Professional Nonprofit Theater on Martha's Vineyard
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24 Church Street, Box 2452, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 | 508-696-6300
Patricia Neal Stage

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

Written by Bland Simpson and Jim Wann, with Don Dixon and J.L. Mills
It’s the good old days on the Southern coast, but a hurricane has blown the roof off Miss Mattie Jewell’s 1920s-style Corncake Inlet Inn. The Coastal Cohorts musical trio comes to her rescue, singing and yarn-spinning to raise money and put the roof back to right, so Miss Mattie won’t have to sell out to the condo-minded Greedhead Development Corporation. The News & Observer called King Mackerel “a musical Valentine to coastal life . . . the songs deal with things anybody who's ever been to the coast can identify with ‑‑ pier fishing, joy riding on the strand, hurricanes, living on the sound side."
King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast has been performed by the Coastal Cohorts (Don Dixon, Bland Simpson, and Jim Wann) all across North Carolina and the South, as well as at the Kennedy Center in Washington and in New York City, where its Off-Off-Broadway run was hailed by the New York Post, saying “Carolina fish tale is quite a catch -- a pure, salt-watered delight!”

Don Dixon

Don Dixon grew up in a small mill town in South Carolina.
As a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and occasional actor, he has performed extensively across the US and Europe, recorded over 200 original songs on 12 albums, produced scores of albums including hit records for R.E.M and The Smithereens, as well as having his songs recorded by Joe Cocker, Marshall Crenshaw, Hootie & the Blowfish, Counting Crows, Marti Jones, and Ronnie Spector.
Mr. Dixon now lives in a small mill town in Ohio.

Bland Simpson

Bland Simpson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of English & Creative Writing at UNC Chapel Hill, has worked in music and theater with Jim Wann and Don Dixon for over forty years. This trio, with help from UNC English professor and outdoorsman Jerry Leath Mills, premiered King Mackerel & The Blues Are Running: Songs & Stories of the Carolina Coast in Chapel Hill, N.C., on December 8th, 1985, and the show has since then played all over North Carolina and Virginia, and everywhere from the Providence (R.I.) Restore America’s Estuaries national conference, to the West Bank Café in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Tybee Island Light on the Georgia coast.
A member of the acclaimed stringband The Red Clay Ramblers since 1986, Simpson has toured extensively in North America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and has collaborated on a number of musicals, including Diamond Studs andHot Grog with Jim Wann; and three-time Broadway hit Fool Moon (with The Red Clay Ramblers; Special Tony Award 1999). Simpson is author of such the books as Into the Sound Country: A Carolinian's Coastal Plain, with photography by his wife Ann Cary Simpson (a native of Sea Level, N.C.); Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals; The Inner Islands (photography by Ann Cary Simpson); The Coasts of Carolina (photography by Scott Taylor); and Two Captains from Carolina. In 2005, he received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the state’s highest civilian honor.

Jim Wann

Jim Wann, a native of Chattanooga, TN, began playing and singing as a young teenager on a Kay guitar borrowed from the family preacher. A pawnshop Gibson soon followed and by the end of college (UNC-Chapel Hill) and a degree in English he had begun writing songs and playing in clubs around North Carolina, first as a solo and then in a band with Bland Simpson. Their demos in the early 70s were produced by Don Dixon. These friends took the saloon door into musical theatre, where their original music was Americana and the actors played instruments, beginning with DIAMOND STUDS: The Life Of Jesse James, an off-Broadway hit. Jim was lead songwriter on PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES (Tony-nominated Best Musical on Broadway), and then Simpson, Dixon and Wann combined on KING MACKEREL & THE BLUES ARE RUNNING: Songs And Stories Of The Carolina Coast, with several runs produced in New York by the Dodgers (Ed Strong, Michael David). THE PEOPLE VS. MONA: A Musical Mystery Screwball Comedy (Patricia Miller, co-author) is a recent example of “musicians’ theatre” featuring Jim’s score. He continues to write, record, and play concerts and lives in the Hudson Valley, NY and on Tybee Island, GA.

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