New Jersey Stage

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Saturday Afternoon Song Swap Returns To The Penguin




(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Some of the best songwriters in the New York City area gather each month for the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap. Thanks to online radio, you can now hear these great performances no matter where you live. The Penguin Rocks has just announced three airings of the most recent Saturday Afternoon Song Swap which includes 15 songs from 13 different artists. The radio special will air the next two Saturdays (December 22 and 29) as well as a special broadcast on Christmas Day (Tuesday, December 25) -- all three airings will be at 1pm (EST) on http://www.ThePenguinRocks.com

The Saturday Afternoon Song Swap is hosted by Deena Shoshkes (from The Cucumbers) and Rebecca Turner. Artists in this song swap include Adam Bernstein, The Thousand Pities, Emily Grove, Williamsboy, Speed the Plough, Jack Brag, Rebecca Turner, Deena Shoskes, Frankenstein 3000, The Demolition String Band, Rob Friedman, The Dirt Club Heroes, and Erica Smith.

"We're very excited to present the Saturday Afternoon Song Swap on The Penguin," said station manager, Gary Wien. "The series always features the best songwriters in the area and each lineup includes a great mix of artists. This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce these artists to a larger audience."

The Penguin is an online radio station that broadcasts indie music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From 7pm through 2am each day the station presents radio shows from around the world. The station is hosted at http://www.thepenguinrocks.com

Regular shows on The Penguin include:

Lazlo's Den -- an internet radio show dedicated to playing the most interesting mix of music, regardless of genre, formats, trends, or playlists.

Rock N' Roll Gas Station with Jim Testa -- Jim Testa, the legendary Star-Ledger music columnist and founder of Jersey Beat, spins some of the best in indie rock and roll from his own eclectic collection.

Radio Show with dw Dunphy -- dw Dunphy, a music journalist with popdose.com , will take you back to the golden days of free-form radio as he abandons the word "genre" and spins whatever he feels like.

Best Of British -- A weekly radio show playing 100% unsigned British music. The show's mission is, and always has been, to provide a platform for unsigned British artists to allow their music to be heard across the globe.

Classic Artists Today -- A one-hour, weekly syndicated radio program that features Classic Artists from Rock, Pop and Soul with the songs you know as well as songs from newly released albums.

"SWAB Sideways with a Badger" -- Classic retro rock from the 50's to the noughties. SWAB is all about cramming select slices of the very best in commercial, popular, and progressive music from the past 50 years into each radio show.

Deuce Radio Show - The Deuce Show features all bands and artists registered with Deuce Management & Promotion and is presented by Joe Ferrett.

Rock On Radio with Danny Coleman -- On the program Danny interviews bands, solo artists and entertainers in a loose "get to know you" type of format.

And starting in January 2013, Beyond The Palace -- Gary Wien, a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Journalist, will host this Jersey Shore-based show four times a day. The show mixes the classic sounds of legendary Jersey Shore artists like Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Glen Burtnick, and John Eddie with the artists on the scene today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SPEAK INTO MY GOOD EYE PRESENTS 1ST ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY/FOOD DRIVE

 (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Fresh off its Asbury Music Award for Top Website In Support Of Live Music, Speak Into My Good Eye ( www.simge.com ) presents its First (and hopefully annual) Holiday Party/Food Drive at The Saint on Thursday, December 20th with a stacked lineup of local favorites and Philadelphia's finest that includes The Amboys, No Wine For Kittens, Cold Fronts, and Taylor Allen.

Doors for the event open at 7 p.m. with an 8 p.m. start time and a cover of $8 to be paid upon admission. Attendees are asked to bring non-Perishable food items which are being collected for the Food Bank Of Monmouth & Ocean Counties. 

The Saint is located at 601 Main Street in Asbury Park, NJ.

Here's more information on the bands:

The Amboys - Is it Folk-Punk, Rock N' Roll, a farmhouse blitz honed in a backwoods cabin...no once can be sure? But what The Amboys do offer is a live performance worthy of being named Asbury's Best Rock Band.

No Wine For Kittens - One of Asbury's best Indie-Rock outfits makes a rare live performance.  With its debut EP out in 2012, and new solo and side projects via members like Rick Barry, Emily Whitt, and Justin Borneman in the works, who knows what surprises are in store.

Cold Fronts - Philly's own Cold Fronts have made a splash in Asbury this past year, playing various boardwalk locales including a riotous support gig for The Gay Blades Valentine's Day spectacular at The Stone Pony. Strokes-esque compositions with a large dose of Pop-Rock at its backbone makes for the best of times.

Taylor Allen - The local solo Punk may open the evening with Bruce Springsteen parodies and impromptu jams about his neighbor's after hours relations and just how loud they're being, but he'll undoubtedly dispense mug rattling barroom anthems for all our listening pleasures.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Outstanding Production Of Topdog/Underdog At Two River Theater

by Gary Wien



(RED BANK, NJ) -- Two River Theater Company kicked off its 2012-2013 season on Friday, September 14 with a wonderful production of <i>Topdog/Underdog</i> by Suzan-Lori Parks, who also serves as director.  This powerful drama was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play during the 2002 season and earned a Pulitzer Prize Award for Parks.  The play, which tells the story of two brothers (Lincoln and Booth) and the world of three-card monte, stars the real-life brothers Brandon J. Dirden and Jason Dirden.

The two brothers had to practically raise themselves alone as their parents both abandoned them (at separate times) leaving each $500 as an inheritance.  Lincoln’s inheritance was spent quickly, but Booth keeps the $500 his mother gave him in a rolled up stocking by his bed.  

The play opens with Booth practicing three-card monte.  His brother was an excellent con in his day, but he gave up that life when his partner Lonny was shot.   Lincoln now works at an arcade where his job is to portray Abraham Lincoln and offer tourists the opportunity to take their own shots at assassinating the President.   When Lincoln enters his brother’s apartment, he is still dressed as Abraham Lincoln, top hat, beard, and suit.

When Booth tells his brother that he doesn’t want him to show up in his apartment as Lincoln, his brother tells him he was forced to leave fully dressed in order to make the bus.  On the ride back, Lincoln says he was approached by a kid who wanted his autograph.  Lincoln pretended at first not to hear him, but the kid persisted.  He waited until he knew the kid absolutely needed to have the autograph and then told him he could have it for ten bucks.

“Originally I was going to ask for five because of the Lincoln connection you know, but something made me ask for ten,” said Lincoln.

“Let me guess, he didn’t have ten dollars,” replied Booth.  “All he had was a penny…”

“Nope, he only had a twenty, so I took the twenty and told him to meet me on the bus tomorrow and Honest Abe would bring him his change!” said Lincoln.

