A Week Of Friendly Faces In Familiar Places Plus We Meet A Few New Music Friends

On the Scene With Mary Shine and Tracey Stones

IMG_E8878[1]ABOVE: Mary Shine and Tracey Stones rocked the scene on Friday Night! Ending the night on a good note with Stairwell and the good folks at The Market Street Pub!

It was another week of friendly faces in familiar places, as we made our way through the week with music making memories. Along the way, we met a couple of groovy groups too. One had an African vibe while the other offered Jamaican flavored reggae raps.

May I have this dance?


Monday of Music and Memories

Simon Spalding Serves the Sounds for Supper at Sara’s Big Apple

Last week offered a new way to start my Monday Music offering when I stopped in at Sara’s Big Apple to see what Simon Spalding was up to. Interestingly enough, I was hired by the owner to book the entertainment and somehow Spalding sidestepped all of that and got himself a regular engagement with the owner. Being curious I showed up for the inaugural set.

I mention how this gig came about to ward off the question of, “Why would you hire only one act for a regular appearance in a place with such limited spaces for live music?” The answer is simple, I wouldn’t! This was arranged between Spalding and the owner.

 Given the fact that I won’t be paid a commission on his self-serving gigs, chances are also likely that I will not be covering those shows either. Fact is, I am trying to make a living and things like this cut into my bottom line. Nonetheless, for anyone who is interested, feel free to join Simon this coming Monday for his last June engagement and then every Monday in July, as he serves the sounds from 6-8 pm in the back room of the pizzeria. Sara’s Big Apple is located on the way into Fairfield Harbour at 1150 Broad Creek Rd.


Heading Down Town We Get Back to the Blues

I am not sure if Monday is the end to my weekends or the start of a new week anymore. I know this, it never gets old watching the room fill “up to the top,”  with music lovers. Some come to jam, some come to sing, some come to dance and some just listen. But we are all there together to enjoy the night. Last week was no exception.

If you have not been out to the Brown Pelican for Monday night blues, make sure you come and join us soon. The place stays jumping and the bartenders like it busy! We have been having a natural ball every Monday since February and it never gets old! We are sorry if you have missed the fun. For full details on this weekly treasure, keep reading and I will tell you all of the everything you need to know when I recap the week ahead!


Wednesday We Wallowed In the Blues

It was a quiet mid-week reboot with blues being shared from the City Stage. Big Jim was dressed and ready to impress the masses, but only a few showed up last Wednesday evening.

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In all, it was a pretty slow week for jammers at both venues as well. No one new came to call this week, but we did learn that Jayke Steel (above on guitar) is still available for hire on Monday and Wednesdays. Simon Spalding always enjoys sitting in with the big man, who is only medium sized these days.

There was one other thing I noticed this week and that is the growth I have seen with Jonathan Peck (pictured above) and how he is cleaning up his phrasings. I noted a much cleaner offering this week and a more confident player. This is what makes these jams worth noting!

Big Jim and the boys usually keep the company of Mrs. Big Jim, but this week she was home and under the weather. With a long weekend ahead, that took the band to new territories, she took the time to rest. But most weeks that is where you can find Big Jim and his bride, offering their first show of the week to admiring fans.

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For those that are new to the blog, welcome! The players of this badass blues band include Big Jim Kohler on vocals and guitar, Chris Buttitta on the bottom, giving the bass and behind the kit, we have Tom Parker keeping the beats. On occasion, they pair with a harmonica man Mark Heffington (pictured above), who lives in the triangle area, but has been blowing notes with Big Jim for nearly 7 years. Newer to the circle of harmonica offerings is Lee Tibbetts (pictured below), whom we met last year. Enjoying the summer in Colorado with his wife Bonnie, this couple will return for more music this fall.



