Bland Simpson, Jim Wann and Don Dixon. Photo by Bob Gothard

To read a profile on Bland Simpson and listen to “King Mackerel And The Blues Are Running,” click here.

From our news services

Chapel Hill-–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 Dec. 9 to 12 with four days of livestreaming concerts.

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.

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:

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

All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

“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 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 trio.

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. 

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 in 1995 and in 1996 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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 or follow KingMackerelMusical on Facebook and Instagram.

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