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Ol' Front Porch Music Festival
Scenes From First OFPMF - Date For Next One Set
September 16, 2014

L
ike a song with multiple harmonies, Oriental’s first Ol’ Front Porch Music Fesitval came together Saturday afternoon in a magical way. For four hours, roots music drifted out from a dozen porches on Broad and Hodges Street.

It went over so well that a date has been set for the next one.

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The sign that used to hang over the porch of the Ol’ Store a block away was on display Saturday at the Old Central Hotel during the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival.

The festival took its inspiration from the Ol’ Store owned by the late Billy and Lucille Truitt, on whose porch musicians would gather and jam. Organizers Dottie Osmun and Leslie Kellenberger updated the idea by putting multiple bands on multiple porches. They and a team of volunteers pulled it all together in a month and a half. On Saturday, it worked.

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Ernest Dunn, Ken Belangia, Jim Baluss and Becky Ackiss played together as Green Creek Bluegrass in the 1980’s on the porch of the Ol’ Store owned by Ken and Ernest’s in-laws, Billy and Lucille Truitt. The had not played together since Lucille’s funeral a decade ago, but Saturday they were back, playing on the porch of the Old Central Hotel at Hodges and Broad. Afterward, Becky Ackiss could say only say, and gesture, that it was “all heart.”

Folks bebopped from one porch/stage to another to take it all in. The food sold out, as more spectators than expected came by. A band that hadn’t played together in years got back and right in to the groove. An octogenarian sang – ever so coyly – about a cross-dresser. One porch first had ukulele players then a Chinese erhu. A brass band spilled tunes on to Hodges Street near the harbor.

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The New Sensational Messengers a gospel band from New Bern played on the porch of Ken Pitts’ home on Hodges Street. The Messengers were: Charles McDaniels, Donald Brimmage, Gene Waters, Bruce Jones, Thomas Green and, not pictured, Wayne Taylor.
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Ed Terry, on the front porch of Down East Canvas and Gallery.
The skies held off until the very end and even then, a throng of people clapped on the sidewalks of both sides of Hodges as a gospel band from New Bern delivered the last scheduled performance of the day, while at the other end of Hodges, musicians jammed for an hour more.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Fest organizers have set October 17, 2015 for the next one. That would give them 13 months rather than 6 weeks to plan it.

In the meantime, more photos from the day.

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Harbor Sounds on the porch of Oriental’s Town Hall. From left, Asa Gatlin, Dixie Gatlin Paul Sykes, Dick Osmun. (Woody Fuller on harmonica, not pictured here.) Members of this band had wanted for years to have a bluegrass festival in Oriental. The Ol’ Fornt Porch Music Festival emerged from that idea.

Music to be heard, and seen. Harbor Sounds at Town Hall.

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Clara Sommers of Phoenix after singing about a cross-dresser. The octogenarian had dropped in to her daughter, Sandra Baldree’s sing-along session on the Hardy’s porch. Her song selection drew a crowd.

Musicians performing at the First Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival were: Harbor Sounds, The Moseley Family, Salty Paws, UHOOs, Simon Spaulding, Mac McWilliams, The Del Rios, Green Creek Bluegrass, The New Sensational Messengers, Travelin’ Jones, Bob Jones, Bob Laverty, The Craven Brass.

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porch fest
Ol and renewed. In foreground a model of the Ol’ Store, the inspiration for the Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival. Oriental’s History Museum set up the model on the porch of the Old Central Hotel on Saturday, where it shared the stage with the Green Creek Bluegrass Band which used to play at the Ol’ Store.
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The DelRios, Jennifer and Pat, played Americana on the porch of the Pamlico News. While across the street, their former Levelland bandmate….
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Mac McWilliams was playing on the Main Street side porch of Nautical Wheelers.
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Ken Pitts’ porch on Hodges Street early in the day had the duo Travelin’ Jones — on the left side — and the audience on the right.
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Simon Spaulding brought an erhu, a two stringed Chinese instrument, along with a fiddle and other strings to the Price’s Broad Street Porch. (One of the festival organizers hit on the idea of putting musicians on porches while stopping to admire the porch during a run on Broad Street in late July.)
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Salty Paws – Jim Austin and Bentley Smith – and an accompanist, offered up sea chanties and other tunes on Stuart and Barbara Hardy’s Broad Street porch.

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The Jammin’ Session was jammin’ on Marsha’s Cottage porch
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Hodges Street and some members of the gospel band New Sensational Messengers as reflected in the window of Ken Pitts’ front porch.
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Charles McDaniels, Donald Brimmage and Gene Waters of the New Sensational Messengers.
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Bob Laverty on the Hodges Street porch of Elizabeth and Roger Cordes.
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Russ Stevenson’s dog, Maylooo, peeks out from behind the bunting on the Price’s porch on Broad Street while Russ and the UHOOs played.
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The UHOO’s – Ukulele Hoalohas Of Oriental on the Price porch.
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Array of instruments at the musical “petting zoo.” Mary Duffie brought her accordion.

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Joe Brinson’s trumpet in a moment of rest on the Coldwell Banker porch where the Craven Brass played.
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Craven Brass playing at the Coldwell Banker building on Hodges Street.
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Some of those who stopped and sat awhile in front of Nautical Wheelers to hear the music. Across Broad Street, local artisans showed and sold their works.
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Mac McWilliams at Nautical Wheelers
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Polka dots and instruments handmade by Christian Michaels, on display at the “petting zoo”
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A triangle – one of the many “animals” in the musical petting zoo.

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The Green Creek Bluegrass Band playing Saturday afternoon on the porch of the Old Central Hotel.
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Elizabeth Harris at her Down East Canvas and Gallery.
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Dixie Gatlin on fiddle for Harbor Sounds.
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Clara Sommers sang and played. At right, her daughter Sandra Baldree of Merritt who led the sing-along.
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Bob Jones playing on the porch of the Village Gallery.
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Jim Austin and Bentley Smith of Salty Paws.

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Charles Boone volunteering at the festival’s food tent.
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A clown made the rounds.
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As 4p approached, the skies drizzled for a bit but it didn’t deter the cluster of spectators on Hodges Street from watching and listening to the final scheduled performance, the New Sensational Messengers.
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Still more music to be part of. After the performance with the others in the Green Creek Bluegrass band, Becky Ackiss hauled her bass over to the jam session on the porch of Marsha’s Cottage. Chances to play like that don’t happen often enough, she said.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival Co-Chairs, Dottie Osmun and Leslie Kellenberger sent out a list thanking the following for their support:

Town of Oriental – Diane Miller and her fine staff
Oriental Tourism Board – Barb Venturi
Oriental History Museum and the family of Billy & Lucille Truitt
TownDock.net – Melinda Penkava and Keith Smith
The Pamlico News – Maureen Donald
The Sun Journal – Charlie Hall
The County Compass – Jeff Aydelette
Oriental Rotary Club – Sam Myers
First Baptist Church – Pastor Jerry Harper
Oriental Methodist Church – Freda Watson, Pastor Charles Moseley

And special thanks to our musicians, porch hosts and the clown about town. Cyndi Little, Facebook Page Coordinator, Bill Wheeler, Business Coordinator, our non-profit exhibitors, vendors and artisans, local businesses running specials. Our Volunteer Coordinator Dawn Hoyle, Mapmaker Dick Osmun, Posters by Sam Myers, Non-Profit Recruiter Leigh Price, Vendor/Artisans Lot Leaders Carl & Catherine Baxley. And Jim Kellenberger and his Grillin’ Team.

Posted Tuesday September 16, 2014 by Melinda Penkava


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