While Lincoln was lucky that afternoon, his luck is fading fast as his job is threatening to replace him with a wax dummy.  Meanwhile, his brother keeps pestering him to be his partner for three-card monte cons.  Lincoln is torn between living straight and earning an honest living and returning to what he knows he’s best at.  As things get worse on the job front, Lincoln gets his brother to help him jazz up his death scenes in an effort to prove to his boss that he’s better than the wax dummy route would be.  The scene doesn’t go so well though.  In fact, if you’ve ever imagined what it was like when Lincoln got shot, chances are it wasn’t anything like the scene imagined on stage!  Watching Lincoln hamming up his death was one of the funniest moments in the play.

Booth tells him, “You could scream” in order to make things seem more real, but Lincoln replies, “A wax dummy can scream if they put a voice box in it.”

“Yeah, but you can curse!” said Booth.

“I don’t want to make it too real,” said Lincoln.  “That’ll scare people and I’ll be out of a job for sure… This is a sit down job with benefits.  I don’t want to get fired.  If I get fired, they won’t give me a good reference.”

Lincoln’s struggles with the straight and narrow life are amplified when his brother steals a pair of suits – one for each of them.  As Lincoln gets a taste of the life he once led – fine clothes, money – the cards become more and more of an option for him.  Instead of joining his brother, he offers to teach him a few tricks but Booth just doesn’t seem to have what it takes.  

“The first thing you learn is what is, the next thing you learn is what isn’t.  You don’t know what is and what isn’t, you don’t know shit,” explained Lincoln.

Touching the cards for Lincoln is like having sense memory overload.  After his brother goes to sleep, Lincoln stays up pondering the possibilities of going back to work on the street.  Parks’ direction is outstanding towards the end of the first act as Lincoln literally slithers around the cards as if we’re seeing the battle between good and evil portrayed.  When he finally succumbs, he tosses the cards around as if he was a conductor leading an orchestra.  He turns the act of three-card monte into a blend of theatrics with his voice enticing onlookers to part with their money as the cards dance from his hands.  It’s clear he has found himself again.

If Brandon J. Dirden steals the first act with a tremendous performance then Jason Dirden owns the second.  Twists and turns take place throughout the second and final act as the play raises its level and becomes utterly powerful.  Jason’s character (Booth) is brilliantly portrayed as somebody losing control of reality.  As his world is slipping away from him, the tension between Booth and his brother reach a crescendo.  The second act is truly masterful writing in my opinion. 

The tension in the play is aided by the theater being extremely quiet, more so than any theater I can recall.  You literally can hear a pin drop during most of the play.  While that might seem good for a drama, it has its down sides as well.  Stomachs could be heard rumbling throughout the audience.  Please remember to have a pre-show meal before seeing this production! Nevertheless, the quiet seems to bring us closer into the world of these two brothers – a world in which they were totally on their own, so it makes sense the outside world is never seen nor heard.

More than just a drama, <i>Topdog/Underdog</i> has many hilarious moments throughout.  As with all great dramatists, Parks’ knows that a good drama benefits from comedic parts to break things up.  Before the play, Two River’s Artistic Director John Dias recalled that Parks’ described the play as ultimately being about family and about love.  I’d add that it was also about hopes and dreams, and the dangers of no longer having them.  Be sure to catch this tremendous production before it closes.

<hr>
The Two River Theater is located at 21 Bridge Street in Red Bank, NJ.  For more information visit http://www.trtc.org

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

THE STRUGGLING YEARS: INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT TERRY OF RED WANTING BLUE


by Gary Wien

Red Wanting Blue will be headlining the final Songwriters In The Park show on Friday, August 24 in Red Bank, NJ. They'll also be returning to their regular haunt, The Saint in Asbury Park, on October 14. Led by lead singer Scott Terry, the band is fresh off their network television appearance on The David Letterman Show. I was able to catch up with Terry, a former Jersey boy from Moorestown, as he drove his band's tour bus across Indiana for a gig in Indianapolis. We fought bad cell phone connections and racing truck drivers, but managed to talk about a ton of things.

This is part 1 of the interview where we discuss the Letterman appearance and the frustration of the struggling years: the years when a band is seemingly on the break of hitting it big.

For those of us who have followed Red Wanting Blue for a while, it's nice to see the band finally getting some breaks. Tell me about your appearance on David Letterman. What was that like?
Oh man, that was nuts. It was a great experience. We had a lot of lead up time more time than I thought we would. I always thought that kind of stuff was booked relatively quickly, but we had a couple of months' notice, which was great because we were able to build a story up about it. It let us get a lot of people's attention those who would otherwise say, "Yeah, I know that band". Suddenly, everyone does a double take. They're like, "David Letterman? Holy shit!"

The show was great. The staff was amazing. They were really professional, great to work with. We had a great time. They were really nice to us. We never got a chance to meet David beforehand. He's not actually there for the rehearsal; he watches it on a screen, so we didn't get a chance to meet him until the world watched us meet him on the show. We had heard that he can be kind of cold if he doesn't like the band, but with us he was very nice. He offered Dean money for his drums!

Did he talk to you guys after the show?
He gets out of there pretty quick. We spoke to him for a moment and then he was off, but he was very gracious and his staff was great. They let us stick around there. Audience members who wanted to come up and say hello were allowed to come up. I thought that was a really nice gesture. So, fans and people who came far distances just to be in the audience for our show were able to get photos with us on stage. I got to sit at the desk with the band and took some photos. They even gave us the cue cards that said, "This next band is from Columbus, Ohio making their national debut with us."

Very cool. Did anyone pull out an impression of Ed Sullivan saying, "And now... right here on this stage... Red Wanting Blue?"
(Laughs) No, but the whole time we were there we were all walking around kind of quietly enamored of the fact that this is the studio that the Beatles played in. This is the stage where the Ed Sullivan show took place. It was really something else.

It was cold in that theater though, no joke. It was like a meat locker. Dean said it was 48 degrees in that studio. I guess Letterman does that because he doesn't want to sweat or have his guests sweat. But the experience was great and we had such tremendous support there. I couldn't believe how many people in the audience were fans of our band. The staff actually told us that they were very happy with us. They said they were surprised by how many people in the audience came to see us. Typically they said nobody cheers beforehand except when they hit the applause button. And they don't get the kind of response we got unless it's someone huge like U2.

