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This Music Business

Being a small business owner for more than a dozen years gives me good insight on the band business and the small business venue owner/operations, as well. As I see it; we are all small businesses looking to get ahead of our own personal goals that we set for ourselves. The backbone and beauty of this great country is our ability to exercise free enterprise.

Recently a fairly new restaurant owner reached out to me, about an incident he recently went through with a local band. The owner who is not new to the business, just the food service industry, was originally approached by the band representative and guitarist in person and a follow-up email was sent via Facebook messenger.

So that you get the full gist of the situation, I have included the messages here for your review as well. Please note how the script went from the band rep calling the club owner by the wrong first name when he wanted something to Mr. Repoza (also spelled wrong) when Nicky wasn’t so sure about the firmness of the agreement.


You will note the owner did not confirm or deny those arrangements until he sends this message which told me there was no agreement.

For whatever reason the band decided they were under full agreement and decides to take matters into its own hands.


In this series of conversation the owner of the venue expresses other concerns which the band blows off completely…all mind you five weeks before the date in question.

At the end of this text Repoza is the nice guy and said we can figure it out which I guess meant the band should call the town…I am not sure but here is what happened on April 5 still 31 days out from the performance date…

Clearly in this round of messages, we can see that no firm agreement is made yet or there would be no need to converse about details. Also noted was the fact that he went from asking the guy to call him, to demanding it be kept in writing. This portion of the so-called arrangement is why I was surprised the band walked away with a judgement in their favor.

This is where the club owner has had enough and says forget it, no agreement, good luck to you all. The band counters his dismissal of them with the that of court action.

After reading all of the messages I spoke with Nicky Rapoza and asked for his detailed side of the story. In the end, he felt the band was very pushy and opted not to hire them. He points out, this is not his first rodeo, he has hired many bands including national acts to play in his venues. Even when there is a full contract in place everyone has 30 days to back out of said agreement. This was never a full contractual agreement in his opinion as it clearly states, half way through the message a conversion is needed before an agreement is reached. Then if you notice a shift in tone and everything transpired and court was mentioned. Rapoza’s biggest hang up with the band was their need to clog up his dining room for 2.5 hours on the day of the show to set up their equipment.

In his defense, he offers a house PA and he owns a restaurant, not a nightclub as he has in the past. Every band he hires plays through the house PA he provides and it works out fine. His system is top of the line so I can’t imagine why it would not be good enough for this trio of players, but as mentioned above it wasn’t adequate as they needed their own equipment. Which also means they needed extra time the owner was not willing to offer, as he felt it might interfere with his dinner crowd.

Also in his defense, he has not yet been open a year. The weekend in question was a big deal throughout the community. It was during BBQ on the Neuse. When he was notified that the streets were being blocked off and the other club in the area was closing that evening, he contemplated having entertainment at all, but decided it would be someone else should he go that route.

After further research he did opt to hire the Feral Cats because they are a local band and it would make the most sense for the community event. In the end Rapoza has no regrets about his decision.

Following up, so as to get the band side of the story, I ran into Ravenz Bru last week at The Brown Pelican as you will see in the next segment and I spoke with guitarist to Dave Pryor about this issue.

On the band side, they thought the bar owner was being cheap and arrogant and wanted to make sure he stuck to the agreement. In the end, they took Mr. Rapoza to court and won the claim $300.00.

While gathering both sides of this story, I noted how Pryor called the club owner names and was very proud of his decision of holding him to his word. He went on to say, he knew for a fact that the bar had a band that day and it was one the club owner did not pay. “Some lame local band that he got for free. The guy doesn’t even stand up when he plays guitar.”

Just as soon as he said that, my thought was “Maybe the dude can’t stand up to do a show, maybe you should be glad you can.” But I never said a word. I also never even mentioned that I knew the lame band in question and I have been known to represent them. I also  walked away disheartened by this band for their actions. Which for the record is very rare. I am usually one to side with the band, after all let’s not forget the Advocate’s Corner is there for them and their issues on the scene.

After meeting with the band I asked the owner if he brought in a band for free for the event and he said, “No band plays for free in my venues. This was never about the money.  This was about them being pushy and me not wanting to do business with them.”

When I asked the band if they worried about the backlash of their actions, they made it clear they could do more damage to Mr. Rapoza’s business than he could do to the band. In fact, he went on to detail how he would go about sabotaging the man’s reputation. I had heard enough and had no further questions after hearing that.

 My job is to bring to light the situations that can take place out here on the scene. I am not in this to take sides, but rather report the facts so that bands know that they can hold bars accountable and for bands to recognize that when they do try to take out a venue, it is one place less for us all to play.

On both sides of the coin, all of this could have been handled in a much better way.

