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Tommy Strazza Holds CD Release Party At Rosie's Cafe

By Gary Wien


(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.

Tommy started off by playing every track from his new release, "Songs From The Escape", in the order they appear on the CD. The set included guest performances by Deirdre Forrest, Michael Askin, and Jerzy Jung -- all artists found on the CD. Performing on an acoustic guitar, the venue and the acoustics were a perfect fit.

In addition to the three artists who performed with him that night, Tommy had the support of numerous artists on the record including Gerry Rosenthal (Big Wake), Anjelia, Peter Horvath (The Anderson Council), and Bob Hart (Claire and the Reasons). Post-production experts Erik Kace Romero, Arlan Feiles, Mike Strazza and 2014 Grammy Winner, Tom Ruff, all worked on the release. "I literally got by with a little help (ok, a lot of help) from my friends," said Strazza.

After finishing the 10-track album, there was a short break in which the audience got to mingle, and enjoy some food or drink. This sense of community is one of the best aspects of a house concert. Attendees are encouraged to bring food or beverages to be shared among the room. It's a great way to meet new people who generally share a love of the same music with you.

Tommy's second set included older songs from his catalog including "Detour" (a personal favorite of mine), "Dinerrall's Song" (which was preceded by the backstory of how Tommy learned the true story of Dinerrall from a 60 Minutes report), and "The Best Day Of My Life" (one of, if not the oldest, songs ever written by Strazza.)

In addition to his own songs, the second set included a few covers by some of Tommy's favorite artists like Prince ("Purple Rain") and Pete Townshend ("Let My Love Open The Door"). Knowing that Tommy regularly plays in a Beatles tribute band (Hey Bulldog), Brenda asked if he could play one of their tunes and he responded with a beautiful version of "In My Life".

A nice surprise in the second set was a pair of songs done with Anthony Walker. Tommy was a member of Anthony's band for a few years and Anthony designed the cover art for "Songs From The Escape".

Having seen Tommy Strazza perform live several times, I can't recall ever seeing him as comfortable on stage. He regularly told stories about the inspirations behind the songs and the album's creation. It's a record full of songs of heartbreak, inspired by real pain, and that pain clearly comes across in songs like "Sunday" (my favorite on the release). One song, however, goes a bit against the grain. It's called "Love's Got Nothing To Do With What's About To Go Down Between You And Me" and it's about having rebound sex with the woman who lives in the apartment across the hall as you. What made the story even better was having it told with Tommy's parent's both listening in the front row!

"I didn't expect for them to be in the front row," said Tommy. "Today you have become a man" replied Brenda from the hall.

Another great story was how the album got made in the first place. With limited funds, Tommy didn't expect to be able to afford recording time in a studio. While rehearsing in his van one night, he learned that his van's acoustic actually created a pretty good recording. Thus, Tommy's Great 2003 Ford Escape (parked in many undisclosed yet scenic locations) was the primary recording studio!

House concerts have become a great way for musicians to add shows, both in their local area and while touring across the country. It's a way to tear down the walls between artists and their fans, and allow them to meet and actually talk to one another.

"My favorite part is being able to share live music in my home with my friends, and seeing the contented and happy faces in the audience" said Brenda Wirth. "I love being able to do a little something to help out touring musicians; to make their life on the road a little more comfortable."

Tommy has been an active member of the local music scene for most of the past decade, both as a solo performer and through work with several bands (Hey Bulldog, Okra Winfrey, G-Man Syndicate) and fellow artists (Anjelia, Emily Grove, Michael Askin, and the aforementioned Anthony Walker. His last album ("The Model Citizen L.P") was nominated for "Top Local Release" in the 2010 Asbury Music Awards. While he didn't win, he did take home the "Top Guitarist" award the following year.