Letterman is obviously shot in New York City and you're originally from New Jersey. How cool has it been for you to have your parents not only be able to catch your shows in the area, but watch as the band develops a solid following in their backyard over the years?
Its been really, really awesome. When you go after this kind of work, it's definitely not the road to making lots of money. There's a part of me though I know this is what I was meant to do and what I love doing there's always a part of you that would love to make your family proud. My parents are super supportive and very proud, but I think about them bumping into the parents of kids that I grew up with at the grocery store in the town that I grew up in. I imagine its like, "Oh really, your son is a dentist now, that's wonderful. He's married too? Just moved into a new house and has three kids now? Wow, that's really great. Well, Scott's still in the band, not married, no kids, and still playing music."

Sometimes I feel like I really want to do well for them so they understand that their son is doing this because he loves it and it's what he was meant to do, he didn't screw up, he didn't make a mistake. It's not a mistake for him to keep playing. He does what he does very well. This Letterman thing has been sort of the cherry on top of building our fan base along the East Coast where I grew up originally. We're at the point where we've had publications write about us lately suddenly, everyone in the town that I grew up in is aware of Red Wanting Blue, who we are, and what I've done. That makes me very happy on a personal level. And it makes me happy to reach out to music lovers out there with the hope they can make a connection with the band and become fans. It's been very rewarding.

That frustration definitely comes across in many of your lyrics. I used to think it was largely the frustration of the music industry, but it seems like a lot of it might be personal frustration as well.
Yeah, I think it's a little bit of everything; it's not just any one thing.

[Hang on for one second Gary because I want to give you my full attention, but there's a semi that's right next to me trying to do battle with me on speed. He's not faster than me, but he's trying to be. I just want to get over and get out of his way... Oh my God, what is this fuckin' guy doing? Get away from me dude!]

It's a little bit of everything. Those songs are written about the frustration of having to try to fit into a mold. I think there are a lot of options for people in this day and age. There are a bunch of different jobs out there, a lot of things people can do. I think it's a very brave thing to know what you want to do, find what you're passionate about, and go after it. That has so much to do with the name of the band and what I was about from the very beginning. The name of the band means going after something that you are not designed to be. Take primary colors, one will not be the other. But it's our human condition to fight and to try anyway; it's what got us to walk on the moon and touch the bottom of the sea. It's that type of perseverance and stubbornness like man was not born with wings, but we're going to learn how to fly anyway because we're passionate about it. It's how I feel that you're only on this planet once, if you're passionate and know what you want to do, you should go and do that and that should make you successful. It should make every day of your life worth living because you enjoy what it is you do. And if you can figure out a way to make money off of it and be financially secure in the process than that's the ultimate bonus.

Far too often I feel like people are stuck doing things that they have to do. Whether that means they say, "Well, we got married too soon and had kids too early and now even though I want to be a race car driver I have a family and have to focus on them." There are just so many obstacles out there. Too often people are doing something that they have to do as opposed to something that they want to do.

I've heard you use a term that I often use; you've called yourself a "Lifer" with regards to being a musician. I'm a lifer in the publishing game. It's always good to be doing what you feel you were meant to do and I applaud you for following your dreams.
Everyone has a different idea of what success is. For me, the biggest thing is that I know this is what I love to do. Songs like "Finger In The Air" or even the track in These Magnificent Miles that says "I don't want to hear it"... I know I write about that kind of stuff a lot because these are the struggling years, not just for me but I think for everybody. And especially for people my age, the early 30-somethings. We're all trying to figure out how to live in America in the 21st Century. I think everyone has these feelings. Maybe I feel the desperation and the temptation because I don't personally have the emotional weight of having a family waiting to have food on the table or children waiting on me to dress them and send them to school. The band and I have put that off for a different time in the future when we can have families and raise kids.
We always feel like we're sort of on the brink... where you're so close you can taste it. And that just makes you work harder. It's like you're almost there and you're always working. We always seem to be three-quarters of the way across the lake.

I think you really get a sense of that struggle in your songs, but a song like "Walking Shoes" seems somewhat optimistic to me. It talks about the struggle, but sort of looks forward to the future as well with lines like, "We are cursed to be travelers in search of fame, so when we hit the Hollywood hills we're gonna scream our names, hoping one day it will echo".
Yeah, but that song is bittersweet man. It really is. The line, "when I see your dog smile, I cry inside a little but its just so much to touch, but never enough to hold." That's very much how we live. It hurts me to know that we can't have a dog. We've even talked about it. "How cool would it be to have a dog on tour?" Yeah, it would be great, but it wouldn't be right for the dog. That song, in particular, was kind of inspired by my buddy John's dog named Daisy. He showed up at our show in D.C. and he was like, "hey, come over and say hi to Daisy, I've got to drop her off at my sister's before the show." I was like, oh man; you brought your dog with you. Oh God, that's so cool. I miss having those are the types of things that make a home a home: having plants in your windows, a dog and life in your house when you're not there... It's like that's so nice. We don't get that stuff. These are the kinds of sacrifices you make when you're on the road.

So, the song is kind of bittersweet. It's like I love your dog, I wish I could have my own, but I can't. There are definitely pros and cons to this job. "Pour It Out" is a song that's not really like a "Finger In The Air" kind of song. The sentiment behind that song... there's far more optimism in "Pour It Out" than I think people sometimes want to give it credit for having. I feel and I have felt over the years that there has been a bubbling, a percolating of this band slowly but surely over the last few years. We've noticed that we're starting to be received on a national level and that's why I titled the record, From The Vanishing Point because we've been on the road so long. The title of that record actually was a tip of the cap to Bruce (Springsteen). I originally wanted to call the record, Greetings From The Vanishing Point but that seemed a little cheesy. It's just that we've been living on the road for so long that it's the home we've known the most out of the last 15 years.

End of Part 1


L-R: Scott Terry, Mark McCullough, Greg Rahm, Eric Hall Jr., Dean Anshutz. Photo Credit: Jenna Pace.

Monday, August 13, 2012

George Street Playhouse Announces Tickets for 2012-2013 Season On Sale August 15th


(New Brunswick, NJ) -- George Street Playhouse is pleased to announce that tickets for Lewis Black's season-opening comedy One Slight Hitch starring Mark Linn-Baker, Clever Little Lies starring Marlo Thomas and the full George Street Playhouse 2012-13 season will go on sale this Wednesday, August 15.  The George Street Playhouse Box Office, located at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick will officially open for the season, taking orders by phone and at the box office window, starting at noon.  To reach the box office by phone, customers may call 732-246-7717.  Those who prefer to make their ticket purchases on line, may do so 24 hours a day at www.GSPonline.org.

Discounted tickets are available through the purchase of a season (five-play) subscription.  A discounted package where patrons choose three of the five plays offered is also available, as are flexible admission “Flex Passes."

