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Music News From Bear City and Beyond

Songwriters Hank Barbee and Taj Petrilli Collaborate

It's been good to get back on the scene to enjoy some local live music. It was mid-month and mild weather, a nice Spring night when I headed to town to catch several acts on a Saturday night. Some were from around town, while others visited for the first time.

Hank Barbee and Taj Petrilli offered sweet songs at the Double Tree in downtown New Bern. Barbee is no stranger to the Bear City, but this was his first show in town with Petrilli. The two singer-songwriters met in Newport a few months ago and have collaborated ever since. Sometimes you can catch the pair sharing songs written by others that they both enjoy or have written themselves, other times you can find Petrilli backing up Barbee and his band The Dust Parade with her vocal accompaniment. The week the duo pairs up for a show at the place where they met. Check them out this Thursday night at Carolina Home & Garden in Newport, NC. The music starts at 6 pm.

You can catch Barbee this weekend with his other bandmates, James Durham on sax and Matt Henderson on bass. Be sure to stop in and check out the Dust Parade this Saturday, May 4, 2024, at The Brown Pelican. There is a $5.00 cover music charge.


Seth Smith Shares Solo Songs at Stubb's Pubb

After a nice dinner at the Double Tree, I strolled across the street where I found Seth Smith jamming in the corner window of Captain Ratty's second-floor bar, Stubb's Pubb. It was there I got a dose of Grateful Dead and enjoyed some songs from Smith's solo release.

The Hot Buttered Grit has used life as his platform and the results are raw offerings of a survivor with melodic jams to groove us all. Smith’s solo release, Seasons is available on all streaming platforms. Be sure to find his page on Facebook Seth Smith Music.

For friends and fans looking to take in the jams of his band, mark the calendar for next week, when the Hot Buttered Grits serve up the special at Beartown Bistro, next Saturday, May 11, 2024.


Bear City Debut in the Books pure t mommicked

Rockers pure t mommicked call Carteret County home base but made their New Bern debut on Saturday, April 13, 2024. The quartet featured Jimmy Mahoney on lead vocals, and Neal Paul on guitar and supporting vocals. The duo started this band project in 1997 and it has evolved over the decades. They offer known hits by many popular bands but have created an arsenal of many great originals. Over the winter months they announced the new arrival of their rhythm section and last month I got to enjoy the band with Kiley Hanford on drums and Dan Staten on bass.

They opened the night on the deck at Blackbeard's Triple Play Sports Bar and Restaurant with an acoustic set featuring strong vocals and sweet harmonies. Before long they were rocking the crowd with the full band ensemble. If you missed them while they were here you can keep up with the band you can find them on Facebook by clicking here pure t mommicked.


Doc & Roll Rock Pinky's The Upstairs Pub

Popular New Bern-based blues rocker Doc & Roll was rocking on Middle Street from the corner of Pinky's The Upstairs Pub. That's where I found the crowd grooving to popular blues jams and familiar rock songs. Doc & Roll is a mix of local players who enjoy making music together. On guitar and vocals, fronting the band, is Dr. Tom Davis who escapes the stress of his work as a surgeon for the fun of making music. Assisting on guitar and support vocals came from Eric Schmidt, sitting behind the kit was Richard Dimetre, on bass, Joe Elliott, and special guest harmonica, Jim Barbee. The band has a good following and loves engaging with their audience. Follow them on Facebook and come out to see a show soon.


Joe Baes Project Brings the Music and the Community Brings the Love

I wrapped up my mid-April romp around New Bern with the Tap Into Love event at Tap That featuring Joe Baes Project. The trio of rockers came together for their friends The Long Family, who had suffered a hard and devasting loss. earlier this year.

Brittney Long, a young mother in our community passed away in late February after complications during the delivery of her daughter Joy, who also passed away the day before. While the mother and daughter rested in Heaven the community gathered to make a difference for the family of five they left behind. Long is survived by her husband and their other four children. Prize donations offered by local businesses were rounded up for an event that brought out a community full of love. They gathered to remember their friend and co-worker and to show support for her family.

For those who missed the event but still want to support the family, there is a Go Fund Campaign set up and you can find it on the ad below.

