Best Bets for July 20-26

Friday 7.20

Flint Hill Bluegrass Band, Dixie Jubilee

Fun and free are just two words to describe the “Pickin’ on the Porch” summer concert series at Bluegrass Island Trading Company in Manteo.

Oh, and let us throw in family-friendly.

On Friday, July 20, two bands will fill the outdoor space with joyful sounds. Flint Hill Bluegrass Band is a Randleman, N.C.-based five-piece – banjo, upright bass, guitar mandolin and dobro – that features first-rate instrumental skills and sparkling four-part harmonies. They’re old-school bluegrass with all four vocalists gathered around one microphone. And in the best sense of the string-band tradition, each musician gets a chance to solo. Repertoire ranges from instrumental breakdowns to hymns and old-timey country.

Dixie Jubilee is family outfit – mother, son and two daughters – that plays bluegrass, gospel and country with a Celtic kick.

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where: Bluegrass Island Trading Company (lawn seating), 107 Budleigh St., Manteo

Info: (252) 423-3039,

Tuesday 7.24

Coyote Plus One

We’re not sure what’s in the water in Ocracoke, but there are dozens of talented musicians living on the tiny island.

Two of the best are singer-songwriters-multi-instrumentalists Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro, the married couple known as Coyote. The duo, with a special guest each week, performs Tuesdays all summer at the Coyote Music Den.

It’s a cozy space, perfect for what Brenner calls “a night of well-crafted spontaneity.” The “Plus One” shows feature a “bucket list of songs” that touch on rock, folk, bluegrass, country and pop. Singer-songwriter Katy Mitchell will join Brenner and Castro on July 24.

Mitchell, whose parents Gary and Kitty Mitchell formed the nationally known folk-bluegrass-rock band Molasses Creek, leans to the folk-rock side, with echoes of Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins. Brenner and Castro also played in Molasses Creek. Expect some free-flowing jams and harmonizing.

When: 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Cost: $15 for adults, $7 for children, $12 for seniors and $10 for locals

Where: Coyote Music Den, 284 Irvin Garrish Hwy., Ocracoke

Info: (252) 9286874,

Thursday 7.26

Barefoot Wade

Yep, the name fits. The 38-year-old musician goes shoeless at his gigs.

The Ocracoke-based singer-songwriter is a one-man band (electric and acoustic guitars, bass, kazoo, ukulele and steel drums). Using a “looping” device, Wade sounds like a full band. His original tunes include the funky “Jungle Man,” the laid-back reggae jam “Seasonally Mine” (about a summer romance) and the upbeat “Sunny Day.”

“I like to call it island-hopping music,” says Wade in describing his sound. He also reimagines tunes from a wide variety of artists, including the Allman Brothers Band, Grateful Dead, Bob Marley and Willie Nelson.

“I try to touch all the bases,” he says. Wade will perform at Duck Town Park in Duck.

When: 6:30

Cost: Free

Where: Duck Town Park (lawn seating), 1200 Duck Road, Duck

Info: (252) 255-1286,

Tuesday-Thursday 7.24-26

OBX Mystery Dinner

“It’s just joke after joke after joke.”

That’s Mystery Dinner producer Matt Marberry describing the interactive show that runs three nights at Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills.

Working off a script by local playwright Tim Hass, the play is sett in a Medieval Kingdom but the comedy is current. Topics include late-night tweets, online reviews and video games.

“There’s a lot of improvising,” says Marberry, who’s in his fifth year as producer.

The “mystery” involves a murder (off-stage) that audience members try to solve. Suspects include a witch, a king, a princess, a jester, a prince and a critic. Audience members “bribe” the actors for clues using fake money that comes with the ticket.

The show runs about two-and—a-half hours with an intermission.

When: 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Cost: $49.99 for adults, $36.99 for children, with dinner included

Where: Ramada Plaza, 1701 S. Va. Dare Trail (milepost 9.5), Kill Devil Hills

Info: (800) 838-3006,