"The champions are the people who are pointing to the future and that's what music is; it's about the future, cooperation, motivation and inspiration," says Rascals member Eddie Brigati as he discussed the upcoming January 11 auditions for the Rockit Academy (Rockit Live Foundation) at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ.
"Rockit" is widely thought of as,"New Jersey's number one rock band program for aspiring musicians" that, "Endeavors to build character as well as talent" while "Instilling confidence and team skills with an emphasis on community service." Some of the programs participants have gone on to perform with Steve Vai, The Les Paul Trio, Keith Urban, Jon Bon Jovi and more.
Founded by Bruce Gallipani in 2004 and inspired by E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt's "Underground Garage" radio program, "Rockit" has recently partnered with Brookdale CC in an effort to increase its visibility as well as offer those in the program a broader learning experience.
Eddie Brigati is an active member of the board along with Van Zandt and his wife Maureen; he explains that his involvement with the program stems from his long time friendship with Little Steven.
"Let's start off by saying that Steven and Maureen Van Zandt are 10 star human beings; they speak for themselves but I'm going to speak for them in this instance. Steven is a wonderful mentor to me; he reproduced the Rascals, the best production ever of Rascals in 2013 and for the obvious reasons of the powers that be it was the best production of Rascals ever. We had a tour, about 80 shows across the United States and Canada and he got us in the Hall of Fame in 1997; he was our inductee and that's something to take a look at, the role that he played and he's a super Rascal fan. He and Bruce came to the first concert; legend has it that this was their first concert to see the Rascals and that was back in 1860 (laughs). Steven is a super duper advocate for Rock 'n' Roll; look up TeachRock. He did a concert at the Count Basie Theatre and "Rockit" was performing there and "Rockit" is by the stewardship of Bruce Gallipani the founder and director and he takes these children from eight to eighteen years old and it's a very wonderful, nurturing, progressive entry level at those tender ages and he performs upwards of a dozen concerts a year. There's probably about 70 or 80 children involved and he invited me to come and speak and I've never stopped from that point on; I've been validated, vindicated and everything you can think of and it has been an honor to be part of it. My wife Susan and I are on the council board and recently the program has graduated into Brookdale Community College. They were invited to be part of there on campus; so these kids are going to campus and the great part of it is that they are being groomed and they are in an environment to continue their higher education. I go back to music which is the basis of my life so it's about cooperation, expression, first you express yourself, you cooperate and you have this tool to navigate and get through life which has to do with your opinion and your expression and getting together and supporting each other; communication is the key word, that's what songs are all about."
Auditions are held to fill the limited amount of spots available and according to Brigati the reason is simple; to discover who has not necessarily the best talent but the focus to enter the program.
"The criteria is your intention, these are kids that are motivated and they are focused," he stated with conviction. "The object of auditioning is to sort out who is serious and who is paying attention and at that age the direction; to give them an opportunity. That's kind of the role that I think I'm adding; I have the experience and we are successful. We are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame 2008 and a couple of other honorary things. My point personally is that I have no degrees in music or business and my success stems from cooperation. We are trying to project that, the civil part of our society and you can take this vehicle and I know that I have a lot of awards but I don't have any from a four year college program and that's who I represent; the outside of the inside so to speak. That's what I think music does, everybody is entitled to their opinion, especially their expression and that's what you want to bring out. Music has a momentum, a purpose and a direction and it's extremely personal; it's one of the few things that you can do with yourself being the center of it."
Once accepted there's still the matter of financials; "Rockit Academy" doles out several scholarships per year; each having a value of $5,000 and include free private lessons, band class and the live performances. Brigati believes that everyone deserves a chance and that this program and its scholarships allows for just that.
