My weekend started downtown at The Brown Pelican, 411 Broad St., New Bern where I caught some of Dan Phillips hosting “Dan Jam.” After a full set of songs by Phillips with his cohorts, Al Gleeson and Scott Carlisle, he welcomed friends to the stage. Here is a clip of the first three players Vincent Farro, Ann DiFrancesco and Tracey Brenneman doing their take on Crosby, Stills and Nash song Helplessly Hoping:
Next stop was Bear Town Market located at 402 South Front Street, New Bern, NC. It was there that we took in a few classic rock and an awesome blues take of Jonny Lang’s Lie To Me courtesy of Bruce Lynch, who, by the way, truly inspires me everytime I see him. He is definitely one of talented players offered by our little city by the rivers.
Bopping around the Bern, my personal assistant and dear friend Crystal Odham and I then walked up Middle Street and strolled into The Thirsty Bruin where we caught the grooves of Brian Burke. I did not get word on who was playing here in time to get word out so I wanted to take a few minutes to check out this regional stringer from Greenville, NC. Our time there was enjoyable to say the least. To keep up with his dates you can friend him on Facebook or check out his page on ReverbNation.
Our final stop in the downtown was at Trent River Coffee Company located at 208 Craven St., where we caught the last couple selections from songwriters and performers, Simon Spalding and Dale Evans Swan. How wonderful to watch two brilliant musicians resort back to the true roots of modern folk and blues music by closing out the night with a Leadbelly number. What a great time we picked to catch this duo.
Our final stop for the night was just over the bridge in James City where we caught a reincarnated band called Cuzin’s. This rhythmic trio featuring Les Wetherington on guitar, Mark Shelton on guitar and both accompanying Cynthia Manning on vocals, once jammed as a quartet with ace country picker, band originator Pete Huttlinger, also in the formation.
After his untimely death his former bandmates reunited and have been playing in his honor. This was their debut back on stage on the New Bern scene and it was a great way to end a long work week. They had the crowd grooving well into the early morning hours with their great harmonies and good guitar works. The songs were moving and fun.
On Saturday afternoon I headed out to the deck and caught Big Jim Kohler and his bride of 16 happy years, Kathy. They have been together longer, but 16 years have been happy! I think that is more than most…and it’s probably because he married a girl that sings like an angel who complements his playing like no other soul out there. Nothing seemed better than an afternoon on the deck with fans young and old, enjoying the blues. Big Jim had toddlers dancing and the adults grooving too! It was a nice site and the music is always amazing. Right soon after I got there he played some Stevie Ray Vaughan for my broken heart, still not healed from his loss 26 years ago last Saturday! It always helps to heal the soul with music!
After the clouds rolled in on the deck, I took my big camera back to the car and ran a couple errands before heading over to The Brown Pelican to check in with Rick Huff who was to be there with his daughter sweet, Jenna Huff. I was a little amiss when I walked in to find Huff jamming with Dan Phillips. It turned out Jenna was home sick, but the show went on and the early crowd was digging the groove.
We decided on Annabelle’s to grab a bite to eat so to spend a little time with James Ford playing for the people on the patio. Ford is a lot of fun, because his music selections range far and wide across so many genres. This is one stringer who will have your singing “Forget You ” one minute and then jamming to the Jeffersons theme song in the next. Nothing is off limits. Want a show tune? He will play that! Want some rap? He knows a few. Want funk? He delivers it fresh! Ford will be throwing down this weekend at The Brown Pelican, in celebration of his birthday! Come on out, enjoy his grooves and buy him a birthday drink!
After dinner at the mall we headed over the bridge made a quick stop in James City to catch another listen of Big Jim playing and Kathy Kohler belting their blues like they do so well. We only had time to stay for a couple of songs as I was out on the town with the second act due on stage at The Brown Pelican. We walked in on an original and walked out on an old standard! Just like a great blues gig ought to be!
Several weeks back, owner of The Brown Pelican, Heather Haiss asked me who I would recommend in the way of entertainment. She wanted someone new and fresh. It was about two weeks before that when I caught this singer/songwriter out of Richlands, down in Beaufort, NC at The Cru Bar.
Hank Barbee is refreshing, original and a talented player. He has mastered the guitar and is skilled in the creative process of songwriting. Beyond that he is a quality entertainer that reaches his audience. He mixes his sets with familiar classics but not in any familiar fashion and he pulls it off wonderfully. Like for instance check out this Lynyrd Skynyrd’ s “They Call Me The Breeze:”
Barbee stays busy touring throughout the year. He released his debut efforts; a solo self titled work and Belle Vici in 2013 after weathering through a few bitter and life changing experiences; including the loss of a close friend and music cohort in 2007. After which, Barbee fell deep into drinking. When he sobered up in 2008, he tried leaving music behind. Following a divorce and some time after a while Barbee turned back to music and has not looked back. Quite an inspiring testament to his strength and healthy commitment to self when considering his many offices.
The follow up Son Royale was recorded last year which means we should be hearing his next release before long. Barbee explains “Son Royale, it means royal sound in French basically and when you hear the first song called ‘Let It Breathe,’ you will understand royal sound. It’s as if you can stick your hands in there and touch the music.”
I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to try. To keep up with all his news and music and to check out his guitar string jewelry made by his creative and supportive mother check out his web site. He sells his discs and her art wares at each show too, so be sure to check him out soon.
Drummer Don Stewart has invited me out several times to a couple of different projects that he is involved with, and on Sunday I made it down to The DoubleTree by Hilton on South Front Street to check out Jill & The Authentics. The crowd had a great time inside at Christoff’s on the Water. Although it was supposed to be set up outside, due to the weather, the gig went on indoors. This is a fun band that covers everything from oldies to popular beach music, country and blues and even jazz standards.
It was fun listening to the skill and talent at the front of the room. On guitar was the star of this installation of NCMZ.LIVE, Hank Barbee. On drums as mentioned, the master himself, Don Stewart. Blowing the horn and showing us how it is done was Bob Tyson. On keyboards was Chuck Eatmon and in the corner and hard to photographer was storyteller and conga/percussion man Buck Brossman. Leading the charge and singing like it is her business was the band’s namesake Jill Williamson.
They kept the crowd shagging and moving the whole time I was in the house. Nothing makes my heart happier than to see people enjoy the dance.
Well, that is a wrap on all of the live music I found around town this weekend. I have some Tuesday Teasers in store for you tomorrow, and more. Send me your dates if you’d like to be in the Zone. Thanks for reading. Email me today at email@example.com