For fans and friends of Joe Baes and the band be sure to like and follow Joe Baes Music on Facebook. Baes has a solo acoustic show at BrUtopia on Friday, May 2, 2024, with music starting at 6:30 pm.


Open Mic Nights and Jams Around the Region

Mid-week Open Mic Night in O'Town

The Silo's Restaurant in Oriental is where jammers meet near the sound for mid-week fun and food. Open mic night is always a fun time to gather with friends for a meal and a good time listening to local talents. The staff is friendly and hard-working, the food is good and, the specials are always awesome. Chris Daniels, establishment owner and frontman for the Southern Hellcats is your host. All players are welcome. This weekly retreat happens each Wednesday evening with music starting around 7 pm.


Big Jim Jams Most Days of the Week

Big Jim Kohler made a name for himself on the national blues circuit years before he landed in New Bern, NC in 2011 and I'll stand up and say he made a bigger name for himself after he settled down here. A few weeks after his arrival, music started stirring in this city for the first time in history. I moved here in 2005 and roamed all the highways and backroads out of town to find live music.

When I returned in 2013, after four years away, Big Jim was the best thing to come down the pike. The band kept busy hosting a blues jam at Bambooz Tiki Bar located in the BridgePointe Hotel and owned and operated by Dale Overbee. Fast forward a decade later and Big Jim hosts two jams for Overbee. Each Monday you can catch him up front with good friends at Blackbeard's Triple Play for their weekly blues jam. Players come from miles around to jam with Jim. It's always a good time with great music. You can return on Thursday to enjoy Big Jim with his wife, Kathy Kohler. Both evenings offer sounds from 7-9 pm.

Midweek you can catch Big Jim at The Brown Pelican where he is the host of JAMMCO. This is more of a jam band, but it doesn't move Jim far from his blues roots or playing techniques. He is joined by rhythm makers Josh Mineer on drums and Zeus Vega on bass.

Here again, jammers come from miles around to jam with Big Jim. Some of his special guests lead area bands and come down to let loose and jam. It's pretty magical when talents merge in the moment and create new grooves. Each Wednesday is when the magic happens from 7-10 pm.

When Big Jim is not jamming around town he is usually on the road performing around the region each weekend. If you want to mark your calendar for a very special event be sure to head down to the The Old Theater in Oriental this Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2024. This event is being billed as A Festive Day of Music. The Bernard Purdie 2024 Concert Tour with The Big Jim Kohler Band.

Starting things off at 4 pm the world renowned drummer will host a FREE children's Workshop. To register your participant call 252-249-0477.

Following the workshop, there will be a meet and greet where fans can sit down and take a picture with the famed drummer who recently settled down in New Bern. The meet and greet will be from 5:30 to 6:30. The day will wrap up with The Big Jim Kohler Band featuring Pretty Purdie from 7-9 pm. Tickets are $30 or $35 for the meet and greet. To reserve your spot visit HTTP://OLDTHEATER.ORG


Tuesday Jams at Center Stage

It's probably been about three or four years since I first met Robert Barnett out at the Tiki Bar in Oriental. He told me back then that he was aspiring to bring more music to the neighborhood and on Tuesday he successfully did just that. Barnett and his wife Ginger erected a stage in their backyard and invited all their neighbors over for a night of music. Jammers were asked by special invitation to take part in the show and on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, the players came together and made beautiful music for their neighbors and friends.

Along with plenty of talent, there was a food truck and a portapotty on site for everyone's convenience.

Opening the night was Big Jim Kohler with his lovely wife Kathleen, Jim Barbee on harmonica, Mike Ferrara on drums, Helt Oncale on guitar, and Bob Barnett on bass. Before long Bernard Purdie was behind the kit to finish out the first set. The second set featured Barnett and Oncale who have a history that spans decades and across continents. Also helping to close out the night was Barbee assisting on harmonica.

Helt Oncale has made a name for himself in Europe and has even been awarded Europe's Musician of the Year. Now we are lucky to be blessed by his talents. He will be hosting a night of Louisiana-style music at The Old Theater on Sunday, May 5, 2024, with music starting at 3 pm. Tickets for this show can be purchased in advance at Nautical Wheeler's in New Bern or Oriental. You may also purchase tickets online, just visit HTTP://


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