Group Rate tickets are available for parties of 10 or more and may be purchased through the GSP Group Sales Office at 732-846-2895, ext. 134 or by email at mbergamo@georgestplayhouse.org.

<hr>

The 2012-13 Season:


 One Slight Hitch
A comedy by "The Daily Show" regular Lewis Black
Directed by Joe Grifasi
Starring Mark Linn-Baker
October 2 – October 28

 The world premiere of 'Clever Little Lies'
A comedy by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro
Starring Marlo Thomas
November 27 – December 23

 The Tony Award-winning Play 'Good People'
By David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by David Saint
January 29 – February 24

The World Premiere of 'Rich Girl'
By Victoria Stewart
Directed by Michael Bloom
March 12 – April 7

And one more play, yet to be announced

April 23 – May 19


Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theatre, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists. Noted Arts Administrator Norma Kaplan was appointed Managing Director in September 2011. 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 four issue-oriented productions that are seen by more than 40,000 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, and by its lead season sponsor, Johnson & Johnson. The Star-Ledger is 2012-2013 print media sponsor of George Street Playhouse.



One Slight Hitch and Clever Little Lies are sponsored by The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bill Toms Returns To The Saint On August 11



(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The sounds of the heartland will fill The Saint in Asbury Park when Bill Toms from Pittsburgh returns to headline an early acoustic rock show on Saturday, August 11. Toms, who began playing Asbury Park during his two decades as a member of Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers, has made the town a stop on his tours ever since going solo. Back from a recent tour of Italy, he's touring in support of his latest release, "Memphis". Local favorites Sandy Mack and Friends, and Chris Scanlon will also be on the bill. Doors open at 6pm, admission is $14. The show is a seated, no-talking during the performance show, which turns the rock and roll club into something of a listening room -- perfect for hearing acoustic performances like this.


Bill Toms joined Pittsburgh's legendary band, The Houserockers -- a personal favorite of Bruce Springsteen's -- as lead guitarist in 1987. The band's meteoric rise into the professional music scene enabled Toms to tour the United States and Europe repeatedly. While with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers he opened for and played with a long and impressive list of notables, such as The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat and Stevie Ray Vaughn. During his 19 years of playing guitar and singing back-up vocals for the Houserockers, Toms' recorded six studio albums and one live concert album. In addition to his previous six studio CD's and single EP, his CD, Toms' Live at Moondogs: Another Moonlight Mystery was released to international critical acclaim in January 2010.

Toms, who has been honing his songwriting craft in the past decade and has released a handful of solo albums, has evolved to become one of the best orators in the music business today. He connects to an audience and embraces the American traditions of rhythm and blues, soul, folk, and rock and roll like few others; and his performances have become legendary in sheer power and passion, and his gifts of music and storytelling, paired with his creative compulsion for songs that burrow deep into the soul, have connected with his fan base again and again. 

"Memphis", Toms' seventh studio album, was produced by Nashville veteran Will Kimbrough, and while the album title and Kimbrough's southern touch might suggest more twang, Kimbrough's steady guidance instead embellished upon Toms' heartland roots more than ever before, adding depth and touches of Memphis blues to Toms' signature sound.

"The characters that speak through this collection of songs are predominately voices of the southern United States, and reflect its history," said Toms. "Having Will Kimbrough produce it made so much sense. He's such a talented artist, and since he happens to be from Alabama and reside in Nashville, he gave me a great perspective. I believe Memphis' is my most ambitious project to date."

Bill Toms heads back to Pittsburgh following the show at The Saint and will return to New Jersey to perform at The Record Collector's Store in Bordentown on Saturday, September 29.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jim Boggia: This Could Be The Last Time

by Gary Wien
 

(ASBURY PARK, NJ -- AUGUST 4, 2012) -- It's a bit strange, I know, especially for someone who covers live music, but I don't usually go out on the weekends during the summer. The simple act of avoiding Bennies who haven't a clue as to their destination presents something of an obstacle course; you face cars and trucks that pretend you don't exist, New Yorkers who should stick to the subway, and the entire experience turns my normal five-minute jaunt into a stress-inducing fifteen to twenty-minute slice of hell. But the thought of possibly missing the last local performance of Jim Boggia led me to take a break from the book I'm writing and dragged me out to The Saint in Asbury Park on Saturday night. 


In case you haven't been following the situation, Boggia, a veteran singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, has been telling his fans that he's giving serious thought about removing underperforming venues from his tour list. Since The Saint was now being singled out for the second straight time, I took notice and heeded his warning. Apparently, I wasn't the only one.

A rather nice crowd turned up for an early Saturday night show. Hitting the stage around 8:30pm, Jim Boggia became the first artist I've seen to "hack" the Saint's new curtain. As Scott Stamper pulled open the curtain, Boggia was nowhere to be found -- all the audience saw was an empty mike stand. Apparently, Jim had been hiding as far to the left as possible. Upon bewildering the crowd for a few moments, he ran across the stage exclaiming, "I love the curtain!"

After opening with "On Your Birthday", he joked, "It's always good to be here at the newly curtained Saint. I won't tell you what I was doing before the curtain opened, but don't go near that part of the stage!"

His next song was the brilliant, "Annie Also Ran" -- a tune that he also brought along to 4 Way Street. Hearing him strum those chords really made me miss that band. They were the very first band I interviewed for my old publication, Upstage Magazine. That band turned me on to the group of Philly-area singer-songwriters and I've followed their solo careers ever since.

It was nice to see Jim in a good mood on stage. He was relaxed, joking, and seemed to really enjoy having a decent crowd in Asbury. He closed out "Annie Also Ran" with a segue into "Something In The Air" by Thunderclap Newman and then took a look out into the audience.

"It's always good when Scott gives you the chance to play The Saint to have more people than you can see from the stage," said Jim. "So, what would you like to hear?"

I'm pretty sure it was Hinge at the soundboard who shouted "NRBQ" but whoever it was got Jim's attention and earned the request. If you're not familiar with the song, "Listening to NRBQ" is a wonderful tale about a music fan's lost romance as he looks back on his life many years later. He's since sold his vinyl collection on eBay and has a wife and a kid, but still recalls the times he drove around in his old Charger (which hauled ass) with his girl listening to NRBQ on the car's 8-track.

Before launching into the request, Jim wanted to make sure one thing was crystal clear. "Ok, before we proceed, can we be clear that this is about a band, not a radio station? And it's not autobiographical!"

