Jersey City-based Crazy & the Brains are pictured rockin’ their hometown’s White Eagle Hall. They will play the Makin Waves Summer Concert Series on July 28 at Asbury Park Brewery with Hot Blood, Little Vicious, Doc Rotten and Chris Brown. Fans of the band have been waiting three years for new Brain matter, but the five-song EP, “Out in the Weedz,” produced by The Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf was so worth the wait. Photo by Bob Makin
Another one of the Makin Waves Dirty Dozen favorite indie and unsigned bands are Crazy & the Brains, a wonderfully odd punk- and jazz-rooted ensemble from Jersey City, who would be straight-up punk if not for the amazing chops of the most unlikely of punk rockers, xylophonist Jeffrey Rubin. His frantic trickle ‘n’ tink is one of the things I love most about Crazy & the Brains, especially when he makes his mallets explode, tossing them to the floor, where they lay beheaded, shredded and shattered beneath his rig.
I also love the Johnny Thunders-possessed soul of front man Chris Urban who adds to that persona greatly with “Candy Yamz,” the opening track of the band’s new and long-awaited EP, “Out in the Weedz,” produced by seminal Jersey band supporter Pete Steinkopf of the Bouncing Souls at his Little Eden Studios in Asbury Park. Interplay between the Thunder-like attitude of Urban, the thunderous rhythms of bassist Brett Maverick, guitarist Ernest Young and drummer Jonathan Lango, and the lightning hands of Rubin is at its best on this song about a punk who aims to come between his girl and her father.
A great xylophone intro next opens “Vapor Wave,” an otherwise gnarly ‘n’ snarly surf-punk track. Yet, Rubin’s charming chime more than holds it own throughout.
Like Johnny Thunders, Crazy & the Brains have a love of ‘60s pop, particularly girl-group rock, and that comes through on the title track, which sounds like The Shirelles through a funkel or punk funnel. Rubin’s playing adds to both sides of the musical equation.
To the quirky “You Can Call Me Quincy,” Maverick delivers an excellent Motown-like bass line that holds together the surrounding chaos, particular a wild, jungle cat-like ending. The closing “Nasty” lives up its title with a finish that continues the punk tradition of The Sex Pistols, The Dead Boys, and The Dictators. The eclectic tune also seems inspired in parts by Iggy Pop, ‘80s Brit rockers, such as Echo & the Bunnymen, and the Rude Boy sounds that inspired hardcore and ska punk.
Throughout “Out in the Weedz,” Urban and Rubin deliver great performances, but the explosiveness that is Young, Maverick and Lango cannot be contained in the studio and has to be experienced live to get the full effect. I highly and wholeheartedly recommend you do that because Crazy & the Brains is one of the best live bands in New Jersey, especially how Young puts on a show, not just with his Angus Young-like guitar playing, but the way he flails his instrument and flings his body throughout a set.
In addition to “Out in the Weedz,” you can experience the greatness that is Crazy & the Brains on July 28 when the band and fellow Little Eden stable mates Hot Blood, Little Vicious, Doc Rotten and Chris Brown play the Makin Waves Summer Concert Series at Asbury Park Brewery. Crazy & the Brains also will play July 7, Connie’s Ric Rac, Philadelphia, with Mid Rats and Fat Heaven; Aug. 4, North Catty Park, Catasauqua, Pa., with Blanks 77, and The Punknews.org Summer Soirée, Aug. 24, Creep Records Store, also Philadelphia, where they’ll play their own set and back Stza Crack of Choking Victim and Leftover Crack. Sharing that bill will be Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen and Philly punk trio Pushin’ It to the Limit.
Jann Klose and The Voice's Josett Diaz To Perform At Ethical Brew To Benefit A Cause Close To Home (TEANECK, NJ) -- On Saturday, December 8th, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jann Klose will perform at Ethical Brew on behalf of Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, a community arts and cultural center for children and teens located in Bronx, New York. Doors open at 7:30, show begins at 8:00pm.Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze (NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks' (NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th (BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
"Great Music!" Tavares and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes LIVE! at the Strand Theater The music of the 1970s is alive and well this Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Lakewood, NJ’s Strand Theater with a concert by the ’70’s R&B and soul groups Tavares and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes!"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
From Our Magazine
Michael Patrick: Garden State Country
Growing up in New Jersey doesn’t generally lend itself to becoming a country music artist. Michael Patrick took a bit of a winding road to get there, but he’s about as Americana as they come. On his latest release, John Wayne Movies, Michael Patrick weaves country songs alongside rock and roll, folk and rockabilly tunes to create an excellent album that few would guess was born in the Garden State.
Makin Waves with Pamela Flores: ‘Women Don’t Owe You Shit’
With the bubbling bravura of Janis Joplin and earthy intelligence of Ani DiFranco, Flores woos audiences like an exotic pixie, then slays them with stunning vocal and guitar chops, as well as an inspiring passion for justice and freedom that has been lending itself more and more to her music. While her recording and video output has been minimal, that will change in 2019, she said. And my, does she have a lot to say!
Featured Music Video: "Damn Thang" by Woodfish
This month's featured music video is "Damn Thang" by Woodfish.
Inside Bongo Boy TV
In issue 50, New Jersey Stage gave readers the opportunity to learn more about the writers who contribute to the magazine and the daily site. We’d like to give you the opportunity to learn more about the two shows that are featured in our magazine each month. One is Bongo Boy TV, a monthly show that broadcasts great music videos from around the world. The show is currently in its 7th season and you can see each new episode in New Jersey Stage magazine and on our daily website.