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Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Albums of the Year


Here’s a look at the 10 best independent New Jersey LPs & EPs to cross my desk in what surprisingly was a great year for recorded music from the Garden State. There’s also 10 honorable mentions of additional great releases. All are self-released unless indicated by an indie label. 


Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Songs of the Year

Here’s a look at the 10 best independent New Jersey songs to cross my desk in what surprisingly was a great year for record music from the Garden State. All are self-released unless indicated by an indie label. 


ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...11/26/20

"I'm Northern Irish and living in Los Angeles, California and this is my fifth solo record, it's called "When Life Was Hard and Fast" and it came out February 19 on Nuclear Blast. I'm very excited about it,"stated guitarist Ricky Warwick as he discussed his new record, his childhood, growing up near Belfast during "The Troubles" and much more. 


Senses Fail Releases 2 Christmas Covers

Senses Fail is spreading holiday cheer as best as possible this year with "Christmas Has Been Canceled Due to Lack of Hustle", which includes two Christmas covers that are available to stream today through Pure Noise Records. Fans can hear "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" and "Donde Esta Santa Clause" within this article.


The Smithereens Release “Christmas Morning”

The Smithereens have released a new song for holidays featuring all four founding members of the band: Jim Babjak/guitars, Dennis Diken/drums, Mike Mesaros/bass, and the late Pat DiNizio/vocals.  Written by Babjak, “Christmas Morning” is available as both a digital download and 7” green vinyl, 45 RPM record.


One-Man Version Of "A Christmas Carol" Comes To Algonquin Arts Theatre

(MANASQUAN, NJ) -- Charles Dickens' classic seasonal story A Christmas Carol returns to the Algonquin stage in a one-man production with six performances between December 11-20. In the spirit readings performed by Dickens himself and many subsequent single-actor performances, actor Jan Topoleski will bring the beloved Christmas tale to life.


Middlesex County Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland announces retirement following 28 years of service to County

(MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ) -- After 28 years of service, Middlesex County Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland will retire effective December 1, 2020.


State Theatre New Jersey Announces Memorabilia & Holiday Shop

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey announces an online Memorabilia & Holiday Shop featuring one-of-a-kind gifts are now available on the State Theatre’s website at STNJ.org/Shop. Proceeds for all purchases go towards supporting the non-profit State Theatre.  


South Camden Theatre Company Offers Stream Of "The Mountaintop" by Katori Hall

(CAMDEN, NJ) -- The South Camden Theatre Company presents a streaming video production of the staged-reading of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop. The play is a gripping reimagination of events the night before the assassination of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The production stars Eric Carter and Wendi Smith.  Ms. Connie Norwood directs. It will be available for two weekends (December 4-6 or December 11-13).  Viewers purchase streaming rights for a 48-hour viewing timeframe.


Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies Presents A Poetry Reading Online December 4th

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents a reading by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, award-winning poet and translator, Ireland Professor of Poetry 2016-19, and Professor emeritus in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, on December 4 at 4:30pm online via Zoom. The reading is free and open to the public.

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FEATURES

Social Justice and the NJSO

The Black Lives Matter movement began several years ago, but reached new heights in 2020. Even a deadly pandemic couldn’t stop protests around the world from making George Floyd and Breonna Taylor household names, while growing a movement centered on social justice. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) was among those who knew it was time to take on a higher role.


"Lonely Days Are Gone, I’m A-Goin’ Home..." Spotlight on The Box Tops’ Gary Talley

Gary Talley is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and founding member of The Box Tops, the blue-eyed soul group from Memphis which scored in the late 1960’s with hits like “Cry Like a Baby,” “Soul Deep,” and “The Letter.” Spotlight Central recently caught up with Talley and talked with him about his musical childhood, his work with The Box Tops, his career as a musician, and what he’s been up to lately.


Dan Amato Releases "Home For Christmas"

​​​​​​​What happens when a musician is stuck in quarantine with two things: no studio to record and an undying love for the holidays? He puts together a Christmas record with the help of some friends. 


Frank Iero and the Future Violence To Release New EP In January

Frank Iero and the Future Violence aka The Future Violents have announced that their new Heaven is A Place, This is A Place EP will be released on January 15, 2021 via UNFD. Serving as a companion piece to 2019’s critically acclaimed full length, Barriers, the EP is split into two distinct movements.