"The whole principal of it is the intention; these kids come to give their intention and discipline in degrees and percentages. If they come and they are generally cooperative they need to get recognized, they should be rewarded. Our world today is monetarialistic; it's all about the monetary goal and sometimes you're not going to get the money," he said with a laugh. "I think to go to music and think that you're going to clean up and get money is a deception to the spirit of music. You may never make a nickle, it may cost you money to go out and play; maybe you want to eat and drink, it's costing you money in gas and tolls; what's the reward again? The thing about the scholarship is that you should be recognized and have an incentive. A lot of these kids may not stay in music, a lot of them may not excel but there's a pattern to follow, an orbit. There's a self-expression to get yourself unblocked, to not get cornered and that's what music is, it's a momentum, it's a circle. They say that Native American consciousness is the, "Mother's Circle;" she invites everyone to the dance and how you dance is up to you. The circle is continual and it's rising and the object is to get past the gravity of desire and possessions and distractions, you've got to get over it all. The scholarship thing means that you are going to afford them their education and some kids are brilliant and it doesn't matter where they come from; they can come from nothing economically and still be brilliant performers and then you can have the opposite, you can have people with everything and they're distracted. A phrase that I've been re-circulating lately is, "This is God's business" and it's really the grace of one's intention."
The Van Zandts and Gallipani as well as Brigati recognize that there is a need to assist today's youth population, especially since more and more schools are removing music and art programs. "Rockit Academy" does just that but rock's elite such as Van Zandt sometimes go a little above and beyond.
"One of the aspects is that half of the city kids drop out of school, more or less and half of those go to jail more or less and the more or less part of it is that this is happening; can you help it? Steven invites people to his concerts and he invites teachers to his concerts and it's not just a token superficial nod towards this; whatever Steven does he's all in one million percent. In my world he's one of seven and one half billion people of his kind; complimenting, helping me decide whether or not I should stay in front of this firing squad (laughs), it's not like I have the gun; I'm on the other side. There's a kind of give and take, there's a book called "Gathering Moss" written by a Native American author with a PHD in botany and moss is the first plant that comes out of the water; it's very entertaining but the key word to this conversation and music is reciprocity, the giving and taking."
The Rascals may have given Brigati his recognition but he realizes the egg shell fragility of both ego and talent; the reality of the limelight and being under the scrutiny of a crowd can produce mixed results.
"Whatever role you play and I don't say this often in front of musicians but the first instrument is the voice. That's the human voice to the human ear and the other part of it is the dichotomy of the stage; there's nowhere else to go so you go hide on stage. I don't know if you get that but when you're on stage you're vulnerable you're wide open but you're being ignored at the same time quite often. The audience is somewhat forgiving; by percentages and degrees some are paying attention and you're offering it up for their discretion. Some people go out and get another drink; it's just that when you are talking about people, humans, you are talking about any and all possibilities at the same instant. I don't want to be too profound but it's deep at the same time that it's superficial; it's called schizofrendo (laughs)."
So what exactly is it that Brigati wants to get across to the participants of the program and how does it feel when he sees a kid succeed or do well?
"I'm that kid," he exclaimed with a chuckle. "What I try to relate to them is essential, I say to them; do you love music? They all respond yeah, yeah and I say good, study law and accounting. Here's why, law is language, expression, communication; lyrics. Accounting is every step, every note, everything you eat, it's everything on the measurement side of it. You don't have to be a lawyer or an accountant, you just have to know that those things are constantly in play. Write your own song, make it your pizza; is it a three minute song? Every pizza is about a pound and a half of dough, you roll it out; now what do you want to put on this pizza? You want Latin percussion? OK that's one pizza; oh you burned it? OK make another one and another one and another one and that's the real point that I'm trying to inspire. I am an example and proud to be an example of doing just that."
Auditions for this nine week program are January 11 from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. at Brookdale's Lincroft campus located at 765 Newman Springs Road. There are a list of requirements and guidelines as well as fees beginning at $20; to discover all there is to know, please visit www.rockitacademy.org/auditions/ .
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!
