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  • Writer's pictureElaine Berberich

Middle Class Blues Provide New Sounds in the Harbour

Middle Class Blues players Doug KIng, Curtis Thompson, David Gale and Steve Robichad

At the recent Harbour Social, Fairfield residents were enjoying good food and great conversation all while listening to the sounds of a new Fairfield Harbour band, the “Middle Class Blues.” Songs included “Old Time Rock and Roll”, “Deep Elum Blues”, “Fiddler’s Green”, and “Worried Man Blues”—to name just a few.

The band started with a group of musicians getting together to jam. For those who don’t know, a jam session is when musicians with all types of instruments and favorite music get together and just play whatever comes up and learn from each other. David Gale, Doug King, and Curtis Thompson were there and according to David Gale they started playing the “House of the Rising Sun” and they blended together so quickly and well that they decided to keep going and got together on a weekly basis to play music. As the group played together and was asked to perform, they realized they needed to come up with a name and decided on Middle Class Blues. According to banjo player Curtis Thompson, “We are average and it’s not because we play only blues but if you are middle class these days, you have the blues.” A successful band is usually comprised of instruments and players which complement each other. Doug King explained, “we have a band that is kind of like this community—we all come from different backgrounds and diversity which matches this community—there is something for everyone.” The band plays a mix of folk, country and rock.

It was a great night for music at Red Sail Park with Middle Class Blues players Curtis Thompson, David Gale, and Steve Robichad

Guitar player and lead singer David Gale moved to Fairfield Harbour two years ago. An experienced boater, he had read about New Bern from the Chesapeake Bay magazine and was also familiar with the bears from having spent time in Switzerland. He started playing guitar in church at age 13 and as a teenager, he lived with his family in Ireland for two years and started playing in Irish pubs with a musician he met there. He brings the always popular Irish music to the group’s repertoire and also enjoys American folk and rock and Sea Shanty’s. He moved here from Maryland with his wife Robin and spent his career with the Department of Health.

Doug King moved here from the Triangle area along with his wife Kathie in 2008 because of boating and the life style. He has a boating pedigree with his father being one of the founding members of Black Beard Sailing Club. Everyone who has had a chance to listen to or play with Doug knows he loves the blues and is a great teacher of musical styles and telling everyone” it’s all about the rhythm”. He is a retired naval engineer and is actively involved in sailing education with youth around the area. He is the lead guitarist in the band as well as being an expert on amps and different guitar styles. Doug started playing the guitar in college and like many others “put it down for a while” but is enjoying it immensely in retirement.

Fairfield Harbour neighbors and friends enjoying music and food at the September Harbour Social.

Banjo player Curtis Thompson brings an African-American folk influence to the group. He and his wife Ericha moved here from Flint, Michigan in 2017 because of the sailing environment and lived on their boat for a year traveling several times to the Bahamas.

He comes from a long-line of family musicians. His great grandmother gave his father his first guitar and his father played in a group known as the Thompson Brothers who traveled around playing in churches in South Carolina. Curtis learned how to play guitar from his father and wanted to play better than his Dad. When he figured out he would not, he picked up the banjo because he had always loved the sound. He uses claw hammer and blue grass techniques. In his “previous life” Curtis worked as an engineer for General Motors. He also enjoys being a re-enactor with the 35th USCT (United States Colored Troups) which was a unit in New Bern during the Civil War.

Steve Robichad plays the bass guitar as well as stand- up bass. He moved to Fairfield Harbour in 2017 from Meriden, Connecticut with his wife Barb. They were drawn to the area because of its vibrant arts community in a small town along with friendly people and a “beachy” feel. He met Doug King at the Brown Pelican at open mic night and the rest is history. He loves music because of the joy it brings him and others.

His preference is rock from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. In the late 60’s he played bass for a Peter, Paul and Mary cover band at coffee houses in the Meriden area. In his “previous life” he was a DJ, served in the Air Force, and worked for the telephone company in marketing until retirement in 1995. He then opened a custom picture framing business and gallery that included an outdoor patio and café and started booking and producing concert events. He runs a non-profit in Connecticut “Restore with the Arts, Inc” which produces and finances free summer concerts at the local outdoor amphitheater. Its mission statement is: to bring community and culture together through music to help with the revitalization of the downtown.

This group can be seen playing at Harbour Socials as well as other events. Come out and enjoy their diverse music and tap your feet and sing along.

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