Jersey City Voted to Support the Arts; Now What?

Jersey City expressed broad support for the Jersey City Arts Referendum on November 3rd, voting to institute a small percentage real estate tax that will amount to an estimated $800K to be allocated to Jersey City arts. The campaign prevailed based on the undeniable benefits that the arts provide to the community: improved quality of life, economic and tourism development, improved educational outcomes for youth, higher property values, better retention of long term residents, and more. It is gratifying to know that, even in these trying times, people recognize the value that the arts bring to the community.


Gay Elvis talks about "Readymade Blakeup"

"Why did we even bother? Why go back 17 years to finish up demoes of music that no one was really asking to hear, for a band that relatively few people even heard about?" 


Israel Portnoy Sings Song Of Peace

Israel Portnoy is an artist from Hale, Cheshire, UK, who currently resides in the land of his namesake, Israel. He shared a video for his beautiful song "Peace of Prayer / Shalom" with us.  The video was filmed and recorded in New Jersey with gospel singers from the Garden State. 


Kriz Oehme Passes, But Leaves Us With One Last Wellbaby Record

New Jersey artist Christopher (Kriz) Oehme died one month ago on October 15 after a long hard battle with kidney disease. He was a big part of the Jersey music scene for many years, working as the doorman at The Saint in Asbury Park and performing with his band Wellbaby.  Many knew him for his poetry, which earned him the Poet Laureate title at the Asbury Park Music Awards in 2004, or for his graphic design work, his paintings and eclectic jewelry.  He also put together numerous shows that included poets and musical performances.


Rutgers Jazz Ensembles Find Ways to Let the Music Play

I am not above dragging out a well-worn saying when searching for a simple, clear way to illustrate a thought or idea. For this occasion, I unearthed “necessity is the mother of invention,” which could very well be considered the unofficial rallying cry for arts and cultural institutions since March.


"Bring Back That Sunny Day!" Spotlight on Tom Garrett of The Classics IV

The Classics IV enjoyed pop music success in the 1960s with million-selling records including “Traces,” “Spooky,” and “Stormy.” In 2008, lead singer Dennis Yost passed away, but before he died, he hand picked vocalist Tom Garrett to carry on the legacy of the group.

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COLUMNS

Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Albums of the Year

Here’s a look at the 10 best independent New Jersey LPs & EPs to cross my desk in what surprisingly was a great year for recorded music from the Garden State. There’s also 10 honorable mentions of additional great releases. All are self-released unless indicated by an indie label. 


Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Songs of the Year

Here’s a look at the 10 best independent New Jersey songs to cross my desk in what surprisingly was a great year for record music from the Garden State. All are self-released unless indicated by an indie label. 


ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...11/26/20

"I'm Northern Irish and living in Los Angeles, California and this is my fifth solo record, it's called "When Life Was Hard and Fast" and it came out February 19 on Nuclear Blast. I'm very excited about it,"stated guitarist Ricky Warwick as he discussed his new record, his childhood, growing up near Belfast during "The Troubles" and much more. 


Makin Waves Song of the Week: "If Santa Claus Were President" by The New Bardots

​​​​​​​Three-fifths of Central Jersey-based The New Bardots have been playing together since the 1970s in such bands as Rockids, Oliver’s Twist, and Oliver Wylde, so it’s no surprise that they wrote and recorded their satirical new holiday song, “If Santa Claus Was President,” within days of the recent election. The band’s maiden voyage on the Italian indie I Couchie Records, the funny, heartfelt tune is the Makin Waves Song of the Week, and its video premieres here.


Makin Waves Record of the Week: "Liminal Spaces" by Fairmont

​​​​​​​Charter Mint 400 recording act Fairmont are celebrating their 20th anniversary together with their 11th album, "Liminal Spaces." Founding singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer-videographer-graphic artist Neil Sabatino’s multi-hyphenated talents also include founder of the label. And what a great job he does all around on behalf of the North Jersey indie’s many bands and his bandmates. They are longtime collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Christian Kisala, who appears on a majority of the band’s catalog; keyboarist Lisa Grabinski (Dharma Plums), who’s appearing on her second Fairmont album; bassist Matt Cheplic (The Bitter Chills, Splendid Engine) on his third, and new guitarist Evan Pope (The Maravines).