Arts Council of Princeton
102 Witherspoon Street Princeton
Sun. 3 p.m. "Fiesta del Dia de Los Reyes Magos" A Three Kings Day Celebration feat. Lisa Botalico / Rosca de Reyes. $10 (suggested donation)
Bill's Olde Tavern
2694 Nottingham Way Hamilton
Thurs. 7 p.m. "Ladies Night"
Blend Bar & Bistro
911 Highway 33 Hamilton
Sun. 7 p.m. Karaoke
11 Amboy Road Bordentown
Sat. 8:30 p.m. Karaoke Night
1600 River Road New Hope, PA
Thurs. 6:30 p.m. Fermenters Trio
Fri. (5 p.m.) Bennett Lee (8 p.m.) Bob Egan
Sat. 7 p.m. Dave Dales Trio
Sun. 6 p.m. Lorenzo
Mon. 6 p.m. Andy Prescott
Tues. 6 p.m. Ed Wilson
Wed. 6 p.m. Jason Dozier
Brickwall Tavern & Dining Room
19 E. Union Street Burlington
Wed. 7 p.m. Quizzoholics
Broken Goblet Brewing
2500 State Road Bensalem, PA
Thurs. 7 p.m. Mike Estabrook
Fri. 8:30 p.m. "First Friday's" w/ Cara Cartney
Sat. 8:30 p.m. Kinky Quizzo
All Shows 21+
24 Passaic Street Trenton
Thurs. 6 p.m. Thursday Night Blues Jam w/ $5 (Includes hot buffet)
Sat. 3 p.m. (TBA) $10 (cover charge/$10 Minimum includes buffet)
931 Chambers street Trenton
Fri. 9 p.m. "First Friday" w/ Billy MF Brown
Mon. 8 p.m. "Art Chill Night"
Tuesday 8 p.m. "Jam Night" Hosted by Nikki & Caleb
Chickie's & Pete's
183 US Highway 130 North Bordentown
Tues. 8 p.m. Acoustic Music Night
Wed. 9 p.m. Quizzo Trivia
510 Highway 130 South East Windsor
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Kindred Spirit
Mon. 9 p.m. "Malibu Mondays"
Tues. 9 p.m. Trivia w/ Jessie & Chelsea
Wed. 6:30 p.m. "Wine Down Wednesdays" w/ Rich Genoval
125 South Main Street Hightstown
Sun. 7 p.m. "Rock On Radio" feat. The Dives
411 Hobart Avenue Hamilton
Thurs. 7:30 p.m. "Karaoke at The Cook" Hosted by Superstar Entertainment
50 Riverview Plaza Trenton
Thurs. (4 p.m.) Happy Hour (9 p.m.) "Late Night Thirsty Thursdays" w/ DJ Chillio Ortiz. Ages 21+
Fri. 4 p.m. Paradise Happy Hour"
Sat. 9 p.m. "Social Saturdays" w/ Rotating DJ Entertainment
Sun. 11 a.m. "Sunday Brunch"
Mon. 7 p.m. Country Line Dancing w/ Jeremy Line Dance. $10
Tues. 7 p.m. Karaoke
All Events Ages 21+
215 West Philadelphia Avenue Morrisville, PA
Fri. 7 p.m. Acoustic Music Night
Wed. 8 p.m. Quizzo
Dog & Bull Brew House
810 Bristol Pike (Rte. 13) Croydon, PA.
Fri. 8 p.m. Rachel & Ty
Sat. (11 a.m.) "Saturday Brunch" feat. David Dzubinski (8 p.m) Gabe Guma
Sun. 10 a.m. "Sunday Brunch" feat. Dick Gratton
1031 Washington Boulevard Robbinsville
Sun. 5:30 p.m. Open Mic and Karaoke
90 South Main Street New Hope, PA
Thurs. 8 p.m. "Musical Chair" (Rotating Live Music)
