MUSIC REVIEWS FROM OVER THE YEARS

1) A Look At Light Of Day Winterfest 2018 Kick Off Show At House Of Independents (published 2018-01-12) -- ​​​​​​​(ASBURY PARK, NJ) — I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel and I think I actually experienced such a trip when Light of Day Winterfest 2018 kicked off at the House of Independents on Thursday, January 11.  The night featured performances by Mark Wright, Joe D’Urso and Stone Caravan, Dramarama, and Bobby Bandiera playing tribute to Tom Petty.  For me, it was like reliving my musical past.

2) A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand (published 2016-07-10) -- (LAKEWOOD, NJ) — Can you recreate magic? Should you even try? Or is it best to go a completely different way? On July 2, Arlan Feiles recorded a live album at The Strand in Lakewood. He was inspired by a live set he performed during one of the Strand’s “Backstage Pass” shows last year, which was broadcast live on internet radio. This time around, the show was designed to be recorded live. The band recorded an earlier run through and recorded the actual show with the hopes of capturing something wonderful for the record. I hope they succeeded because the show was incredible and will make a great album.

3) Anthony D'Amato Returns "Home" (published 2016-07-09) -- (SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) — On Sunday, June 12, the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) was filled with music fans who came to see Valerie June and her band. But some in the audience were there to see the opener, Anthony D’Amato, instead. I was one of them. Having known Anthony since he was a teenager who wrote for several publications (including Upstage Magazine and AsburyMusic.com - previous incarnations of New Jersey Stage), I’ve followed his musical career from early albums recorded in his Princeton University dorm room to his major label releases. And this would be my first time seeing him on a big stage.

4) Strand Presents A Wonderful Tribute To The Life Of David Bowie (published 2016-01-30) -- Dozens of artists paid tribute to David Bowie at The Strand Theater on Friday, January 29th during an event that did much more than showcase Bowie, the Artist. It showcased the vision Anthony D’Amato has for the Strand. A vision that is exciting and long overdue for the Lakewood venue.

5) Stone Pony Crowd Welcomes Matt O'Ree Back Home After Bon Jovi Tour (published 2015-11-01) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) — “I can’t tell you how great it felt to be on the other side of the world and to open up Facebook and see so many people saying they were happy for me,” said Matt O’Ree on stage at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. The show on Friday, October 30 was a homecoming for O’Ree who was fresh off a tour of Asia with Bon Jovi. The tour went over so well, he was officially named the band’s new guitarist soon after.

6) A Souled Out Christmas Delivers (published 2014-12-23) -- (RED BANK, NJ) — The only thing more difficult than finding a parking place in Red Bank during the holidays was finding a ticket to The Count Basie's "A 'Souled' Out Christmas" show on Sunday, December 21. Those fortunate enough to be in the audience were treated to two legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers backed by two amazing bands. The night was filled with classic hits and Christmas songs with a stage adorned with Christmas trees, lights, and enough poinsettias to put everyone in the holiday spirit.

7) Tommy Strazza Holds CD Release Party At Rosie's Cafe (published 2014-08-23) -- (BRICK, NJ -- AUGUST 10, 2014) -- "If I knew this would be so much fun, I would have done it years ago!" said Tommy Strazza during a break between songs at his CD Release Party. His big night was not held in a club, as is usually done, but took place at Rosie's Cafe, the name for the house concerts held by Brenda Wirth. These intimate (generally restricted to 25 attendees) gatherings are not only wonderful shows for music lovers, but offer artists the opportunity to have an audience that truly listens to every song -- something that is rare during club shows.

8) George Wirth's Words & Music (published 2014-04-07) -- (APRIL 6, 2014) I finally made it out to one of George Wirth's "Words & Music" monthly shows at Espresso Joe's in Keyport. Actually, it was my first time back at the coffeehouse in years and my first time at a show in months. Espresso Joe's was the second place to ever "request" copies of my old Upstage Magazine, so the place holds a special spot in my heart. It's also a great venue for music and tonight was a lineup too good for me to pass.

9) Two Bongos for the Price of None! (published 2013-08-30) -- (BELMAR, NJ -- AUGUST 29, 2013) -- It was supposed to be the first concert in this year's 90.5 Songwriters Series, but it wound up being the last... And it was worth the wait. The show finished up what hopefully will be the first of many years in Belmar with a huge crowd (the biggest of the ones I was able to attend) and amazing music by The Sunday Blues and Richard Barone.

10) The Sunday Blues: Worth The Wait (published 2013-08-13) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ -- AUGUST 10, 2013) -- Sometimes I worry when bands take several years to release a record. Will they lose momentum? Will people still care? For one incredible night at the Saint in Asbury Park, those questions were answered for The Sunday Blues. A packed house full of fans, friends, and family came out for the official cd release of "City Folklore" proving that sometimes good things can come to those who wait.

