Music and Festivals, Plus We Go Behind the Scenes with Sound Hut Productions and the Live Music Calendar

Scenes From The 42nd Annual Croaker Festival in Oriental, NC

Starting things off in Oriental, NC, last weekend, I made it to day two of the Croaker Festival. Did you know that for more than four decades, the lil harbor town nestled along the Pamlico Sound, “down in the county,” has hosted this event the first weekend in July? That makes it a town tradition.

When I arrived to town, Big Jim Kohler Blues Band was on the Main Stage offering a mid-day music treat for those under the shade of the tent during the second and final day of the 42nd Annual Croaker Festival on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

This annual festival is one of several events that drive people into the harbor town each year. Most of the events held there feature masts and/or music. It’s a fishing town, so boats are a big deal. One of the main features of the Croaker Fest is the music. There is music from late Friday and until the close of Saturday during the festival hours. They make a big deal of local acts and treat them like the true celebrities that they are.

Well-organized town events, that last for generations, are important to the growth of communities throughout the land. Often when I talk to bands and interview musicians, the first big step for many was a local town festival/stage.

One year they are performing on The Croaker Festival stage and then the next one they are on the stage at a regional awards show, gaining more recognition. It happens often, which is why these town functions are important to all things local. As for that lil ol band on the big stage, everyone that’s under the tent now becomes a part of that band’s story. They will be telling tales of the local band that did good, for years, once they hear that the artist on the local radio. Local events and word of mouth are always major stepping stones to growth. That is true in every business model, whether it be managing a band or a town event.

Cooper Greer was the featured artist for this year’s Croaker Festival. Based out of Greenville, NC this band is making a good name for themselves on the regional country music scene.

Along with great music, there are fun food selections and craft vendors that set up shops to sell their goods and services. The boost in tourism is also great for the town’s local businesses. For instance, The New Village Brewery celebrated its 5th Year Anniversary on Thursday, June 30; just before the start of the Croaker Festival, and carried that vibe into the festive holiday weekend. They were pouring fresh beer, with a food truck on site and serving up the live music in their beer garden.

When the local businesses take part in these events, it offers more opportunities for the visitors, to sample local music makers and vendors throughout the town. The other place I stopped for music was The Oriental Marina & Inn. That is where the crowd gathers for the fireworks, and before the darkness set in, local rockers, Southern Hellcats were grooving under the tent at the tiki bar.

Closing out the final night of festivities with fireworks.

Shining a Spotlight on Music

Southern Hellcats Rev Up The Crowd For Fireworks

Highlighting the four bands that I saw at the festival on Saturday, I suppose we can walk it backward from here since the last band was the only band I had not seen. I actually caught one song when they played in New Bern after they first got together, but was not blogging at the time and have no evidence, so here it is…

Southern Hellcats have an interesting back story. They came about a couple years ago, I’d say theirs is a story of God’s good timing and as a result of Covid. Guitarist and singer, Chris Daniels, owner of The Silo’s Restaurant on Broad St. in Oriental was the guitarist for Saltwater Gold, for decades before Covid-19 came along. Both he and the drummer of that band and now this one, Mike Ferrara, opted to keep going and about the same time, Ferrara ran into long lost musical brother, Phillip Alcock, a Lenoir County native. It wasn’t long after that the Southern Hellcats formed. That trio of players actually have a history of working together in the past, with a project that, shall we say, did not fly, but cost them all. After hearing the story, I walked away thinking, this is the pay back project for these three. I feel it will be a fun project that will also be lucrative for them all.

Tieing the back beat and strings all together is the incredible Connor Daniels on sax. Basically, the rockabilly quartet consists of three seasoned players and a prodigy on sax who is learning how to season the sounds as they groove.

The younger Daniels is of no relation to the elder Daniels, but the two share a musical kinship. Much thanks for that goes to the weekly open mic nights happening each Wednesday at The Silos Restaurant. Connor told me that those nights are near and dear to his heart because you never know who is going to walk in. He considers it a weekly mini Woodstock. The players have always been super supportive of this young man, who now splits his time playing with the pros, and still placing first with his high school band in competitions and festivals. In fact, when I asked Daniels about his musical highlights, he said, “My musical highlights have definitely been placing first chair in the eastern region on tenor sax, both in classical and jazz bands.”