Thursday Thrills

 Oriental Offers  African Music Stylings in the Garden


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At some point this week on Facebook, I asked my friends and followers where their favorite place was to view a live music event…and I think the reason I was inspired to ask that was because of my recent visit to New Village Brewery in Oriental. This venue is one of my favorite places to sit and watch music. Frank and Lili Bacon offer music fans a nice outdoor spot for soaking up sounds. Another reason why I enjoy that so much is because they always stretch out when it comes to finding new acts to offer live music.

Please Allow me to introduce you to…

On Thursday, I went to the harbor town to take a listen to Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, a band from the triangle area with a tribal sound that embraces the ancient traditions of West African music. They not only share song but embrace their audience with dance too.

According to the bio information, Diali Keba Cissokho (vocals and kora) whom we can call Jelly, “Like peanut butter and Jelly,” he said at the start of the show, is a renowned kora player and percussionist from the Casamance region of Senegal. He came to the United States after years of touring in Europe and Senegal. Now when he returns he takes the band he brought together in Carrboro, NC.

Helping him to share the sounds of his native land are John Westmoreland (guitar) from Pittsboro, NC; Jonathan Henderson (bass) hails from Durham, and Will Ridenour (percussion) is a musician from Greensboro NC. Also mentioned in the bio, but not a part of the gig last week is Austin McCall (drum set) grew up in Saxapahaw N.C.

Their music is unique as the instrument that helps to make it. Strung with fishing line, this West African instrument is tuned to one key at a time and makes melodic sounds. The band has several discs available for purchase, they also sell t-shirts and other merch, so please check out their website for more details:


The reason I made my way out there was, that Bob Manning of The New Bern Rotary reached out to find out my opinion on how to market this band they had coming to New Bern in October. He explained the Rotary was teaming up with the band to raise money for children in Uganda.

Just as soon as he mentioned the band’s name, I said; “Bob, is that the band playing in Oriental on Thursday?” When he acknowledged it was, I said; “Well, it starts with me going to see them, so I can talk more about them.” So that is what I did. New Bern Rotary is working with for an event coming to New Bern this Fall. I enjoyed the journey, had some chicken, sipped on a pale ale and enjoyed the grooves of this captivating band! For those looking for them on Facebook check them out here:


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Friday’s Fun Finds Me at Civic Theatre with Mom

When co-pod squad host and friend George Oliver asked if I would like two tickets to the Carter Cash Show, that was going to raise money for our town’s beautiful Civic Theater, I said yes without hesitation. Knowing that this was the music my parents raised me on, I found it appropriate to ask my mom to the show.

We had a delightful time as we enjoy classic songs made famous by the first family in Country music. After a 45 minute set featuring the Carter family creations, there was an intermission that reflected on the Oliver Family and their involvement in the theater. This presentation was delivered by their daughter Abigail, who also plays a great guitar for the family band.

Following the brief intermission, the band returns in full form to offer more music which highlighted Johnny Cash and his popular country music career. It was a sell-out performance and a great night that raised funds for the theater. Thank you to all that came out!

For those that wish to see the Oliver Family soon, you can find Strung Together on the deck at Persimmons this Thursday offering music from 7:30-9:30 pm.


 Back On the Road with Mary Shine

First Stop Kinston, As Bill Lyerly Rocks the Red Room

We had to look for a late show or two since I was in town until 9 pm, so we picked Kinston and Lil Washington as our destinations and we rolled down 70 West first.

Bill Lyerly is the roadhouse rocker that has been sharing songs with fans and friends since the ’60s. In the ’70s Lyerly was one of the original members of Super Grit Cowboy, a regionally successful roadhouse and rock country band, that made a good name for themselves in the ’70s and early ’80s. Since the ’90s this slinger has been keeping busy on tour half the year here in the states and the other half of the year, across the pond in Spain.

For the gig on Saturday, Lyerly teamed up with Wolf Cratch on drums and Shelby Wall on bass, to round out his rocking sound. Throughout the night the band offers familiar classic rock, some blues, and some rocking roadhouse originals. Earlier this Spring, Lyerly released a remastered mix of his CD “Case of Jones,” which he released some years ago, but remastered it more recently at Abbey Road Studios and offered it to fans in April. This disc is available for purchase, so the next time you see him rocking, be sure to show him some love and buy this disc offering 11 originals tracks of rocking roadhouse music.

