New Jersey Stage

Friday, May 27, 2011

100 Reasons Why New Jersey Should Be Known for Music Instead of Snooki

BELMAR, N.J., May 27, 2011 — How did the State that was home to such great musicians as Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, and Count Basie become synonymous with Snooki? That question rumbled through the mind of award-winning music journalist Gary Wien. The Jersey Shore native decided to see for himself if New Jersey was still the home of amazing musicians or if it had truly become the freak show appearing on the former music television station.

Between September 2010 and January 2011, Wien listened to over 2,200 albums by New Jersey artists released within the last decade. He listened to the good, the bad, and the very ugly; yet somehow remained a music fan through it all. He describes the Top 100 albums in his new book, Are You Listening?, which is available at http://www.njmusic.org and select bookstores.

“New Jersey has played a major role in the country’s musical history, from jazz to rock and roll and everything in between,” said Wien. “After spending hundreds of hours listening to the work created within the last ten years, I’m proud to say the State’s musical history is still being written.”

Are You Listening? takes a look at the artists who’ve sprung from such fertile music scenes as Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Hoboken, Trenton, and Jersey City. Popular national artists like Bruce Springsteen, My Chemical Romance, and Fountains of Wayne are featured alongside independent singer-songwriters like Keith Monacchio, Arlan Feiles, and Anthony D’Amato. Genres range from the folk of John Gorka to the indie rock of Titus Andronicus; from the Americana of Brian Molnar & the Naked Hearts to the punk of The Bouncing Souls; and from Jon Caspi’s pop to Thursday’s post-hardcore.

While many music writers would go crazy with such an undertaking, the project was a perfect fit for Wien. His first book, Beyond The Palace, was a comprehensive look at Asbury Park’s rock and roll history. He followed that by publishing a magazine called Upstage, which took its name from the legendary Jersey Shore venue that was instrumental in the development of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, and Bill Chinnock. While publishing the magazine, Wien was named Top Music Journalist in the Asbury Music Awards three consecutive years. He currently writes for New Jersey Arts and NewJerseyStage.com while producing a bi-monthly magazine for a national association.

Are You Listening? features over 100 photographs, full album track listings, and more than 30,000 words providing information about each artist and release. At 8.5″ x 8.5,” its unique design is meant to represent an over-sized compact disc. The book is available in color ($35.00), black and white ($19.95), and e-book ($9.95) versions.

“Snooki may have grabbed the media’s attention, but she’s not even from Jersey – hardly anybody in the cast is,” said Wien. “If you want to see the real New Jersey, it’s in our music!”