As for the band, they came together during the mid-Covid era and have really soared in the last year. Keeping busy around the region, they are available to rock your crowd on weekends too. They definitely know how to keep the people moving on the dance floor. They play all the fun songs from rock n roll beginning days to when it got bland, so basically covering classics from the 50s through the 80s. To learn more and inquire about availability click on ktheir website Southern Hellcats.

For friends and fans looking to dance to the music, the band heads to Swansboro, NC tonight to rock socks at The Willy-Nilly Warehouse from 7-10 pm. Next weekend they will be performing at the Fort Macon Summer Concert Series in Atlantic Beach. I caught up with them last night at Tonic Parlor on Middle St. in New Bern. They return there early next month on Thursday, August 4, 2022 for a 7-10 pm show.


Cooper Greer Closed Things Out On The Main Stage Saturday Evening

I love watching young talent grow strong with time and experience. Case in point, Cooper Greer Music. If you haven’t heard his name or music yet, seek him out. This talented young singer was born in the Ozarks, MO, but raised around these parts. He has music running through his viens. When it first caught his attention, he was really into rock, but to catch the band live, you will note his country croonings. This tells me that he is a smart music man. The two leading music trends are hip-hop and counrty music. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the voice and song structures to make a name for himself on the country music map.

Joining Greer on stage last week, on keys, the music mastery of Justin Sokoloski, his main man on guitar, Greg Franklin, on bass was the talented Wes Kyatt and on drums, Milton Long offering backing vocals and the beats. They sounded tight and kept the crowd right in tune with their grooves.

The first time I met Greer was when he graced the stage of Blackbeard’s Triple Play Restaurant on S. Front St in downtown New Bern, NC about two years ago. Since then, all of the covid restrictions have lifted and the band has been keeping busy around the state. Greer manages his own affairs and has released music for fans since we first met. He keeps the band busy around the state. This weekend the boys will be rocking folks on Ocracoke Island tonight and tomorrow at The Breeze.


A Dusty Trio Bring the Grooves to the Garden at The New Village Brewery

Croaker Festival 2016 Oriental, NC

The first time I visited the Croacker Festival, was a few months after I started publishing this blog site, seven years ago. Back then, things were contained to the waterways around town. Nothing was happening on the way to the festival. This year, however, there was more to love with the addition of The New Village Brewery & Taproom taking root five years ago. The owners Frank and Lili Bacon hosted live music and food trucks throughout the weekend. Offering the jazzy swing sounds on Saturday afternoon was The Dusty Trio. The Dust Parade project can offer any number of players that the gig affords. I have seen them play as a duo and as a five-piece, complete with keyboards.

The Dusty Trio l t r James Durham, band teacher and sax instructor of Connor Daniels at Pamlico County Schools Band. Hank Barbee creator of the Dust Parade, collecting talent along the way and offering inspirational music sounds every where they go. On bass and in the forefront, Matt Henderson who makes it look like he walks to every gig. This young man was just out of high school when he joined the stage and has been a professional ever since.

After talking about band leader Hank Barbee two weeks ago here and his band, The Dust Parade last week, readers learned of the band’s whereabouts, like my neighbor, John, who reached out, thanked me for the info, and got to work on gathering a group of music lovers to meet at the garden to support the band. This is exactly why I like doing this blog.

If you missed their show, here is “Good Day.” by the Dusty Trio, offered on my YouTube Channel. I am trying to build that site and the subscribers so join the fun while you are there by hitting Subscribe.

This week Barbee is flying solo along the Crystal Coast this weekend. Catch him tonight at Salty Bee in Cedar Point with music starting at 6 pm or tomorrow night the singer will perform in Atlantic Beach at Oceana Pier House and Restaurant from 6-9 pm. Look for the band next weekend on stage at Cru Bar & Wine Store in Beaufort, NC on Saturday, July 16, 2022.


