Strumming Through Time: How a 15-Year Friendship Launched Dickey Hazel

“Oh I remember exactly when we met. We are at Loggerheads on Wrightsville Beach,”‘ Jesse Stockton told us over the phone. “It was either 2008 or 2009.”

Friendships are oftentimes formed by what two people have in common. A bond can easily  be created if you share an interest or a passion. But a true closeness and understanding requires something more. None of us really want our friends to be carbon copies of ourselves. Instead we’re hoping that they will be strong in areas where we are weak, that their talents and skills will complement whatever we’re bringing to the table.  If friendships start with the familiar, they are oftentimes sustained, and can certainly grow deeper, through our differences.

Such is the connection between Jesse Stockton and Jonah Citty.

“I went to Loggerheads to see a friend who had a gig there. At the same time Jonah was at Red Dogs rehearsing with his band, and when they got done, he came over to Loggerheads and sat in with our mutual friend. That’s how we met,” remembers Jesse.

“There was an instant vibe. I liked him right away,” remembers Jonah.

Music was Jesse and Jonah’s bond. They both played the guitar. They both had similar tastes and styles. But there was a difference, that really came to life only after they became roommates. Turns out they heard things differently, they created differently.

Jesse, who grew up in the small town of Weddington, North Carolina (about a half hour south of Charlotte) moved to Wilmington in 2006. He is kind of the pen to paper creator. He can spend hours messing around with chords, filling up a blank page with notes and lyrics.

Jonah, who moved to Wilmington in 1995, has the rare ability to look at a sheet covered in scribbles, or to watch someone strum a few notes in front of him, and then to hear what is missing, how to make it better, how to make it hum.

“I would write all night long,” Jesse thinks back about days nearly a decade and a half ago, ” and then he would wake up, and I would go into his room and be like ‘here’s what I got,’ and he’d start messing with it.

“He was heavy at writing music, and laying down chords, and I was trying to lay down more symphonic stuff, I tried to help him articulate more depth in the chordal structure.”

Simply put if Jesse were to play a “c” Jonah would add additional notes, and more melody. Jesse’s start, with Jonah’s polishing, really made things bloom. Some of what was created between the two was eventually recorded by Jesse and released on a solo album.

But even though the friendship and collaboration produced material, life always moves on.

In time Jonah was moving out. He had joined a heavy metal band called ASG that was doing shows including large, international festivals.

Jesse stayed in town and focused on his solo career. He was establishing himself as one of the leading local acts when the pandemic hit. With nowhere to play, he loaded up a small house van and headed out to California. The adventure would last three years, inspiring a song, but in time Jesse was moving back to the east coast, where he caught up with his old friend and roommate Jonah.

“At the time I was trying to start a band with my friend Brad Hodges and Jesse called up about starting a band with him. I didn’t want to be in two different bands, so the three of us came together to form Dickey Hazel.” In short time the three men recruited seasoned base guitarist Zach Brandisi and drummer Logan Watson to join the cause.

The five members have been together, performing around the Cape Fear region for roughly a year and half. They play a lot of outlaw country, some Grateful Dead and Rolling Stones covers, and a number of original songs.

“It’s going well. We’re five alpha males, and we have our differences, but We’re figuring out what we need to do for the next level and I really think we are transcending right now,” said Jonah.  “I think we are going to overcome whatever inner battles we’re having and become something truly great.”

Roughly 18 months into their existence,  Dickey Hazel has booked a major local gig. They will be one of the featured acts in this year’s Port City Rock Jam- a 12 hour concert scheduled for August 3rd at Bowstring Brewyard.

” People are going to hear heartfelt, real ,true music, with some mistakes, but a lot of energy” said Jonah.. “Nothing is perfect of course, but we’re striving for excellence, and we have five musicians who really care about their craft.

For more information on Port City Rock Jam Click Here

For other upcoming Dickey Hazel performances click here.

To hear samples of the unique Dickey Hazel sound, click here


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