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#44 Ken Shane: South Ridgeway Avenue

By Gary Wien

Ken Shane grew up in both North Jersey (Springfield) and South Jersey (Atlantic City), but it’s clear his heart remained at the Shore.  His memories of the beach, boardwalk, and summers spent at his Grandparents’ house on South Ridgeway Avenue were the inspiration behind this wonderful collection of songs.

The album begins with “Summer And Smoke,” a beautiful tale of a beach town moving into the off-season.  He’s singing about Atlantic City, but the story remains the same for every beach town.  The end of the summer is a time of sadness, a moment when time seems to stop and the world goes into hibernation.  Ken describes it perfectly.

Summer has ended again this year

The carousel’s run out of steam

September is always so bitter sweet

The beginning and end of a dream

-- “Summer And Smoke”

His songwriting reminds me of artists like Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon. A fine cast of musicians including Walt Stacey, Herb Maitlandt, Jerry Cordasco, Rich Bunkiewicz, Chris D’Amico, and Jim Brown were enlisted for the album; together they lift the music from its singer-songwriter origins to that which sounds like a veteran band whose played together for years and years.

South Ridgeway Avenue is a soundtrack for the lives of those who have grown up along the Shore.  The album contains tales of love and loss (“When I Loved You”), undying hope for the future (“World Without End”), memories of places which sadly no longer exist (“Disappeared”), and simply growing older (“Invisible”).

If Bruce Springsteen is the bard of Asbury Park then this album should warrant Ken Shane a nomination for Atlantic City’s title. 

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Highlights include those already mentioned plus the amazing title track.

From the book Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists by Gary Wien

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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originally published: 01/28/2011

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