Big Jim Kohler Blues Is A Mid Day Delight

The first band I caught last weekend is no stranger to this blog, and definitely part of the reason I started writing it in fact. Feeling a close affection for the blues, life got better for me in New Bern not long after meeting Big Jim Kohler and his blues band. That takes us all back nearly a decade now. I met the blues maker in March of 2013 in Swansboro where he was playing with bass player Mike Sandvig. Since then I have enjoyed getting to know many players through knowing the Kohlers.

One thing that cannot be denied is the power of a local blues queen. Singer Kathleen Kohler is always a show stopper when she sings with her husband. She not only wowed me but just about took down the tent with her show-stopping, breathtaking blues delivery.

Big Jim keeps busy playing around the region, offering authentic blues music rarely found around these parts. Playing behind him is a drummer familiar to this page, as we met Mike Ferrara above behind the kit keeping time for the Southern Hellcats. On bass, Kohler joins forces with Chris Buttitta who joined the band five years ago. Buttitta also has another band project. He often joins friends in The Hot Buttered Grits to deliver jams to fans.

For friends and fans of the band, you can find them at The Trailer Bar in Surf City tonight. Music is offered 7-10 pm. Tomorrow Big Jim and Kathy will be playing at their neighborhood restaurant, The Saltwater Grill in River Bend from 7-10 pm. On Sunday the duo heads to the Angry Ginger in Jacksonville to share music from 2-5 pm.


Ready Set Sound!

Back Stage and Behind The Scenes With Sound Hut Productions

Sounding good is a key component to one’s success in the music business. Often, that piece of the puzzle is taken out of the band’s hands. Given that component, I decided to take a look at my friends behind the scenes. Sound engineers are not often talked about, but they should not be overlooked or taken for granted.

Having a good production company can make or break an event. Though having the right equipment to pull off a show is important, it is most essential to have the skill and experience behind the board too. Recently, I spent some time talking to the skilled production team at Sound Hut Productions.

They are based right here in New Bern and are happy to work anywhere in the state. They have set up sound for small events and offered production on major events. Below is the father and son team tackle sound at Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern, NC for the Fundraiser, BBQ & Blue, January 2020.

When I sat down with Chris Sandvig, he was at the controls of the board, under the tent at The 42nd Annual Croaker Festival. He grew up around music most of his existence with being reared by a father that has worked in bands for most of his life. Mike Sandvig has played bass for more than a fair share of bands along the way. Currently the bass man is seeking a new band opportunity, but he is keeping busy with his production company.

The younger Sandvig on the other hand said he never had the patience to learn how to play an instrument, but when his father noted his interest in sound, he invested in his son and supported his passion for the sound trade. He started working behind the board when he was 18 years old. Now a decade and a half later, Sandvig says he learns something from every show they do. Even if the show goes sideways, he learns important lessons for future outings.

Helping the Sandvig’s last weekend was the sound engineer for Soul Psychadelic, Kelly Mon. He made the trip from Raliegh to help his long-time friends behind the board. Chris Sandvig said he is always grateful for the input Mon offers and says he saved the day for Sandvig.

There truly is a lot that goes into setting up such events. Generally, they are long work days, often with weather conditions to consider. There is the load in before anyone arrives and the setting of the stage. Then there is the transition between bands that needs to be considered. It is important to call on a company that assists in making these transitions smooth while making the bands sound the best they can. As for the guys at Sound Hut Productions, that is always the goal when they set out with their trailer and gear. Wrapping up makes the days longer, but when the bands are happy it’s worth the effort it takes.

Sound Hut Productions is the company that all local bands should acquaint themselves with. They have affordable studio space for band rehearsal and the equipment you need to make your band sound over the top when in the field. If you are organizing a town event or concert series, consider this duo for your sound needs. Opening a club that will support live music, incorporate sound, by hiring them to hook up the venue right. If you are ready to take your band, venue or town project to the next level contact Mike Sandvig today…

252-259-7337.


