These 9 band members are restoring folk, bluegrass with New Bern audiences requesting more

·4 min read
The Bonafides will present a concert Sept. 10 at the New Bern Civic Theatre. From left, band members are Nina Arrington, Mason Oliver, George Oliver, Sheila Batten, Dare Oliver, Tim Webb. Doug DeSantis, Miguel Delima and Danny Batten.
The Bonafides will present a concert Sept. 10 at the New Bern Civic Theatre. From left, band members are Nina Arrington, Mason Oliver, George Oliver, Sheila Batten, Dare Oliver, Tim Webb. Doug DeSantis, Miguel Delima and Danny Batten.

A group of friends have 'banded" together and started a musical group that is entertaining residents at different venues throughout New Bern — occasionally on the front porch of three of its members' homes.

The Bonafides have become a highly requested musical group that has performed at local theaters, events and happenings in the area. They can often be heard at fundraisers for various non-profits including the New Bern Historical Society and The Filling Station in Jones County.

Group members play a variety of instruments including banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass, guitar, drum and keyboard. They play bluegrass, folk, old-time, and several other genres of music.

"Early last year we got together with some friends and started playing on the stage at New Bern Civic Theatre," said band member George Oliver. "The theater was not open due to COVID, so we could spread out from each other on the stage."

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"This was a project that kind of grew out of COVID," said Oliver. "It was interesting to find other ways to find that creative outlet and to do it in a way that kept other people safe," he said.

In March of 2020, Oliver started playing a new banjo song from his front porch on East Front Street about every other day and posting them on his social media accounts and YouTube channel. He has posted more than 400 videos over the past two years.

In July, the group held a "Front Porch" concert and invited the public to bring chairs and listen to their music for about 2 1/2 hours. They plan to hold a similar event on Aug. 20.

"I'd really like to get a front porch music festival going in downtown New Bern," he said. "That is my goal for next year. Downtown New Bern is so well suited for it with lots of places with big porches and yards where people can just walk around and listen to music."

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He added that he would like to bring in some out-of-town bands to continue the event throughout the evening in downtown theaters.

"I think that would be great for downtown," he said.

Prior to the onset of COVID-19, Oliver, his wife and children had their own band known as Strung Together. Their first public performance was at Christ Church on Pollock Street during its 300th anniversary celebration in 2015. Oliver's children eventually went off to college bringing the group to a halt. They recorded three albums during the summer of 2020 while the children were home from school due to the pandemic.

Oliver said that The Bonafides play anything that someone in the group likes that they can adapt to their instruments.

The group consists of nine members, George Oliver and his wife Dare and their son, Mason, Danny and Sheila Batten who are the owners of Surf, Wind and Fire located in downtown New Bern, Dr. Doug DeSantis, Attorney Nina Banfield Arrington, Tim Webb of Greenville and Miguel Delima, who is a music teacher at The Epiphany School.

Dare Oliver is also a member of the acapella group, The Silver Lining Singers.

The Bonafides will be presenting "Made Here, Played Here" on Sept. 10, at the New Bern Civic Theater. The show will feature music made famous by North Carolina musicians. Along with the music, there will also be some history given about the artist.  The one-night only event will be at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now for $15 on the theatre's website.

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"There's such a richly talented group of musicians from our state," Oliver said. "It has been neat researching them. A lot of them you may have heard of, but some of them you may have not."

There will be swing songs, bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, old time and other music from North Carolina musicians. They will also be joined onstage by the Silver Lining Singers for a few of the songs.

"Because of the different folks in our band and their different talents and interests we're able to go across all of these styles," Oliver said.

George Oliver is an attorney at Oliver and Cheek, PLLC and currently serves as president of New Bern Civic Theater.

"Music has allowed us to spend a lot of time with the kids and our friends and create a lot of memories", Oliver said.

This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: The Bonafides entertain audiences with multiple genres of music