11) McDermott and Jerzy Jung Rock Belmar's Beach (published 2013-06-20) -- (BELMAR, NJ -- JULY 18, 2013) -- A new era for 90.5 The Night's summer Songwriter series began on Thursday, July 18th when Michael McDermott and Jerzy Jung became the first artists to take part in the weekly showcase in 2013. Held for years in Red Bank, the show was moved to Belmar this year and was supposed to make its debut on July 11th, but the initial concert featuring Richard Barone and The Sunday Blues had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. I've waited a long time to have shows like this take place in Belmar, shows like those that the town used to hold at the Taylor Pavilion decades ago. If all of the shows go as well as this one, the wait was definitely worth it.

12) Recap: 2012 Winter Solstice Show at The Saint (published 2012-12-20) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Every year I'm simply amazed at the amount of talented musicians in the Asbury Park area. Events like Cook Smith's Annual Winter Solstice Show help bring otherwise overlooked artists to the forefront. On Wednesday, December 19, the annual event returned with over 30 different artists performing holiday tunes in a rapidly moving show at the Saint in Asbury Park. While some of the artists were well known veterans of the local scene, many were artists just starting out or open mic regulars getting the rare opportunity for a true stage performance.

13) Johnette Still Has It: Concrete Blonde At The Stone Pony (published 2012-12-16) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - DECEMBER 14, 2013) -- After many years, Concrete Blonde returned to Asbury Park with a stellar performance at the Stone Pony. I had seen the band a couple of times before through the years, but Johnette Napolitano's voice sounded better tonight than I can ever remember. She's always had one of the best set of pipes in the business, but after seeing her in such form as tonight, I'd say she just might be the most underrated vocalist in rock and roll. And her band can flat out rock.

14) 20th Annual Asbury Music Awards Rant & Recap (published 2012-12-14) -- The Asbury Music Awards was held for the 20th time on Thursday, December 13th at the Stone Pony, bringing most of the local music scene together for a night of fun music and recognition, but, once again, it could have been so much more.

15) REVIEW: Local Legends Return To The Saint (published 2012-09-29) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- On nights like this, I realize just how lucky we are along the Jersey Shore to have a place like The Saint -- a bar that on certain magical nights resembles "Cheers" with live music. On Friday, September 28, we had one of those nights. Three artists who all stamped their mark into the local music scene shared a bill with one of the area's fastest rising stars. It was one of those rare nights that felt like a homecoming with hardly a barrier at all between the performers and the members of the audience. People sang along, joked with the performers, and turned the club into a living room. We were all friends on this night and those are always the very best and most special shows.

16) Red Wanting Blue Closes Out Red Bank's Songwriters in the Park Series in Style (published 2012-08-29) -- (RED BANK, NJ -- AUGUST 24, 2012) -- "So this is a Songwriters in the Park show to actually happen. I thought it would be rained out so I didn't prepare," said Rick Barry who opened the outdoor show in Red Bank's beautiful Riverside Gardens Park.

17) Belmar Launches Music & Arts Festival (published 2012-08-21) -- (BELMAR, NJ) -- Despite being somewhat of a spur of the moment idea, Belmar's First Annual Music & Arts Festival was a smashing success. In fact, a certain town a few miles away that appears to be eliminating free music should pay attention. Belmar just might grab the mantle if the town decides to use its beach and boardwalk to lure the immense musical and arts talent in the area for free shows. Someone is bound to find a way to do it, why not Belmar?

18) Jim Boggia: This Could Be The Last Time (published 2012-08-05) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- 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.

19) Jersey Shore Meets Austin Night (published 2012-08-04) -- (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.

20) It's All Good In The Neighborhood (published 2012-07-15) -- (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.

21) Bob Burger At The Celtic (published 2012-07-13) -- (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.

22) Who Says Live Music Is Dead? We Just Had A Great Atmosphere At The Saint (published 2012-02-20) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18, 2012) -- There's something about a packed rock and roll club that just makes the beer taste better, the music sound spectactular, and the vibe feel right for a Saturday night. The Saint in Asbury Park had that kind of atmosphere on February 18th for a stellar bill featuring James Arlowe and the Ruffian Circus, Rick Barry and the New Rick Barrys, and the headliner, Red Wanting Blue, from Columbus, Ohio.

23) The Completely Unneccesary, Totally Irreverent Top 70 Albums of 2011 List (published 2012-01-02) -- Gary Wien's picks for the Top 70 Albums of 2011. All of these artists were played on The Penguin's online radio station during the past year.

