New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/10/2016

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

(LAKEWOOD, NJ) — Can you recreate magic? Should you even try? Or is it best to go a completely  different way?

On July 2, 2016, Arlan Feiles recorded a live album at The Strand in Lakewood.  He was inspired by a live set he performed during one of the Strand’s “Backstage Pass” shows last year, which was broadcast live on internet radio.  This time around, he wanted to record the show for a new album.  The band recorded an earlier run through as well as the actual show with the hopes of capturing something wonderful for a record.  I hope they succeeded because the show was incredible and it will make a great album.

As usual, Arlan was backed by another fine cast of musicians (Bess Rogers, Michael Scotto, Jack Petruzzelli, Dan B. Green, Layonne Holmes, Eryn Shewell).  His never-ending circle of performers included just two (Green and Shewell) from last year’s show, yet this group’s credits are just as impressive, if not more. Petruzzelli is a founding member of the Fab Faux who has worked with artists like Patti Smith, Rufus Wainwright, Ian Hunter, and Joan Osborne; Bess Rogers is a talented singer-songwriter who was a member of Ingrid Michaelson’s band; Michael Scotto has been a mainstay of the Jersey Music Scene for years with his work for Republic and Agency as well as solo shows; and Layonne Holmes is not only one of the best vocalists in the area but she’s recorded with Arlan in the past.

Both the cast and the setlist made this a very different experience from last year’s show even though the band wound up playing 9 of the 12 songs performed last May.  Sometimes it is amazing how the sequence of songs can entirely change the way a record sounds as a whole. Likewise, the addition of a few songs — including a pair of blasts from the past — created something close to a greatest hits album that includes a bunch of new songs.

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

Arriving on stage wearing his trademark hat and hair flowing out, he tuned his guitar while thanking those in the audience who made contributions to the GoFundMe campaign which made the live recording possible.  With the intimate setting of the Backstage Pass series, in which the audience sits in chairs on the stage along with the musicians, Arlan played “Valentine” - a soft, sweet folk song solo on guitar. 

The article continues after this ad


He invited Bess Rogers to come out for backing vocals on the next song, “Change” - a wonderful track from Razing A Nation.  That’s the album that introduced Arlan’s music to me and completely floored me many years ago.

in this town, we all know what's going down

what goes up and what comes 'round

nothing here's ever the same

everyone's headed for chang


A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

The rest of the band then came out on stage.  Seated at one of the two pianos on stage, Arlan said, “At some point, I’m going to need a scotch!” before the band kicked into “Weeds Kill The Wild Flowers.”  It was fun seeing Michael Scotto on drums.  Long known along the Jersey Shore as a guitarist, Scotto has progressed so well as a drummer that he was chosen for a live recording.  That’s pretty cool!

“Weeds” sounded a bit tinny to me at first as if they were still working out the sound for the full band songs, but any sound issues cleared up quickly.  When Arlan said, “Alright… that scotch?” I wondered if perhaps he had noticed it as well.  Was the pressure of a live recording starting to show?

“This is a song about not taking shit from anybody,” said Arlan. With that, he led the band into “Wake (Don’t Back Down).” This not only sounded wonderful but is one of the most beautiful songs ever penned by Arlan. The song appeared on trailers for Dallas Buyer’s Club film, but has yet to appear on any of his official albums.

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

The band (and the sound) hit their stride with “Wake.”  The combination of Layonne Holmes and Eryn Shewell on backing vocals knocked it out of the park!  Holmes, who is featured on the actual studio recording, showcased stunning vocals during this song.

Continuing their momentum, the band launched into “50 Miles” - the spiritually uplifting track Arlan penned for Selma 50, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s March to Montgomery.

“It’s funny as I look back on my old songs and not a lot has changed in the last 25 years,” said Arlan as he switched to the piano on the other side of the stage and brought out an old nugget from his days in Miami with the terrific band Natural Causes. The song was “The Hangin’ of Mr. Johnson” — one of my favorites from his old band.  They were very popular in the south and fans of Arlan’s current work would love those old songs as well.  It’s always great to see him insert one into a set.

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

Moving back to guitar, Arlan introduced the next song with, “This is about sticking together.  The more we stick together, the more we can build this middle class up.” Then the band kicked into “Workers United.”  This song featured a wonderful trio of vocals from Bess Rogers to Layonne Holmes to Eryn Shewell. It’s rare enough for an artist to have one great backup vocalist, for this night Arlan was fortunate enough to have three.

The next song was one of Arlan’s most powerful and popular new tunes, “Ghosts Of Our Lovers.”  As with last year’s show at The Strand, this song again featured Eryn Shewell on vocals in a setup that truly lets her voice shine.  Simply breathtaking vocals and an amazing back and forth between Arlan and Eryn.

I may take the arrow, but I will not fire this gun

Back at the piano with drink in hand, “Cheers everybody,” Arlan toasted before launching into the beautiful “My Sweet Rose” followed by the jazzy “Everybody Steals.”

Popping back to guitar, the band kicked into a rather unique version of “Katie Truly.”  Best known as a song featuring the Lone Orchestra with lots of lots of sound coming from tons of musicians, tonight’s version seemed a bit darker, more introspective than I’m used to. 

Back at piano, Arlan took advantage of having three wonderful back up singers to work to create a slow opening for “Come Sunday Morning” that featured the women’s voices like a gospel chorus.  I wondered if this might have been the opening he always wanted for the song.

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

Avoiding an issue with his monitor, Arlan hopped across stage to the other piano for an amazing version of “Viola.”  There is absolutely nothing better for me than hearing Arlan Feiles spin tales and play piano and when he plays “Viola” he does both.  It is truly a song that needs to be experienced live because it is an experience in itself -- especially when he has superb singers alongside him. The song was written about Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a woman he learned about while watching a special on the civil rights movement on television.  She was a white woman who traveled from Detroit to Selma, Alabama to take part in the Selma to Montgomery marches.  She was shot dead by members of the Ku Klux Klan.  Her story greatly inspired Arlan.

“She died for our right to vote.  Most of the time, I don’t ask you to vote one way.  I just think we’ll wind up on the right side of history… This song is dedicated to her and the sacrifice she made,” he said.

Hold tight, we’re gonna fight, yeah I told ya

Stand tall, stand up right, you’re a soldier

We’re gonna take this head on, shoulder to shoulder

I hope you’re with me, Viola

Arlan brought out a second tune from his days with Natural Causes - “Morning Song” - a tune that featured just Arlan with Layonne Holmes and Eryn Shewell.  The trio sounded amazing together.  The band then came out for the final number “With You Always”.

The Jersey Shore is blessed with some amazing keyboard players, but one of the best is Arlan Feiles.  If you’re a fan of soulful piano and stories, you’ll love the upcoming live album.  And if you'd like to contribute, you can still do so at his gofundme page.

A Look Back At The Recording Of Arlan Feiles' Live Album At The Strand

Photos by Love Imagery

Love Imagery Fine Art Photography. all you need. peace/love/flower/power

For more by this author, click here

Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.

Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.