New Jersey Stage

Friday, December 31, 2010

Indigo Planet Records (IPR) and Penguin Radio to Broadcast Live Concert Series from Lakewood's Historic Strand Theater

(LAKEWOOD, NJ) – Indigo Planet Records and Penguin Radio are presenting a new "live" concert series format at the beautiful and historic Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ. Strategically located 60 miles south of NYC, 60 miles east of Philadelphia, and 60 Miles north of Atlantic City, the Theater series will host the best talent from this general region, along with national acts who rarely perform in this general area. As part of the theater's "backstage pass" series, the performers and audience will all share the big stage, which houses some of the best acoustics in the state.

"We are excited and proud to bring this series to the Strand Theater" says Dave Kosciolek, IPR President. "The talent will be top-notch, and we are excited to open up such a beautiful stage to the most deserving local artists. Having Gary (Gary Wien, Penguin Radio) involved makes it that much more exciting, and now local and regional artists with fan bases outside the area will have the opportunity to showcase for them as well live over the Internet."

Adds Wien, "The Penguin's mission is to introduce music fans to up-and-coming artists generally ignored by mainstream radio stations, so this series is perfect for us.  The series essentially lets anyone anywhere in the world hear the concert live via an internet connection.  How cool is that?"

The series commences on Saturday, Feb. 5 2011 with a show featuring Aaron Dugan (long-time guitarist for Grammy-nominated band Matisyahu) and his musical project with NYC's Amy Carrigan (Ducarriganigan), local breakout performer Anjelia Pelay, and the show welcomes home Rachel Zamstein, a popular former Asbury Park musician now performing out of Brooklyn.

Showtime is 8PM sharp, doors at 7:30. Tickets are limited, priced at $25, and can be ordered online at The show will be broadcast live at

About Indigo Planet Records – Launched in 2005 with the release of April Smith's  debut CD "loveletterbombs," IPR has partnered with Invisible Children, been represented at SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon, nationally in Billboard, Justine, Playboy, and American Cheerleader Magazines, and showcased at several leading clubs throughout the country including the Viper Room (LA), and Canal Room and Sine (NYC). Among the IPR releases in 2010 was and the debut from former Torque (CN) recording artist Samantha Lu (including a recently released jazzy, pop cover of the Replacements classic "Can't Hardly Wait.") Among 2011 releases will be the debut CD by Lettuce Olive, featuring Travis Tooke (For Squirrels, Subrosa).

About Penguin Radio began broadcasting in 2008.  Each month, Gary Wien compiles a new playlist comprised of music received at the station and found across the Internet.  With over 35,000 songs in the station archives, there's no shortage of music to choose from.  The Penguin is proud to play independent artists alongside the biggest names in the business.  We don't follow the charts... we make our own.


(Stanhope, NJ) -– January 2011 Less than six months after the re-opening of a legendary venue, the Stanhope House has managed to pack January with big events! Musical legends, old favorites, and new talents are all starting to flock to the historic roadhouse for great music five days a week and a brand new menu all about home cookin' and comfort food!

Here are a few highlights:

The first act coming to The Stanhope House for 2011 are The Shockenaw Mountain Boys headlining January 6th with Matt O'Ree as the opener.

The Shockenaw Mountain Boys are a quartet that consists of Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, John Skehan and Johnny Grubb of the national touring act Railroad Earth. The much loved Railroad Earth is a roots and Americana-based amplified Bluegrass band from Stillwater, New Jersey. They've released two albums on Sugar Hill Records (2002's "Bird In A House" and 2004's "The Good Life") and one on SCI Fidelity (2008's "Amen Corner"). They've also amassed a huge and loyal fan base that follows them from show to show. The Shockenaw Mountain Boys, a smaller branch of Railroad Earth, play music that combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, celtic and more. The group is also known for its extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting.

The Matt O'Ree Band, a local four piece Blues-Rock based band, won't be an opening act for too much longer. Matt O'Ree, Eric Safka, Scotty Bennert, and John Hummel are an electric force when on stage together they put on a high energy performance you won't forget. Matt O'Ree, who was influenced by a range of guitarists including Albert King, Howlin' Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan formed a band built on a down and dirty, nasty tones that have a sexy aftertaste. O'Ree beat out 4,000 other guitar players to win the national Guitarmaggedon guitar competition in 2006. The band is also a four time 2005 Asbury Park award winner.

On Friday, January 14th another local Blues great, Billy Hector, will be gracing the Stanhope House stage. Billy Hector began playing guitar over 40 years ago at the age of nine and his influences include artists like Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Billy Hector has twice received the Best Guitarist Award from music critic Bob Makin of the East Coast Rocker who states, "Billy plays with guts and displays some of the best chops you'll see anywhere." Billy and his band shared billing with Bonnie Raitt at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Tribute to Muddy Waters". Afterwards, Raitt said the beauty of Hector's sound brought tears to her eyes. 

Billy recently took home 3 Asbury Park Music Awards for "Best Guitarist", "Best Blues Band" and the "Living Legend Award". Billy Hector is recognized as one of the hottest guitarists and songwriters playing the original circuit and serves up what more than one reviewer has called "one of the best shows you'll ever see". The Stanhope House is thrilled to have him!

On January 28th the Stanhope House welcomes Kim Wilson And His All Star Blues Review. Wilson is famous from his days as the lead singer and front man, from the uber-popular, Fabulous Thunderbirds.

NPR said it best... "As front man for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kim Wilson has proven to be a consummate performer and devoted blues lover. But it's in his solo work that he truly shines. A musician's musician, many consider Wilson to be one of the premier blues harmonica players in America. His style is grounded in the past -- as evidenced by the many classic blues and R&B tunes he covers -- but it's also uniquely his own. And his vocal style rivals -- or outshines -- any blues singer out there today: his tone is buttery and rich, slightly scarred, and never in a hurry. Raw and yet refined, this contemporary blues will make you be glad that you've got the blues." NPR Weekend Edition - Saturday, June 21, 2003.

Although Wilson has often been compared to legendary harmonica player Little Walter, he calls the analogy "sacrilegious." He says his biggest influence was Muddy Waters, whom he befriended after moving to Austin. Although he acknowledges the influence of many great blues harmonica musicians, he calls his own playing a "very modern" take on a traditional music form that is thoroughly his own. "I think that you have so many influences and you steal so much stuff that finally it just gets mixed up into you," Wilson says.

The Stanhope House is one of the last blues bastions left in America. The former private home, stagecoach stop, general store, post office, tavern, rooming house (some say brothel) and hotel became well-known in the early 1970's for featuring a list of performers that reads like a who's who of Blues-Rock history. Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Dr. John, Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson, Billy Branch, Lonnie Mack, Son Seals, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Copeland, Richie Havens, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Albert King and Buddy Guy rocked the stage, most more than once. For this year make The Stanhope House a go-to stop for your 2011 New Year's resolution!

George Street Playhouse Education Department To Host Spotlight on Cyberbullying

(New Brunswick, NJ) – George Street Playhouse will host a conference on an ever-increasingly important topic – cyberbullying – on Monday, January 10, beginning at 9:30 AM.  The purpose of the event is to provide parents, teachers, guidance counselors and school administrators with effective strategies to recognize and address this growing problem in the lives of students.  The day begins with a performance of IRL: In Real Life, by R.N. Sandberg at 10:15.  Following the performance, participants will take part in an interactive workshop that looks at how to develop positive strategies to address cyberbullying with students.  Following a break for lunch (provided by George Street Playhouse), there will be a panel discussion on the topic.  Scheduled to participate on the panel are:

  • IRL:  In Real Life playwright and Princeton University professor R.N. Sandberg;
  • Aram Sinnreich, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University;
  • Kelly Paredes, School Counselor, Westwood Regional Middle School.

The panel will be moderated by Jim Jack, Director of Education and Outreach at George Street Playhouse.

Participation in the conference is FREE; reservations are required, and may be made by calling the GSP Box Office at 732-246-7717 or registering online at

R.N. Sandberg's IRL:In Real Life was commissioned by George Street Playhouse through a grant from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation in 2007.  It is the story of four ninth graders who face the consequences of shared text messages, exploited secret photos and threatening online conversations, that all students need to face.  Directed by Jim Jack, it features the talents of MaameYaa Boafo, Annie Rutherford Lutz, Andrew Saunders, and Ananias J Dixon.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theater, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists.  Founded in 1974, the Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway – recent productions include the Outer Critics' Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger, the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill and the recent Broadway hit and Tony® and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at GSP during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays.  George Street Educational and Outreach programs are made possible in part through the generosity of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and The Karma Foundation.  George Street Playhouse programming is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by its lead season sponsor Johnson & Johnson.  Continental Airlines is the official airline of George Street Playhouse.

Chester Theatre Group Presents 8-Week Comedy Workshop

(CHESTER, NJ) -- Calling all want-to-be-stand-up comedians.. The Chester Theatre Group and comedienne Kate Lyn Reiter's Humor in the Midst are ringing in the New Year with laughter.

Starting on Saturday, January 22, 2011, Ms. Reiter will be conducting an 8-week comedy workshop at the Black River Playhouse in Chester, NJ.

Kate Lyn Reiter is a MFA Yale School of Drama graduate with 12 years experience as a comedienne in NYC.

The sessions will be from 9:30 to 12 noon. The total cost is $195 (10 percent discount for mentioning the Chester Theatre Group).

For information and registration call 908-892-5458,or go to Additional eight week sessions begin March 19 and May 14.