Tomorrow We Travel To Swansboro, NC for a Double Bill at SwanFest

Swansboro, NC is a fun little town that supports the arts in a big way. Tomorrow we go to SwanFest and listen to Captain Dick & The Lost Seamen followed by a rocking close-out with Pegasus Plus Reunion Show.

Until then check out the live music calendar and take a break tonight and support live music in your area!


Let’s Look For Live Music Live Music Calendar

Click on the link to view the LIVE MUSIC CALENDAR

Thanks for reading. Please support live music and share this blog with your friends. Tips are never expected but always appreciated. Thank you.

Tips appreciated!
One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

###

Boogie Nights in the Down East

The Building of A Band ~ The Dust Parade

NCMZ.LIVE FILE PHOTO: Hank Barbee live at Cru Bar, Beaufort, NC July, 2017

Back when I was months into the commitment of creating a music blog, I wandered to the coast and ended up at Cru Bar in Beaufort, NC, where Hank Barbee was performing solo. He was a long, tall, solo stringer with a voice that captivated anyone within ear shot of the coffee and wine bar.

It was the Summer of 2017. Hank was in the company of his beautiful girlfriend, Holly, who is now his wife. (The lovely couple married in the Fall of 2019.)

When we met, we were both in search of our creative selves. Thanks to the kindness he extended my way, I stretched out on my blog dreams; as I set out to help artists like Barbee. Back then, he was a solo act, with the hopes of piecing together a band. Which, as the weeks and months unfolded, we got to watch as the pieces fell in place right here. Or so it seemed … this is the music business, after all; so hiccups are expected.

After catching his first show, I spoke with Heather Haiss, owner of the Brown Pelican and asked her for a date for Barbee. She obliged my request and the following month, I booked my first out of town act, in town at The Brown Pelican. It was the first of many out of towners that I would bring, but Barbee remains a town favorite.

Back when we met, he had a debut, self- titled, solo album that was on the market for about three years. He was hard at work on releasing his second solo effort, Son Royale which would be released the following year. It was during the promotional tour for that release that Barbee started the process of building his band.

First came the bass player with the addition of Matthew Henderson. Not long after they were gelling, he started forming a groove with a saxophone which made room for the addition of Jim Durham. And then came the long, four year search for the beat master.

I know Barbee and his story pretty well, so, if I had to go out on a limb, I would bring you back to the days when a young Hank Barbee was breaking into music with, friend, Chet Miller who played drums. Barbee is so familiar with Miller’s beat that it’s his home, where his heart is. Drums are important to band unity, so it’s a hard position to fill than most realize.

When Barbee tours the southern states, he calls in his music brother from another mother and Miller answers the call. Miller makes his home in Florida which is where the two roamed in their younger days.

In what seems like another life, Barbee was a band leader for a band based in Atlanta. When life got crazy, Barbee took a step back, returned to his roots, got back in touch with his true self, approached things with a sober mind and made his way back to music via a Carolina road. Working with and for family, Barbee kept music in the side pocket. Once things settled down and his creative juices refreshed, he sought out solo gigs and before long another band to lead.

Once he secured two players on the regular, Henderson and Durham; Barbee turned his back on his own name and put The Dust Parade out front on all the works going forward. He removed his name from shirts and made his band the featured product of his website!

Barbee put a lot of work in looking for the right players to fit the name he already had. The Dust Parade now has three solid players backing Barbee on guitar and vocals. Completing, the search about a year ago, The Dust Parade now features Xavier Roberson sitting behind the kit.

Since forming the trio, Barbee has been busy writing more songs from his heart. I have to say, some of his best works are coming. Many of my favorite songs from this band have yet to be released. Coming up in the weeks ahead, I am going to sit down with Barbee for a more in depth talk about the band, their direction and a new recording.

The Best Way by The Dust Parade

For those looking to find The Dust Parade music, The Dusty Trio is playing tomorrow night and you can read more on that gig below in the New Hanover County region of the run down. To keep up with the band, buy some merch, listen to their music and know when they are coming your way visit The Dust Parade.