I personally have sent a similar message to a club owner that begins just like this one here…verifying facts, only for the club owner to not reply and then weeks later bail on the agreement. I never entertained court or wasting my time or risking my good name to go after $500 for a band that lived 600 miles away. I was simply relieved it did not happen when they were on the road. In dealing with it, I have opted to steer clear of that venue and warn other acts of my experience.  His venues are here in my town and host entertainment regularly, but it’s ever so rare for me to mention it here and I will never frequent any of his businesses again. Why spend my money in place I am clearly not welcome is what I walked away with from my experience, similar to this very one.

I figure it this way, I have nothing to gain by ruining him. If he conducts business like that then he will in the end do himself in and it would be more fun to watch it happen naturally then try to spawn the destruction myself. All of that energy will come back around on you. So in the end the message is clearly one for all to heed: Be careful how you treat people.


On The Scene With Tracey Stones


Last week I kicked off the weekend with a little Dan Jam Phillips, who was live at BrÜtopia, located at 1201 Highway 70 East. Tonight Dan Jam will be appearing live yet again this Friday in time for ARTWalk/ArtCRAWL. You can find him at The Brown Pelican located at 411 Broad Street.  All players are welcome to sit in with Dan tonight from 5-8 pm


For those who find themselves over in James City this evening, you can catch the grooves of Third Act, featuring Daryl Lucas and his bride Sarah. They will be live on site from 7-10 pm. They will be a food truck and lots of great beer to help you kick off the weekend.


Last week at The Brown Pelican I caught up with the band embroiled in the first article. Ravenz Bru was live at the Dirty Bird. Based out of New Bern this trio of players  offer a mix of pop and beach sounds for fans to groove and dance the night away. The band only keeps a few dates per year. They play on average about 25 shows a year. Their next appearance will be on June 16 when they appear live at Off The Hook, located in Morehead City, NC.





I caught a few awesome acts out on the patio last weekend. I was even responsible for arranging one of the shows. They offered us the sounds of Hot Buttered Grits on Friday, Davy Williamson on Saturday night and on Sunday just before sunset we enjoyed Tom Spellman and Friends to finish a fun weekend of memories made with music makers.

Tonight you can check out Silver Creek out of Pamlico County. They rocking acoustic act has been on hiatus since Julius Padilla has been recovering from an awful car accident that happened last year. When the venue needed a band to fill the bill, I reached out to the singer, Padilla who called on his guitar accompaniment, Brad Newman.  Catch the duo tonight from 8-11 pm. Tomorrow night they welcome Jake Potter a new name making his way onto the scene. He will also be live under the tent from 8-11 pm. On Sunday look for the ever so talented and fun Justin Castellano as he rocks the rest of the weekend away this Sunday from 5-8 pm.



With this being the second Friday of the month, of course that means the monthly ArtCRAWL/ARTwalk in New Bern, NC. This month we find Strung Together Band will be set up at The Isaac Taylor Garden on Craven Street. They will provide the music from 5-8 pm, while the artists paint and the crafters display their crafts for people to browse and purchase.

I have met awesome creators, painters, jewelry makers, authors and sculptors at this event and I have met many of them while touring about the Isaac Taylor Garden. If you find yourself in town tonight, be sure to stop and have a listen to the family outfit Strung Together, featuring the Oliver Family. A local tribe filled with talent and offering great attributes to our community through their involvement in music and with their support of our local theaters as well.



Big Jim Kohler and his bride Kathy will be performing live on Middle Street this evening. You can catch them in front of The Black Cat Shoppe belting out their blues from 5-8 pm. Following a couple of hours of playing music with her hubby, Kathleen Kohler will head over to The Rivertowne Players Theater to be a part of the performance of Table Manners. This show will amuse and entertain anyone fortunate to recall times spent with their siblings. Table Manners is a hilarious comedy in 2 acts by Alan Ayckbourn. Table Manners references life on Long Island, NY and surrounding areas. Table Manners opens June 9th and runs the 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, and 18th. Tickets are $13 in advanced and will also be available at the door.



The lovely and talented Alisa E. Mike also reached out to let me know that she would also be serenading folks on Middle Street. Look for her on the 300 block outside of Bank of The Arts. She will be belting out some jazz standards and offering up some famed show tunes to keep the crowds happy as they fill the streets for another full installment of ArtWalk/ArtCRAWL. Look for her to play from 5-8 pm.



There will be music tonight following AtrWalk Live at The City Laundry, located at 901 Pollock St., New Bern. It is there that you can find the return of BRB. BRB is a local band comprised of Patrick Bliss, Dora Bullock and Patrick Riddick. They play an acoustic mix of blues, pop music, rock, and country from Michael Jackson to NEEDTOBREATHE to the Dixie Chicks. The music is rhythmic and dance-worthy, and the vocal harmonies are exquisite. Show starts at 8 pm and there is an $8.00 cover at the door.