The CTG's Black River Playhouse is located at the corner of Grove and Maple Streets in the borough of Chester, New Jersey. For more info visit

New Brunswick Restaurants Unite for Eric LeGrand Believe Fund On Sunday, January 30

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- A collection of New Brunswick establishments will take part in a special charity event to raise money for the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund on Sunday, January 30.

LeGrand, a junior defensive tackle for the Rutgers football program, suffered a spinal cord injury Oct. 16 against Army. The fund was established to support LeGrand and his family throughout his rehabilitation.

Participating New Brunswick restaurants will provide a variety of special menus and offers for the fundraiser. Tickets for this event can be purchased in advance from participating establishments, and there are a number of differently priced ticket options available.

The list of  participants include Catherine Lombardi, Steakhouse 85, Due Mari, Old Bay, Panico's Brick Oven Pizza, The Stress Factory, Delta's, The Frog and The Peach, Glass Woods Tavern at the Hyatt, Panico's Italian Restaurant and the Tulu Restaurant and Lounge. Please call the restaurant of your choice for menu, ticket information and reservations.

Whichever location and/or ticket option you choose, a minimum of 50% of the ticket price will be donated to the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund.

For information on participating New Brunswick establishments, visit

For more information on the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund, visit:

George Street Playhouse Presents "The Subject Was Roses"

(New Brunswick, NJ) --  George Street Playhouse and Artistic Director David Saint recently announced casting for their production of Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses.  The three-person cast includes Lee Sellars recently seen on Broadway in the hit revival of West Side Story (and GSP's production of The Pillowman) as John Cleary, Chris Wendelken as young Timmy Cleary, and stage and screen star Stephanie Zimbalist as Nettie Cleary.  The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award- winning play about a young soldier's return from World War II only to find another war brewing on the home front will be on the boards in New Brunswick beginning Tuesday, February 8, 2011 and will run through Sunday, March 6.  Opening night is set for Friday, February 11.  Michael Mastro, seen on the Playhouse stage in productions of The Pillowman and The Sunshine Boys opposite Jack Klugman, will direct.

"The roles in this powerful drama require actors capable of extraordinary honesty", said Artistic Director David Saint.  "We are so fortunate to have a remarkable cast featuring my old friend Stephanie Zimbalist, returning GSP alumnus Lee Sellars and gifted newcomer Chris Wendelken.  I am certain that under Michael Mastro's guidance they will provide an unforgettable evening in the theatre."

Creating the world of The Subject Was Roses are scenic designer Michael Schweikardt, costume designer Esther Arroyo and lighting and sound designer Christopher J. Bailey.

Tickets for The Subject Was Roses are now available through the George Street Playhouse Box Office, either by phone at 732-246-7717 or by shopping online at  George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, in the heart of New Brunswick's dining and entertainment district.  In addition, groups of 10 or more are entitled to a discount – for further information contact the GSP Group Sales Department at 732-846-2895, ext. 134 or 155.

There are three sides to every story.  Buried truths and old emotional wounds resurface when young Timmy McCleary returns to his parents' home after World War II.  Caught in the crossfire of unresolved tensions over money, love and heroism, the new veteran finds himself engaged in a battle on the home front – where all three family members ache for a peaceful détente.

Stephanie Zimbalist was a young amateur theatrical entrepreneur, producing, writing and directing pieces in her bedroom hallway, in the stable, and on neighbors' fireplace hearths.  After graduating high school, her ambitions led her to choose a professional drama school over university, which led her to New York.  Returning to Los Angeles she worked for her brother and sister-in-law while making audition rounds.  In time she starred in television movies, among them the Emmy Award-winning The Gathering, Centennial, The Golden Moment and Tomorrow's Child, along with the occasional guest series role.  After several such projects and two feature films – The Magic of Lassie with James Stewart and The Awakening with Charlton Heston – Stephanie was offered the role of Laura Holt in the series Remington Steele, which she played for five years with Pierce Brosnan and Doris Roberts on NBC.  Other television appearances during that time include The Story Lady with Jessica Tandy, Incident in a Small Town for CBS with Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan, and Stop The World – I Want to Get Off, the musical on A&E.

Stephanie made her stage debut in 1979 in the musical Festival at the Las Palmas Theater in Los Angeles with Gregory Harrison and Brian Stokes Mitchell.   Other theatre credits include The Tempest with Anthony Hopkins at the Mark Taper Forum, The Cherry Orchard at Long Wharf Theatre, Summer and Smoke and Barbarians at the Williamstown Theatre Festival as well as the National Tour of My One and Only with Tommy Tune.  In 1989 she initiated a play to be written for her and Linda Purl – The Baby Dance by Jane Anderson – which they produced and starred in at the Pasadena Playhouse.  The production moved to Williamstown and Long Wharf, culminating in a critically acclaimed run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York.

Recent theatrical credits include The Threepenny Opera with Betty Buckley at Williamstown, The Philadelphia Story at Cleveland Playhouse, The Crimson Thread, the West Coast premiere of AdWars, the title role in A.R. Gurney's Sylvia at L.A's Coronet Theater, Wonderful Town with Lucie Arnaz for LA's Reprise! Series;  The Rainmaker;  Side Man at the Guthrie Theatre;  Varya in The Cherry Orchard opposite Alfred Molina; Dancing at Lughnasa and Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity at the Rubicon Theatre where she also trod the boards with her father Efrem for the first time in Tennesse Williams' Night of the Iguana.

For several springs now, Stephanie has opened the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival with a reading of one of his plays at their Gala event, sharing the boards with Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Ashley, John Goodman, Patricia Neal, Linda Hart and Rex Reed.  Having worked in New Orleans with the Festival and in Malpractice and made friends in Nola, the recent tragedies there hit especially hard.

Lee Sellars was last seen on the GSP stage as Tupolski in The Pillowman.  Recent Broadway credits include the recent revival of West Side Story as well as Talk Radio, Longacre Theater.  Other New York theater credits include: A Small Melodramatic Story LAByrinth theater; The Alchemist, Classic Stage Company. Regional theater: The Pillowman , George Street Playhouse; Pig Farm, The God of Hell, Contemporary American Theater Festival. Television: "Chappelle's Show", "The Sopranos", "Lipstick Jungle", "Law and Order" (recurring) and "ER" (recurring). Film : The Savages, Groundhog Day. Lee also writes the music and performs with the New York, alternative, art-rock band; Eelwax Jesus.

Chris Wendelken has spent the last year touring the United States and Europe with Big Dance Theater in Comme Toujours Here I Stand (Bessie Award), performing internationally at Les Subsistances, Le Quartz, Le Lieu Unique, Theatre National de Bretagne, regionally at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Yale, MCA (Chicago), as well at The Kitchen in New York. Additional theatre credits in NY include the BE Company's production of 7 Stories (urbanStages), Ma-Yi's Iph, Then (TFNC), John Jesurun's Firefall (Dance Theatre Workshop), numerous readings & workshops with the Ephipany Theatre Company, Atlantic Theatre Co., Manhattan Theatre Club and featured roles in films and TV shows, like NBC's Law & Order: SVU. BFA: NYU (Atlantic Theater Co., Experimental Theater Wing).

Michael Mastro is honored to be directing Frank Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize winning classic at George Street, where as an actor he has had the great pleasure of appearing in such plays as The Sunshine Boys with Jack Klugman, The Pillowman and Inspecting Carol.  In December of 2010, Michael helmed a NYC benefit production of the comedy Hate Mail, starring Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery for Opening Act, a NYC non-profit that brings after-school theatre programs into under-served city schools.  In the fall of 2010, he assisted David Saint in the mounting of the first national tour of West Side Story.  Past directorial assignments include Love Letters, starring Bernadette Peters and John Dossett (also for Opening Act), as well as one-acts by many wonderful NYC playwrights including Warren Leight, Geoffrey Nauffts, Dena Douglas, Jeanne Dorsey and Sally Nemith with several NYC theatre companies including Naked Angels, Soho Shorts, Midtown International Theatre Festival, Gilgamesh, One Dream and the Atlantic Theatre School. 

As an actor, Michael has just completed two years in the Broadway revival of West Side Story.  Other Broadway credits include: Twelve Angry Men; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with Ashley Judd/Ned Beatty/Jason Patric); Mamma Mia!, Judgement at Nuremberg; Side Man; Barrymore (with Christopher Plummer); Love! Valour! Compassion!  Off-Broadway, he appeared in The Water Children (Playwrights Horizons), Escape from Happiness (Naked Angels). In addition to his roles at George Street, he has appeared regionally in Guys and Dolls (Paper Mill), Taming of the Shrew (Old Globe), The Dinner Party (Paper Mill/Coconut Grove), Buffalo Gal (Williamstown), Substance of Fire (Coconut Grove), Italian American Reconciliation, Two Rooms, and Hate Mail (all at Penguin Rep). Film: Kissing Jessica Stein, The Night We Never Met, Jungle 2 Jungle, Borough of Kings.  TV:  "Alias," "Hack," "Deadline," "Cosby," lots of "Law & Order."  He is a proud member of four unions, including Actors Equity and SDC, and he is also a proud member of Naked Angels, a New York City-based theatre company celebrating it's 25th Anniversary this year.