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All Aboard The Music Bus

The Next Stop Brings Us to Lil Washington to rock with Stairwell

For our last stop, we took a quick journey down Highway 11 to Grifton, where we followed Highway 118 until we met US 17 North. Once we made our way to Washington we stopped at The Market Street Pub to check in with the rockers known as Stairwell. 

It had been a while since the band rocked lil Washington, so we made plans and we included them on the journey. This band always brings a tight show of hard rocking vibes. It does the soul good to get rocked to the core and this band is always up to the task.

While visiting the town, they took the time to raise money for a local community member. Well-known for supporting the Pirate Nation, as well as the local music scene, Kenny Curlings is a name familiar to many in the region. Last week his son Colby was seriously injured in a car accident and remains in ICU at Viadant in Greenville, NC. During the show, Stairwell collected donations from the crowd that gathered to rock the pub. In all, they collected nearly $300 in tips to donate to the family in need.

Next week I am going to start things up by talking more about this band and show you a thing or two about a successful band store. They always have a great set up of merchandise to offer fans and next week we are going to talk more about that. For fans and friends looking for the band, they will be rocking The Doghouse Tavern in Ayden next Saturday, June 15 from 10 pm until closing.

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Saturday’s Sound Samples Start At The Seashore


First Stop Atlantic Beach For Pretzels and Music


I was headed to the beach for a show in the park and wanted to leave a bit early, to see if I could find some music before that event. As I made my approach through Morehead City I turned right when I came to the causeway and headed for Atlantic Beach. I was curious to know if there would be live music on the sand at Idle Hour Biergarten.

As I made my way around the circle, I zeroed in on a familiar face.  It was Justin Castellano, standing on the porch assessing the weather situation. Though it was cloudy, the weather held off and the show went on. Castellano offered many familiar songs to the audience which grew as time passed us by. This stringer and singer is such a clever and creative soul. I love talking tech and gear talk with this wizard.

For friends and fans of the classically trained and terribly gifted guitarist, be sure to check out his website by clicking the link at the end of this article. For those interested in getting a taste of the best pretzels being served in Atlantic Beach, be sure to stop by this Thursday at Idle Hour Biergarten when he returns and enjoy a cold beer, great food, and Justin Castellano sharing his songs from 6:30-9:30 pm.

Justin Castellano

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Morehead City Brings the Blues

The City of Morehead City is offering a free concert series in the park this Summer, as they have done in the past years. Last night the rocking blues band, Built For Comfort offered a fun night of music to the spectators that gathered.

Built For Comfort Plays In the Park

Well, believe it or not, it was three years ago when I first heard the band Built For Comfort. And when I met their music,  it happened right there on the lawn at Jaycee Park on the waterfront in Morehead City, NC. This band offers many familiar fun grooves of classic blues players. They play everything from Jimmy Reed to Muddy Water, they wallow in B.B. King and Buddy Guy too. In other words, they play my favorite music.

But what I love most about them is how they serve up the traditional sounds with a twist. They always work out the standard arrangements of these classic songs to suit the more modern take of their talents. The highlight of this and a fine example came in the form of the band’s take on the Roling Stones classic “Satisfaction.”

Making the beats more fun for dancing in this band are Landy Spain on guitar and vocals, Bill Hunneke on harmonica and vocals, Al Carroll on bass and Joe Tronto sitting behind the kit. Helping the band work their sound system was Grant Leggett.

Though the crowd did not fill the lawn as they did in past years, a good crowd still came out in support of the music, with the hopes of not being washed away by the weather! Luckily it all worked out and a good time was had by all.

For those looking to connect with this group be sure to visit and like their Facebook page by clicking the link at the end of this article. They have no dates listed on the calendar of events at this time, but when they do, I will be sure to share them with you right here.