Jim went on to showcase tunes from several of his releases including, "To and Fro", "No Way Out", "Bubblegum 45s", "So", "Let Me Believe (Evan's Lament)", and "8 Track". Sadly, those last two tunes really emphasized his disgust with the record industry right now. Before launching into "Let Me Believe" he said, "and I once did"; meanwhile, he opened "8 Track" by saying, "This is a song that is of no relevance anymore, but I had the last laugh because the whole industry died." 

In between, he gave us a beautiful cover of Bob Dylan's, "The Girl From North Country" and closed with the amazing, "That's Not Why I Hate New York".
He pretended to stop and come back for an encore, but acknowledged the folly of it in this setting. "It would be great to do an encore, but then we'd have to close the curtain and reopen it..." So, instead he just burst into a tune about John Maynard Keynes, an influential British economist of the 20th century. I'm not sure if this was improv or not, but it was strange nevertheless.

Boggia finished the night by telling a story about Bruce Springsteen and how he tried to explain to a friend of his that people weren't booing him, but saying "Bruuuuuccccee" instead. He tried to get the audience to imagine what they would do if Bruce were to suddenly come through the door behind the stage. Timed perfectly, Hinge came right on through to great applause and chants of "Bruce!" It was hilarious!

Jim then played a very sweet version of "Thunder Road" on the ukulele. You really haven't lived until you hear someone sing, "Well, I got this ukulele and I learned how to make it talk!" Making the experience even more beautiful, Jim ended with a few bars of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", which is just magical on the uke. 


It was difficult to judge whether we were watching an artist tired of the game or someone just having fun, but it was a great evening through. Yet, for some reason, with each song, I got the feeling he truly is writing off venues that aren't working for him and simply not worth the aggravation. Looking back at the night at The Saint, I was reminded of John Lennon who once famously said, "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."



Before Jim Boggia's set, two great upcoming artists took turns on stage. Brook Girard, a promising young keyboardist, led off with a set of strong and instantly memorable original songs including "Ordinary Girl", "Road Trip", "Wanderlust", and "Trembling". She also presented a fine cover of "All This Time" by Onerepublic.

Michael Dante Summonte followed with another fine set. This was probably the sixth or seventh time I've seen him and it finally occurred to me who he reminds me of. While, I've seen him compared often to Bob Dylan, he actually reminds me more of John Lennon -- specifically the way John sounds on his demo recordings, stripped of the overdubs and studio highlights he always felt the need to hide behind. Michael's songwriting even heads down many of the same dreamy avenues that John used to take us (listen to his song, "Rats" for an example).



Summonte's set featured several brilliant originals including "Grandfather Grandfather" and a cover of "Catch and Release" by Petal Tree, a band he also plays in.

Both Brooke and Michael were the type of artists I used to give ink to in Upstage. One thing I was always proud of was the mag's track record of highlighting artists who had little or no exposure beforehand but certainly deserved it. Sometimes I wish I had more time to continue down that road... maybe someday. But for now check them out at:

Michael Dante Summonte -- http://www.reverbnation.com/michaeldantesummonte
Brook Girard -- http://www.reverbnation.com/brookegirard

and you can learn more about Jim Boggia at http://jimboggia.com

Saturday, August 4, 2012

JERSEY SHORE MEETS AUSTIN NIGHT

by Gary Wien
 
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Most everybody that goes to The Saint in Asbury Park on a regular basis knows that Scott Stamper, the club's owner, is a huge fan of music from Austin, TX. Not only has he made an annual pilgrimage to Austin each year for the City's vaunted South by Southwest music festival, but he often encourages bands from the area to make a stop in Asbury Park when they can. On Tuesday, June 26, a pair of bands from Texas took him up on the offer and helped make for a very interesting Jersey Shore versus Austin night.


New Jersey kicked off the night with Moon Motel. Although the band had gone through a major lineup change this year, they sounded better than I think I've ever heard them -- mainly due to the beautiful, moaning saxophone play which accentuated the painful lyrics in a wonderful fashion and helped create and amazing atmosphere. I had never seen Moon Motel with the sax, but it's a truly brilliant move for them. At times, the sax play and somber lyrics reminded me of early tunes by The Waterboys, one of my all-time favorite acts.

One of the highlights of the set was when Deirdre Forrest of Beannacht joined them on stage to sing an unreleased song by Beannacht. "This is a cover song, but it was written by Deidre, so she's covering herself!" he said. This was a great pairing, they sounded perfect together. Deidre would later tell me that the song is called "Leaving Lullaby" and it might turn up on a future Beannacht release.
As I sat at the bar watching the band, I thought to myself that this was the type of night we're fortunate to have along the shore. When I travel around the country, I'm lucky to ever seen an act with music as beautiful as Moon Motel and here they are the opening act on a Tuesday... Go figure.

Shivery Shakes from Austin was up next. I simply loved this band. For some reason some of their tunes reminded me a bit of a more modern version of the Plimsouls. They had that blend of punk pop mixed with harmonies and a slight touch of sixties influence. The end result was a highly entertaining dose of radio friendly tunes from a very polished sounding band. What of the best things about seeing touring bands is seeing acts that have really honed their sound on the road. They even had some members of the audience dancing! That's a rarity these days... Ah, Tuesdays.

"Yeah, we're from Texas... And we'd like to get back to Texas so if anyone would like to buy a disc or a t-shirt or have a floor we could sleep on..." said the lead singer. This got me thinking Wouldn't it be great to have a club with a spare room for traveling bands to crash in? Artists could play for merch money and get free room and board while heading out to their next gig.

For me, one of the best thing about Tuesday nights at The Saint for me is seeing traveling bands like this who couldn't bring enough to garner a weekend spot, but will simply blow you away. Tuesday nights also generally offer a mixture of counter programming -- morose, introspective singer-songwriters followed by out and out rockers -- it makes for fun nights for the music fan.

The third band of the night was the Accidental seabirds. This band has been gaining quite a following around the Jersey Shore area. The band has a very adventurous sound; at times they sound like prog rock band, other times like a jam band. It's a rather unique combination that plays off of intense vocals and frequent musical chord and progression changes within each tune.

"This is the best sounding room in town, I wanna hear you sing. These guys want to play all of the new stuff that doesn't have any harmonies" said the lead singer. They wound up playing several new songs despite his protest and the new songs sounded quite strong.

It's always nice when a band sounds different from everyone else in the scene and the Accidental Seabirds certainly fit that bill.

Bobby Jealousy closed out the night with a highly unique sound due to three different people taking turns at lead vocals. While multiple singers sometimes fails to create a distinctive sound, that wasn't the case here. If anything, the various singers simply added to the band's sound, offering different perspectives and taking advantage of each other's strengths. Some songs were pure indie rock, others were soulful odes to sixties rock. Most were not only memorable, but highly addictive. The band was a perfect close to a true Tuesday night grab bag of musical styles.

