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King Mackerel and The Blues Are Running: Songs and Stories of the Carolina Coast

Dec 9, 2020 @ 8:00 am - Dec 12, 2020 @ 5:00 pm

The beloved and long-running musical stage show King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast will celebrate its 35th anniversary this December. The original cast, dubbed The Coastal Cohorts and featuring Bland Simpson, Jim Wann and Don Dixon, will commemorate this anniversary with a four-night streaming event of the original PBS filmed stage production of the show and a digital release of cast recordings and newer music December 9th through December 12th.

King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running will donate proceeds from music sales during the streaming events to North Carolina coastal conservation efforts, designating one charity each night:

December 9th: Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center (Harkers Island)
December 10th: North Carolina Coastal Land Trust (Wilmington)
December 11th: North Carolina Nature Conservancy (Durham)
December 12th: North Carolina Coastal Federation (Ocean)

“We never knew, way back when we first staged the show in 1985 in Chapel Hill, what the life of King Mackerel might be,” said author and musician Bland Simpson. “Celebrating the show’s 35th anniversary, we can and do enthusiastically state how glad we are to still be helping those whose mission is protecting maritime environments and heritage, for it is also our own.”

King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running is a long-running and beloved theatrical performance of music and stories about fishing and life along the Carolina coastline. Called “a pure salt watered delight” by the late Clive Barnes, New York Post theater critic, King Mackerel is full of tall tales and rollicking songs told by The Coastal Cohorts–a trio of good-ole boys who happen to be staging a benefit concert to save the Corncake Inlet Inn. The lively cast of fishermen-musicians sings up a storm, tells fish stories, ghost stories, and relates accounts of first loves and ones that got away.

The musical, written and conceived by Bland Simpson and Jim Wann with help from Don Dixon and Jerry Leath Mills, has had many productions around the Carolinas, up and down the East Coast, and from Atlanta to Indianapolis to Calgary in Canada. The original line-up of Coastal Cohorts has carried the show from Key West to Martha’s Vineyard over King Mackerel’s 35-year run. Those players include Don Dixon, bassist, singer-songwriter and renowned record producer of such musical groups as REM, the Smithereens, Marti Jones, Hootie & the Blowfish and more; Bland Simpson, pianist, of The Red Clay Ramblers and Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina; and Jim Wann, guitarist, principal composer-lyricist of Pump Boys & Dinettes, the Broadway hit that was a Tony and Drama Desk Nominee for Best Broadway Musical and winner of the Olivier Award in the U.K.

King Mackerel opened in 1985 at a westside Chapel Hill club called Rhythm Alley (a club occupying a former location of Cat’s Cradle) and has also had successful runs Off-Off-Broadway at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York (in 1995, directed by John Haber, and on numerous other occasions, 75 shows and counting), and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1996).

A tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary was postponed due to COVID-19, and the original Cohorts plan to take the show back out on the road when it is safe to do so.

For more information visit kingmackerelmusical.com or follow KingMackerelMusical on Facebook and Instagram.


Dec 9, 2020 @ 8:00 am
Dec 12, 2020 @ 5:00 pm