Frank Gilroy was born on October 13, 1925 in New York City, the son of Bettina (née Vasti) and Frank B. Gilroy, a coffee broker.  His father was Irish-American and his mother was of Italian and German descent.  Gilroy lived in the Bronx for most of his childhood and attended DeWitt Clinton High School. He then enlisted in the army after graduation. He served two and a half years in the 89th Division where eighteen months were in the European Theatre.  After the war, he attended Dartmouth College and received his B.A. with magna cum laude. Later in 1966, he would receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. He also received a grant from Dartmouth that allowed him to attend the Yale School of Drama.

Gilroy wrote in the Golden Age of Television for such shows as Playhouse 90, Westinghouse Studio One, The United States Steel Hour, Omnibus, Kraft Television Theatre, and Lux Video Theatre.  His entrance to theatre was marked with his 1962 play Who'll Save the Plowboy? at the Phoenix Theatre in New York which won the OBIE Award. The play follows Albert Cobb, a man who once dreamed of owning a farm becoming a plowboy. He and his wife Helen are awaiting to be reunited fifteen years after World War II, along with Larry Doyle, the man who saved his life. The title comes from when they were in the war, and Albert was staked as bait by the Germans, and Larry kept shouting "Who'll Save the Plowboy?" until he finally crept out and saved him.  May of 1964 saw the opening of The Subject Was Roses, which has been compared to Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night.

That Summer, That Fall (1967) is a version of the Hippolytus-Phaedra story. The play is set in an Italian neighborhood in Lower Manhattan in an apartment complex.  Gilroy's works include screenplays for the films Desperate Characters (starring Shirley MacLaine) and The Gallant Hours (starring James Cagney). He has also adapted his own plays for film, including The Subject Was Roses (starring Patricia Neal, Martin Sheen and Jack Albertson) and The Only Game in Town (starring Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty). His 1985 screenplay for The Gig (starring Cleavon Little and Wayne Rogers) has been adapted as a musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen. A 2006 Off-Broadway presentation and recording by the York Theatre Company starred Karen Ziemba, Stephen Berger, Michele Pawk, and Michael McCormick.  Gilroy has also written fiction, including the novel From Noon Till Three, which was adapted into a film starring Charles Bronson. In addition to writing the screenplay, Gilroy also directed the film. Gilroy also contributed to several TV westerns in the late 1950s, including Have Gun - Will Travel and Wanted: Dead or Alive. His later credits include a 1977 adaptation of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novel The Doorbell Rang as a television movie featuring Thayer David.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theater, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists.  Founded in 1974, the Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway – recent productions include the Outer Critics' Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger, the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill and the recent Broadway hit and Tony® and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at GSP during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays.  In addition to its mainstage season, GSP's Touring Theatre features three issue-oriented productions that are seen by more than 60,000 students annually.   George Street Playhouse programming is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Continental Airlines is the official airline of George Street Playhouse.

Playwrights on The Rise - "The God of Samaritan Women"

(Lakewood, NJ) -— Coming to the Strand Center for the Arts, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 8:00pm is Playwrights on The Rise-"The God of Samaritan Women".  This one woman show is performed by the author. The play provides an honest and real approach to the scripture and its modern day application. Readings are staged in the intimate setting of the theater's gallery.

After the reading, the audience can join the open discussion about the characters and plots. This discussion plays a vital role in the development of the play and helps the playwright understand if the audience fully captures the author's intentions.

Readings are conducted monthly during the academic year. Over 30 original plays have been read since the inception of the project. "Quiet Desperation" by M. Lennon Perricone, the first play read by Playwrights on the Rise, has been purchased by a theater company in the mid-west and is currently being staged.

In the past The Strand Theater has had several reading sessions including: Love Up In Flames, Dust In The Infield, Life Is Not Dress Rehearsal, and Mo'Tell. This All Ages show is only $5.00 for tickets, plus service charge, available at the door as you arrive. Join us; we hope to see you there!

If you would like to view the several other reading sessions from Playwrights on The Rise visit For more information call the box office at 732-367-7789 or visit the website at

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Miles to Home (Or how the government failed me)

by Gary Wien

People get abandoned and ignored by the government all of the time.  I've always known this, but on the day after Christmas I became one of the abandoned and ignored...

My wife and I, along with our dog, left to spend Christmas in Virginia on Thursday.  The weather was a concern, but at the time, reports of a big snowstorm kept coming and going.  Early reports that said New Jersey was going to get hit hard were followed by an increasing number of reports that believed the storm was going to be pushed farther east into the Atlantic Ocean.  The news was pretty much the same on Friday, but Saturday's forecasts began to agree that the storm was coming and it would hit the coast hard.  We planned to leave Sunday morning with a route that kept up west enough that we would bypass any snow until we reached the Delaware Memorial Bridge area.  We knew that the Philadelphia region was expected to be hit with much of the same storm so we tried our best to get through that area before the storm picked up steam. 

We made it through Virginia and Maryland without hitting any snow at all and didn't hit much in Pennsylvania until the very end, as we had hoped.  The final 20 miles before the Delaware Memorial Bridge was harsh, but drive-able since the road was continuously being plowed.  It was as I expected -- bad driving conditions limiting your speed to 20 or 30 miles per hour, but enough to keep you moving.

We entered New Jersey and went through the New Jersey Turnpike toll booth without seeing any warnings of state notices.  I'm guessing we must have entered the Turnpike sometime after 7pm.  According to news reports, the Acting Governor of New Jersey issued a State of Emergency around 6pm, but the notice wasn't made public until two hours later.   That's one example of how poorly the state handled this situation.  Why in the world does an emergency notice take two hours to become known? A friend that checked out the New Jersey Department of Transportation website as soon as he heard of the declaration said he didn't see any mention of the State of Emergency there as well.

Nice job of letting people know, huh?

The New Jersey Turnpike was packed with drivers, all driving maybe 25 miles per hour, like I figured it would be.  Thinking back, I wonder just how many of the other drivers had any idea the State of Emergency was in effect.  Wouldn't you have thought that the Turnpike might have put up a sign or used the existing signs to alert drivers of the Emergency ban?  Considering my exit is just beyond one of the rest areas, if they had truly wanted cars off the road they could have put up signs steering us to the rest area.  The rest area parking lot would have been far better than where most of the drivers would wind up spending the night.

It took a while to reach the 7B exit, but I still felt we were on pace to be home by 9pm or so.  The problem was that somewhere between the time of being on the New Jersey Turnpike and starting out on 195 East, the State of Emergency for New Jersey apparently kicked in.  It was at that time that the plows stopped plowing, police and rescue workers were no longer seen, and anyone on the road at the time was deemed "non-essential".

I understand the idea behind issuing a state of emergency, but if there was ever a worse time to issue one I can't think of it.  The Christmas weekend is one of the top two most travelled days of the year.  What the State was basically saying was that they believed the roads were too dangerous for their workers to be on and the thousands already on the roads were on their own.  See, that's what most people don't understand – at the time the plows stopped plowing, thousands of vehicles were still on the road.  Nobody tried helping the people off the road, nobody tried forcing them off the road, and nobody tried giving them a road to work with.  Everything would have been fine if they had just kept plowing.  Instead, vehicle after vehicle wound up being caught in the snow.

We first stopped when we hit some sort of a traffic jam about five miles from home.  Nobody really knew what the cause was and, at the time, we didn't have any idea that the roads had been abandoned by the state.  Ironically, we were just behind a snow plow that we had been following for several miles.  Something was blocking the plow from going any further.  All we could see was a bunch of vehicles up ahead.  I can't remember how long we were stuck there but I think it was about an hour and a half.  During this time, my wife and I kept trying to keep the front window clean from the snow and ice which was gathering quicker and quicker.  We wanted to be ready once the vehicles starting moving again.  We also had to keep shoveling snow from around the car.  And then it happened.  Cars quickly began moving while my wife was outside the car clearing off some ice.  I think we may have been in panic mode at the time.  She told me to start going.  She knew our only hope was to stay close to that snow plow and its blinking lights.  I could barely see much of anything but I started moving the car and following the flashing lights.  I tried driving slow, hoping she would be able to hop in but she was left behind.  I think she was helping the car behind me shovel some snow by its wheel.  She apparently gave them the shovel and tried catching up to me.

I managed to drive another mile or two before I lost sight of the plow.  It had apparently turned off at the exit for the Parkway South (not the direction I wanted) and got stuck in the snow.  While driving I was yelling my wife's name, trying desperately to hear from her.  I wished to God I hadn't gone anywhere until she got into the car.  At this time, I was stressed out of my mind and not thinking clearly.  I honestly thought I'd never see her again.  I hit a huge pile of snow and the car stopped.  As I got out of the car, the snow just up ahead on the road must have been around two feet.  None of the area looked as if it had been plowed in quite some time.  The entire road was covered without even the slightest hint that a plow had left a mark anywhere.  It appeared as if the plows had gone just up to a mile prior and then left via the exit ramp.

Thankfully, my wife showed up – panting and nauseous from running the past mile in the driving snow.  I was so upset at leaving her, but she was apparently much more rational than I was.  She kept saying she knew she would catch up with me sometime.  Little did we know that where we were was going to be our home for the night.  We grabbed a blanket from the trunk and tried warming up.

We had made it as far as three miles from home and were stuck just ahead of the sign for Belmar.  A crowd of vehicles were behind me hoping I could keep going because my car was blocking them.  Some guys tried helping me, but I knew it wasn't going to work.  I kept telling them to look at the road up ahead.  I'm driving a Volkswagen Jetta and the snow was two feet high – far too high for me to drive across.  It took several minutes but I finally convinced them that their only chance was to drive around my car.  Since somebody far behind us had our shovel, I began clearing a path for the others by kicking snow and moving ice blocks with my hands.  One or two people helped, but most didn't.  They apparently didn't want to be the one to drive first even though their vehicles were SUVs and trucks and mine was just a small car.  All I knew is that there was no way I was going to be able to go even three feet before being stranded again and it didn't make much sense to try, but if I could get a few trucks to go ahead of me they might burn off enough snow to give me a chance.