Thursday was Steak Night with Music so Right

Tommy Duzan was the dinner music delight for the diners at Harbour Pointe Bar and Grille on Thursday evening.

This fine young stringer is the voice behind Toyota of New Bern’s commercial. He is also a familiar face on our local music scene. Rocking since a young age, Duzan takes his music influence from his father, Charlie Duzan.

The elder Duzan, in fact, was on hand last week, and got up on Thursday evening to keep the music going during Tommy’s breaks.

NCMZ.LIVE file photo: Tommy and Charlie Duzan rocking for volunteers at Tri Community Fire Station. November 2018

The first time I hired the Duzan’s they played together for a group of volunteers that gather to help those effected by Florence a few years ago.


Friday Night To The North

Ribeyes for Music and Dinner

On Friday evening I welcomed the weekend with a fine dinner and music thanks to Ribeyes of Washington. They have a wonderful menu featuring fine cuts and fresh seafood. I went with a small filet and lobster tail with a salad. The salad comes with a menu for people to fill out so that it can be made to order. The greens were fresh and topping crisp! It was a great meal.

One of the big reasons I like this place, has little to do with the good food they serve. Rather, it’s the music they promote. I truly appreciate a restaurant owner, like Justin Pate, who makes room for music in his establishment.

With regard to the music, I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Jamie Pridgen and Billy Craig, a duo of country crooners that had not played together since October of last year.

During a break I had a few minutes to chat with Pridgen, who told me that 2020 was the worst year he has known as an entertainer. He barely played 50 shows last year. In 2019 he and his band played more than 220 shows. Needless to say the virus has hurt our local music makers terribly.

This Friday Pridgen turns 26 and is hoping the year ahead is a better one. It was via a chat message that I learned Pridgen has been performing most of his life.

He told me “ I started playing music when I was 2. My grandad had a classic country band and he would hold me up to the microphone to sing Keith Whitley and other various artists. My first paid show was around 14.”

I asked Pridgen about his influences to which he replied “My biggest influences are George Strait, Merle Haggard, Luke Bryan, and Dierks Bentley. I’m all over the place on influencers.”

Personally I love how he embraces old and new acts, it’s reflective in his music stylings also. One of my final questions to Pridgen, was about the road ahead and how venues can reach him.

He said, “I’m hoping the road ahead will get back busy as it normally used to be. For bookings, I can be reached at (252)-567-5390 or by email at jamiepridgenmusic@gmail.com.”

During the pandemic the singer songwriter kept busy creating and wrote about 8 songs which are studio ready. He is hoping that as things return to normal he can get into the studio this Spring.

As for his partner that night, Billy Craig is a part of the Eli Craig entourage and like most players, he has been trying to keep busy with whatever shows come along. Along for the ride on the night I met him was his young daughter Gracie Craig who joined the duo on vocals.

I reached out to Craig on messenger to learn more about his career but at press time the message still remains unanswered. What I can tell you is you can catch Craig back at Ribeyes of Washington this Saturday. He will be performing with his brother Eli and special guest Cooper Greer who just released a new single this week. More details on that show are below in the weekend rundown.


Captain Cooks and Country Music

One of the reasons I do what I do is to help artist connect to venues hiring for music. So when I reached out to Captain Cooks, last week to find out who was performing, owner, Todd Rodzen, told me he was working on it. To which I replied by sending him the phone number of Tan Sanders.

I had just seen Sanders in New Bern the week before so he was fresh in my mind. A few minutes later Rodzen reached out to say Tan Sanders was playing on Friday!

When we walked in on Friday, Sanders was on break and Duane Haddock was working the mic and playing Sanders’ six string. Haddock was in attendance at the show and asked to play a song or two for his wife, who was celebrating a birthday last Friday evening. He has an amazing voice and was an unexpected treat on the night.

