Music Grooves Us Through the Holiday Season

Back When Sunday was Funday at The Office in Kinston

The Wicked Shimmies

A couple weeks ago, Mary Shine and I road out to Kinston to check out The Office Nightclub and Bar by day. The night club and bar formerly known as The Red Room was purchased by new owners in March and opened their doors in August.

For a few short months, the music venue and bar was open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, to welcome area bands to their stages each time the doors open. Yes, they have two stages, one inside with lights and sound, and one outside with the bare bones. In short it’s a great spot for anyone looking for a rocking weekend. Sadly, however, given the Governor’s new Executive order they will be closed until at least January 8, 2021.

On the afternoon that we rolled out, we had the pleasure of listening to The Wicked Shimmies, as they offered their final set on the outside stage. The trio of players offered many fun jams to make the day groovy.

With four years of sharing grooves under their belt, the band is seasoned and sensational. Actually, I remember thinking that about them the first time I caught them, which oddly enough was the band’s first gig. It was a benefit concert featuring several area bands, raising money for Veterans. It was wonderful to hear them still jamming.

FROM THE NCMZ PHOTO FILE: The Wicked Shimmies rocking their first gig at Lenoir County Fairgrounds. May, 2016

Creating the sounds we enjoyed a few weeks ago was Zach Burrus on vocals and guitar, Brandon Andrews on lead guitar licks and Tyler Stout on the back-beat and support vocals.

The band has a Facebook page and plays several gigs each year. They are also a great option for anyone in search of refreshing talent. Click on the attached link to follow them on social media The Wicked Shimmies.

Monday’s Melody Makers Come Alive in Greenville Each Week

John Williams is the weekly host of Monday Nights Rhythm & Grooves. This open jam happens each week at AJ McMurphy’s in Greenville, NC.

In the past several weeks Mary and I have made a few trips to Greenville to check out the weekly open mic night at AJ McMurphy’s. This weekly offering is now in its second year and it attracts a slew of talent from all over that region. I was so impressed the first time that I couldn’t wait to return.

The first week we joined the fun, they gathered outside on the patio. Williams welcomed the crowd and before long, he welcomed the players to the stage, one after the other. And each player brought their talent too.

Guitar virtuoso Tony Soldati

The first player to captivate me with his graceful guitar grooves was Tony Soldati. Keep an eye out around the state for this young man and be sure to catch him when you can. He will be performing with his band of friends at The Hooligans, at AJ’s for New Years Eve. Music starts at 7. Soldati has a pretty playing style and offers his own originality on each tune he touches.

Lilah LaBeau and Rob Legere offer a few tunes

Next up, came the talents of singer Lilah LeBeau, accompanied by Rob Legere on the six string. LeBeau has a very soothing sound, the singer recently relocated to Virginia, so I am glad I had the chance to hear her before she got on her way. I would learn the Legere’s greatest strength comes in tickling the ivories. He stayed busy working at a Dueling Pianos bar in Savannah, GA for the last four years.

Father and son duo Bill and Will Stoval

Another fun feature to this weekly open stage is, the father and son act offered by Bill and Will Stoval. Though many father’s teach their sons, in this case young Will is the teacher showing his father Bill the ropes with lessons on guitar. Their time together seems to offer great results, and I offered them a gig in New Bern in the New Year. You can catch this father/son duo at Harbour Pointe Golf Club on Thursday, February 25, 2020.

Round Two We Head Inside For Rhythm & Grooves

With finding so much talent concentrated in one area, it became my plan to return to AJ McMurphy’s to scout some talent and report the news.

While speaking with Williams, he told me that on average the weekly jam attracts 14-21 players. As the host, he takes the obligation of working them all in seriously, even if it meant staying late. That of course was before the pandemic.

Nowadays they start at 6 pm and wrap up by 9 pm. This has created some adjustments for many, but the list is still long and the talent is worth checking out.

As for the establishment, AJ McMurphy’s offers great menu with Irish fare being the favored flavor. They have a full bar and a very friendly and hard working staff. The bar and restaurant has a nice patio and outdoor eating area.

Three’s a Charm

On our third trip out to this open mic we met even more talented players, including some that have been on my Facebook friends list for a while, such as James Warren (above). This stringer has a voice that is smooth like butter, as music fan and spectator Susan Baugham noted.

I also enjoyed listening to the magic of Quincy Jones on piano and George Braggs III offering the soothing vocals.

