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Chris Brown Looks Inward

By Gary Wien

originally published: 12/23/2016

Chris Brown Looks Inward

Chris Brown is a gritty singer-songwriter from Asbury Park whose songs blend punk and folk in a way that evoke the spirit of an Irish pub.  His latest release One More Night was produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls and mastered by Tom Ruff at Asbury Media.  It contains six songs that have rarely left my playlist since its release over the summer.

Maybe it’s because Asbury Park has always been special to me; maybe it’s because Chris grew up in the dark days of the town and remembers those days, oddly like I do, with a sense of pride and nostalgia; or maybe it’s because artists always see areas like Asbury Park fall prey to gentrification and lose their mystiques; but this album speaks to me.

The album has a few central themes: changes and gentrification, growing older, and the power of love to literally save someone.  Eric Cooper (cello) and Alex Iannone (violin) add layers of complexion to several songs. Pete Steinkopf plays guitar on several tracks.  Additional musicians include Shane Mazekian (drums and percussion), Jef Plate (organ), Howie Cohen, Zach Moyle, and Charlie Brown(Chris’ father) on backup vocals.


The album’s standout track is “Serve ‘Em All” - an ode to the Bond Street Bar (where he worked as a bartender for several years) and a fond look at the best memories in a Jersey Shore town that has gone from being called “Beirut” to “Hipster” in the past decade. The song pays tribute to the days when there was beauty in its darkness.

She’s a little local haunt and if these walls could talk
They’d probably slur their words
With tall tales about singers and old whiskey slingers
Whose stories are yet to be heard

There’s the artists, the writers, the cops and firefighters
Who raise a glass to family and friends
There’s the losers, the winners, the saints and the sinners
A big misfit family in the end

You don’t have to go home, but I guess you can sleep in your car cuz

Everyone’s had too much fun down at the Bond Street Bar

In the song “One More Night,” Brown offers additional perspective on the changes in town as well as his own mortality.  Now in his mid-thirties, he became a father for the first time over the summer.  This song celebrates youth and the inevitable loss of youth and friendships as age and adulthood take over.

I guess Bobby was right, the “times are a changin’”
The places we once knew, are only getting stranger
So meet me on the rooftop we can see this city’s heart
Beating back the changing tide before it gets too dark

Just one more night,  of hangin’ on rooftops
Just one more night, with my best friends
Just one more time, before everything changes
And everything golden comes to an end




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The track “Gunshots & Bombs” tells the tale of a guy who sees the death of the American Dream, worries about the future, but takes comfort that even when the bullets are flying, his girl makes everything ok.  Sounding like an Irish storyteller, Brown says he has always loved Celtic folk songs, “I think that came out in my writing later on.”

First thing this morning I turned on the news,
Saw the hope for the future hangin’ by a noose
The American dream’s 6 feet under the ground, I’d swear
that we learned to fly just to shoot shit down

When I hear gunshots at night I’m just glad they’re not bombs
I think the world would agree to hear nothing at all
May the sins of our past wash away with the tide
Don’t worry baby I’m right by your side


He dives into the power of finding a soulmate in “The Hardest Part.”  His lyrical style hints of personal reflection.  Even if the songs are fictitious, he makes us believe they are not.  His wife, Maggie, is a mixed-media artist.  They have been married for about three years now and being with a creative person clearly inspires Chris.

Don’t know if I told ya, I don’t write much when I’m happy
I guess that I’m feelin’ more clever when I’m sad
But now that I find myself always around ya
It’s easy to see that life ain’t so bad

As long as I’ve known ya you’ve always been crazy
But you’ve always had the kindest smile
O well you never cease to amaze me
My Frida, Magnolia I’ll love ya lil the day I die

O then I knew the hardest part was over
On the day that I found you


We all hold secrets in “Glass Houses.”  Brown admits he has a couple of his own that involve his exploits, anger, and interactions with the law while in his twenties.  “I’ve tried to be kinder to people because I guess I have a bad temper, or so I’ve been told,” he said.

Everybody’s got a story that they don’t wanna tell
Everybody’s spent some time in their own little hell
And sometimes it gets easier to swallow all the pain
You could never know the things that someone else has seen

A little bit of sympathy could do some good for you and me
I’m not quite certain but I bet there’s someone out there hurtin’
Someone like you and me

If we’re people in glass houses
then maybe we shouldn’t throw stones


And he reveals the power for music to save as well with “Never Let Go” - a song that shows impressive restraint.  The lyrics sound like they belong in a fast punk anthem, but Brown slows everything down to a crawl.  The result is almost like psychoanalysis - raw, inspiring, and powerful.

My heroes sang of three chords and the truth
Is all I can remember from my youth
There’s always been a fire inside of me
Started playin’ this guitar to keep from screamin’

Never Let Go, Never Let Go

 

Even though this isn’t his first album, the tracks combine to tell the story of who Chris Brown is right now, what he’s feeling, what he’s dealing with, and what keeps him going.  It’s an honest record from a guy who has had his share of problems to overcome.  Even though he received an Asbury Music Award in 2015 for Top Male Soloist/Acoustic act, Brown still seems to be floating a bit under the radar.  Check out his website and give his tunes a spin.  The lyrics might speak to you the way they speak to me.




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Tommy Castro & The Painkillers To Return To Lizzie Rose Music Room
​​​​​​​(TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Tommy Castro & the Painkillers return to the Lizzie Rose Music Room on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30pm.  Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Tickets are $38.00 Advance and $45.00 day of show.
Experience Hendrix at NJPAC on March 29th
(NEWARK, NJ) --  Celebrate the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix as Experience Hendrix comes to Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Centeron Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm. This critically acclaimed multi-artist tribute to Hendrix features performances by Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick and special guest Taj Mahal.
World Famous Bachata Artists To Take The Stage for Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 At Prudential Center on Saturday, March 16
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 at Prudential Center will bring together the world’s best Bachata artists including, Frank Reyes “The Prince of Bachata”, Hector Acosta “El Torito”, Zacarias Ferreira, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez "El Cacique”. Uforia Bachata Fest 2019, presented by Zamora Live, Euforia Radio (Univision) and Corona Extra, will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 8:00pm.  The contagious Caribbean rhythm known as "Bachata" will have its gala night, marking the first time in history these world-renowned artists will perform on the same stage. 
Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra To Perform at Princeton University January 27
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) continues its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra on Sunday, January 27 at 4:00pm at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University located at 68 Nassau Street in Princeton. Youth Symphony will open the concert with Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major followed by Youth Orchestra performing Dvořák Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88.
Rickie Lee Jones To Perform At Grunin Center
(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Two-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1978 and has made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on more than 15 critically acclaimed albums. She brings her show “An Intimate Evening with Rickie Lee Jones” to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm.  


The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre
Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.
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
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Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch








 






















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