the world. There’s one that sits on the Great Wall of China. They’ve been to Africa, the Philippines, Peru, and one is living in Taiwan. They’ve also been around the United States several times. His work is in the permanent collections of many museums throughout the U.S., including the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, and the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington. Clyde goes to lots of schools, showing kids how they, too, can create art. He demonstrates how things are done, then lets the children play an active role in the creation of a critter. Join him on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. sharp at Deepwater Theater.
Philip Howard has been collecting island stories since he was a youngster. A direct descendant of William Howard, last colonial owner of Ocracoke Island, Philip loves to share local tales of pirates and preachers, shipwrecks and storms, and the many colorful characters who have called Ocracoke home. He also acts as festival auctioneer and square dance caller. He and his daughter Amy conduct the Ghost & History Walks each summer. (Information at Village Craftsmen on Howard Street). www.villagecraftsmen.com
Captain Rob Temple
The captain of the schooner WINDFALL II and the Skipjack Wilma Lee, Rob spends his summers taking passengers on sunset sails and pirate cruises from the Community Store dock on Silver Lake Harbor. He’s renowned for his nautical tales, which he tells to lucky passengers and Ocrafolk Opry audiences. He and his wife Sundae have recorded a collection of their children’s favorite lullabies, as well as Rob’s favorite pirate stories, including his classic “A Pirate’s Christmas.” You can hear his tales Sunday afternoon at the festival, or visit Rob aboard the Skipjack Wilma Lee at the Community Square docks. http://www.schoonerwindfall.com
The Green Grass Cloggers
The Green Grass Cloggers have been kicking up their heels throughout North Carolina and beyond for many years–including every year of the Ocrafolk Festival. Their energetic footwork and fun-loving style have captivated hundreds of audiences and kept them in high demand for appearances at festivals throughout the southeast. Since their 40th anniversary tour in 2011, they have received the Charlotte Folk Society’s 2011 Folk Heritage Award and a 2012 Community Traditions Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society. http://www.greengrasscloggers.com
Terrilynn Grace West
A Tai chi and Qi Gong practitioner for 45 years, Grace has been teaching for 25 years. This class is a gentle form of martial arts consisting of movements designed to help you experience the life force energy called Chi. No experience is needed. For ages 10 to 100. If weather permits meet on the beach at the Lifeguard Beach ramp access at 7:30 am Sunday morning. (Rain location: Deepwater Theater). www.floatwithgrace.com