Built For Comfort Band

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Mystic Vibrations on the Waterfront

Before hitting the road away from the beach, I stopped in at Southern Salt, to see who was on the deck and getting ready to play. That is where I had a chance to meet reggae band Mystic Vibrations. This fun band brought their grooves from South of the border. Hailing from South Carolina, they are a tight unit with four players creating the grooves.  Dion “Caution” Samuel is behind the kit on drums, George “Raheem” Johnson plays the bass, Marcus “Marky”‘ Ruby tickles the ivories and works the keyboards all while assisting with backing vocals, and fronting this band on guitar and lead vocals is Ric Williams. Williams is from Jamaica and enjoys sharing the music of his native land.

Although the band does play mostly in South Carolina, they do have another date this month here in our state. You can catch Mystic Vibrations at Holiday Travel Park Resort in Emerald Isle on Friday, June 28. They offer music from 7:30-10:30. For more information on where to find the band or to learn more about their cool history and music offerings, be sure to visit their website at:

Mystic Vibrations

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On The Road Again…Jacksonville, NC

We Turn Up the Blues at Nick’s Blacksheep Last Night with Big Jim

Considering the fact that I was close to Highway 24, I decided to head West and check in with my favorite New Bern Blues maker, Big Jim Kohler. He and the boys were scheduled to rock Nick’s Blacksheep in Jacksonville, NC. When I got there the boys were doing their thing and Ms. Kathy was doing hers…taking them down with her soulful offerings and fun song.

This was the band’s first appearance and Nick Nichols was loving every minute of it. In fact, I heard the news that he will be bringing the blues force back to The Sheep in the months to come. Keep your eyes peeled here for news on that next show! I will share it when we set it up!

For friends and fans of this band, be sure to stop out and see them any Monday at The Brown Pelican from 7-9 pm and Wednesday from 7-9 pm at The City Stage, and this Friday the band will be rocking The Garage in James City. Music for that fun time on the backyard stage is set for 7-10 pm.


Homeward Bound

Hank Barbee Or Bust To Wrap Up The Week

I am pretty sure Hank Barbee has a pedal board with enough knobs and controls to fly my futuristic hovercraft

The last show of the week brought me back to town for the final set of The Dust Parade, who was playing it hard at The Brown Pelican last night when I walked in. The surf-infused, rocking jazz quartet makes a lot of fun music and they enjoy sharing it with crowds throughout the year.

Currently, the band is in the studio working things out for a new release, that should come our way by the end of this year. Many of the tracks were laid in Atlanta last month and now the work on mixing the effort is underway in a Wilmington Studio. We can expect another 10 tracks from the talented guitarist and his awesome band.

For those looking to keep up with Hank Barbee and his talented band, be sure to visit their website by clicking on their name below. They keep busy playing around the region and will return to the New Bern Area on Sunday, June 30th, to perform for Tracey Stones Productions at Red Sail Park in Fairfield Harbour. This show is for residents and their friends. All are welcome to pack a snack and enjoy music in the park from 2-4:30 pm.

The Dust Parade


Live Music for the Week Ahead

Monday with Music


New Bern, NC


New Bern, NC friends and visitors, you can find live music tonight in two locations. Sara’s Big Apple will host Simon Spalding for an acoustic dinner offering from 6-8 pm.


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For those over in town, you can enjoy the blues jam I talk about so much because I started it all! Big Jim Kohler live at The Brown Pelican for a two-hour music offering.

The first hour features Jim Kohler Band and the second hour is always a guess on who is coming up to the killing floor! Be sure to wear your dancing shoes and get ready to have a natural ball. Music is offered from 7-9 pm!


Newport, NC

Shortway Brewing Co.


Tiffany Elaine hosts open mic night at Shortway Brewing Co. All are welcome to come out and share songs, read poetry or just be a spectator and enjoy the fresh beer and fine talent that gathers.