My feet were freezing.  I was only wearing dress shoes at the time and it was around 25 degrees.  I can only guess at what the wind chill was – probably something in the low single digits.  My hands were freezing as my gloves were soaked.  I just kept kicking and throwing piles and piles of snow until there was a decent sized path for them.   Finally, someone tried the path.  It was difficult, but a van behind me managed to drive on through.  It was followed by a truck and then another truck.  Despite their confidence that they could make it, every one of the vehicles behind me wound up getting stuck just a couple hundred feet from where I was.

After clearing the path, I jumped into the car.  My hands were literally burning because they were so cold.  I worried about frostbite.  I took my gloves off and placed them under the heating ducts and buried my hands in the blanket.  After about 5 minutes, they started to feel better.  Meanwhile, bits and pieces from M*A*S*H and war movies filtered into my mind.  I knew I needed to keep my feet as dry as possible.  So I grabbed some clothing from my suitcase and began switching my socks and shoes.  I changed my shirt and used the Sunday Washington Post newspaper to give us something dry to sit on.  The car was literally filled with small pieces of ice from all of the times the doors and windows had been opened during the storm, so anything dry was better than before.

Somehow during all of this our dog was perfectly fine.  I'm still amazed at how calm she was.  We just wrapped her up in the blanket and she slept in between both of us.  As stranger after stranger came to the car, she remained calm.  I wish I could say the same about myself, but I knew how bad the situation was.  My wife tried to reassure me that we were only a few miles from home and everything was going to be alright, but my mind kept focusing on the fact that I hadn't seen a single police officer or rescue squad member in hours; nor had we seen any snow plows or any sign that anybody was trying to do anything with the roads.

We decided it was best for us to stay where we were and focus on making it through the night.  There was an exit ramp a few feet from us, which we hoped would bring about some snow plows or help in the future.  It was about 9:30pm at the time.  There were about 4-5 vehicles stranded up ahead of us and 4-5 stranded behind us.  Within the next few hours we'd see a few vehicles come off us the exit ramp and get stuck up in the road.  A few people came from behind us on 195 and generally got stuck right next to us.  I heard accents from around the world – Russians, Mexicans, and Jamaicans were just some of the voices we encountered that night.  Everybody that got stuck would eventually get past us, but there was a huge truck that not only got stuck but seemed to get closer and closer to our car as it tried moving.  I was worried it was going to either spin out and hit us or tip over.  Finally, it made it through.

And then we waited... and waited.

Sometime around 10:30pm we realized we would have to start keeping an eye on the car's battery and fuel.  We decided to run the engine for 10-15 minutes at a time every hour.  Since there were people not far behind us, I decided to kill the flashers as well.  We were lucky that my wife's mother had given us some food and water, the blanket, and the shovel before we headed out.    The blanket kept us somewhat warm in between the engine uses and it wasn't difficult keeping to an hourly schedule since neither one of us could sleep in the situation.  Unfortunately, we both realized we would have to go to the bathroom sometime.  It was definitely more difficult for my wife, but we both wound up getting through it and managed to get the dog to go once as well.

Hour after hour came and went.  I'd turn on the engine and try heating up the car as much as possible.  We were lucky to have a diesel car as it meant we were never in danger of running out of fuel.  Others were not so lucky.  I can't remember when the snow finally stopped falling, but I think it was probably around 3am or so.  All I know is that absolutely nothing changed once the storm was over, the road was still abandoned and we were all still stuck and on our own.

Sometime in the night the person who had our shovel caught up to us and gave it back!  I tried helping to clear more of a path for them to make it through as the snow had drifted and erased much of the path we had made.  They were only trying to make it to the next exit and were sure they could get there.  We helped them get past our vehicle only to see them get stuck just up ahead along with the others.

Every time we cranked up the engine we would listen to NJ 101.5 and try to hear the news.  It was interesting to hear how the radio station changed its tune about the storm after a while.  In the beginning, the station was sort of pushing the state's line that every vehicle on the road was nothing more than a hindrance to the recovery efforts.  People simply shouldn't be on the roads.  After a while, they began hearing from more and more people stranded on the roads of Monmouth and Ocean counties.  I'll never forget the moment the host suddenly "got it".  A caller was telling him how they had been stranded on some state road for 10 hours.  The host was amazed.  Apparently the police reports or whatever was feeding the radio station information had no idea that people had been stranded overnight.  They thought we all simply decided to go driving early Monday morning.  The host asked if anybody (police, rescue workers, etc.) had approached his vehicle to see if he needed food, water, or fuel.  The caller said nobody had come by.  Like us, the caller said he hadn't even seen any police, rescue, or plows for hours and hours. 

That sort of changed the tune for the radio host and his tune was further changed when he spoke with the station's weatherman, who was the first to start blaming the state's reaction to the storm.  He said the government had several hours to start helping out in which they didn't.  He also pointed out that this was Christmas weekend, a time when tons of people were already on the road and wondered why the state failed to realize that.  After hearing the host paint everyone on the roads as a villain for hours, it felt good to have someone portray our side for once.

As the sun rose, we began seeing signs of life.  Vehicles from either the county or the state began showing up, surveying the situation.  Each time I saw one I turned on the flashers or got out to make sure they knew people were there.  Several police officers were seen, yet never stopped to talk to any of us who were stranded.  Somewhat ironically, the other side of the street started having plow after plow come through even though nobody was on that road and the side we were on had dozens of vehicles.  We could see plow trucks taking care of the Parkway from where we were as well – just not our side of the road.

I decided to clear the block of snow and ice from the exit ramp.  I could just tell that nobody was going to be sent to clear the roads; we had to do it ourselves.  Down the road I noticed a snow plow had showed up and was clearing a part of the road.  I began to shovel faster.  While removing the block of snow, a man with a Jamaican accent came up to me and offered to help create a path and get me on to the road if I'd let him borrow the shovel afterwards.  He believed, as I did, that nobody was going to help us and we had to all help each other.  I agreed and the path was created.  It took a few attempts for my car to get going since there was so much ice underneath the vehicle, but eventually I was able to swing through the opening and headed up the road to where a bunch of vehicles were lined up.

We had probably moved 150-200 feet, but it felt good to be anywhere else.  There were about six vehicles ahead of us and another six buried in snow nearby.  The plow had apparently created a wall separating the vehicles in line from those left stranded.  The Jamaican's SUV was one of the stranded.  Using our shovel he was able to break a hole in that wall and eventually get the vehicle on to the path.  He then proceeded to help out his friend's car right behind him and ultimately helped two or three others.  Thinking back, I bet our shovel must have helped at least a dozen people in those 24 hours.

Sometime within an hour we began moving – actually moving!  As we began heading towards Belmar I told my wife we should just pull off and stay at the hotel on 138 and wait for the streets to be cleared, but we didn't get that chance.  The final half of the road towards Belmar was blocked off.  We turned left at the traffic light and just tried following the vehicles ahead of us.  I wasn't really sure where we were headed but we finally swung around to Belmar Boulevard.  The roads were awful.   I guess you could say they were plowed, but they still had two feet of snow or more outside of the grooves you had to focus on.  I was determined not to stop, knowing that any stoppage there might get me stuck yet again.  We made it all the way to the lake by Belmar's marina (the intersection of Belmar Boulevard and 16th Avenue/Route 35 traffic light) when we found ourselves in a line of about 10 cars or so.  Judging from the road up ahead, the town had JUST STARTING plowing Route 35 at 11am!  I couldn't believe it.  The snow had ended at least 7 hours before, what were they waiting for?

We eventually made it through the line and kept pressing on.  We got up to just before the railroad tracks when we were stopped behind a couple of vehicles caught in the snow.  The area was incredibly unplowed with high drifts of snow everywhere.  Up ahead, we could see them trying to plow Main Street.  It was noon by this time and Belmar was a complete disaster area.  Trucks were seen sliding all over the place.  The railroad lights came on, but the train got stuck at the Belmar station down the road.   There was a guy with a Russian accent in front of me stuck in the snow.   There was a bit of room to go around his car, but the snow was still too high for my car to make it so I began clearing a path with my feet again (the shovel was never recovered from 195, but since it continued to help people there we didn't really mind).  I figured if a couple of the trucks could go through the path it might help my chances a bit.  It did help, but not as much as I hoped.  Eventually I got up to the tracks.   The Russian and his son were there clearing a path.  He said neither of our cars would make it over the tracks unless we cleared a path and helped each other.  So I helped him move away some snow and we were able to get a guy walking through town to help us push the car.  The car moved a few feet then stopped.  We pushed again and moved it a few more feet.  A third huge push and we were able to get it over the tracks and down the street.  And then it was my turn.

I was able to get my car moving and the Russian directed me through the train tracks.  Once past the tracks, I kept moving until I noticed that Main Street was still a complete disaster.  I turned to the right trying to find a place to park the car but there wasn't any.  All of the lots were filled with snow and Main Street was down to just one lane – not one lane in each direction, but one lane overall.  All we wanted to do was rest a few minutes while they plowed the streets.  We stopped off at a convenience store but the owner wouldn't let us keep the car in the lot, so we got back on the road.  None of the streets headed to the ocean had been plowed yet (this was around 1pm on Monday) but 13th Avenue looked somewhat passable.   It turns out it wasn't.

