The Coastal Cohorts are set to celebrate 35 years of the musical stage show, “King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast,” in December with a four-night streaming event of the PBS television performance and digital release of cast recordings and newer music.
“‘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,” according to an announcement.
The performances are to be streamed Dec. 9-12. On each day of the event, the following coastal conservation efforts will receive proceeds from music sales:
- Dec. 9: Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island.
- Dec. 10: North Carolina Coastal Land Trust in Wilmington.
- Dec. 11: North Carolina Nature Conservancy in Durham.
- Dec. 12: North Carolina Coastal Federation in Ocean.
The musical, written and conceived by Bland Simpson and Jim Wann, with help from Don Dixon and Jerry Leath Mills, has been staged numerous times around the Carolinas, up and down the East Coast, and from Atlanta to Indianapolis to Calgary in Canada.
“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 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.”
The original cast includes Dixon, bassist, singer-songwriter and record producer of REM, the Smithereens, Marti Jones, Hootie & the Blowfish and others; Simpson, pianist of the Red Clay Ramblers and Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and creative writing at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and 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.
A tour to celebrate the 35th anniversary was postponed due to COVID-19. The original Cohorts plan to take the show on the road when safe to do so.