"It's a Tuesday night and this is like the best night we've had anywhere in the nation. You guys should be everywhere!" said Sabrina Ellis who was celebrating her 26th birthday on stage. 

I've long said that Tuesdays were my favorite night to go out. Not only do you get to see great bands on the rise, but it helps the week go by. It's a good way to relax after two days of work; by Wednesday, the work week is half over; by Thursday, you can already see the weekend. Tuesday is the key for me and there's nothing better than the creative vibes offered on Tuesday nights at the Saint. Earlier in the summer, I the night featured a pair of gypsy rock and roll bands. Where else are you going to see something like that?

The night was a good example of why the Austin music scene is so interesting and why the Jersey Shore scene deserves more recognition. We went head to head with the "live music capital of the world" and more than held our own!


Check out the bands at:Moon Motel -- https://www.facebook.com/moonmotel
Shivery Shakes -- http://www.reverbnation.com/shiveryshakes
Accidental Seabirds -- http://www.reverbnation.com/accidentalseabirds
Bobby Jealousy -- http://www.reverbnation.com/bobbyjealousy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

IT'S ALL GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD -- ALBIE ROCKS CHICO'S HOUSE OF JAZZ DURING CD RELEASE PARTY



by Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ -- JULY 14, 2012) -- Just a few doors down from where the magic first happened, Albie Monterrosa held a CD release party for his new band with the hopes that lightning might strike twice. As Albie & The Neighborhood rocked Chico's House of Jazz, it was like a flashback to the early part of the last decade when deSol first hit the scene. People were out on the dance floor, swaying to the mixture of latin and classic rock sounds; the audience had a much more diversified mix than usually found in the clubs around this area; and Albie, once again, was showing why he's such a tremendous front man that lightning just might strike twice.

On the liner notes of the band's debut, "11-37 Jackson St.", Albie writes, "This record is dedicated to the spirit of reinvention, transformations, and starting over. The belief that when one door closes another one opens. It is our faith that allows us to walk through a new door, into a new day. We give daily gratitude to all that has been given to us inherently, and to that which we work tirelessly for."

Monterrosa, who led deSol on a tremendous ride for much of the last decade, looked like he was having a great time back on stage. Some guys just have it. I could see it the first time I saw him perform many years ago. He took his talent, his vision, and his charisma all across the world. In my opinion, he was perhaps the most successful musician from the area of the last decade. While deSol never had the success they'd have liked in album sales, they quickly became known as an incredible live act and landed spots on the festival lineups of Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Langerado, All Good and South By Southwest. They took part of an Armed Forced Entertainment tour visiting bases throughout the Middle East and once had an amazing gig opening for REM in Mexico City. In other words, sometimes success shouldn't be marked by album sales. For Albie, I think success can be measured by the places they've seen, the memories they made, the people they met, and by the number of fans they built up throughout the world. The Neighborhood hopes to build upon that fanbase and continue from where deSol left off.

As with deSol, Albie has put together a tremendous band to work with. The Neighborhood is hot -- a bit smaller in numbers than deSol was, but they certainly bring it. Led by Albie and his wife Sally Perez (who handles lead vocals on some tracks and back up vocals on everything else), the band featured a stellar lineup of musicians including John Bednar on guitar, Nerio Mattheus on percussion, Tom Cottone on drums, and long-time Jersey Shore bassist Rob Tanico (best known for his work with Mister Reality and Highway Nine) who seemed to enjoy having more freedom on bass than he usually does. If coverage of the band is anything like the press thatthat deSol received, you'll hear an awful lot about the Latin-influences in the music; however, classic rock fans will love the guitar work found here. I hope that gets mentioned this time around because there was some serious shredding going on during the guitar solos. 

With the crowd ready to go, the band began playing the opening riffs of "The Fighter" from the new CD. After a few bars, Sally Perez came on stage. A few moments later, Albie followed as the audience roared. Some musicians just know how to work a crowd. They make each show an experience. Albie is one of them who gets it. After the opening number, he welcomed people to the show and spoke of his return. "I wouldn't say I was on hiatus, let's say I was recharging my batteries."

The band ran through several of the tracks from their debut including "The Fighter", "Give Myself Away", "Angel Saved My Life", "All Good In The Neighborhood","Chain Reaction", and "Boom Boom Magic". Covers included "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly and the Family Stone and "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley of Kiss. With a nod to the deSol fans in the audience, the band also brought out "On My Way" and "Blanco y Negro" to great response.

I think his producer, Jon Leidersdorff of Lake House Music, put it best. After the band's set, Jon said, "We see a lot of live music, but Albie just lights up the room, doesn't he?" 

He sure does Jon... he sure does. And it's great to see him back in town.


Saturday night was presented by PhanPhest, who will be bringing Albie & The Neighborhood back to Chicos every Wednesday night throughout the summer. 

BOB BURGER AT THE CELTIC -- WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME


 by Gary Wien

(LONG BRANCH, NJ JULY 12, 2012) -- There was a time when Bob Burger owned Thursdays at the Celtic Cottage in Long Branch. Sadly, he only comes by once or twice a month these days. Even though he's branched out and plays shows all over the area now, the Celtic is truly my favorite place to see him. I've heard some people label these shows as just cover nights, they're not only wrong about that but they clearly miss the point. On Thursday nights like these, Burger not only winds up playing the majority of his latest album as well as cuts from his other releases, but he plays them in front of a crowd that's become something of its own unique music community. It's like Cheers in a way, everybody knows your name.

Tonight Bob had Jimmy Leahey back as his guest. Leahey is probably best known for his work with John Waite and Dennis DeYoung, often performing on national late night television shows. Locally, he's also been a long time member of the Alice Project and is one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. Just try to find a guy smile more during a set than Jimmy, you won't find one.

Burger played a mix of his own releases, classic rock requests from the audience, and new songs that will most likely wind up on his next album. I was only able to catch a portion of the night (due to the damn day job) but during a two-hour block, I saw Burger play originals like "Trying To Get Us All Killed", "Vintage Tweed", "Madalynn", "Crowning Achievement", "The Day After", "Empty Track", and "Cat and Mouse". New songs included "Free" and "Never Got to Memphis" -- both of which sounded great and have me looking forward to the next disc. Personally, I think Bob's writing is getting better and better and his last release, "The Day After", contains some of his best work to date.