Tues. 8 p.m. Open Mic Hosted by Sam Ryan
Wed. 8 p.m. Trivia Hosted by Dwayne Dunlevy
Grounds For Sculpture
80 Sculptors way Hamilton
Thurs. 5 p.m. "Sing Along with Sculpture" w/ Seward Johnson
Grover's Mill Coffee House
Princeton-Hightstown Road Princeton Junction
Thurs. 6:30 p.m. Open Mic. Hosted by Anker
4617 Nottingham Way Hamilton Square
Sat. 7 p.m. John & Carm
Hamilton Tap & Grill
557 US Route 130 North Hamilton
Fri. 9 p.m. Ant and George
Sat. 8 p.m. Tiltin' Catz
Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzoholics Trivia
Wed. 7 p.m. Country Night
Havana New Hope
105 S. Main Street New Hope, PA.
Fri. 9:30 p.m. DJ Dance Party (No cover)
Sat. (3 p.m.) Princeton School of Rock "Best Of" Show. Doors open at 2 p.m. (8:30 p.m.) Jumper. $8
Sun. (1 p.m.) Midnight Sun Orchestra (6:30 p.m.) JB Kline Blues Band
Mon. 9 p.m. "Lipstick Mondays Drag Show" followed by Karaoke w/ Dwayne
Tues. 8 p.m. "Funk N Blues Jam" Hosted by Slidewinder Blues Band
Wed. 8 p.m. Original Music Showcase Hosted by Pat Foran feat. "Original" Open Mic
5 South Greenwood Avenue Hopewell
Fri. 8 p.m. Susan Werner. $30, $33
Tues. 7 p.m. The Art of Living Well: "All The Time In The World" and Q & A w/ Director Suzanne Crocker. $12.50
Hopewell United Methodist Church
20 Blackwell Avenue Hopewell
Fri. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night
Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn
15 East Broad Street Hopewell
Thurs. 6 p.m. "Jazz On Broad" Hosted by Phil Orr. $15 (Ages 22 and under $5)
Fri. 8 p.m. Open Mic Night
Hopewell Valley Vineyards
46 Yard Avenue Pennington
Thurs. 6 p.m. Karaoke / Open Mic
Fri. 6 p.m. "Music & Merlot" feat. Christine Havrilla
Sat. 6 p.m. "Music & Merlot" feat. The Jackalopes
Sun. 2 p.m. "Jazzy Sundays" feat. Alex Otey Trio
Hurricane Jacks Bar and Grill
7759 New Falls Road Levittown, PA
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke w/ Paul Kircher
Tues. 9 p.m. Karaoke w/ Paula & Sam
Irish Rover Station House
1033 Bellevue Avenue
Fri. 9:30 p.m. DJ Entertainment
Sat. 9:30 p.m. Big Whiskey
Wed. 8:30 p.m. Trivia
Iron Plow Vineyards
26750 Mount Pleasant Road Columbus
Sat. 1 p.m. Jon savage Duo
Sun. 2 p.m. Jerry Steele
Iron Plow Vineyards Tasting Room
61 High Street Mt. Holly
Thurs. 6 p.m. John Rossi
Fri. 7 p.m. Gregg Parker
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
Thurs. 9:30 p.m. Karaoke
Fri. 9 p.m. Cover Up
Sat. 9 p.m. Honey Spot Blvd
All shows 21+
869 Bustleton Pike Richboro, PA
Thurs. 7 p.m. "Ladies Night"
Wed. 8 p.m. Trivia Night
Jimmy's Firestone American Grill
140 Route 130 South Bordentown
Thurs. 8 p.m. "Bar Games and Trivia"
John & Peter's
96 S. Main Street New Hope, Pa
Fri. 9 p.m. Calla Bere & the Attitude
Mon. 9 p.m. Open Mic
Wed. 9 p.m. The Invitational
All shows 21+
Killarney's Publick House
1644 Whitehorse-Mercerville Road Hamilton
Thurs. 5 p.m. "Girls Night Out"
Sat. 9:30 p.m. Upside Down
Lambertville Elks Lodge #1070
66 Wilson Street Lambertville
Sat. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night
