New Jersey Stage

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


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. 


 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


(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 .