What to make of Molasses Creek? On Ocracoke Island II (the Sequel), they seem to have two basic types of songs - some trite and superficial love songs, and some attempts at humor which embody the worst stereotypes of traditional music. Maybe it's a parody, but regardless, the idea for Ocracoke Island II probably sounded better sitting around the dorm room than it turned out in practice. Molasses Creek seems to be strongly embedded in the folk music genre, which might help make their case for parody. The fact is, though, it just isn't funny.
It's hard to tell if songs like Honey, Honey and Chukka Boots are an imitation of bad blues tunes, or if they're just a bad blues tunes. There are a few folky songs here of heartfelt sentiment, but they lack the lyrical craftsmanship which would make them interesting beyond a superficial listening. You and But I Got Love are more like greeting-card rhymes than finely honed love songs.
The highlights of the recording show that Molasses Creek has talent. David Streicher shows off some good, old-timey fiddle playing on Fiddlin' Around and the band pulls off a stellar 4-part vocal performance on Down In The Valley To Pray. The instrumental work is solid throughout, though not at all bluegrassy.
But in the end, the entire effort is undercut by closing out the recording with a pratfall on The Dogie Song, a tasteless and insulting waste of time sung in mock-geezer voices with a chorus of "Yee-haw". The scatology might be funny in certain live situations, but there's no reason to record it for repeated listening. Over the years, the bluegrass and country music industries have worked hard to overcome the "Hee-Haw" factor. The notion that these types of music appeal only to in-breds and half-wits in coveralls, sitting around on hay bales and drinking moonshine is insulting and serves only to draw attention away from the immense talent and dedication required to play the music well and attempts to pass this sort of nonsense off as humor should be discouraged.
I'm not familiar with Ocracoke Island I, but if Ocracoke Island II (the Sequel) is any indication, I needn't bother. This is closer to a fraternity joke than to serious music warranting the attention of the readers of this magazine. Let this one pass.