Last week I ran into this hard-working cat all over the place. Besides being an extraordinarily talented player on our local music scene, James Ford is also a business owner in our community and does a fine job fixing phones and computers from his shop on Trent Road, Bear Town Repair. When he is not working hard on making things work properly, he stays busy working out the grooves on guitar for his own project and on bass when he joins Jim Kohler for a session of blues. I found him last week as he was giving it up to folks for dinner at MaMa Callie’s in James City and just as soon as he packed up his equipment he was on the road and heading to Kinston, NC  to join Big Jim on stage at the Red Room.

This weekend you can catch Ford doing his solo thing tonight in town at The Thirsty Bruin, located at 224 Middle St., New Bern, NC. Where he will be offering up the sounds from 8-10:30 pm. Tomorrow night you can catch him on stage with his bass in hand backing up Big Jim Kohler Blues Band, who will be live at Southern Salt Seafood Restaurant, located on the water in Morehead City. Music starts at 9 pm and plays til 1 am.


Last week I also checked in with Adam Hill of course. He rocked things with his band last weekend at AJ McMurphy’s in Greenville, NC, when I caught up with them. Tonight you can check out Adam Hill solo and unplugged as he plays an acoustic show for the folks lucky enough to be in earshot at The Flying Shamrock, located at 115 N John St., Goldsboro, NC. He plays from 9-12 and he will rock your soul and fill it with inspiration too. Hopefully there will be big news on the horizon for the band tomorrow. They will be hitting the road in the morning and heading out to Winston-Salem to take part in a battle of the bands competition. Let’s all wish my guys the best of luck, as they put a hurting on the people in attendance for the event being held at Ted’s Chicken Shack. To keep up to date with Adam Hill and his adventures, be sure to check out his website:

Adam Hill Music


Live tonight at North Street Pub & Eatery it is the rocking blues outfit known as The Feral Cats. This four piece band from Kinston is unique and plenty talented. They also happen to play my favorite kind of music. So if you have an itch for some B.B. King, Albert Collins, Jimmy Reed or Buddy Guy, this is the band to see tonight. They will be live from 9 pm til 1 am. NSP&E is located at 115 W North Street, Kinston, NC.



Speaking of good blues in Kinston, we have some options tonight kids. Live tonight at The Red Room, located at 220 N Herritage St. You can catch my good friends Built For Comfort, who also offer a good dose of blues music for the soul to keep. The thing I like best about these boys is how they take the traditional standards and make them their own. It is always refreshing and fun to groove along with these guys. They will rock you from 10 pm til 2 am and the cover at the door is $5.00 so please come out and support live music.




Having a look around some other regions I heard from Bob Laverty this week. His band The Yacht Dawgs will be live tonight at The Red Rooster, located behind Silo’s Restaurant which is found at 1111 Broad Street, Oriental, NC. Bob will be rocking the tunes on the small stage from 7-10 and you are welcome to come down to be a part of the fun.


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The boys in Steel County Express will be busy this evening hopping and bopping around the state. Their first stop tonight will be in Jacksonville for a community concert tonight at Riverwalk Crossing, located at 421 Court St, Jacksonville, NC. They will be live from 6-8 pm for that appearance. Then they load up and head over to The E Club, located at 8102 Emerald Dr., Emerald Isle, NC. They take the stage there at 10 pm and rock til 2 am. This band offers a great modern mix of country favorites, with a few familiar pop tunes added in for good measure. Their guitar man Jayke Steel is the Featured Artist for June on the Facebook page Guitar Resources. I encourage you to check him and his band out somewhere tonight!

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The Link for Live Music Options Happening throughout NC

If you have Facebook you can search the many music events happening throughout the state by clicking on:

Happy Dancing


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That is all my news and music that I found for your dancing pleasure. I hope you get out and enjoy the sounds of live music sometime soon. I am dedicated to making sure you know where to go to find it. 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! Thanks for keeping me informed!

Please take kindness with you today and hug strangers. Don’t forget that life is short and could end in a moment, so make sure you take time to enjoy the dance.

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Send all of your event invites to me on Facebook, so I know where you are playing in the days ahead. I can be found on Facebook by following this link:

I also read emails daily. You can send those to:

Please include the day, the date, the time of the event, the time of your scheduled performance, what time doors open and the price of tickets. Pictures are also helpful. I share links to band websites, so send those along as well. Thanks so much for taking the time to fill me in on the details, together we will reach the people!




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