the green grass cloggers

...celebrating 40 years


Celebrating 40 Years... A Homecoming

with Molasses Creek & The Freight Hoppers

Saturday, November 5, 2011

8 p.m., Wright Auditorium

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC


$10 public

$5 youth (18 and under) and current ECU students


S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series

Molasses Creek

The Freight Hoppers

The multimedia November 5 show, part of the fiftieth season of the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series, will combine dancers and musicians from across North Carolina: current and returning members of the Green Grass Cloggers in Greenville and Asheville dancing to Molasses Creek from Ocracoke at the coast and The Freight Hoppers from Bryson City in the mountains.

The GGCs and Molasses Creek have performed together since the mid-1990s at festivals in eastern North Carolina--including every year of the Ocrafolk Music & Storytelling Festival that started in 2000.  Molasses Creek includes Gary Mitchell (guitar/vocals), Fiddler Dave Tweedie (fiddle/vocals),

Lou Castro (dobro/bass/vocals), Marcy Brenner (mandolin/bass/vocals), and Gerald Hampton (mandolin/bass), who present creative arrangements of vintage and original tunes and songs from multiple genres.  The group is a perennial act at Greenville's Sunday in the Park amid traveling the country and operating the Deepwater Theatre on Ocracoke.  They recently released their eleventh album, Catharsis.  On November 5, after a morning performance at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, they will return to the Wright Auditorium stage for the first time since opening for Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegone Days" production at ECU in April 2008.

The Freight Hoppers--David Bass (fiddle), Frank Lee (vocals/guitar/banjo), Isaac Deal (vocals/guitar), and Bradley Adams (bass)--will bring their driving old time groove and energetic arrangements of fresh as well as seasoned tunes and songs to the evening.  Together originally in the mid-nineties and reformed in 2007, they have released four albums--most recently, Mile Marker.  Both Molasses Creek and The Freight Hoppers have performed on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, and The Freight Hoppers perform regularly on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.  They also travel the country playing at large festivals, including for the Green Grass Cloggers at Merlefest in April 2011, and at the Hoppin’ John Old Time and Bluegrass Festival, the host event for the Green Grass Cloggers’ official fortieth anniversary reunion in September 2011.

The Green Grass Cloggers began in 1971 after recent East Carolina University graduate Dudley Culp first saw clogging at the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention, where college students from across the state and around the country flocked during the Folk Revival.  He and Toni Jordan Williams took a square dance class from Professor Jo Saunders and collected interested students and community members with the help of Dr. Ralph Steele, who also connected them with internationally known square dance instructor Betty Casey.  Some of their earliest performances were at the Attic on Fifth Street with the Flatland Family Band, which included Professors Skeet Creekmore, Mike O'Connor, and Stan Riggs.

In 1972 and 1974, the cloggers won World Championship titles at the Autumn Square Up dance competition in Union Grove, NC.  By 1977 and 1978, they were experimenting with traveling and dancing professionally at large festivals and for school children, and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1978 as part of the New Lost City Ramblers' twentieth anniversary concert.  Since not every member could commit to traveling, the team split into Greenville-based Home and Road teams.  In 1980, the Road group relocated to Asheville and traveled nationally and internationally until the end of the decade, while the group in Greenville continued to perform locally and create new routines.   After dwindling in the nineties, the Asheville and Greenville groups now have several new members and maintain active schedules that include independent and joint performances.  Recent recognitions include Western Carolina University's 2008 Mountain Heritage Award and the Charlotte Folk Society's 2011 Folk Heritage Award.

The November 5 show will be a homecoming for many dancers and a celebration of the group’s history.  Since 1971, two thirds of the group's more than one hundred sixty members have been ECU alums, faculty, and/or staff.  At least two dozen dancers--half of whom are ECU alums and/or faculty/staff--will dance during the evening.

A collection of archive footage and photos that goes back to the beginnings of the green grass cloggers in 1971 as well as highlights from our 40th anniversary tour.  Produced by Chad Smith.