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Ken Shane

By Gary Wien

Some things are definitely worth the wait. That's what I thought when I first listened to Ken Shane's debut CD, "South Ridgeway Avenue". The record, which was released in 2003, is simply a remarkable ode to spending summers growing up in Atlantic City. That once proud city now fallen in decay serves as a wonderful metaphor for loss of innocence and days gone by. With a voice that evokes memories of Warren Zevon and songwriting that has been compared to Jackson Browne, the record may have taken Shane decades to make but it's a story that was worth the wait. Ken may have always lived in North Jersey but his heart clearly remains with the summers he spent along the Shore. His lyrics evoke comparisons to Bruce Springsteen largely because both artists grew up around the same time and both fell in love with seashore towns on the decline.

"That's why I enjoy Asbury Park so much," explained Shane. "I think it is much the same story on a somewhat different scale. Asbury and Atlantic City certainly had their day. Somehow, oddly enough, I get more of a feeling of hope about Asbury Park when I'm there because there's still an opportunity... I don't want to say erase the past but to start over in a way. Atlantic City had that opportunity and they blew it in my estimation by creating these monster casinos and creating a city that basically has no middle class. It's either the have nots or the haves and nothing in the middle. They've driven the middle class, which I was part of, completely out of Atlantic City."

Summers in Atlantic City for Shane meant spending time with his Grandmother (who Shane says was the closest person to him in his life) and Grandfather along with the rest of his family and his cousins. One song on the CD, "My Grandmother's Hands" tells the story about their closeness and the record is dedicated to her. Unfortunately, much of what he grew up with is nothing but memories now.

"Other people may have had summer places or other places where they grew up," said Shane. "But they can go back there now and there's some semblance left of what they remember. Atlantic City has very little of that left and it's a very frustrating feeling that you cannot recapture a lot of that feeling. There's a song on my CD called "Disappeared" that really says the most about Atlantic City and it's all about what has disappeared from the city. I've thought many times that there's no other place that I've seen that engenders the kind of reaction that the old Atlantic City does. It's pretty amazing."

Even though his name may sound unfamiliar, Ken's been in the music business for quite some time. He started out in bands in Junior High and High School then got involved with a nationally touring band called the Stanky Brown Group back in the 70s. He was the road manager for that group for about 8 years. After that he did some engineering and producing. He worked with Billy Hector with the band Hot Romance and worked with Lance Larson for a while. Shane then took a break from music and didn't get back into it until six or seven years ago.

As if it's not tough enough to get noticed in the music business these days with radio being controlled by a few corporations and clubs throughout Jersey highlighting cover bands, Shane has run into the famous shadow of Bruce Springsteen largely due to lyrics about the Jersey Shore.

"It you tell somebody you're a singer-songwriter from New Jersey they'll immediately say Bruce Springsteen," explains Shane. "Even if they haven't heard your music, that's what they're going to think. Of course when you start writing about Jersey Shore locales, as I did, it intensifies the situation a bit more."

Shane thinks that the honesty of his words and the fact that he literally did spend his first 20 summers in Atlantic City lends him credibility that others may not have. "If I was just a guy who had lived in North Jersey and started writing about the Jersey Shore, I don't think that would make me eligible. "

Ken has been busy working on his follow-up CD, which he hopes to have out by the end of the year. This next record will move away somewhat from the singersongwriter sound of "South Ridgeway Avenue" to a fuller band sound that incorporates more of his R& B and soul influences – something he knows will bring about even more Springsteen comparisons.

"I think that by putting more soul and R&B-oriented music on my second CD, the Bruce thing may get even more intense because obviously that's where he comes from too. But, we grew up on the same kind of music. That's what influenced me and I'm not going to shy away from that. I'm a huge fan of Bruce's, but I never consciously sat down and said I'm going to make this one sound like Bruce. That's certainly never been my intention.

"Rock and roll only has a certain number of melodies, a certain number of chords on the guitar, and usually the less the better. If you're writing what you know and using those rock and roll chords, well, you have as much right to it as everybody else."

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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.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.

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
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


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


AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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