Along with new talent, we also heard the old standards found among youthful talent. Will Stoval is a music story that I started following in 2018, when the high school player came to New Bern to perform at MumFest.

NCMZ.LIVE file photo: Will Stoval at 2018 Mum Fest, offering cover and original tunes

One of my favorite parts of this job is watching the stories unfold overtime. When I first saw the youngster, he was very reserved and shy, nowadays however he exudes more confidence on stage. One of the things that delights me about Stoval is his old soul and his ability to capture music from the past, such as The Beatles. It always does the heart good to hear the next generation offering old time favorites.

The other thing that has not been noted in this story, but is rather important considering the conditions of living through a pandemic… John Williams takes good care in keeping all of the players safe on his stage set. He cleans the cords and replaces the microphone covers in between each performance.

Though the jam was more popular before the pandemic, it is still going strong even with the early hours and limited time. Once again, due to the latest state mandate, AJ’s opens their stage at 6 pm and fades to black at 9 pm with doors closed by 10 pm.

Brad Benson Appears in New Bern

You know the night is going to be a rocking fun time, when you read that Brad Benson will be rolling through your sleepy home town.

The rocker, raised in Lenoir county, calling Cary home base, rarely makes it this way to perform. At the top of the month all that changed and there he was, shining like the star atop of a Christmas tree in James City. Benson rocked The Garage on Saturday, December 5, 2020.

I first learned the name Brad Benson when I walked into Fall Ball in November 2017. This is an annual fundraiser for a private, local school in LaGrange. They attract a lot of talent for this awesome event and Benson was rocking with his trio the first time I walked in.

NCMZ.LIVE file photo: Brad Benson giving his all for Fall Ball 2017!

When you catch any act on such a stacked bill, it offers a glimpse or a sample of what a full show might offer. So when I walked in on Benson, it took about 12 minutes and not quite two songs before I knew I had to see more of the band. Since then I have found them rocking in Raleigh, Garner and Kinston.

Besides offering solo performances, this rocker fronts a few bands, including The Brad Benson Band, Brad Benson and Rebel Armada and Dead Man’s Mail.

The best way to keep up with the front-man and writer is to find him on Facebook here: Brad Benson. For my readers that do not utilize Facebook to do life, you can visit his website! Brad Benson Rocks and enjoy his music online.

SideTrac Band @ Tap That

SideTrac Band bring the party to Tap That on December 5, 2020

The last time I ran into the SideTrac it was the eve of my 50th birthday, when the band was rocking the stage at Locked and Loaded in Garner, NC.

Based out of Greene County this four piece party band shows up ready to have fun with their crowd. They enjoy watching them get up and grooving, dancing to the familiar tunes we all know.

Creating the sounds on stage is Morgan Hudson Vickers on vocals, Adam Brier on bass, Don Sauls on guitar and Johnny Merritt offering support on vocals behind the kit.

This professional team of music makers are a great option for weddings and parties, as well as a fun pick for your venue. Currently they have no upcoming shows listed, but you can keep up with the news by checking them out on Facebook here SideTrac Band.

When I reached out to the band on Facebook about upcoming engagements, they said things have been tough this year for the band. But they are working hard on becoming better together, and are looking forward to more productive days, and rocking nights.

Rob Lightner Performs His Final Show of 2020 at BrUtopia

Rob Lightner performs live at BrUtopia on Friday, December 18, 2020

Pennsylvania’s touring guitar man Rob Lightner closed out a year of a few performances here in New Bern, with a show at BrÜtopia on Friday evening, December 18, 2020. Most of his year was made up of a few solo performances and much time dedicated to the rescheduling of dates from this year to next.

The talented singer offers a variety of styles from popular country to old time rock n roll. Like most touring acts, when the money is right the band plays, but the last time that happened was before the virus took center stage at venues around the world.

Lightner no doubt is a lifer! That’s what I have been calling the music makers that are in it for life. Regardless of the season or the reason, music is the only way for lifers. These are the players that always find the way to bring the show! Having said that, I am sure the road ahead will be a busy again for Lightner as well as his band mates. Keep the faith and take these blessings for a prosperous New Year.

The Mad Fiddler Blew Fuses First then Minds While Visiting New Bern

The Mad Fiddler, Jason Addams live at The Garage on December 18, 2020.