10 West Ferry Street New Hope, PA
Sun. 11 a.m. "Jazz Brunch"
572 Klockner Road Hamilton
Wed. 7 p.m. Karaoke
Marcellos Coal Fired Restaurant & Pizza
206 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
Sun. 10 a.m. "Blues Brunch"
1781 Brunswick Avenue Lawrence
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Oregano Records Presents: "Artist Showcase"
Tues. 9 p.m. Karaoke
McStews Irish Sports Pub
5316 New Falls Road Levittown, PA
Thurs. 10 p.m. "Beer Pong Night"
300 S. Broad Street Trenton
Mon. 8 p.m. The Standby, The Groomers, Dead in Dog Years, Coldfax. All ages, $10
Tues. 8 p.m. "Millhill Experiment"
Wed. 9 p.m. Party Marty, Condition Oakland, MWC. $5
Newtown Brewing Company
103 Penns Trail Newtown, PA
Thurs. 7:30 p.m. Movie Night: "The Terminator"
Sat. 6 p.m. Mike and Sarah
2043 Route 130 South Florence
Tues. 8 p.m. Trivia Tuesday w/ Quizoholics
9 Mercer Street Hamilton Square
Thurs. 9:30 p.m. Karaoke w/ Super Dave Curtis
Fri. 9 p.m. Blind Lemmon Pie
Sat. 9 p.m. Asylum Choir
Old Town Pub
135 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
Thurs. 8 p.m. Quizzoholics Trivia
Fri. 9 p.m. Gypsy Mother
Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Road Hamilton
Thurs. 8 p.m. Karaoke
All shows 21 +
Nassau Street Princeton
Thurs. 4 p.m. "Skating On The Square" $10 (Includes skate rental)
Fri. 4 p.m. "Skating On The Square" $10 (Includes skate rental)
Sat.12 p.m./4 p.m. "Skating On the Square" $10 (Includes skate rental)
Sun 12 p.m./4 p.m. "Skating On the Square" $10 (Includes skate rental)
1339 River Road Titusville
Thurs. 8 p.m. Open Mic Night
Wed. 7 p.m. "Quizzo"
Pete's Steak House
523 Whitehorse Avenue Hamilton
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Retro Memories
Pj's Pancake House & Tavern
19 Main Street Robbinsville
Tues. 6:30 p.m. Open Mic Night
River Cat Cafe`
142 South Main Street New Hope, PA
Mon. 6 p.m. "Monday Night Jazz"
Small World Coffee
14 Witherspoon Street Princeton
(609) 924-4377 x2
Sat. 8 p.m. Rick Fiori Jazz Trio
Sparky World Famous Beer Garden
4333 New Falls Road Levittown, PA
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Fri. 9 p.m. DJ Dance Parties w/ the Paula & Sam Livingston
Mon. 9 p.m. Game Night w/ Kid Dalton
Tues. 8 p.m. Johnny Betz
Wed. 9 p.m. Karaoke
10 Lippincott Lane #12 Mt. Holly
Sat. 5 p.m. Modern Mojo
Starbucks Coffee (Trenton Community Store)
102 South Warren Street Trenton
Sat. 3 p.m. Open Mic
101 Scotch Road Ewing
Fri. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night (FREE admission)
Sat. 8 p.m. Folk/Roots Concert w/ "Feather." $20
Sun. 2 p.m. Folk/Roots Concert w/ IKH Zing-The Yiddish Tradition, Murad/Zinger. $20
1 Cookstown-New Egypt Road, Wrightstown
Fri. 10 p.m. Jimmy Merchant & Friends
Sat. 10 p.m. Bent Mushroom
Tavern On The Lake
101 Main Street Hightstown
Fri. 9 p.m. Asylum Choir
5 South State Street Newtown, PA
Thurs. 7 p.m. Blues Open Mic Hosted by Steve Guyger
Tues. 8 p.m. Trivia w/ Righteous Jolly