For more information on Tommy Strazza visit http://tommystrazza.com/




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Daniil Trifonov performs Schumann's Piano Concerto in NJSO debut
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Daniil Trifonov, Musical America’s 2019 Artist of the Year, performs Schumann’s Piano Concerto in his NJSO debut, January 25–27, in the final program of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 Winter Festival, “Music Speaks.” Music Director Xian Zhang conducts the program, which also features Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra and the NJSO premiere of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy. Performances take place on January 25 at 8:00pm at NJPAC in Newark, January 26 at 8:00pm at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick and January 27 at 3:00pm at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.
Audible and NJPAC Present "Jazz in the Key of Ellison"
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and Audible have announced the first three national performance dates of “Jazz in the Key of Ellison,” celebrating the musical world of the esteemed African-American novelist, critic and scholar Ralph Ellison and his remarkable collection of jazz recordings.
Centenary Stage Presents Michael Davis and the New Wonders
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Centenary Stage Company’s annual January Thaw Music Festival returns to the Lackland Performing Arts Center featuring three musical guest artists throughout the month of January. The series launches on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at 8:00pm in the Lackland Performing Arts Center with Michael Davis and the New Wonders.
Billy Joel to Celebrate 70th Birthday at MSG
(NEW YORK, NY) -- The Madison Square Garden Company announced that the 64th consecutive show by legendary musician and MSG franchise, Billy Joel, on Thursday, May 9, 2019 takes place on his 70th birthday! The  show will be Joel’s 110th all-time performance at The Garden.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Presents Motor City Live: A Motown Christmas
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City has extended Motor City Live: A Tribute to Motown through the month of December with a special Motor City Live: A Motown Christmas. Along with your favorite Motown classics, you’ll hear some Motor City versions of your favorite Holiday songs sprinkled in like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from The Temptations, Aretha Franklin’s “Winter Wonderland,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” from the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson’s “Jingle Bells” and much more.


Melissa Etheridge LIVE! at the State Theatre
The lobby of the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, is buzzing with activity this Friday, November 30, 2018 evening as rock music fans ready themselves for a special Holiday Show by singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge!
Join The Greater South Jersey Chorus For "A Winter's Night" (Or Afternoon)
The holidays bring many special things and, for me, one of the best is the music. It sets a mood, invokes memories, soothes the soul and provides a seasonal soundtrack for my life.
An Interview with Chip Davis Of Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
You can experience the magic of the holidays — Steamroller-style — when Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis makes a tour stop this Thursday, December 6, 2018, at New Brunswick, NJ’s historic State Theatre.
Max Weinberg’s Jukebox LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Something is different about tonight’s November 18, 2018 concert at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts starring Max Weinberg, celebrated drummer from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band!
PHOTOS: Matt O'Ree Band at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- The Matt O'Ree Band returned to The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Friday, November 16 and photographer Estelle Massry of Coucou Photography was on hand to take some photos.  David Bryan from Bon Jovi was one of the special guests that night.

From Our Magazine

Gooch & the Motion

Gooch & the Motion

This New Year’s Day will be 15 years to the day that Ryan Nelson’s life changed forever.  The Salem County musician crashed his pickup truck head first into a tree, smashing his C7 vertebra, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.  Doctors told him he died three times on the helicopter ride to the hospital.  He would move on to a second hospital for spinal cord surgery and a third for rehabilitation.  It was there that music literally saved his life by giving him a purpose.  


Featured Music Video: "Running Away" by The Weeklings

Featured Music Video: "Running Away" by The Weeklings

This month's Featured Music Video of the Month is "Running Away" by The Weeklings.


Bongo Boy TV - Issue 53

Bongo Boy TV - Issue 53

Each issue of NJ Stage Magazine contains the latest episode of Bongo Boy TV showcasing great music videos from around the world.


Roots Rock Legends: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Roots Rock Legends: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

“Forty years on the highway, living on dreams and gasoline” That’s a line from the wonderful title track of the album  Downey to Lubbock  the first collaboration from Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.  The longtime friends embarked on a series of acoustic shows in Texas, which were so much fun and well received that they decided to create an album. 








Event calendar
Saturday, Dec 15, 2018


MUSIC

DOWNSTREAM @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

LIFE OF AGONY/SICK OF IT ALL @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 6:30pm

JOHNNY O @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

WEIRD SCIENCE @ Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

The THE BAND Band @ Darress Theatre, Boonton - 8:00pm

Brian Fallon @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

KASHMIR THE LIVE LED ZEPPELIN SHOW @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

Holiday POPS! @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 3:00pm and 6:00pm

TAKING BACK SUNDAY @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

The Beat Tells @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm







THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 7:00pm and 7:30pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:30pm

Peter Pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 7:30pm

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S THE KING AND I - BASED ON THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER PRODUCTION @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Louie Anderson @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


DANCE

NEW JERSEY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER WITH NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 6:00pm

Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guest Sweet Honey In The Rock @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm


FILM

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert Live to Film @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm

View all events
























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