The Mad Fiddler, Jason Addams appeared live in New Bern about a week before Christmas, where he tripped the power in James City playing at The Garage. Once we unplugged the festive lights, the show went off without a hitch. Instead of blowing fuses he went on to blow minds.

I met this talented solo artist a few years back and have always enjoyed his performances. Born and raised in Greenville, NC and now hailing from the Crystal Coast, Addams is known for his mad playing on the electric fiddle. Interestingly enough the player started out playing the viola when he was just 10 years old.

In 1990, he won a competition where he placed as the 9th best violist in North Carolina, and was honored to play at a musical festival in St. Louis, Missouri. He transitioned to the violin in 2003 and hasn’t look back.

After college at Elon University he began playing with Anonymous, which is now known as Big Something. In 2010 he took his talent to the Crystal Coast. After playing with Big Drink and 4EverAll, he started his personal journey. The Mad Fiddler was born in 2017 as he started his journey as a solo musician!

Taking a unique approach to music, The Mad Fiddler offers an amazing night of electric covers and unique originals. Using a loop pedal, guitar, percussion and his electric violin, live tracks are created, live for your listening pleasure!

According to a recent Facebook post, here is where you can catch Addams in the weeks ahead. He has gigs lined up at The Sour Barn in Wilmington on January 16, AB Bottle Co in Atlantic Beach on January 23, Riptidez in Cedar Point on January 29, The Garage in New Bern on January 30 and at Harbour Pointe Grill in Fairfield Harbour on Thursday, February 4, 2021. At press time, all of the above mentioned gigs are offering music from 6-9 pm.

Bridge to Breakdown Rocked Tap That

Merch table for Bridge to Breakdown

Bridge to Breakdown is the New Bern based original rock band that, bar manager John Morgan says, “puts the live back in live music!”

As per their page on Facebook Bridge to Breakdown is a band with a unique writing and performance style. The band combines styles such as Rock, Metal, Blues, and Alternative to create a powerful fusion of sounds.

Talyn Detmers is the talented front-man with powerful vocals and Mick Jagger appeal, Malcolm Matthews is the lead guitarist with some mad six string skills, Taylor Cefalo is behind the kit keeping the beats and newest member to join the band two years ago is Ethan Goeke on bass. Together they are the players that create the unique sounds that rock most crowds that gather. They have a lot of energy and their enthusiasm always pours out onto the dance floor.

You can buy their music at their shows or you can find them on Spotify. They have some awesome, rocking originals to share with their fans, so be sure to download their music today!

Music Options Worth Celebrating

Now that we have arrived at the end of the most dreadful year that most music makers have ever known, here are some options for finding music tonight.

Getting Down Around Town – New Bern

Joe Brown and the Band

Joe Brown and the Band bring the music for the people to Tap That Craft Beer and Wine, 901b Pollock St. Music starts at 6:30 pm.


The BiPolar Express

The BiPolar Express will roll through Blackbeard’s Triple Play Restaurant, 415 S Front St. Music kicks off at 5:30 pm.

Rocking Around The Region

As noted above Tony Soldati will be performing with bandmates, The Hooligans at AJ McMurphy’s 1914 Turnbury Dr, Greenville, NC. The party starts at 5 pm. Music at 6 pm.


Blazing Keys out of Fayetteville will be rocking the grooves at Pizza Bonez 754 Ramsey Rd., Jacksonville tonight. Here is the lowdown as per the Facebook event:

Ringing in 2021 with BLAZIN KEYS ENTERTAINMENT at PIZZA BONEZ Tickets $25 adv
$40 for couples in adv. (2 tickets)
(prices will go up + $5)BITES – BREWS – & – ENTERTAINMENT to RING IN THE NEW YEAR
The night will include LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, PRIZES & GIVEAWAYS, TOAST, & MORE! This ticketed event. Is subject to capacity.
Reservations will be available with the purchase of a ticket, our team will reach out about reservations or you can email for details. To secure your selected table, will be a $100 fee offered as a gift card that can be used on that night’s tab.

Dedicated servers
Select Menus
Drink Specials
Amazing Prizes and MORE!!


Cruising further down 17 South you can catch Trifecta Band, rocking at Nick’s Blacksheep Tavern, 1140 Old Maplehurst Rd., Jacksonville. Here are the details for that fun time:

Good riddance 2020!!!!!NOTE: EARLY START TIME!

Never thought we would be so happy to see a year-end!

Let’s close this sucker out.
Our favorite party/dance band is in the house.

TRIFECTA Band will start Early at 7PM!

