New Jersey Stage

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


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

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


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 --
Brook Girard --

and you can learn more about Jim Boggia at

Saturday, August 4, 2012


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 --
Shivery Shakes --
Accidental Seabirds --
Bobby Jealousy --