After a brief stretch of clear road, my car hit a bank of snow and that was the end.  The street beyond that bank of snow was completely untouched.  I knew that even if I moved the car there was no way I'd be able to go anywhere.  I thought about going in reverse back to Main Street but the car was wedged too tightly in the bank.  Later on I heard the news that the town wasn't even attempting to plow secondary streets.  I still wonder who thought that was a smart idea.  The town became even more of a mess because people who were out couldn't get home, which meant more cars (like mine) stuck on the roads.

Eventually, we decided to just put the flashers on, grab a few things, and walk home.  I came back to check on the car later that night but the road was still untouched.  We called the police and let them know the situation and they said the car wouldn't get a ticket.  Tuesday came and went and the streets in Belmar were in the same shape as the day before.  Finally on Wednesday, I called AAA to have them come give me a jump and help me get moving again.  I was told AAA would be able to get to me in two hours, so I headed back to the car armed with two shovels.  The car was completely encased in blocks of snow and ice.  I spent every minute up until when AAA showed up clearing the snow and ice as fast as I could.  The jump got the engine back on and I was able to get away from the rest of the snow and turn around back to Main Street.  I took a brief drive around to see if there were any streets plowed at all and headed down the one that looked the most promising.  Even three days later, the town was practically untouched.  I managed to find a parking place a block from home and walked back to start shoveling the 10-15 feet from the center of the street to my driveway that was completely untouched.

All of the news reports from the past few days always stressed how stranded cars were the problem yet we had three full blocks without any cars that could have been plowed and weren't.  When we called up the public works department to let them know, they told us the next shift for plowing would be at midnight.  I think this is why people like me are furious.  It's one thing if you see the town/county/state working their butts off to get the situation under control and it's another thing if you don't see anything happening at all.  During the afternoon on Wednesday, I didn't see a single snow plow working on the streets and saw only one truck sanding one individual street.  The town gave the impression it was content waiting until midnight, but, of course, midnight came and they didn't do anything then either.  That was just another lie.

This storm was a failure on every single level.  I've read quotes from county and town officials who said the snow removal equipment they had simply was overwhelmed by the storm.  That's PRECISELY why the dumbest move of all was to stop plowing on Sunday night.  At times like this you need your government to shine; instead, ours came crashing down.  Rather than fight through the storm by plowing continuously and having rescue workers manning the roads, the government felt it was better to simply give up and try the following day.  It also meant the government put the lives of everyone on the roads in danger.  Simply saying cars are banned from the road doesn't make the cars already on the road simply disappear.  It just hides the problem.  I'm sure most of the drivers I was stranded alongside would agree with me that if the roads were just plowed even somewhat, we would have all made it home.  And, if we had known the state was going to simply give up we would have pulled over somewhere for the night. 

The Governor hoped that declaring a State of Emergency would simply make the problem go away but it doesn't work like that.  It's a ridiculous idea to think it would have worked on a regular weekend and an even more foolish one during Christmas weekend when you know thousands of people will be on the roads.  If they really wanted to have the State of Emergency work it should have been declared LONG BEFORE the snow even started – not right in the midst of the storm.

I hope this lets you understand just how much the government screwed up.  You undoubtedly will hear government officials place the blame on the cleanup on vehicles abandoned in the roads.  Well, I can honestly tell you that the government was directly at blame for these abandoned vehicles.  Not only did they cause the problems but they failed to do anything about it.  Nobody asked the people in the vehicles if they needed any assistance; nobody checked to see if there were any children or elderly in the cars.  People told me that we were supposed to call 911 for help.  Well, what if your cell phone battery was dead? You can't simply have people reach out for help during situations like this, you need to have people making sure there aren't people who need help.

The only people to help us were a bunch of immigrants that all have a strong distrust of the government.  Together, we all knew nobody was going to help us, so we helped each other.  After this experience, my distrust of the government has grown exponentially.  I'm tired of hearing how hard the state worked during this storm.  I was stranded on a state interstate and didn't see anyone working for over 12 hours. My hope is that we'll soon hear from some of the other "non-essentials" about their experiences as well.  The truth needs to be known...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


(UNION, NJ) -- On December 17 at Kean University, Liberty Hall Museum collected nearly 500 toys and a donation of $1,000 and delivered them to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Foundation in Edison, NJ.

In a campaign that began in October, 2010 more than 17 departments and student organizations at Kean combined to collectively spread some holiday cheer through the program.  Liberty Hall Museum, Premiere Stages, the Center for Leadership & Service, the Accounting Club and the Kean University Service Corp are among the groups that made this year's campaign, the second in which the university has participated, such a success.

Before the gifts were loaded onto the Kean trolley at Liberty Hall, Kean University President Dawood Farahi applauded the outstanding efforts of the Kean University Accounting Club that raised the generous cash donation through a bake sale.  He thanked the student representatives from the Kean Service Corps that drove the campaign to collect new, unwrapped toys for the needy children in the area.

Dr. Farahi also commended the two Kean students on hand who have served in the Marines, Luis Cruz and Jonathan Coogan.  Cruz, originally from Ecuador, is a computer science major who began his Kean career in 2009 after eight years of active duty all over the world.  Coogan served in two tours of Iraq during his four years as a Marine and is now studying business management at Kean.

Susan Garino, Liberty Hall Museum coordinator of historic structures organized the campaign and made the delivery to Edison.  The sound of Christmas carols filled the trolley as it rode down the Garden State Parkway, bags of toys were piled high and the mood was festive.  Garino was joined by Cruz and Coogan, as well as Kean Service Corps student members Iliana Jiminez, Ashley Anderson, Annie Ramus and Gabriela Zanetta-Perdomo.

Toys for Tots was created in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks, USCR and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to disadvantaged children.  The pilot project was so successful that the Marine Corps adopted Toys for Tots in 1948 and expanded it nationwide.  The initial objective that remains the hallmark of the program today is to "bring the joy of Christmas to America's needy children."

As the Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers Studio, Hendricks convinced a vast array of celebrities to support Toys for Tots.  In 1948, Walt Disney designed the Toys for Tots logo still in use today.  Nat "King" Cole, Peggy Lee and Vic Damone recorded the Toys for Tots theme composed by Sammy Fain and Paul Webster in 1956.  Bob Hope, John Wayne, Doris Day, Lorrie Morgan, Tim Allen, Kenny Rogers and Billy Ray Cyrus are but a few of the long list of celebrities who have given their time and talent to promote Toys for Tots.  First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush have both served as national spokespersons.

Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, boasting a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment, offering more than 50 undergraduate degrees and more than 45 options leading to a master's degree, doctorate, professional diploma and/or state certification(s). Five undergraduate colleges and the Nathan Weiss Graduate College now serve more than 15,000 students.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my completely meaningless Top 20 Records of 2010 list

by Gary Wien

Personally, I thought 2010 was an incredible year for music - and especially local (NJ) music as this list implies.  Unlike many people, I no longer do lists of national and local artists.  Since my online radio station ( plays the locals alongside national artists I felt this list should treat them the same as well.

Let's hope creating a list for 2011 is as difficult as it was this year.  There are TONS of great discs that I could have included!


1) The Bodeans - "Mr. Sad Clown"
2) Keith Monacchio - "The Long Evening"
3) Tommy Strazza - "The Model Citizen LP"
4) US Rails
5) The Gaslight Anthem - "American Slang"
6) Three Hour Tour - "Looking for Tomorrow"
7) ProXima - "Lost Blood In Paris"
8) The Amboys - "Everything Between the Moon & the Sun"
9) Painkiller Hotel - "Afterglow"
10) Lost In Society - "Eastern Empire"
11) April Smith & the Great Picture Show - "Songs for a Sinking Ship"
12) Jon Caspi and the First Gun - "Strange Situation"
13) The John Bryne Band - "After the Wake"
14) Ben Arnold - "Simplify"
15) George Wirth - "The Last Good Kiss"
16) Anthony D'Amato - "Down Wires"
17) Shoebox Letters - "Damaged Goods"
18) Sky Parade - "Intoxicated"
19) Josh Ritter - "So Runs the World Away"
20) Status Green - "Cheap Sunglasses"

Rick Barry's 9th Annual Holiday Hangover

(Asbury Park, NJ) – On January 1st, New Years Day, 2002, Rick Barry booked, hosted and performed the 1st Holiday Hangover as a way to celebrate and share his favorite local artists from the previous year with his fans and friends. Despite the difficulties getting people out to a bar on the first of the year, the event was a success.

In the years since, the event has become a community tradition for Asbury Park artists and their fans. Past Holiday Hangovers have showcased artists such as April Smith, Glen Burtnik, Val Emmich and many more. The 2011 show will kick off the new year with The Sunday Blues, The Riverwinds, Ellen Cherry, Emily Grove, and host Rick Barry.

With this year's hand picked line up promising to keep with Rick's tradition of featuring only the brightest rising stars in the region, this is one hangover that you are sure to enjoy!