Classic rock requests from the audience led to a set of Rolling Stones tunes and then a David Bowie set with some Beatles and U2 tunes in the mix as well. The way Bob mixes classic rock and his own songs is impressive and something many musicians can learn from. In the past decade, there's been only a few artists I know that have been able to get gigs anywhere -- even at the clubs that only feature cover artists -- and find a way to work in their own songs like Bob does. By the end of the night, the audience easily hears as much of Bob's original music in this setting as they would if he was headlining a shorter set at a club featuring only original bands. More importantly, to someone who had never heard his music before, the songs fit right into the setlist. They not only belong there, it's sometimes hard to tell which is classic rock and which is a Bob Burger original. He's that good of a songwriter.

I love the way he encourages the audience to throw out requests. You just never know what you're going to expect. Some of the regulars have songs they love hearing Burger play, but they often try to challenge him as well. Tonight, one guy asked for Ten Years Later, which was the first time I've ever heard someone request that band. A bit later in the night, the same guy asked for something from The Baby's (which featured John Waite), urging Bob to either learn a few of their tunes or force Jimmy to take over.

These Thursday night shows are always a great ride. Armed with an iPad for a little help with chords and lyrics to go with his knowledge of thousands of tunes, Burger is like a human jukebox. Next time you're looking for something to do on a Thursday, seek him out, he's bound to be playing somewhere. And if you're lucky enough to catch him at the Celtic, order yourself a Guinness (or a Harp, which is more my style), hang out for a while, and be amazed that we're in an area in which you can see someone as talented as this guy for free.

To see where he's playing next, check out http://www.bobburger.com

MALT HOUSE LIMITED BRINGS HOME BREWING TO MT. AIRY

 
(PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 9, 2012) -- Beer lovers are an interesting breed. Once their palate locks on to the myriad of tastes available via craft beers, they not only leave the mass-produced brands behind, but often get the urge to brew their own suds. Yet, while interest in home brewing has soared throughout the last decade, the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia lacked its own home brewing supply store until recently.

In May, the Malt House Limited opened at the corner of Emlen & Mt. Pleasant Streets. The store contains everything for the novice to experienced home brewer. Malt House sells barware (mugs, openers, bar towels), keg equipment (tap handles, faucets, hoses, Co2 tanks), homebrewing supplies (malt, hops, yeast, equipment), and assorted beer-related gifts (t-shirts, books, bar signs, coolers). 

"There are a handful of places in the city and the suburbs, but its easily half to a full hour to get to them from my neighborhood," said Malt House Limited owner Scot Wikander. "That's the main reason I chose the location, I got sick of fighting city traffic or driving all the way out to the burbs to get brewing supplies. Most of my regulars so far are folks I know from the local homebrew club, some of whom even volunteered to help me paint the store that's how excited they were to have a homebrew shop in their own neighborhood."

Wikander, who has been brewing his own beer for about six years, also offers home brewing classes, lectures about beer, shows beer-related movies, and even suggests beer and food pairings. Wikander says he learned the trade from a friend who had learned how to brew from a friend who worked for Weyerbacher. His advice to those interested in home brewing is to first do a little research on the internet.

"Don't be scared off by the jargon and techno-geek-babble," advises Wikander. "People have been making beer for thousands of years - long before any of the modern science and technology was ever dreamed up. If you can boil water, you can make beer. 

"It starts with discovering good' beer, then wanting to learn more about it, then having a desire to make it," continued Wikander. "My family would always tell stories about old relatives making beer in the bathtub during prohibition, I guess it's in the genes."

Malt House Limited is open 12pm-8pm on weekdays and 10am-4pm on weekends. It's one of the few home brewing supply stores in the area opens on Mondays, which has been one of the busiest days for the establishment. 

For more information visit www.malthouseltd.com .

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twisted Covers Returns With Benefit For Food Bank

(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- Several years ago, a monthly show called Twisted Covers helped bridge the gap between Asbury Park's popular rock and roll scene and its emerging coffeehouse artists.   For three years, local musicians offered their unique takes on songs by well known artists from The Rolling Stones to The Replacements and everything in between.  One of the most popular shows in the history of the series featured local artists covering other local artists.  Nearly three years after the last Twisted Covers show, a third installment of "Locals Covering Locals" will take place to help raise money and food for the local food bank.

The show will take place Sunday, March 4th from 3:00pm until 8:00pm at the Green Planet Coffee Co. located at 731 Route 35 in Ocean Township (near the Asbury circle).  Admission is free, but people are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations and/or monetary donations for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

"The first time we held a 'Locals Covering Locals' show I was pretty nervous," recalled music journalist Gary Wien, the host of the series.  "I remember thinking it would either be a pure train wreck or something truly amazing.  Thankfully, it was the latter."

Many Twisted Covers alumni  are scheduled to perform including Anthony Walker, George Wirth, The Sunday Blues, Keith Monacchio, Catherine Wacha, Emily Grove, and Michael Brett (who was the inspiration and driving force behind the return of the show.)

Those making their Twisted Covers debut include Jerzy Jung & Michael Askin, Beannacht, Kevin John Allen, we are., Dan Hall, Mikael Lewis, Jim Mill, Joe Miller, Rich Genoval, Jeff & Elaine, Gerald Edward, Jenny Woods, Carol Barbieri, Mike Chick, Frank Lombardi, Cat Cosentino, and Michael Dante Summonte.

"One of the best things about Twisted Covers was how the show introduced a lot of people to artists they had never seen before," said Wien.  "More than 100 different musicians performed at the Twisted Covers shows during its run and it's great to see so many new artists getting a chance to be part of it.  If anybody has ever wondered how strong the New Jersey music scene is, this show will remove all doubt."

Local artists whose songs are being covered include Michael Brett, George Wirth, Anthony Walker, Arlan Feiles, Lightning Jar, Michael Askin, River City Extension, Give Me Static, Sheli Aarden, Jim Crawford, Grand Alto, Cat Cosentino, Melissa Anthony, Emily Grove, Jon Lepree, Janey Todd, Matt Kay, Accidental Seabirds, we are., Rick Barry, Danny White, Peter Prasa, Tommy Fuller, Jerzy Jung, and Gerald Edward.

To see the songs scheduled to be performed, visit http://www.TwistedCovers.com

James Maddock Finds His Music Community

By Gary Wien

On Saturday, February 25, James Maddock returns to Asbury Park for an early show at The Saint. The British born singer-songwriter was first recognized in the USA as lead singer of the band Wood who released Songs From Stamford Hill on Columbia Records in 1999. That album contained the hit track "Stay You" which was included in the first Dawson's Creek compilation. Maddock resurfaced a few years ago with the acclaimed Sunrise On Avenue C disc and released a followup, Wake Up And Dream last year.