Rock On! This Week's Sound Bites...11/19/20

"I'm working on a couple of different things. I'm constantly putting out singles of some of my original songs and some covers; there will be some more music videos down the line too but for now I'm chillin' and having a good day. I'm usually in L.A. but when COVID hit I was on tour so I decided to come back and hang out with my parents a bit here in Prescott, Arizona."


Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Someone Is Waiting" by Helen O'Shea

Helen O’Shea has followed her Grammy-considered single and video, “Unbecoming,” with the new single “Someone Is Waiting.” Both will be featured on a 2021 EP produced by two-time Grammy-winner Marc Swersky.


Makin Waves Record of the Week: #AlbumNumberFiveSessions by Matt Cook

Asbury Park singer-songwriter Matt Cook’s latest LP “#AlbumNumberFiveSessions” features a who’s who of the New Jersey scene, including Nick Ryan, Brian Erickson, Levy Okun, Deirdre Forrest, Bryan Henson, Dano, and SOF.


Rock On! This Week's Sound Bites...11/12/20

"We're all from New York City but different boroughs. I'm originally from Massachusetts, Julien Budrino our drummer is from France, Martin(Stubbs) is from Pennsylvania right outside of Philadelphia and Marley Myrianthopoulos our bass player may be the only one who is actually from New York City; I rehearse more for his name than I do the music; it's always fun to say that on stage depending on how many beers I've had,"said a laughing Chris Paine guitarist and lead vocalist of The Midnight Callers as he and lead guitarist/vocalist Martin Stubbs spoke of the band's origins, Jem Records, their new album and more. 


Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Carmelita" by Tom Foti

North Jersey-bred, Houston-based singer-songwriter Tom Foti premieres the video for his Latin-spiced rocker “Carmelita” in Makin Waves at New Jersey Stage.

MUSIC


  • Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Albums of the Year
  • Makin Waves Top NJ Indie Songs of the Year
  • ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...11/26/20
  • Senses Fail Releases 2 Christmas Covers
  • The Smithereens Release “Christmas Morning”

    THEATRE


  • One-Man Version Of "A Christmas Carol" Comes To Algonquin Arts Theatre
  • South Camden Theatre Company Offers Stream Of "The Mountaintop" by Katori Hall
  • The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Launches Pandemic Playhouse Entertainment
  • Paper Mill Playhouse Is Accepting Registrations For 2021 Rising Star Awards
  • Holmdel Theatre Company Presents "BETSY WOLFE: A Pants Optional Holiday"

    FILM


  • Lighthouse International Film Society Launches Virtual Cinema Film Series
  • Videos to Help Share the American Story
  • NJPAC presents A Virtual Christmas Vacation with the Grisworld's: An Evening with Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo
  • State Theatre Has "RBG" Documentary For Sale Until December 31st
  • NJPAC Presents "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in Concert"

    ART


  • Art School at Old Church Hosts 46th Annual Pottery Show & Sale Online December 4-6
  • West Windsor Arts Council Creates Art Kits for a Cause
  • The Morris Museum Presents the Tapestries of Jon Eric Riis
  • Zimmerli Zoom Lecture Spotlights Work of Russian-American Artist Ilya Kabakov on December 7
  • Newark Issues Request for Qualifications for Harriet Tubman Monument in Washington Park

    DANCE


  • ~mignolo dance~ Sets Up Kickstarter Campaign To Raise Funds For 2021-22 Season
  • American Repertory Ballet Names Ethan Stiefel New Artistic Director
  • “The Art of Window Dressing” To Take Place On December 4th
  • Princeton Ballet School Studios Equipped With Air Purification Systems

    COMMUNITY


  • Middlesex County Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland announces retirement following 28 years of service to County
  • State Theatre New Jersey Announces Memorabilia & Holiday Shop
  • D&R Greenway Land Trust Thankful upon 10th Anniversary of St. Michaels Farm Preserve
  • WSOU Launches GoFundMe Campaign To Raise Funds For Annual Holiday Food Drive
  • Cape May MAC launches six weeks of holiday tours

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