Complementary Champagne toast!


Rolling out to the Triangle, we say so long to 2020 with The Tony Drake Trio performing live at Raleigh Moose Family Center 2824 Forestville Rd, Wake Forest. Here is the latest from that Facebook Event:

Just approved by the board –
NYE Party w/ Tony Drake Trio and host Kevin DeKrusher.

The following changes have been made to do our best to comply with the ridiculous demands from our Governor:

The hours will be 5pm to 9PM.

Last call will be 9PM and all guests are to leave the premises by 9:30PM.

The Tony Drake Trio will be playing from 6pm to 9pm with a break or two thrown in.
DJ Krusher to play a few songs along the way and hold down the hosting duties.

I expect that we will still have the Governor’s toast. Entry fee has been updated to a donation to the lodge, of any amount you deem allowable and bring food to share, lots of food to share, we’ll figure out the best way to get it served.

**On a personal note, I am so glad we will be able to have a get together for New Year’s Eve, even with the adjusted hours. It means a lot to me, as I view it as a celebration of the Members of our Lodge, both men and women. A party to thank all of you for all you have done to help us out. This year it’s even more important for obvious reason, with YOU, the membership and your contributions we would not be able to meet our obligations to Mooseheart and Moosehaven. Even if you can’t make it, for whatever reason, please know that we appreciate all that you have done and will do. Thank you All !! – Kevin DeKrusher**

Reserve your spot now by replying as ‘Going’ or call the lodge for more information. 


The Vault (Facebook Event Photo above) will rock you right out of 2020 tonight at Locked & Loaded, 305 McCormick St, Garner. Music starts at 6:30 pm. Come enjoy the awesome food and great grooves in Garner.


NYE PARTY at Raleigh’s HOTTEST live-music venue! From dinner to dancing and EVERYTHING in between, PLUS Dueling Piano Bar has you covered!

Are you ready to ring in the New Year PLUS DUELING PIANO BAR STYLE?!
Welcome to the largest dueling piano bar in the United States! Come enjoy our 60,000 watt surround sound system, crazy light show, and rotating stage! Our PLUS performers will dazzle you with their vast knowledge of songs and styles of music as YOU control the show by requesting anything and everything you want to hear from 6 – 10pm! If you’re a foodie like we are, be sure to check out our delicious food menu. Of course, come prepared to drink, drink, drink from our two bars! We are ready to bring in 2021 with a BANG! All we’re missing is YOU!

Each PLUS NYE PARTY ticket includes:
– Access to the rockin’ all-request dueling piano show beginning at 6pm playing straight through until 10pm! (Due to the governor’s 10pm curfew, we are forced to end our in-person show before midnight. If possible, we will broadcast a Facebook LIVE show after in-person hours until midnight to ring in the New Year with our favorite PLUS crowd!)

– Reserved table/countertop seating with service from one of our fast and friendly PLUS waitstaff throughout the duration of the night
– PLUS tri-blend t-shirt (a $20 value!)
– Complimentary champagne toast

– Access to our two bars and NYE drink specials

– If you have a group that would like to sit together, purchase your tickets through one order. If you do not purchase through one order, specific seating requests cannot be guaranteed

*PLUS is a 21+ establishment.
**All sales final.

Cruising the Crystal Coast

Acoustic duo Gravitation will offer the tunes tonight at Riptidez bar & grill-Morehead City Music plays 6-10 pm. Come celebrate with Meghan and Chris, as the help kick 2020 to the curb with fun songs you are sure to love.


Bay Breeze New Year’s Eve Bash with Lookout Band is a fun option for folk in Cedar Island. Bay Breeze Restaurant and Bar, 3557 Cedar Island Rd. Cedar Island offers great food too. As for the music tonight, this band is a great mix of awesome music makers from the Crystal Coast offering all of the rocking hits people love. Music starts at 6 pm.

Happy New Year 🎆

NCMZ.LIVE music supporters Left to Right… Susan Baugham, Tracey Stones, Mary Shine and Jaymi Mitchell photo credit: Susan Baugham

As we encroach on a New Year, I want to be the first to wish you all the best. In the year ahead, we are ready to help you stay connected to the local music scene as it makes its come back.

Like many of those reading this, we here at NCMZ.LIVE are looking forward to seeing this year in the rear view mirror. With hindsight always being 2020, here is to lessons learned and a prosperous and healthy New Year! Cheers!


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