Tag Archives: King Mackerel and the Blues are Running

King Mackerel and the Blues are Running

KingMackerel1King Mackerel and the Blues are Running
The Coastal Cohorts in Concert
Thursday, Feb. 27 & 28, 8pm
$15/ Free for students
Playmakers Theatre, UNC Chapel Hill
https://memorialhall.unc.edu/

I tried living in the middle of the country. Didn’t work for me. Do you know how long it takes to drive to the coast from Memphis, TN?  Nine long hours. 491 excruciating miles. Today that would equal about 200 songs on your IPod. No amount of Drifters, or The Swinging Medallions, or even Jimmy Buffett can make that drive shorter or the sea closer.  I dreamed endlessly (and likely bored my landlocked friends) of living back in the middle of North Carolina, where in just a little over 2 hours, I could dig my sand-starved toes deep into the foaming surf. And eat seafood to my tummy’s content.

Sunset Beach, NC Photo by: Deborah Pardee Miller, 2004

Sunset Beach, NC 2004
Photo by: Deborah Pardee Miller

Once I moved back to Chapel Hill in 1998, I near ‘bout burnt the road up between here and the beach. My younger sister, Kate, who somehow ended up in Vermont, and I share the need for warm sun, sand, and sea. On one of our long weekend trips to Beaufort, we wandered into the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Thumbing through CD’s, I laughed as I randomly pulled out “King Mackerel and The Blues Are Running” by the Coastal Cohorts (Don Dixon, Bland Simpson & Jim Wann.)  I mused out loud that I had gone to high school with Bland Simpson, though he was a couple years older than me. The CD came home with me.

With an impressive performance history from its first run at Rhythm Alley in Chapel Hill in 1985 through its most recent at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh in 2012, “King Mackerel and the Blues are Running” has been performed at venues up and down the coastline from Virginia to Georgia. And then there are those other venues like the West Bank Theater (NYC) and the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC).

Bland was old-classmate good enough to spend a few minutes with me talking about the history of the musical, how their fundraising performances have contributed to the environmental health of our coast, and the two upcoming shows at the historic Playmakers Theatre.

“We’re doing two nights; Friday is sold out, Thursday night has seats available,” said Bland. “It was a fun alliance to make to put it into context to the water in our world.  The history of the show is a very stout-hearted, light-hearted evening.”

The CD went to A rotation on first listen.  It’s one of the playlists I put on when I’m about 50 miles from the shore. It lures me on in to the beach like a rising wave, beckoning me to stay a while.  In fact, I’m listening to it now as I write, wishing that print media had a “push play” button so you could listen in.  If you love the North Carolina beaches, and I know you do, you’ll be instantly smelling salt air. You just might shag dance a little (or a lot.) Slurp an oyster (or two or three.)  Peel some shrimp (a couple or a pound). You might even be singing along as if you’d known the songs forever.  Holler if you want company.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

Listen to some King Mackerel … go on. You know you want to.

 

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Gratefully Yours + anticipation + shuffling into 2014

One rainy October afternoon:
ExileMainStFeeling lucky to even be alive, which is another story altogether and for another day. Plugged in to my IPod, “Sweet Virginia” from The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cycled up.  The opening guitar riffs, soon joined by harmonica, are unmistakable and instantly recognizable and suddenly there I was … back there … the day in Spring ’72  it came out … in Richmond’s  Fan district with friends sitting on their front porch which just happened to face Main Street … speakers balanced precariously in the windows blasting into the city street through a haze of smoke.  And us, balanced just as precariously on porch railings or steps or leaned back on two-chair legs in our Landlubber-with-the-3″-zipper- bellbotttoms.  Oh, we were exiled, alright. I will forever associate that song, that album with that time, that place, and that handful of people.

As I reflected on music shared with me through the years, I spent the next few weeks listening to my collection differently … with the idea that I’d actually stop and make the time to offer thanks for 1) either introducing me to something new – or – 2) encouraging me to go back and listen more carefully to an artist I hadn’t given much time to – or – 3) simply creating a new and indelible memory through the power of music. Much to my surprise, it became an over-arcing and joyful project as I began to write notes of “Thanks Givings” for gifting a particular piece of music, art, book, recipe or favorite restaurant. If part of this reads familiar, you’ve already heard from me … if you haven’t received yours yet, stay tuned, this is a long-range project!

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2014 Hi-Ho’s
All that I got to experience this past year just to make a new column for Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY happen was an extra-large goodie bag overflowing with the stuff that make life shiny and bright – music, art, wine, food, and books.

In all, an embarrassment of riches that included interviews and small intimate concerts with long-time heroes Roger McGuinn, Bill Payne and Chris Hillman. An afternoon hearing Peter Ostroushko and our very own Danny Gotham. Talking Lovesick Blues with Chris Stamey via email. Musical evenings spent with my Cat’s Cradle co-conspirator, Liz Holm, both of us blissfully unaware that we didn’t have that much time left together. Watching Tess Mangum Ocaña rise up and conquer with Sonic Pie Productions. Another honey-we-got-the-band-back-together high school reunion. And, maybe best of all, meeting you all who came up to me at various events and places introducing yourselves (Mike and Ron, you know who you are), then making my day by telling me you came out to this or that because I told you to (Leah, Henry, Carol, Peter, et al).

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Liz
I liked Liz immediately the first time we met, which, of course, was at a Cradle show – Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. I introduced her to drummer Jody Stephens, and we were off and running. We quickly discovered all the things and people we had in common (I grew up in CH and went to CHHS with her sister, music groups & artists we shared a love for, small bars like the OC Social Club and the Dead Mule, etc. the list went on and on.) She was instrumental in my first real “big get” interview with the Zombies, followed by Little Feat.  And she humored me by coming to see groups she at first really had no big interest in hearing just so we could hang out … thanking me afterward for dragging her to Mickey Hart and Trampled by Turtles 🙂 And with colorful scarves and wraps, she always saved us the best seats in the house – stage right 2-3 stools back.

Her love and her pride for her incredibly talented virtuoso concert violinist daughter, Jennifer, was so bright and intense that she was the light in the room when talking about her.  Every show we attended, or every time we were together, we’d sit side by side and she’d update me on her successes, showing me picture after picture on her phone.  It was easy to feel I knew Jennifer already, even though we had never met.  My sadness at her loss was/is acute, made worse by having to miss her beautiful memory day out at the Haw River Ballroom. I miss you everyday, babe!

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Anticipation-junkie that you know that I am means I can’t wait to see what’s coming in 2014. Already penciled in are King Mackerel & the Blues are Running (Feb. 27 & 28/Playmakers Theatre), a South Wing show (Feb./TBA), Crosby, Stills & Nash (Mar. 24/DPAC), and Desert Rose Band (Aug./The ArtsCenter).

A while back as I was walking in my usual hurry-up with an old friend, he (being about 10 steps behind me) whoa’d me down and seriously wounded my strong sense of Southern-inity by saying that I had clearly lost my mosey.  Glory be, he was right. All too aware that life is full of every day gifts that fly right past unopened, my plan for 2014 is to take back my mosey. And, oh yeah, I’m counting on your help with that. For all of you who just saw me through one of the scariest bits of my life, I love and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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ShuffleShufflin’ in to 2014
Home on the River (King Mackerel & the Blues are Running)
Story of Love (Desert Rose Band)
Marrakesh Express (CSN)
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Simon & Garfunkel)
One Short Night (Grace Potter & the Nocturnals)
Everything by Mandolin Orange