In celebration of the Holiday Season and to promote this years event, Rick will be offering FREE downloads of selected songs from last years Holiday Hangover, including a medley of Rick Barry's "Broken English" and the Val Emmich classic, "New Years Resolution." These tracks will only be available for a limited time and will not be available for purchase or download again. These tracks are available at

The Sunday Blues:
Instead of clinging to the adage of "everything old is new again" like a security blanket, The Sunday Blues have produced a song catalogue that is at once familiar yet entirely new and captivating. Drawing influences from genres that cross the musical spectrum, the Asbury Park band's "alt-country" tag only tells part of its story. Without any sort of exception, The Sunday Blues write songs that give an honest look at the nuances and idiosyncrasies of life that others are far too quick to cast aside. The same exciting dichotomy that informs the band's lyrics extends to the live show. Without pretense, The Sunday Blues' live show contains equal parts drama and mystique-filled aura.

Rick Barry:
Rick Barry's voice is as honest as a drink at a bar with an old friend. His lyrics are raw, unapologetic poetry that reach well beyond his years. Evolving from folk music, into a sound that could only be described as "neo-folk," he has truly reinvented himself and has been met with rave reviews in cities across North America.

What sets Barry worlds apart from other songwriters is his complete lack of censorship. Where others use metaphors and pleasantries, he speaks with unadulterated candor. He has no limits, from politics to death, to the ills of society and the human element; he delivers a truth so bare, it's almost innocent.

The Riverwinds:
The Riverwinds bring with them a genuine return to the true Rock N' Roll spirit that has captured American audiences for generations. Their compelling live show leaves a lasting memory, and continues to win over listeners of all ages throughout the country. Now that they have wrapped up the recording of their self-titled debut full length, The Riverwinds are ready to bring their raw blend of American Rock N' Roll to the world one show at a time. "I Want You To Know" and "Lyla Lynn" are just a taste of what the album has to offer while preserving the strength of this refreshing take on rock music.

Ellen Cherry:
Emmy nominated singer/songwriter Ellen Cherry is a full-time touring and working performer based in Baltimore, MD. Recording continuously since 1997, her most recent album, (New) Years, crosses genres, artfully displaying her talents in folk, pop, jazz, and instrumental music. Ellen Cherry mesmerizes her audience with her powerful voice and uses her keen, on-the-fly sense of humor to weave history, storytelling, and melody together.

Emily Grove
Emily Grove sings without artifice, without affectation and without pitch correction. Her songs have relatable lyrics which connect with the human heart in the great tradition of folk music throughout the world. These aren't dreamy love songs or self-indulgent navel-gazing; they are simply songs about real human beings. There is a moving vulnerability about her performances. She is as genuine as they come, with a glorious voice which resonates with pure emotion.

"TJ Wheeler-Hope, Heroes & The Blues at The Strand Theatre"

(Lakewood, NJ) -- Welcome 2011 with Blues & Jazz musician, activist, and educator, TJ Wheeler, coming to The Strand Theater Friday, January 14 at 8:00pm.

TJ Wheeler's--Hope, Heroes & The Blues features Matt Wade on Hammond B3 organ and Brian Klammer on drums for a night of Blues & Jazz power! Swept up by the British invasion of 1964, Wheeler started playing the guitar when he was 12. He was first exposed to the Blues at 16, after sneaking into the New Orleans Club in Berkeley, California, where he was mesmerized by Buddy Guy.

By 17, Wheeler was running an acoustic music Coffee House, and playing in a Jug Band. At 19, he performed his first Blues-in-The School program and by age 20 he was playing on street corners, either solo or in Jug Bands, busking from Seattle to New Orleans. By his mid 20's, Wheeler had mentored and toured while living in Memphis with Furry Lewis (legendary Delta Blues and Jug Band Musician) and Bukka White (historic Delta Blues hero).

In addition to his trademark "raspy but right" Bluesy vocals, he performs on a 7-string Arch top guitar among other stringed instruments. He has been performing his specialized blend of Blues & Jazz for over 35 years throughout the United States as well as Finland, Canada, Brazil and the Bahamas. In addition to playing at major festivals and concert venues around the world, he's devoted himself to integrating Blues & Jazz education programs in a unique, multi-discipline, holistic manner around the world. In 1993, he received the prestigious WC Handy Award for "Keeping the Blues Alive" in education.

General admission tickets are only $6.00 plus service charge. Don't wait or miss this wonderful performance! Like to listen and watch some of TJ Wheeler's performances? Visit and check out The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation website at for more information about TJ Wheeler and other performers. For more information call the box office at 732-367-7789 or visit the website at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mike Montrey Band Announces Special Live Album Recording In Red Bank

(RED BANK, NJ) -- On Saturday January 29th, the Mike Montrey Band (MMB) will enter into the studio to record a live studio album entitled, WEAVING THE BASKET, which is a nod to Henry David Thoreau's inspirational piece, Walden. The event will take place at Retromedia Studios in Red Bank, NJ. This will be the first "studio" album for the band since 2008's "A Perfect Reality", which featured current MMB members Rob Smith (drums), Karl Dietel (keyboards), and Adam Garnys (alto saxophone), and was nominated as album of the year by the AMA's.  Joining them will be current members Anthony "Duke" Duca on bass guitar and Hayden Wright on tenor saxophone, as well as some other special guests.

Tickets to the event will be made available on the band's website: Admission is $20. The event is all ages. Seating will be limited, and there will be 2 times to choose from. For those who may not be able to attend, you can still help support the band by making a donation at the website, for which you will receive a copy of the first printing of the album. We feel we are affording our fans and friends a wonderful opportunity to sit intimately and watch the making of a live album unfold, so we hope you can appreciate it as much as we will.
The MMB consists of frontman Mike Montrey on vocals and guitar, Anthony "Duke" Duca on bass and vocals, Rob Smith on drums and backing vocals, Karl Dietel on keyboards and backing vocals, and Adam Garnys and Hayden Wright on saxophone.

Montrey's professional music career began in 2001, with the formation of the eclectic rock band, …water... Acting as chief songwriter and vocalist/guitarist, Montrey led the five-piece into garnering a regional cult following and very rewarding press. After releasing their second studio LP, 2003's "Dig", New Jersey's Gannett Publications stated, "This band could represent rock's past, present and future", while the renowned tri-state music publication Upstage Magazine pronounced Montrey as "one of the scene's most commanding frontmen and inventive guitarists."

In 2007, after countless …water… performances at markets such as SXSW (Austin, TX), The Knitting Factory (NYC), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), The Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ) and The Stone Pony (Asbury Park, NJ), Montrey was invited to tour nationally as a member of epic rock band The Samples, who'd been touring for 19 years and had shared stages with Dave Matthews Band, Sting and Phish, among many other heavy hitters. Montrey continues to perform with the legendary Samples at such venues as House of Blues (Dallas and Atlantic City), Tipitina's (New Orleans), Red Rocks Amphitheater (Morrison, CO) and The Highline Ballroom (NYC).

2008 saw Montrey collect his considerable experience and prowess to complete the debut solo album, "A Perfect Reality", consisting of 11 original Montrey compositions ranging from rock to country to experimental soundscapes. The album features fellow Samples and MMB member Karl Dietel on keyboards, as well as a slew of talented guests. Grammy Award-winner Mike Tarsia (Patti LaBelle, Joe Pass, Billy Preston) acted as engineer and co-producer. Within months of its release in April 2008, the album debuted at #29 on the radio charts. The single "Take Me Down Mississippi" was featured as a track of the week, and "Tin Can" was a Relix Magazine Jam Off! selection. Montrey celebrated the release with a performance at a packed Sullivan Hall in NYC.

"A Perfect Reality" has enjoyed a nomination for Top Release of 2008 by the Asbury Music Awards.

Montrey soon formed the nexus of what would become The MMB. Following their inception, The College of New Jersey's weekly publication, The Signal, spoke of their live show: "The audience sat mesmerized by the explosive energy of the music and the enthusiasm and passion of the band members." Following suit, Relix Magazine published a feature about the band that November.

Friday, December 17, 2010

David Cohen in Concert at the The Trenton City Museum

(TRENTON, NJ) -- Enjoy a musical evening featuring the passion of flamenco guitar, tapas, and Spanish wine on January 14, 2011 with David Cohen in Concert at the Trenton City Museum.  Showtime is 7:30pm.  The museum is part of the Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park, Trenton, NJ.

Classical and flamenco guitarist David Cohen will perform different styles of Latin and Spanish music, as well as music from other traditions on a variety of instruments that have become his trademark. The evenings music will feature Dance of the Yi People on the Chinese pipa. Other music featured will be performed on the Turkish oud, Highland bagpipes,12-string guitar along with the Flamenco guitar.

The evenings performance will be David's second appearance at Ellarslie and second time opening the concert season for The Trenton City Museum.

David Cohen is a Philadelphia native whose study of the guitar started in 1976 after being inspired by the guitar playing of Joan Armatrading.  His studies have lead him throughout the United States and is also currently a member of Pipes and Drums of the Jersey Shore Shillelagh's in Belmar New Jersey.

Mr. Cohen teaches music in both his Philadelphia and Ocean Grove New Jersey studio Guitar Point and serves as the President of the Ocean Grove Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2003 he started the Ocean Grove Food Bank Benefit Concert to support the Monmouth/Ocean County Food Bank. Mr. Cohen founded to further the promotion of classical music. He has been featured in numerous print, radio and television stories, and currently writes for as their Philadelphia Guitar Examiner.  David has also co-founded the Ocean Grove Music and Arts Festival held in Ocean Grove each May promoting the visual and performing arts in the tri-state area.

CD REVIEW: "Strange Situation" by Jon Caspi

by Gary Wien

CD REVIEW: "Strange Situation" by Jon Caspi   
***  (3 stars out of 4)

The latest release by Jon Caspi finds the Jersey artist veering in a slightly new direction.  After two solid power-pop releases and a brilliant "rock novel", the new record leans more towards a faster rock/punk feel.  Caspi has again penned a couple great songs although what I like most about this record took me quite a while to figure out.