Greenville, NC

AJ McMurphy’s


Greenville, NC Play The Stage! Open Mic at AJ McMurphy’s


Raleigh, NC

Champions Bars – NC State

For fans of open mic night in the Raleigh area, Champions Bar hosts an open mic event every Monday. All players are welcome to jam. This jam is hosted by Chris Jones and it kicks off at 9 pm. Visit Champions Bar Open Mic Mondays to read more about the event.


Tuesday Temptation

New Bern, NC

The Brown Pelican

It is Honky Tonk Tuesday at The Brown Pelican each week. Country pickers and players are welcome to come jam between 7 pm and closing. All are welcome to participate or just relax and listen!


Beaufort, NC

Cru Bar & Wine Store/ The Beaufort Coffee Shop


Tiffany Elaine will host an open mic night at Cru Bar & Wine Store/ The Beaufort Coffee Shop this week. All are welcome to come to display their talents! Enjoy some food, a cold beer, and live music!


Wednesday’s Weakness

New Bern, NC

Blues Is Back at City Stage

We get back to the blues on Wednesday, when Big Jim Kohler hosts another fun night of swapping blues chops with other players. Live music starts at 7 pm on stage at City Stage New Bern and the fun goes to 9 pm. All are welcome to jam with the blues master or just come to listen and dance along!


Open Mic at Carolina Wine Mixer

Open Mic Night at The Carolina Wine Mixer with Tiffany Elaine starts this week and will take place each Wednesday night. The fun starts at 7 pm, all are welcome to come out and join the fun with family and friends.


Thursday Thrillers

Captain Ratty’s Seafood & Steakhouse will be serving the sounds upstairs in the piano bar. Music is offered 6-9 pm and dinner is always delicious. At press-time it was unclear who would be playing this week.


Alisa Mike hosts a night of music each Thursday evening 7-9 pm at City Stage New Bern. She will wow you with standard jazz offerings and groove you with fun show tunes. The City Stage offers a pub-style menu and entertainment most night of the week. They are located at 901 B Pollock St. Doors open at 5 pm.


Strung Together will provide the entertainment on the deck this Thursday evening at Persimmons Restaurant. Music is offered from 7:30-9:30 pm. Come enjoy a great night with fine dining on the water and enjoy the show!


The Brown Pelican


Brian Mac of Third Degree Bern hosts the open mic night at The Brown Pelican each Thursday Night. Sign up starts at 7 pm and music starts at 8 pm and lasts until all of the jammers have jammed. This is the longest running open mic night in New Bern and it is always new and exciting!

I just want to note that, we are nearing the end of an era, as Brian Mac will be passing the mic to Charlie Duzan starting on Thursday, June 27, 2019. Be sure to come out this week or next to thank Brian for his hard work and dedication in growing this to be a fun and interesting weekly offering. In the history of this open mic, this past year has been the most successful and that is because it takes some organization and patience to make it all come together.


Newport, NC

Carolina Home and Garden


Old Smoke will be sharing songs in the garden at Carolina Home and Garden this Thursday evening. Music plays from 6:30 -9:30 pm and the food truck Earls Place will be on site serving food. Looking at Friday, they welcome Cecil Gillikin and Dem Boyz BBQ. There is a $5.00 music charge for all music gatherings. They serve cold beer, good wine, and free snacks.


Thank You for Reading!

Please go out and support live music tonight!  Please be sure to call the club in advance to confirm what you read here is true. Many times events change without anyone updating the changes publicly.

If you like this blog please sign up and get an email each time we publish.

I appreciate my readers, the musicians and the venues who all do a part in keeping live music alive! Give us a like and tell your friends about our mission by sharing this page on your social media pages.

Thanks to the many bands and clubs, thanks for keeping me informed!

When you walk out the door tonight, take kindness with you. Be sure to tip those that serve you and the music makers that rock you!

Hug people often and share the love. Make sure you take time to enjoy the dance. Please party safely sweet people! We love having you here with us! Rely on your sober friends, call a cab or sign up to Uber around town tonight!

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Keeping up with the Blogger


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Have a great week and enjoy the dance!

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