Doors open at 6pm with admission $15. The night also features two great Jersey artists -- Frank Lombardi and Williamsboy. For more information, visit http://www.thesaintnj.com

Now living in New York City, NewJerseyStage.com had the opportunity to speak with Maddock about his career, music communities, and how the wall between artists and their fans has largely been torn down within the past decade.

You've played several shows in Asbury Park in the last few years and recently featured a picture of Madame Marie's on your Facebook page. Is there any sort of special connection to Asbury Park for you?
Well, obviously there's the town's kind of legendary status -- I mean, I've always loved the sound from that area whether it's Bruce or Southside Johnny. I even had a Southside Johnny tribute band when I was 17 or 18 in Leicester. So, from that sense there's a connection to the area and then there's the Light of Day show where I've played with guys like Joe D'Urso and Willie Nile (though I know he's not from there). I've done a bunch of gigs around town, so I kind of know the area a little bit.

After your had some success with your band Wood, you sort of took a little time off before putting out your first solo record (Sunrise On Avenue C) and then released the latest album fairly soon after. Were you writing those years you weren't really in the public eye?
Oh, yeah. I'm always writing. The Wood album came out in 1999. Afterwards I did a second, sort of aborted album on Columbia before leaving those guys around 2003-2004. I first moved to New York at that time. I was kind of regrouping, trying to figure out what I was gonna do next. I moved to the city and didn't know anybody, then I moved to Texas for a year. I was all over the place really, but all of the time I was writing. I'm a songwriter and I'm always trying to write good songs and do my best to continually write.

Do you think your songwriting has changed over the years?
Yeah, I mean I hope so. I don't think I really wrote a decent song until I was in my thirties. I've been writing all of the time since I was a kid, but when I listen to the stuff I don't really like what I did in that time. I kind of got it together in my thirties.

I don't know if I'm better, I think you just do what you do and you apply a sort of criteria to your songwriting that feels right at the time. It's an art, not a science. I like to think the songs are better now. My new single, "My Old Neighborhood," is one I actually love. I think it's one of the best things I've ever done and it's a recent song. It just kind of came out of nowhere.

What's it like being a musician in New York City as opposed to London?
The difference between New York and London for me is community. I never felt a sense of community musically in London. I was never part of any scene. I was never a guy that was going to be on the front page of the NME. I was never indie rock. I did what I did and I did ok. I moved to New York and I found this scene of people essentially built around Rockwood Music Hall, which is the venue I play at in the East Village. That place has really become the focus for a lot of singer-songwriter musicians in New York. We've been able to build a sense of community that is so important for musicians to have. That's the biggest difference for me. It's the sense of community that I have here. I can go down there and see musicians that I've played with and we all know each other. It's a real sense of belonging.

I've spoken with people who have been in New York for 20-30 years and they say this is a new era. They say it's much better than it's been for many years. It's a great sense of community.

Speaking about community, you're an artist that uses a lot of the current avenues available (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, PledgeMusic.com ) to help build a community with your fans. Do you notice these things bringing you closer to them?
Definitely. I mean, back in the 80s and 90s it was all about getting a record deal. You didn't think you could actually function without a record deal. Everything was centered around trying to get the A&R man to come down to your gig. Everything was focused on that goal. One of the things that the last 10 years has shown is that you don't have to do that anymore. You kind of do it yourself up to a point. So, that's a big change and Facebook has been a big part of that for me. It's a very active way for me to relate to the fans and get people interested me because I take an interest in them as well. They'll write to me and I'll write back to them. If they ask me a question, I'm very much engaged in it.

The fact that we've been able to raise money for the records is very important. Records tended to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and I've certainly spent that kind of money (not my own money) on records in the past, but you don't have to do that anymore. You can make a record for far, far less. If you've got $5,000 dollars, you can make a record for $5,000 dollars. If you've got $500 dollars you can make it for $500 dollars if you have to.

The Wake Up And Dream record was totally funded by my fans. It's very humbling that they do that and you feel very responsible for the money, you don't want to let anybody down. People work hard for their money and when they give you their money you have to be very careful how you use it. But it's a wonderful thing. I don't know how I could have possibly -- well, I simply could not have made the record without them. 

Another way you're helping to bridge the gap between artists and fans is by encouraging the audience to tape and share live recordings. Artists seem to be split on this issue, what led you to go the taping route?
Well, I don't see anything wrong with it. I remember going to gigs in the past where bootlegging was very frowned upon. If you sneaked a tape recorder into a gig and the security people caught you they'd take you outside, smash your gear, and maybe even rough you up. But nowadays anyone can record anything with a cell phone. What are you going to do - take people's cell phones from them when they go to a gig? Those days are gone...

If people are interested enough in me to bring cameras and want to film the gig, I like to see it because it helps me judge what I'm doing. I can see what we're doing on stage, see what it looks and sounds like and learn from it. I can think, "ok that works better than that; that's a really good version of that song; and what's that thing doing there?" Louis Armstrong used to tape every gig he ever did. He would listen to the recordings meticulously every night and try to listen to the things that worked and what didn't and learn from those performances. That's one of the reasons I like for it to be done -- I like to see what it sounds like from the fan's perspective.

I mean, what are you going to do? Start shouting at people from the stage because they've got a camera? C'mon, who do you think you are? You're not Tom bloody Cruise...

Well, I wouldn't imagine Tom Cruise doing this, but I noticed you've also done a bunch of house concerts. What are those experiences like for you? Those shows really let the audience get up and personal with you.
Yeah, they're a bit weird. The first time I did them it was spooky because everybody's right there. You're in someone's living room and there's people sitting right in front of you -- they couldn't be any closer. But I got used to it. It's a great way to meet people and for people to meet me. I can be very lucrative as well. You can make some decent money with house concerts. The people buy CDs and they'll talk to you. It's lovely to meet the people. Everybody is always really nice.

It should be a great night at the Saint and we're glad to have you back in town. We've sort of got an extended scene in Asbury. Many artists from New York City and Philly become part of our extended scene. With your previous shows and the Light of Day experience, I think you're part of that scene as well now.
I'd love to think so. The people at Light of Day and others have made me feel very welcome in Asbury Park. I felt very privileged to be a part of that. I do love that music and I'm a huge Springsteen fan so to be there and to be part of that was very special. And I love the Saint. I think it's a terrific venue. It reminds me a bit of CBGB's. I think it's a perfect place and I love Scott and Meg who run it. They've been so good to me. I really want to get out there as often as I can, build a presence there, and make a connection to the people of Asbury Park. Musically, I feel very close to it.