24) Outside The Box Hits Upon Winning Formula (published 2011-08-19) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- House bands at The Stone Pony are part of a pretty interesting history. Some have gone on to get major label record deals or regularly jammed with the Jersey Shore's top musicians or even wound up performing stadium shows themselves, but whoever holds the title knows they are part of something special. Outside The Box, the current placeholder, is not only building upon the club's history, but finding new ways to continue the story. And on Wednesday, August 17, another chapter was born...

25) Lonnie, Anthony D'Amato, Israel Nash Gripka: A Solid Trio At The Saint (published 2011-07-23) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - JULY 20, 2011) -- Mid-week shows at The Saint in Asbury Park are always the best in my opinion. These are the days when you really get a chance to see up-and-coming artists before the music press gets a hold of them, the hype machine starts spinning, hipsters latch on, and tickets become hard to get. It's also the kind of day when clubs get to present some of their most interesting acts. On Wednesday, July 20, the Saint presented a night that featured two up-and-coming artists along with the club's debut of a wild avant-garde performance act. While attendance was extremely light, I have a feeling all three of these acts will almost certainly play before much larger crowds when they return.

26) Top Acoustic Artists Celebrated With 2011 JAMMIES (published 2011-03-12) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - MARCH 12, 2011) -- George Wirth, Matt Kay, and Emily Grove each took home two awards in the 2nd Annual Jersey Acoustic Music Awards. Held at the Atonement Lutheran Church Hall, the night contained live performances by 19 artists in front of a standing room only crowd.

27) A Belated Birthday Celebration For John Lennon (published 2011-02-20) -- (NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -- FEBRUARY 19, 2011) -- For the last few years, Glen Burtnik has been organizing shows to pay tribute to the work of the Beatles with friends of his from the music business. The shows went to great lengths to showcase individual albums exactly as the music was originally recorded -- note by note, instrument by instrument; often using dozens of performers to replicate the work of the Fab Four. On Saturday, February 19, Burtnik provided a different sort of tribute to the songs of John Lennon. The show, which ran through Lennon's work from the Beatles to his solo albums, was a bit looser, allowed for creative takes on the songs, and was even a little sloppy at times... in other words, it was probably exactly as John would have wanted it.

28) CD REVIEW: "Strange Situation" by Jon Caspi (published 2010-12-17) -- The latest release by Jon Caspi finds the Jersey artist veering in a slightly new direction. After two solid power-pop releases and a brilliant "rock novel", the new record leans more towards a faster rock/punk feel. Caspi has again penned a couple great songs although what I like most about this record took me quite a while to figure out.

29) Songwriters By The Sea - October 30, 2010 (published 2010-11-01) -- "We were going to play a lot longer tonight, but Jesse's got great stories," joked Joe Rapolla, who along with Joe D'Urso hosted another brilliant "Songwriters at the Sea" show October 30 at the Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ.

30) CD REVIEW: "Down Wires" by Anthony D'Amato (published 2010-10-08) -- One of the greatest compliments I can give an artist is to say that I believe they carry the spirit of John Lennon in their work. Anthony D'Amato carries that spirit. He's got that Lennonistic ability to be daring musically through different styles while offering provocative and insightful lyrics that can inspire or make one truly think. He's also got John's ability to tear down the walls and strip everything down to its bare skeleton revealing one's true essence, warts and all. On Anthony's latest release, "Down Wires", the young songwriter continues his progression as one of the most impressive talents of his generation. It's a journey that I am thoroughly enjoying. One reason why I listen to so much new music is because there is something magical about discovering artists while they are just beginning to hit their creative stride. Anthony had a coming out party with his last release and "Down Wires" shows he's just getting started.

31) CD REVIEW: Ben Arnold -- "Simplify" (3 ½ Stars) (published 2010-09-21) -- Ben Arnold's latest solo album, "Simplify," reminds me of what you might have experienced during an early concert by Billy Joel when he was still experimenting with one musical style after another. Arnold weaves from New Orleans-based rock and roll to smoky piano-bar ballads to upbeat pop numbers with ease. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable and extremely catchy record.

32) CD REVIEW: U.S. Rails (4 Stars) (published 2010-09-21) -- U.S. Rails is the new name for the former Philadelphia-based band 4 Way Street. Long-time fans will not be disappointed in the direction of the band as the debut by U.S. Rails may be even stronger than the lone record released by 4 Way Street. The "supergroup" of sorts continues to include Ben Arnold, Scott Bricklin, Joseph Parsons, and Matt Muir and now adds Tom Gilliam to replace Jim Boggia. The pairing brings together a mix of great songwriters who all have very distinct vocal styles that compliment each other. The end result is a largely brilliant followup record that is sure to please long-time fans and make many new ones.

