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By Gary Wien

New Brunswick's music scene has seen its share of turnovers through the past decade with bands breaking up, clubs closing, and people moving away; one constant through the last five years though has been ...Water... - one of the Hub City's most popular acts. Mike Montrey from the band contacted us to spread the word about a new live CD the band will be releasing on their website as a free download.

The CD is one full set (10 songs) which was recorded on June 22nd at The Crossroads in Garwood, New Jersey. It will be the fourth CD released by the band following their previous studio releases The Grass Sun (2002), Dig (2003) and The Spectacular Elevator (2005). The band truly takes on the Jam Band image with an eclectic mix of songs that might include anything from alt-country to progressive rock to funky jazz.

...Water... was started in 2001 by guitarist Mike Montrey, bassist Anthony Duca, and keyboardist Matt Tevald. Those three have been the core lineup of the band through the years. The lineup is rounded out by Brett Deptula on drums, Stephanie Guida on vocals and Adam Garnys on saxophone. Garnys is well known in the area for his work with New Blood Revival.

"We've been doing it for about five years now," said Montrey. "We've definitely seen a lot of bands come and go and we've played with most of them. We all get along. We've had some changes within the band but basically the three of us who started the band have remained through it all.

"We have a new drummer named Brett Deptula. He's a good player. He plays a lot of percussion as well. In September we parted ways with our last drummer and from that point forward a lot of people came through with auditions before Brett became the guy. He's been playing with us since April."

The band has been trying to expand its fanbase by playing clubs up and down the Northeast. One thing they're discovering is that while New Brunswick may be home, things outside of town can sometimes be much better.

"I feel like New Brunswick could definitely benefit from a better venue," explained Montrey. "It's weird... we go to some cities that are not nearly as big as New Brunswick and we'll roll into a club that has an in-house soundman, a great sound system, nice stage - a real music venue. In New Brunswick, most everything are just bars. With the exception of the Court Tavern, there's never been that venue that was designed for live music.

"And the way I see it... this area of New Jersey and New York combined, the clubs themselves have for a while been bestowing the responsibility of promotion on the actual artist. I think there should be more of a scene to help make the place more appealing - get people to go because the club has good music period and not necessarily because of a particular band on any given night."

Offering people a chance to download their music for free is one way ...Water... hopes to build their following. "I feel that ultimately the goal is to get the music out there," said Montrey. "It's an interesting argument because I can see the perspective of someone living in a capitalist society needing to make money and all that stuff. But it seems like the people who were most upset with the free downloading were the people who were making a whole lot of money. There didn't seem to be too many people who were on the bottom tier of the income factor who were too upset about it."

...Water... has been had recent shows throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania up all the way to Vermont where they will be headlining a Thursday night show at Nectar's in Burlington on August 17th. This will be the band's third time at the club and first headlining spot - proof that the audience is building.

Recently the band took to the stage at the Black Potatoe Music Fest in Clinton, New Jersey and through the years they have been on bills with artists like Jimmy Cliff, Levon Helm, Dickey Betts, The Campbell Brothers, .moe, G Love & Special Sauce, Particle, Bienevento Russo Duo and many more.

"I think that this band with the current lineup is as good as its ever been," said Montrey. "I really feel surrounded by the best musicians we've had up to this point. It's cool to be able to play the stuff we used to lay back then with these guys and to be creating new music with them. If you dig what we do you should see it now because it's probably better than it ever was!"

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.

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