Following a few selections by Haddock, Sanders was back on the mic and his good buddy, Warren Davis was wrapping the beats. Davis is a part of Sander’s trio. That is a project separate and apart from his band The Derelicts.

NCMZ.LIVE file photo: Tan Sanders sharing songs at The Brown Pelican in 2018.

Much like many skilled players, Sanders offers venues a variety of price variants, by offering solo performances, duo, trio and full band options. Sanders plays a variety of music, most with a country edge, but I happen to like the original music he shares the best.

That’s Okay by Tan Sanders

For those looking to hire a talented act for a supper show, this one sings. Tan Sanders is available to bring the music, just give him a call at (919) 922-7890.


Night Cap With Nannette and CC

For the finale on Friday we stopped by Parley’s Sip & Steam to catch the final few songs from CC and Nanette. These two girls were working the enthusiastic crowd when we arrived. The duo offers a huge variety of songs for all occasions.

During the week, I reached out to both ladies to ask some questions and Nanette Garrett first replied to my many inquiries. This lady is a lifer with nearly four decades of rock stories under her belt.


In her response Garrett told me, “I’ve been performing live in rock bands for almost 4 decades. I come from a large family of singers and musicians on my late mother’s side. She could play and sing anything by ear. I started singing in church at 4 with her playing piano. I have always loved to sing. It’s just been a natural part of me like breathing. I learned how to play a little piano around 6,7 then drums 10/11 and got into Kiss and a little guitar, 12 and then I got into Heart and Fleetwood Mac. Ann Wilson became my biggest influence. I still love Heart. I also love Stevie Nicks.
I didn’t have anyone around where I grew up that played music. When I was 17, I found my first poster of a band looking for a singer. so I auditioned and I got the job.
That was my first rock band and after a couple of high school gigs and various members and name changes we started playing in bars when I was 18.
From 18 until I was 22, I played around eastern NC mostly in small clubs and parties. Then I joined a road band that played covers and originals all over 6 different states in the southeast us.
After playing with them for almost 2 years, the singer/keyboardist and future husband JC Stephenson and I decided to form our own band, Snakes-N-Angels and write and record our music. We recorded 2 CDs which are available on most digital platforms.
We played shows off and on during the 90’s in NC, NYC and Los Angeles, while raising our daughter. But as life throws you curveballs, he developed skin cancer.
He passed away in 2002. After JC, passed one of my guitarists from the old days came into my life. I saw yet another poster with his contact info looking for a bass player. Forgot to say earlier I started bass at 21, when we couldn’t find a bassist.
Anyway, needless to say William Garrett and I hit it off professionally and personally. We started working on covers and originals and he joined Snakes-N-Angels and after we got married, we decided to call our band Garrett.
We’ve played in Atlanta and NYC and eastern NC. We have several singles released and have been getting a lot of airplay all over the world in many countries since 2005. We’ve been in some TOP 10 countdowns on some independent radio stations.
We’re continuing to write and record our songs. Garrett hasnt done any live playing since last Valentine’s 2020.
We may start back later on this year.”

In 2018-19 Garrett was nominated for NC’s rock vocalist of the year. She said it was a huge honor to be recognized. For rock fans seeking her music follow this link Garrett.

Garrett spends her time these days working in a couple different duets, which she explained, “I met my first duo partner, Laura Davis at the recording studio where we worked. I knew from the first time I heard her play guitar that we were gonna be involved with her at some point.
I started booking her a few solo shows and came up and sang a few. Then we’d start exchanging ideas on songs we both liked. She’s a big Heart fan as well and we play about 5 Heart songs. We never practice, just discuss songs and go over them at soundcheck.”

“My second duo partner, Conoley Blake and I live near each other and I’ve sang with her at many open mics and harmonize with her at shows with Laura. We decided to put a show together that has a wide variety of genres throughout the decades. We play with backing tracks and me on cajon and her on piano. We both love Stevie Nicks and play 8 of her songs.” They also play a large variety of other songs that span many genres and cover half a century of music history in one show

The rocker stays busy promoting and booking gigs
through her booking company, River City Rockin’ Blues. For those looking for a dinner time duet call Garrett at (252) 944-1099.