33) CD REVIEW: The Amboys - "Everything Between The Moon & The Sun" (3 1/2 stars) (published 2010-09-21) -- The Amboys have been one of my favorite New Jersey-based bands ever since they first started kicking around the Asbury Park area a year ago. Their debut record, "Everything Between The Moon & The Sun" provides brilliant country-infused garage rock and roll that reminds me of Johnny Cash waking up on the wrong side of the bed after an all night binge, taking some speed, and heading out to the local punk rock bar to jam with whoever was on stage. It's got a true kick ass spirit to it.

34) The Brunswick Beatles Rock The State Theatre (published 2010-09-20) -- (NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -- SEPTEMBER 18, 2010) -- "I would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we've passed the audition", said Bob Burger, echoing the words of John Lennon as Glen Burtnik & Friends closed out a set that saw the band cover the American versions of "Help!", "Rubber Soul", and "Let It Be" -- complete and note for note as originally recorded while images and videos of The Beatles played in the background.

35) Recap of Sunday at XPoNential Festival 2010 (published 2010-07-20) -- From the first chords of The Great Unknown to the final notes from Robert Randolph and The Family Band, the 2010 XPoNential Music Festival provided an incredible day of music in Camden. This was my first time seeing a show in this city in many, many years and I couldnt stop thinking about how beautiful the waterfront area is and how perfect it was for a music festival. Between the amazing scenery and XPNs excellent track record in spotlighting some of the best indie artists around, this is definitely one of the best festivals in the state.

36) Does Your Church Have A Liquor License? (published 2008-12-06) -- (KEYPORT, NJ - DECEMBER 6, 2008) Review of Jon Caspi's CD Release Party for "Eddie Knows!" at Trinity, Keyport, NJ. There's definitely something special about seeing Jon Caspi perform in Keyport, his adopted hometown. He has a huge base of fans there and they all come out for his shows knowing every word to every song - even on nights like this one where Caspi is celebrating the release of a new CD. Caspi chose Trinity, a former Church converted into an upscale restaurant/night club, as the site for the party this time around.

37) Rick Barry / Hammel On Trial / Tara Elliott & the Red Velvets (published 2009-03-08) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - February 24, 2009) - Since I had seen Hammel on Trial several times before, I knew tonight was going to be an interesting show, but I wasn't expecting Tara Elliott and the Red Velvets to be so good. It's a shame that the crowd had thinned out a bit before Tara's band closed out the night, because they missed a truly awesome performance.

38) Night in Progress First Anniversary (published 2009-03-08) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - February 11, 2009) -- It's hard to believe that Rick Barry has been hosting the "Night In Progress" shows for an entire year. What started out as a dare from Saint owner Scott Stamper, has become one of the best nights of music in the area and remains as fresh today as it was the day the show made its debut.

39) Just Another Tuesday... (published 2009-02-11) -- (ASBURY PARK -- FEBRUARY 10, 2008) -- Tuesday nights at the Saint has got to be my favorite day of the week. You never really know what will be scheduled, but it's always a night for music fans. It might be a great touring band that doesn't quite have the following for a weekend spot; or an up-and-coming local act that has been flying under the radar; it might be an acoustic show, experimental, or even heavy metal; but it's always something cool. Tuesday nights may get even better if Hey Cole starts booking on a regular basis as the talent base has a chance to go way, way up. And last night was a perfect example of that. Placed in a combination listening room / regular club setting, the show featured Allie Moss, George Wirth, Matt Jones, and Alex Brumel and Janel Elizabeth.

40) Close Enough For Rock-n-Roll (published 2005-02-12) -- I arrived at the Saint sometime around 9:15 or so. Outside the building was Kelly McGrath of Maybe Pete. She was on the cell phone and looked rather nervous. I asked her what time the band was supposed to go on and she said "9:30... but Frankie's not here yet." And so began a rather tenuous twenty minutes for the band as they got ready for the CD release of Between the City and the Stratosphere.

41) Dramarama Returns To Asbury Park for the First Time Since Breaking Up at the Stone Pony (published 2004-05-06) -- Nearly 10 years ago, Dramarama played their final show as a band at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Last Saturday night (May 1st), the band finally returned to the city as the surprise guest headliners for the Upstage Magazine benefit show at the Wonder Bar. Even though the band had played a show the night before, Dramarama gave the crowd a full 21-song set that went from 1:15am until 3:30am.

42) Recap of "A Few Uneven Rhymes" show at the Strand Theater (published 2009-02-09) -- (FEBRUARY 7, 2009 -- LAKEWOOD, NJ) -- Jeff Raspe of 90.5 The Night had the unfortunate job of getting the night off to a rather somber note as he announced that a death in the family had canceled the appearance of Frankenstein 3000, who were scheduled to open the show. The show, which included several of the artists who donated tracks to the recent CD, "A Few Uneven Rhymes: A Tribute to Winter Hours" took place inside an art gallery at the Strand Theatre in Lakewood, the room provided an amazingly intimate setting for a night of great music.

