June 2, 2009 - Tuesday Scearce And Ketner in Tideland News By KAREN PATE Tideland News Writer A couple of blocks of rooftops and a blue swath of the White Oak River are within Dicky Scearce and Jack Ketner's sight. Ketner's got his shades on and feet up on his sunroom chaise while longtime friend and fellow musician Scearce sits, arms outstretched on the couch. The western Piedmont natives have reason to relax. For the past seven years, "Scearce & Ketner" have been performing their self-proclaimed "Carolina Pirate Rock" from Boston, Mass., to Key West, Fla. Their music incorporates a mix of island, beach and Jimmy Buffet tunes. "A lot of people, especially Parrotheads, want the Buffet sound," said Ketner. "So that's why they hire you." "But a lot of our original music isn't 'Buffety,'" adds Scearce, who said they're too diverse to be categorized. Regardless, the duo has a loyal following. "We have great audiences," said Ketner, "but we've never had groupies - that's such a myth about bands. Dicky's married but I'm still looking for groupies." Ty Cobb, owner of Cobb's Corner in Carolina Beach, said Scearce and Ketner are "a fixture that beach resident's expect every month. They're a big deal here and at the Pleasure Island Beach Sweep each year." Scearce leads on vocals and guitar, while Ketner lends vocals, guitars, violin and mandolin. If the composition requires the sound of an electric guitar, dobro, or pedal steel, Ketner can fill that void, too. Both play keyboards. The creative collaboration in music and lyrics has produced three CDs. The latest, titled "Three" was released in January. A friend, Scott Nickerson, contributed some drums and percussion for "Three." Scearce and Ketner write the lyrics in as little as a day or as much as several weeks. "It just depends on how inspired we are," said Ketner. "Some days the music and lyrics are just there and then some days you have a block." Inspiration has had the upper hand on writer or musician's block, though, as the duo's managed to make a living in the entertainment business. "We're barely making a living at it," laughs Scearce, "let's get that straight. We wouldn't be doing it if it weren't financially feasible. With it being just the two of us, we've followed the rule 'keep it small and keep it all.'" They learned the "keep it small" mantra after performing with the "Carter Brother's Band" in the mid-1980's. The band had some promise with tours in Europe and a demo deal at Capitol Records, but eventually crumbled from internal disputes. Scearce and Ketner continued to ply their musical talents in their spare time, until Scearce could no longer deny his tuneful yearning. It's been nine years now since Scearce quite his day job in corporate sales. "I was looking for a change," he said. "I told my wife, a teacher, to find a job anywhere on the North Carolina coast. She found a job in Jacksonville and we settled in Cedar Point. I had the corporate car, shirt and tie, but it wasn't hard to leave it behind." Scearce tested the musical waters for two years before he asked Ketner to join him in April 1995. "I had three months booked (in performances) and I told Jack, 'If you want to do it, let's do it. Three months are guaranteed,'" said Scearce. Never bound by corporate cars or ties, Ketner was immediately struck by Swansboro's coastal charm. "I love it here," Ketner said without breaking his gaze of the waterfront. "And I didn't have to quit my day job." All he had to do was move his easel and brushes to a new home. His paintings, a mix of realism and the surreal, have been shown in galleries for a couple of decades. The duo's CD covers, painted by Ketner, are pure fantasy, though. In fact, the CD "Three," adorned with three astonished mermaids has garnered a few commissions for mermaid paintings. "Who knew mermaids would be so sought after?" asked Ketner. "But if people want to buy mermaids, then I'll paint mermaids." Home/studio Ketner's 1890's Swansboro home serves as haven, art studio, and music studio. Surrounded by a few dozen antique violins, the musicians not only write lyrics, they record, and do much of the digital dubbing in the home. The recording is done in the closet. According to Ketner, many Motown musicians had limited access to recording studios while jump-starting their careers, so the closet was the next best thing. "I installed acoustical sound tiles and left clothes at either end as an additional buffer," he said. "The condenser microphone picks up every sound," added Scearce, "it tough to record in the summer when the neighbor's mowing his yard. But you'd honestly never know from the latest CD that the lyrics were performed in a closet." But the duo thinks that performing in and out of closets will eventually give way to selling lyrics to country and pop musicians. "Musical boundaries are blurred now," said Ketner. A lot of country artists like Faith Hill are releasing their songs in two markets - country and then pop, he explained. "Tweaking lyrics for different markets isn't a far jump at all," adds Scearce. "If it's a good song with a good hook then it can be sold to just about anyone." Until the big sells roll in, though, Scearce and Ketner will continue to jam at beaches across the eastern U.S. The duo is booked solid on weekends for the next three months and gears up for five nights a week in the summer months.