As for upcoming shows Garrett informed me, “Conoley and I will be back at Parley’s Sip and Steam on Friday, Feb. 26 from 6-9 pm and Laura Davis and I will be there on Sunday, Feb. 28 from 12-3 pm.”


Saturday Night to The East

Birthday Bash at BrÜtopia, New Bern

In case I needed proof that time flies, here it is! Hard to believe it was about six years ago that I was attending the Entrepreneurial Academy at Craven Community College in the hopes of building a media promotions business, that I would meet Tim Dryden. About the third week in we would work together on a group build and during that excercise I saw the first glance of what would become BrÜtopia in James City.

Now five years in existence, the small brewery and beer shop celebrated the milestone with Joe Baes Project working the room and sweet treats and hot dogs were being served up in the parking lot! On tap was a celebratory beer, the Milkshake IPA was made for such an occasion.

He and his business partner, Bryan Conway have worked hard to bring fresh brewed beer and supplies to local residents. They are very involved in community events and even share their passion for brewing beer by offering the first brew class at the college. I had a chance to talk to Dryden on Saturday evening, when I stopped in to wish them well. I know the partners recently opened a second location which has been a bear on their backs.

Much of the reason for that is Covid related as well as location. They now have a second store on Highway 70 in the huge shopping plaza behind cook out. They were hoping to open a new location late last Spring, but given the conditions, delays from shut downs and then town policy playing its part, BrÜtopia Havelock finally opened their doors during the holiday season last year. The new location is open Monday – Friday 5-9 pm and noon til 9 pm on Saturdays. Stop by the new location the next time you drive through and show some love.


Sweet Sounds from Swansboro

Following our well-wishing visit to BrÜtopia, Jaymi Mitchell and I drove to the coast to find out who else was playing. For our first stop we found Justin Castellano tapping out tunes at Willy Nilly Warehouse in Swansboro. It’s always a pleasure to listen to this masterful guitarist share his sounds. While in attendance, I met a fe of my Facebook followers, including sweet support Zach Miller and local music promoter and Swan Fest coordinator, Rich Wells.

While visiting the gift shop that serves a variety of beer and wine; I spoke with the owner, Jack Harnatkiewicz, who was tending to details behind the bar. Turns out he and his wife Deb own the establishment upstairs, Bake Bottle and Brew, another fun gift shop that supports live music. When the place downstairs became available the business owners pounced and opened the doors of Willy Nilly Warehouse just a few months ago. Deb Harnatkiewicz manages the music bookings and promotions.

Castellano is as amazing as ever. He has stayed busy making music during these pandemic days on line. Though not as busy as before the pandemic, Castellano is still booking shows for the 2021 music season. As he awaits word on new shows he passes his time productively by offering fans a taste of his music on line with a morning offering of weekly Coffee Jams segments on Facebook. With regard to playing, keeps busy performing live shows along the coast mostly but travels near and far too. Castellano’s style is something to behold as it sets him apart from most players in our area.

He is a good one to follow if you’re a gear geek too. When he was out on Saturday he was playing a wireless pedal board. I love how advanced things are for players to keep a clean stage set. You can find this stringer and singer on Facebook or visit his website at Justin C Guitar. He makes an awesome act for any dinner show and is elegant enough for weddings too. To schedule a date with Castellano call (252) 917-2544.


Country Rock Closes Out the Night

JP Guhns Band rocked Jack’s Waterfront Bar Saturday, February 6, 2021

Saturday marked my first experience with JP Guhns Band based out of Jacksonville. This is a fun rocking country band that not only offers a long list of covers, but also writes and records songs of their own. Lead singer, Jacob Paul Guhns, uses his life experiences to offer songs of hope and consequence to listeners. The entertainer has seen more on his military missions than on his music journey, but it’s his ability to create music that shares his experiences with the world is what helps get this player through the hard times.