43) Christian Beach CD Release Party (published 2009-04-21) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - APRIL 10, 2009) -- I love it when the night starts off with a nice surprise. In this case, it was a band from Dallas called The O's who kicked things off with a really strong set. The duo used guitars, banjo, and a single drum and kick-pedal to give off a sound that had the flavor of country-rock, but was much more alternative sounding than traditional country sounding. Their live set was so strong that you hardly noticed it was just a duo.

44) Songwriters By The Sea - March 2009 (published 2009-04-16) -- (LAKEWOOD, NJ -- March 27, 2009) -- Songwriters By The Sea took a big leap from America's Cup in Asbury Park to the Strand Theatre in Lakewood. Held inside the Theatre's art gallery area, the show featured Willie Nile, Marah, April Smith, and hosts Joe D'Urso and Joe Rapolla.

45) Seems Like Old Times (published 2009-04-08) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - April 6, 2009) -- When the show was announced on April 1st, many people probably thought it was just an April's Fools joke, but it was no joke. Days Awake not only got back together for one night, but showed why they were the Jersey Shore's top live act for several years. Even without practice, the band moved so effortlessly through their set it was as if they had never left.

46) The Torch Has Been Passed to Nicole Atkins (published 2009-03-23) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - March 20, 2009) - The Stone Pony was the site of another special rock and roll evening on Friday night when Butch Walker invited a special guest on stage. For decades, the thought of a special guest at The Pony meant Bruce Springsteen was in the house, but tonight was different. Tonight was the passing of the torch to a new generation of Asbury Park heroes and the leader is Nicole Atkins.

47) Recap of Wave Festival 2009 (published 2009-06-26) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Back in the day, I used to judge how good Dramarama shows were by how much my body hurt the next night. I think I'm going to start judging Wave Festivals that way as well. In this case, my body really, really hurt for two days after the festival, which meant I had a pretty good time! The Wave Festival has been a favorite of mine since it made its debut four years ago. Each year seems to get better and better. I remember thinking last year that the festival had arrived when people still hung out despite an afternoon of rain... well, this year people hung out in spite of rain throughout Saturday and Sunday. An impressive feat if you ask me.

48) Maybe Pete Kicks Off Residency at The Saint in Asbury Park (published 2009-07-08) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ JULY 8, 2009) "Cheap beer is good," said Frankie McGrath of the band Maybe Pete. "So keep drinking it."

49) Review of Steel Mill "All Man The Guns For America" (published 2009-08-16) -- In some far off parallel world, Bruce Springsteen signed a record contract with Bill Graham for his band Steel Mill. Instead of saxophones, the sound was defined by soaring guitar licks, thundering drums, and pounding bass and the E Street Band was never formed. Steel Mill took their legions of fans in New Jersey and Virginia and became one of the major rock bands in the country playing music festival after festival. And judging by the tunes found on Steel Mill's second release, "All Man The Guns For America", that might not have been such a bad thing.

50) Maybe Pete Will Find Their Way Somehow... (published 2009-08-09) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - AUGUST 5, 2009) - "Sorry if I ever let you down when you needed me to be your man. I was out there playing in a rock n roll band..."

51) CD REVIEW: Shades Of The Prison House by Anthony D'Amato (published 2009-09-02) -- I once read that no matter how old we are we will always write with the point of view that we had when we were 25. If that's true then Anthony D'Amato will have a long and amazing career because he gets the world better now than most people will ever know and he's not even close to 25 yet.

52) Review of Night In Progress - August 2009 (published 2009-08-24) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- "This will be our last Night In Progress for a while," explained Rick Barry, the host of the popular monthly series at The Saint in Asbury Park. "Some people don't know this, but I was recently diagnosed with laziness and can't come up with new songs each month."

53) CD Review: David Steele (published 2005-01-01) -- If you're looking for something a little different than the usual stuff being played on the radio, check out David Steele's "Underneath The Ice" on City Canyon Records.

54) CD Review: JPAT - "Smile Goodbye To The Kings & Clowns" (published 2004-12-01) -- JPAT is no longer a man of mystery, he's settled into the blues musician his voice has always beckoned him to be. Shortly before hopping on a plane to China, he recorded his first full-length CD of original blues tunes. The disc was recorded raw - usually in just a take or two - with just JPAT strumming guitar, blowing on his harp, and howling in the way nobody in Jersey has ever howled since Southside Johnny first hit the scene.