Wed. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night w/ Cara Cartney
330 Cold Soil Road Princeton
Sun.12 p.m. "Sunday Music Series" feat. Lindsay Ketofsky
812 Route 33 Hamilton
Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke
The Birdhouse Center For The Arts
7 North Main Street Lambertville
Tues. 7:30 p.m. Not Just Nyckleharpa Orchestra
The Cool Cricket
216 Burlington Street Fieldsboro
Fri. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Sat. 9 p.m. Close But Free Cigars
The Cure Insurance Center
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
Check website for upcoming events
The Deck Restaurant and Bar @ the Bucks County Playhouse
70 South Main street New Hope, PA
Thurs. (2 p.m.) Sam Ryan (7 p.m.) Matt Gordeuk
Fri. (2 p.m.) Sam Ryan (8 p.m.) Matt Gordeuk
Sat. (2 p.m.) Matt Gordeuk (8 p.m.) Aidan Holtz
Sun. (2 p.m.) Blend Duo (7 p.m.) Matt Gordeuk
Tues. 7 p.m. Trivia
Wed. (2 p.m.) Sam Ryan (7 p.m.) Open Mic Night Hosted by Bob Egan
34 North Main Street New Hope, PA
Sat. 7 p.m. Na Bodach
Sun. 2 p.m. "Traditional Irish Session"
The HOB Tavern
146 Second Street Bordentown
Fri. 8 p.m. DJ Entertainment
Sun. 1 p.m. Open Circle
Wed. 8 p.m. Open Mic Night
The Ivy Inn
248 Nassau Street Princeton
Thurs. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Rockin' Ron
Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzo w/ Bob E Luv
Wed. 10 p.m. DJ Dujour
181 Rte. 539 Cream Ridge
Sat. 8 p.m. Tour de Force
Sun. 4 p.m. Dick Gratton
The Sticky Wicket
2465 South Broad Street Hamilton
Fri. 9 p.m. "Retro Fridays" Hosted by Vibe DJs feat. DJ Chris Joseph
The Sycamore Grill
255 North Sycamore Street Newtown, PA
Thurs. 7 p.m. Dan Ward
Fri. 8 p.m. Gruv Tyme
Sat. 8 p.m. Well Strung
The Union Firehouse
18 Washington Street Mount Holly
Thurs. (4 p.m.) Happy Hour w (7 p.m.) "Jam Night" Hosted by Joe Vadala
Fri. 4 p.m. Happy Hour
Sat. 5 p.m. Happy Hour
The Vibe Lounge at Mastoris
Route 130 and Route 206 Bordentown
Thurs. 5 p.m. Dave Boucher
Sat. 6 p.m. Bennet Lee
Thomas Sweet West Windsor
64 Princeton-Hightstown Road West Windsor
Tindall Road Brewing Co.
102 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
Fri. 7 p.m. "First Fridays" w/ The Williamsboy
Tir Na Nog
1324 Hamilton Avenue Trenton
Sat. 9 p.m. Billy Walsh
Wed. 7 p.m. Open Mic Hosted by Monk & Monk
All Shows 21+
702 Pine Street Trenton
Fri. 8 p.m. Live Band & Open Mic.
Sat. 10 p.m. "Buzzed Saturdays" w/ Bockman
449 South Broad Street Trenton
Thurs. 5 p.m. "Happy Hour" Hosted by Jay Kountree
Fri. 7 p.m. "First Friday"
Sat. 9 p.m. Gringo Motel / White Cactus
Mon. 9 p.m. "Monday Night Karaoke" Hosted by Sweets
Tues. 7 p.m. Open Mic Night
Wed. 6 p.m. Dick Gratton
Villa Rosa Ristorante & Pizzeria
41 Scotch Road Ewing
Sat. 6 p.m. Grace Field
2572 Pennington Road Pennington
Sat. 9 p.m. Acoustic Rock Night w/ AudioPilot
Mon. 9 p.m. "Moonshine Mondays" Trivia
Working Dog Winery
610 Windsor Perrineville Road Hightstown
Sat. 1 p.m. Rob Messina
Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.