The record sounds as close to a live concert as any studio recording I've ever heard.  And I mean that in a very good way. 

Driving home from work one day with the disc in my car's player, it suddenly dawned on me that "Strange Situation" plays out from start to finish as if Caspi was performing a live set on the radio minus the crowd noise and stage banter.  The songs are sequenced wonderfully – as if it was a set list (or mix tape) designed for maximum effect.  The record flows back and forth from highs to lows, rockers to slower tunes – even a ska-based tune to break things up.  It might be because the album features several songs with rather untraditional drum beats to kick things off, but the tunes really sound like a live concert to me.  There's a brilliant sort of energy and pace to the record that you don't hear that often.  It just sort of pops out at you as if you're hearing the band live.

Highlights include the stunningly beautiful, "Don't Bend" and a pair of rockers: "Fading Into Gray" and the title track.

"Don't Bend" is one of several songs on the record inspired by the son Jon adopted from Africa.  Here he's offering his son some advice on how to be strong during an awkward situation he foresees somewhere down the road.
"Don't bend so easily
Don't bend so easily
No matter what they say
You look them in the face
Don't bend so easily"

"Fading Into Gray" is sort of an anthem for rock and rollers who continue to fight the good fight even as the years go by.

"Lately, all of you just drive me crazy
don't know why I let it phase me
but I still dream of yesterday
while I'm just fading into gray"

"Strange Situation" may be the first song I've ever heard to accurately describe the unique moment of adoption.
"Well one day there you were
A picture from another world
We were told you would be ours
So did Addis I did go
I came to take you home
You didn't know me at all
It's a strange situation, I know"

Caspi's music always had a bit of a melodic punk edge floating towards the surface in my opinion.  This record just lets him explore that side of his influences a little more.    All in all, it's a strong disc that makes me curious just where he'll head in the future!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


(ASBURY PARK, NJ) – In the tradition of independent, art-house programming, The ShowRoom in Asbury Park has announced a special film and music series with The Bouncing Souls. In conjunction with the band's fourth annual Home for the Holidays Tour at The Stone Pony, a series of films handpicked by the band will screen at The ShowRoom on December 27, 28 and 29.

This is the second consecutive year The Bouncing Souls have made special appearances at The ShowRoom. After debuting a much-anticipated documentary at the theater last year, the band will now program three days of music-inspired films for audiences. Members from The Bouncing Souls will be on hand at each screening to talk about the movies and field questions from fans. The screening schedule will include:

Monday, December 27 at 4:00 p.m. – "Suburbia"
Tuesday, December 28 at 3:00 p.m. – "Repo Man"
Wednesday, December 29 at 4:00 p.m. – "Another State of Mind"

Tickets for the afternoon screenings are $5.00 and will be available for purchase at The ShowRoom's on-site box office one hour prior to each screening. For more information, please visit or call 732.502.0472. To learn more about The Bouncing Souls and their Home for the Holidays Tour, please visit

About The ShowRoom
Since opening in April 2009, The ShowRoom has continued to present relevant and provocative movies and events that engage audiences for a memorable experience.  It is a versatile entertainment space on Cookman Avenue's Art Bloc that is renowned for its roster of critically acclaimed, independent, classic, foreign, family and festival-winning films.  In addition, The ShowRoom endeavors to provide the community with a welcoming and acoustically ideal environment for live performances, workshops, seminars and mixed-media presentations. Owners Michael Sodano and Nancy Sabino are film-industry veterans with more than 25 years of experience in creative communications for corporate productions. With The ShowRoom, first-rate cinema and a dedicated entertainment venue has returned to Asbury Park's growing downtown arts community.  For more information, please visit or call 732-502-0472.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Joe Harvard Talks About The Long Weekend

photo by sunny
Interview by Gary Wien

Congrats on the show's recent two-year anniversary. What was the original idea behind the show? Was it something you had done up in Boston or someone else?

The show's prototype began at the Plough and Stars in Cambridge in early 1989. I was principal owner of Fort Apache Recording Studios at the time, & the series began not long after we began booking rock shows at the Middle East Restaurant [we being Helldorado Productions: me, 'Skeggie' Kendall & the late Billy Ruane, whose Memorial I played in Boston 11/17, w Peter Wolf et al performing]. So the 1st Plough LW had the advantage of great connections from the recording studio end, plus some synergy and interaction with the shows we were booking at the Middle East. However the formula was very different: I had a rhythm section that showed up knowing a few sets of stuff, and musicians would get up to jam with that core trio. Plus I would book 1 or 2 short sets by solo guys moonlighting from their full bands, to help the draw. There was a cover charge of a buck, later two, & we used the bar's PA.

The Jersey Shore version began when I approached Joe 'Holdfast' Koukos out of desperation to do a weekly show again. He was managing O'Toole's when I approached him with the concept for a weekly variety show, so he hooked us up. Joe's a trustworthy cat & I considered him our employer; when he quit it left us in a funny spot as we now worked for Live Nation. I was leery, and told them so. They addressed my concerns by saying 'don't worry'; those concerns were principally: A. possible content censorship, B. the likelihood they'd lay us off for football season without proper notice, and C. a lack of cross-promotion We worked for LN at O'Tooles, later at the Wonderbar, a total of 43 weeks. Then they let us go during football season without notice! So we approached Savas & Maria at Synaxis, who gave us a shot: we didn't even miss a week.

Two years is a long time for a weekly show. What's the most difficult aspect of putting the show together each week?

Well, trying to do it for a hundred bucks a week isn't easy, especially given the amount of breakage, etc. For example, we currently have three vintage amps fried at the LW we can't afford to fix, since apparently vintage amps now cost more to diagnose [never mind repair] than they did to buy a few short years back. So it's economically difficult; we have a donation can, but we barely break even. Physically it's exhausting. There's no PA at Synaxis, a major drag, so each week we drag a PA -- plus all the amps, drums, trivia prizes, a whole load of stuff -- up those basement stairs. We bring a carload of guitars in too. Set it all up, tune the instruments, each week this takes time. Then when we're nice & tired we begin playing for 3 or 4 hours. Then we break it down, carry it all downstairs again. Mallory Massara is a rock. I wouldn't consider trying it without her. Often it's the two of us hefting all that crap. After each show we sleep the sleep of the just; Tuesdays suck.

Creatively, it's challenging. Playing songs easy enough anyone can jump in, yet avoiding doing too many cover band standards, trying to do cooler stuff, B-sides and such, and rotate styles. A lot of spontaneous music is improvised, particularly when the Poetry Corner readers want music behind them, and this off the cuff stuff is amazing some times, it can be really powerful or beautiful or surprisingly "tight"; it can also suck. I love blues SONGS, but I equate tedium with the sort of lazy, autopilot blues noodling offered at the typical 'jam' gig. Endless solos traded on 12 minute renditions of "Stormy Monday" = zzzzzz. Songs are wonderful, there are SO many in every style, including blues, and the audience can sing along, so why not play actual songs?

Covers are a necessity, we try to be clever, play 'em enough that regulars can get comfortable with them, but not so much they get stale -- keep the songs changing so the pool doesn't stagnate. We are semi-consciously and constantly rotating a hundred or so songs. I know a lot of simple songs, and often players are shocked that this tune or that is something they can play, maybe it's a song they've been intimidated to try by the arrangement, production - the gloss. Then they find, hey, This is a 3 chord tune? Wow.

What's your favorite part of the show?

Our audience, first of all. We are consciously trying to build a community of good people that do interesting things, and have been blessed in that respect: the people who find us and stick around are a massively interesting, very talented group of folks. Not just the poets and musicians, either -- the fans, the asses in the seats so to speak, are as important to any scene as the musicians, and our regulars shine, too.

It's also always great when I see a cat like Glen Burtnick or Mike Brett come through the door, 'cuz I know they bring the skills so the next segment I can throw out a few originals, or something a little more complicated. When Poetry Corner is working, oh boy: a band composed of people who've never played together meets a person maybe for the first time, then they make music behind that person's spoken word! Many of the show's most exciting moments result from these improvs.

Please describe the show for those who have never seen it?

The New Jersey version of the Long Weekend is cooler than the Boston one, hands down. It's loose, non-clichey, no sign-up list and no-one goes home that wanted to play and didn't. First, there's no band. The audience IS the band; I act as a conductor, a musical expediter if you will. I try to supply simple but tasteful tunes, sing 'em if nobody else will. Anyone can supply the song though -- bring a tune they know, cover or original and lead the band, though oddly not many people choose to. Seems most like to get up and rip on whatever I throw out. Mallory, my partner, is the Queen of Trivia, she does 2 or 3 segments each Monday with actual prizes. And then there's Poetry Corner, which is actually open to anyone with any talent, with or without the improvised musical backing behind it.

It's NOT an open mic, where one person does their 3 songs, then the next does theirs, etc. -- although we're happy to have people get up and do their own originals or covers they've brought along, and sometimes they even get to do that alone, they must at least be willing to play with others. As I said there's no sign-up sheet; you wanna play, ask the guy playing what you want to play to move over! Cats like Bobby Strange and Don "Rotodon" Haney are regulars, so there is a core which developed gradually, organically, and can fill holes until things get rolling.

Can anybody get up and play? Has anyone ever been turned away?