The first time I met this singer songwriter it was at a chance meeting of several singing songwriting Marines that came together for a night of sharing original music at Nick’s Blacksheep Tavern. It was truly an amazing night of music. File photo below.

An amazing night of music courtesy of our talented Marines. JP Guhns is seated third from left.

Though the band did not play any original music while we were there on Saturday night, they do have music to share. In fact, check out this song Good Friends and Whiskey.

Besides promoting his own music, Guhns does a lot of work to help promote others. In fact, a couple of weeks ago his media company Gas Up Productions did an awesome promotion piece on local artist, Ryan Rubich.

Like most acts, these boys are looking for more work as well! They are loads of fun with Guhns offering great showmanship and crowd interaction. The talented rhythm section also changes things up and swap positions with Billy Mobley giving up his bass to drummer Justin Sokoloski. To book this high energy rocking country act email Guhns at jakebublitz@yahoo.com.

For those on the Greenville area, Guhns will be in town this Friday for a solo show. You can find out more in the Pitt County section below.


Live Music Options

Cruising The State County by County

In the hopes of always keeping things fresh and new, here is a new run down of live music for the days ahead, county by county.

Beaufort County

Friday

Island Bob Live at Parley’s Sip and Steam this Friday with music playing from 6-9 pm

*****

Monterio Experience Trio will be at Ribeyes of Washington this Friday evening. They will serve the funky and fun sounds you love starting at 6:30 pm.

Saturday

Yulia Price, classical violinist will be playing Captain Cooks dinning room this Saturday evening, and its Valentine’s Day weekend! Sure to be a treat. Get your reservations in early. Don’t miss this special evening of classical violin music. text Todd at 252-495-0050 to reserve a table. Music served 6-9 PM.

*****

On Saturday evening bring your date to Ribeyes of Washington for a wonderful dinner and lovely music courtesy of Eli and Billy Craig with featured guest Cooper Grear. Music starts at 6 pm and plays until 9 pm.

*****

Brian Burke will perform at Parley’s Sip & Steam this Saturday evening. He will be sharing songs from 6-9 pm.

*****

Sunday

Chuck Phillips will provide the brunch and dinner music for Valentines Day. He will perform 12-3 pm for the brunch crowd and for dinner this Sunday evening from 6-9 pm at Parley’s Sip & Steam.

Brunswick County

Friday

The Beasley Brothers will perform at The Joyce this Friday, February 12, 2021. Music starts at 6 pm.

Carteret County

Thursday

Brittany Davis Archer will perform live this Thursday, February 11, 2012 @ Riptidez MHC 6-9 pm On Friday, February 12, 2021, she will perform at Riptidez Cedar Point also 6-9 pm.

*****

Friday

FRIDAY AT 5:30 PM EST – 8:30 PM EST
Eduardo Live at
Table 9 Seafood Restaurant

*****

4 Ever All will perform live this Friday, February 12, 2021 at The Boro Restaurant. Music plays from 6-9 pm

****

Heart Stop will be live at The E Club this Friday, February 12, 2021 with tunes rocking from 7-10 pm

*****

Acoustic fun with The RV Road Show this Friday, February 12, 2021 at The Growler EI They hope you come have a beer and some fun with them this weekend!

*****

Captain Dick & His Lost Seamen will be sharing songs with those that gather at Bogue Sound Distillery, Friday from 6-9 pm

Saturday

SATURDAY AT 6 PM – 9 PM
Bryan Mayer will perform at Gaffer’s

Craven County

Thursday

Brian Mac will offer the supper songs tonight at Harbour Pointe Bar & Grille. Music will be served from 6-9 pm. Come out and enjoy a fine meal and good music each Thursday evening in Fairfield Harbour. This establishment is open to the public, so come show your love tonight.

*****

Big Jim & Kathy Kohler sing the blues each Thursday upstairs in the Whiskey Bar at Prohibition Drinks & Desserts. Music is offered 6-9 pm

Friday

Tommy Duzan will serve up the sounds this Friday, February 12, 2021 at BrUtopia
6-9 pm

*****