55) The Commons' Last Ride (published 2007-08-08) -- Some bands never make it out of the garage while others last a lifetime. Thanks to recordings, fans never really have to say goodbye but the musicians almost always are faced with the difficult decision of moving on or becoming stagnant. For The Commons, they decided they'd rather make the decision to move on rather than wait a year too long.

56) Review of Whatever Planet by the Dipsomaniacs (published 2005-09-05) -- A look at the latest disc by the Dipsomaniacs.

57) Review of Dirt Waffle by The Commons (published 2005-09-05) -- A look at the latest disc by The Commons.

58) Review of Glen Burtnick at the Saint (published 2005-09-14) -- "It's good to be at the CBGBs of Asbury Park," exclaimed Glen Burtnick as he kicked off his first ever performance at the legendary Saint rock club. Performing solo because most of the members of his regular backing band (members of Spiraling) had a gig elsewhere that night, Glen ran through an hour-long set that featured highlights from throughout his career.

59) Review of Friends of Muther Poetry & Acoustic Music Show (published 2005-12-14) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) December 13, 2005 -- It was the annual Christmas poetry and music show hosted by Kris Oehme at the Saint, but it was far from jolly. The host was dressed up in a very interested Santa Klaus suit and handed out candy - perhaps as a reminder not to take candy from strangers. After all, the words spoken last night in the various songs and poems gave the impression that it will be one dark, dark Christmas season.

60) 90.5 Brings Christmas Spirit To The Wonder Bar (published 2005-12-19) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ -- December 17, 2005) -- Not only were there over a dozen people dressed as Santa Claus, but the Wonder Bar was filled with toys as 90.5 The Night's Benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County brought people out in droves. In fact, it was literally a who's who of the local music scene.

61) Review: Maybe Pete / Jason Mather @ Saint - December 29, 2005 (published 2005-12-30) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ -- December 29, 2005) -- Ok, I've gotta admit that I wasn't really planning on reviewing this show but two things changed my mind. The first was hearing an interesting version of "Dancing In The Dark" come out of Jason Mather's guitar and the second was when Scott Stamper delivered the bad news.

62) Review of Rick Barry's Hangover Bash 2006 (published 2006-01-18) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- New Year's Day for those among the Jersey Shore means three things: waking up with a hangover, watching football all day, and going to the Saint at night for Rick Barry's Annual Hangover Bash. The annual show kicked off 2006 with its 4th straight year of rock and roll shows with one of its strongest lineups to date. The cast included The Jigmakers, Arlan Feiles, April Smith, and, of course, our host for the night, Rick Barry.

63) Recap of the Upstage Radio Benefit (published 2006-02-15) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- February 11, 2006 - As the season's first major snowstorm barreled through the tri-state area, the benefit for Upstage Radio took place at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park in front of a crowd of die-hard music fans who were treated to an exceptional night of music.

64) REVIEW: Stone Pony 2/18/06 with April Smith, Soozie Tyrell, Lance Larson (published 2006-02-25) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Few rock and roll clubs have ever stayed around as long as the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park has and so it's fitting that the club celebrates its anniversary with a block of shows each year. The show on Saturday, February 18th was comprised of an interesting look at Asbury Park's past glory and a look at one of the scene's rising stars.

65) REVIEW: Brookdale Guitar Show (published 2006-02-25) -- (LINCROFT, NJ) -- Where else can you find pre-teen kids wearing Pink Floyd shirts, middle-aged men drooling over hand-made strings, and musicians shelling out two thousand dollars for the vintage guitar they've always wanted?

66) Having A Party with Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (published 2006-04-08) -- (MARCH 31, 2006 - Asbury Park, NJ) -- The Stone Pony had one of those special nights on March 31st as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers rolled into town and showed why they are truly one of the greatest live acts in music today.

67) Recap of The Wave Gathering Festival (published 2006-05-25) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- There was a mixture of pride, elation, celebration and exhaustion as people strolled into the Wonder Bar after midnight on Sunday, May 21st. It was a crowd of musicians, Wave Gathering crew, and serious music fans who were closing out the remaining hours of the festival. Joe Harvard provided a toast to the festival crew and the look on everyone's faces told the story.

68) REVIEW: Red Wanting Blue Live at The Saint (published 2006-06-16) -- (JUNE 15, 2006 -- ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- It was one of those nights where you wished the club was full; one of those magical kind of nights that happen at the Saint from time to time - the kind of night you pull out your cellphone halfway through the set and try to drag your friend out because you just know they'd fall in love with the band. And, it appears by taking a look at the crowd, that Asbury Park is slowly but surely becoming a decent stop for Red Wanting Blue, an incredible band out of Columbus Ohio that comes around two or three times a year.