Yes anybody can get up and play, or read. No, no one has ever been turned away, though as far as Poetry Corner Mallory is opposed to nudity - recently I tried and she wouldn't allow me to even take my pants off on stage. So no nudity. Also, anyone who has tried to be maliciously rascist or sexist on a stage that I control in any way knows that they will get their ass thrown the fuck off of that stage with a quickness, if not exterminated with extreme prejudice... so I guess no Nazis.

What was your favorite night of Long Weekend so far? Who were some of the people involved?

Given that I was ill 1 week, and made 2 trips to the UK, Mallory has attended 3 more LWs than I have, so perhaps you should ask her! The 1st & 2nd Loowey Awards were a blast, we gave out 30 or so this year, plus you could make your own if we forgot you - but we rarely do; also the Xmas Gift Exchange, which was after Xmas so you can re-gift things you didn't want -- both were nice for the genuine sense of community you felt.

Community-gooshiness and everything else wise, close friends Pat Veil & Megan Gale's Wedding would have to be the kicker so far, though. Cockwalkers played w/ Steve Nickerson & Brian Wolinsky, Megan was a stunning bride, Pat looked like an international spy in a tux, a lot of the early regulars came out & partied with today's stalwarts, eg. the artchix: Leighann, Kara, Brittany & my co-host Mal; Jacko, Noordzy, Chris & Erin & the Brighton crew; the poets like Kathy Polenberg, Schwartzy, Dogmatic, Oehme, Douglas, Vibes, Steve; loyal fans like Don o' Van, Sweet Kate, Lisa Higley, Sunny Zebe, George and Brenda Wirth; & the shutterbugs Mike Black, Kristen & JPA, Suzy, Ellen B; players like Greg Wilkens, Nick Paolise, Mike Brett, Keith & Lindsey, & the Rick Barrys. There were lots more geniuses, but I was pretty busy that night. For one thing, I had never given improvised marriage vows before.

One night a multi-media act from Pennsylvania had a cancellation locally, asked around and were referred to us as the Monday thing to do, we let them set it all up: video screen, the VJ, the DJ's stuff, this incredible show to about 13 people at the Wonderbar - that was a night when the potential was being realized, I felt.

This has been quite the traveling show during its existence.  What venues has the show been part of?

Cambridge it went from '87 - '89 at the Plough & Stars, ending when I moved to Ohio in September of 89. In 1998 I began a revised Sunday version at the Middle East Bakery but I myself moved soon after. In NJ we've graced the floor of O'Toole's, then the Wonderbar, now Synaxis. Last week was show 108 out of 111 weeks - we had 1 cancellation per venue: for a hurricane, a blizzard, and a Bar Mitzvah!

Is there anything you've been hoping to see that hasn't happened yet with the show?

Honestly, the idea of making Monday our own, as the show had been in Boston and seemed to be happening for a while at O'Toole's hasn't worked. After 2 years trying to provide a place for musicians [and even normal people] to go to see and play music free, and thus become a nexus of not just the local scene but a place that traveling national acts may hear about and pop in to, has failed here. It was, frankly and painfully, far more successful in Cambridge, in Boston, where we got a great deal more support from the local musicians.

In this area if you have a good idea instead of supporting it there are 5 people who will cop the idea or book a similar show, if not on the same night then on the preceding or the following night - like envy is the fuel here, not mutual goodwill. Remember the Battle of the Battle of the Bands that pretty much sunk each participants pay-to-play boat for a year or two, as multiple promoters coveted the easy talent [spelled: ticket selling] contest bux? Same idea. A different type of competition vs. cooperation formula which I haven't quite deciphered works hereabouts, I don't know why, but I do know that it's a prime reason why successful local acts don't pull other acts along and upward when they make it, while in Boston they do and did. If instead of say 50 people at a show there are 16 at three shows, each scene is one-third as potent as it might be. I could understand it if someone was making money, I guess, though not condone it, but fellow artists will cut your throat for fifty bucks and halve the possible audience so nobody is making money or gaining momentum.

Compared to previous incarnations of the LW our support comes disproportionately from non-musicians, at least as far as Asbury's Usual Suspects, who are markedly absent from the Long Weekend's no-stage. Some open mic types are sheepish and want a sign-up list, which we won't create because it's not necessary in a room full of good eggs, but apparently frightens such folk. Others ... well, I run into large groups of musicians out on a Monday all the time ... but not at the Long Weekend. They are within a block but at other establishments, listening to the jukebox in pursuit of the Cheap Drink Special. You want a crowd? Don't waste your time focusing on the music, or stimulating entertainment: just make sure the house charges three bucks for a beer. There's the secret to Asbury Park success, kids.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interview with Nicole Lipman, the Mastermind behind Hey Cole Presents

Nicole Lipman is one of the hardest working people in the tri-state music business.  She's also been one of the most successful.  I recently got the chance to speak with her about her company, her artists, and the services she provides to her clients.

How and when did you first get into the business? Who was the first artist you worked with?

I majored in music management in college and after working for a few years in the corporate banking (yes, corporate banking) world after graduation I decided it wasn't for me.  I went to grad school for my MBA and got an internship in New York City at a music supervision company.  The intern that started a month after me was April Smith.  All I had to do was hear her sing in the office one day and my outlook on what I wanted to do career wise changed forever.  April had released her first album the same time I graduated grad school and I spent a lot of time helping her while I was looking for a full time job.  April Smith ended up being the inspiration to start Hey Cole.

What services do you provide artists?

Hey Cole is a management, artist development, booking, licensing and promotion company.  We are part of the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) so our primary focus on the booking side is getting the artists gigs on college campuses all over the country.  In 2010 we added artist development as a service we offered.  I had been providing this to my clients from the beginning since I get invested in the artists I work with and want to see their careers move in the right direction.  I structured what the company could offer and made different types of packages available to help artists in different areas of their career.

You've been able to attract many of the most popular artists in the area and often put several on a bill together.  It's such a simple idea - create a great lineup of artists - but few people seem to do it.  Any idea why?

I am not sure why more promoters and talent buyers don't put more thought into this.  When a band plays a show they want it to be beneficial to their career in the long run.  When you team them up with other great professional artists they can network and hopefully both gain fans from the other.  It kills me when I book an artist and the venue puts someone on the bill that is in the complete opposite genre.  It doesn't really benefit anyone in the long run.  One show, 4 or 5 amazing acts that all musically fit, that's a way to fill the room.  Music fans feel like they are getting their money's worth and the band's involved all have a positive experience.

Several of your performers make a push for college bookings.  For artists that haven't considered going the that route, how can playing colleges benefit them? What's the best way for someone to break into that market?

The majority of artists I work with are focused on the college market.  In my opinion the biggest benefits of college gigs is that you play a show for potential fans, make money and have an opportunity to travel to places you never thought you would go.  These are potential fans from all over the country that attend colleges in each region.  You make fans at a school in Connecticut but you may have just broadened your fan base to 10 additional states you have never been to.  The money you make from these gigs can go towards funding your next album, doing a club tour or just paying your bills.  It's a great way to become a full time musician.  There are a couple ways to break into the college market.  One is to find an agency that belongs to NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) and submit to become considered to join their roster.  Another way is to try and do it yourself by reaching out to the proper channels on college campuses.  If you build a successful college tour history, it will make getting an agent that much easier.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

This is a hard question since so many great things have happened since I started the company.  If I had to name just a few I would start with the company's first and second anniversary shows.  The first at the Court Tavern was such a fun night with great artists and the second anniversary had a ridiculous lineup and was my first sold out show at The Saint.  I would also have to say producing April Smith's music video for "Bright White Jackets" and helping put together the premiere at the Baronet Theatre was a big highlight.  It's extra special now that the Baronet no longer exists.  Other highlights would have to be throwing an official day party at South By Southwest, hiring my first full time employee, Kristen, watching April have the success she deserves and seeing the artists I have been working with for years grow as musicians.

What's the hardest part of your job?

Finding enough hours in the day.  This is definitely a 24/7 type of job.  I am available any time of the day or night for the artists I am managing and doing artist development for.  It's hard balancing being on the phone with clients, colleges, talent buyers, etc and find the time to be on top of email, keep all the lines of business running smoothly and consistently bring in revenue.  This is why it was such a great thing to bring in a full time employee to work along side me. 

Who are the artists part of the Hey Cole universe?  Any upcoming shows to mention?

The current Hey Cole roster stands at nineteen artists and one musical comedian and includes: Alex and Janel, Anthony Walker, Avi Wisnia, David Andrew Smith, ellen cherry, Frank Bressi, Jen Kwok, Joanna Burns, John Francis, Justin Trawick, Kailin Garrity, Kurt Scobie, Like Trains and Taxis, Matt Wade, Only Living Boy, Quincy Mumford, Readymade Breakup, Rick Barry, Status Green and The Crash Moderns.

You can see ellen cherry as part of Rick Barry's annual holiday hangover on January 1st at The Saint.  You can also catch Quincy Mumford and the Reason Why on the same day at Starland Ballroom opening up for Badfish and Readymade Breakup is releasing their 3rd album on January 8th at Maxwells.  Stay tuned for announcements on our 5 Year Anniversary Show and album release parties for Alex and Janel, Anthony Walker, Joanna Burns, Matt Wade, Only Living Boy, Quincy Mumford and possibly even more.

If you could work with any artist not currently on your roster who would it be? 

Brandi Carlile... think I have a shot?  Seriously though, now that we have expanded our roster to beyond the tri state area we are watching a bunch of artists all over the country to see how they progress.  You never know who the next one will be.