69) Review of Writers In The Raw - July 2006 (published 2006-08-05) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) - Writers In The Raw made its debut at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on July 16th with a show fitting for long-time fans of the series. The national act portion of the show featured three of the original members of 4 Way Street - the popular band from Philadelphia that became favorites of the Jersey Shore largely due to their appearances in the first few Writers In The Raw shows. Rounding out the group was Tom Gillam, the newest member of the band who is replacing Jim Boggia. It was the band's first appearance in Asbury Park under the new look and provided a nice sense of deja vu as well as a reminder of just how far the Writers series has come.

70) REVIEW: King of the Blues Returns To The Saint (published 2006-08-05) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On July 27th, the Saint in Asbury Park welcomed back the newly crowned "King of the Blues" - Matt O'Ree - with a great night of blues and power rock performances.

71) REVIEW: The Commons at the Wonder Bar (published 2006-08-05) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) - It's tough for a band to build an audience outside of their area, but it's something that has to be done. The Commons have a great following in their hometown of Trenton, but have struggled to draw along the Jersey Shore. They returned to Asbury Park on August 4th with a show at the Wonder Bar before a Beach Boys Tribute Band. It was a Jersey Shore "Spinal Tap" kind of night for the band.

72) REVIEW: Jen Chapin at the Saint with Divine Sign and Kasey Sheik (published 2006-08-05) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On July 20th, the Saint welcomed back Jen Chapin to Asbury Park. She not only brought her husband Stephen Crump with her but her new baby was in the house as well! Supporting her on the bill was All Things New, Kasey Sheik and Divine Sign. It was one of the most anticipated shows of the summer at the Saint and it was worth the wait.

73) REVIEW: Will Hoge at the Saint (published 2006-08-06) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On Saturday, August 5th Will Hoge returned to the Saint on a bill that also featured Rick Barry & The Mourning After and Almost There. People have been raving about Will Hoge's shows for years and after seeing him live it's easy to see why. It was an enormously fun night with great sets from all three acts, but Hoge's set might have been one of the best I've seen this year.

74) REVIEW: An Asbury Park Rock & Roll Xmas Show (published 2006-12-29) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ - December 21, 2007) -- 90.5 The Night & Notpop Record presented "An Asbury Park Rock 'N Roll Xmas" at the Saint with a great lineup of local stars highlighted by an appearance by Jeffrey Gaines. Each artist did a pair of songs - one of their originals and one Christmas tune. The mixture worked very well and with Arlan Feiles & The Lone Howdies Orchestra as the "house band" for the night things ran smoothly and sounded incredible.

75) Wave Gathering Recap: Sunday, May 20th, 2007 (published 2007-05-31) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- I had a late start to Sunday thanks to a sleeping pill that actually worked, but I managed to get to America's Cup in time to see The Hesh. Cookman Avenue on Sunday really showed a sense of community as tons of musicians were all hanging out and checking out the venues whether they were scheduled to play that day or not. It was truly a great day for the Wave Gathering Festival as the weather was incredible - the best of the weekend.

76) Wave Gathering Recap: Saturday, May 19th, 2007 (published 2007-05-25) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- With one day in the books it was time for the longest day of the festival to begin. Of course, Gordon Brown roped me into doing a panel at 11:30am, so the long day would have to be a little longer for some of us. Personally, I hate doing panels. I don't even like attending panels - reminds me too much of going to school I think.

77) SHOW REVIEW: James Dalton at Borders (published 2007-04-21) -- (APRIL 16, 2007 - EATONTOWN, NJ) -- WBJB (90.5 FM) presented the second in its "Emerging Artists" series at the Borders in Eatontown on April 16th. James Dalton, aka JPAT, was on hand for the CD release of Butterflies and Passerbyes" his latest CD and first on the AERIA label.

78) SHOW REVIEW: Sean Lennon (published 2007-04-21) -- (APRIL 9, 2007 -- ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If there were any doubts that Asbury Park was still a rock and roll town they may have been erased on April 9th when Sean Lennon came to town. Rock and roll royalty came to town for a special Monday night show and a large crowd came out in support. The amount of people at the club was more like the crowd for a weekend than a Monday and added to the special night by providing more energy throughout the club.

79) SHOW REVIEW: Arlan Feiles' CD Release (published 2007-03-17) -- (MARCH 15, ASBURY PARK) -- Arlan Feiles taught me a lesson once that I will never forget.

His CD "Razing A Nation" originally came out on an indie label a few years ago with a cover that looked slightly worse than your average cheap bootleg. The cover turned me off so much that the cd stayed in our pile of new cds for about 4-5 months. When I finally got around to giving it a listen it was like hearing Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" for the first time.

80) SHOW RECAP: Save The Wonder Bar Rally (published 2007-03-17) -- (MARCH 10, 2007 - ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- It was a concert designed to show that Asbury Park has a true music community; an all-day event to show that people truly do care about keeping music and entertainment alive in the new Asbury Park; and a musical lineup put together to hopefully save the Wonder Bar. In the end, it may have failed on all three accounts but it was a tremendous day of the music that left those at the club in awe of the talent throughout the state.

81) Eryn Shewell Band Comes Into Their Own (published 2009-03-11) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ March 3, 2009) I wasn't originally planning on writing a review of this show, but figured I'd do a write-up since people have emailed me saying I hadn't done much with the blog lately. Although I've been going to shows regularly, I just don't feel the need to do show reviews unless something really clicks for me. Tonight was one of those nights. Even though the lineup featured three artists I've seen quite often, the show itself was worth writing about.

82) Rick Barry's "This Antediluvian World" (published 2009-02-07) -- Several years ago, I said that Rick Barry was the next Billy Bragg. I can still remember Steven Bumbera joking that I must have meant Rick would have a career filled with incredible songs that nobody would ever hear. Well, with the release of his latest EP, "This Antediluvian World", it's clear that he no longer wants to be just a big fish in the Asbury Park scene - he's ready for the world to hear him. And, he's ready to shed the Billy Bragg title once and for all.

83) Works in Progress - October 2008 (published 2008-10-20) -- (OCTOBER 8, 2008 -- ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Rick Barry's "Works in Progress" series has been a favorite of mine since it first launched several months ago, but I think recent shows have taken the series to a new level. This latest show continued that trend. The lineup included Keith Monacchio (formerly of The Commons), Justin Hillman, Glen Burtnick, Brett Mosely, Tommy Strazza, Kelly Carvin, and, of course, Rick Barry.

84) Billy Bragg Preaches to the Choir (published 2008-10-20) -- (OCTOBER 19, 2008 -- WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- Man, did I need this! Part folk-rock show, part storyteller show, and part Barrack Obama rally - it was my first time catching Billy Bragg live and it was definitely worth the wait!

85) CD Review --"Straight to Red" by Maybe Pete (published 2008-08-20) -- There's really no better way to review a new CD by Maybe Pete than by popping open a bottle of cheap Merlot, so here goes...

86) The Commons' Last Show (published 2008-08-16) -- (AUGUST 16, 2008 -- LAWRENCE, NJ) -- Just outside of Trenton, at McGuinn's Place, a bar that the band had played often throughout their career, The Commons played their final show on Saturday night in front of many of their long-time fans.



87) What A Long Strange Trip It's Been... (published 2008-07-31) -- (FRIDAY, JULY 25 - NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- In 1978, two young musicians named Glen Burtnick and Marshall Crenshaw played the roles of Paul McCartney and John Lennon in Beatlemania. Thirty years later - after dozens of albums, world tours, films, and various bands - they found themselves on the State Theatre stage in New Brunswick, NJ playing Beatles songs once again in the 2nd Annual Beatles Bash.

88) Wave Gathering Festival 2008 Recap (published 2007-07-15) -- Each of the three years that the Wave Gathering Festival has taken place has been better than the one before. I think it's become an institution of sorts. People are starting to know that the festival is the place to see great bands they've never seen before, a place to see all of the great bands in the area, and a place to hang out in a city where the line between the music scene and music fans completely disapears.



89) 2007 Asbury Music Awards - recap (published 2007-11-19) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The 15th annual Asbury Music Awards was held on Saturday, November 17, 2007 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The event once again brought the majority of musicians in the area together for a night of great music, networking, story-telling, and a lot of drinking.



90) Recap of Anthony Walker's CD Release (published 2010-06-29) -- (ASBURY PARK, NJ -- JUNE 27, 2010) -- Three of New Jersey's finest singer-songwriters were on bill for the release of Anthony Walker's new EP, The Sun Goes On Forever, which took place Sunday night at Rosie's Cafe. Preceding Walker was an all-too-rare performance by Janey Todd and a homecoming show of sorts for Allie Moss.

91) Recap of 2010 Southern Shore Music Festival (published 2010-06-19) -- (JUNE 19, 2010 -- MILLVILLE, NJ) -- I was asked to run a live blog from the Southern Shore Music Festival for Jersey Arts this year. This was the 4th year of this particular festival, which took over from the old Bridgeton Folk Festival that ran for 23 straight years until its last in 2006. The following is a somewhat edited version of my live coverage of the festival - some of which ran on the Jersey Arts Twitter page.

There are hundreds of stories linked on the right. It's nice to finally have them all collected in one place.


written for Jersey Arts



Music: features | reviews



Theatre: features | reviews



Film/TV | Comedy | Dance | Art