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Dennis Zimmer

By Gary Wien


There's something interesting going on in the world of New Jersey cover bands. Several of the most popular groups are taking a break from performing Bon Jovi classics in front of their usual throngs of fans. Instead, they're finding themselves in clubs where a couple dozen people could be called a good night. In other words, they're taking a stab at the original music scene.

Two of the major players in this movement include the popular bands Big Orange Cone and The Benjamins. The former currently has front man Dennis Zimmer touring under his own name in support of his debut CD as well as members playing in the band Full Out Freak. The latter has decided to mix original music shows within the band's schedule.

Historically, fans of NJ cover bands have not show support for local original music. Dennis Zimmer hopes to slowly change that, and in fact, at his early shows there are signs that he's making some inroads. His performances at venues like Stingers (Long Branch) and the Stone Pony (Asbury Park) won over new fans and led to return bookings. I talked with Dennis before a show in Asbury Park about going the original route.

You're used to playing in front of hundreds and thousands of people, why take a chance at playing to dozens?
Desire, just desire. It's the challenge. I want to breathe a little bit and have some fun. I've had plenty of fun and still am having fun with Big Orange Cone, but it's just desire. During the day I have a lot of time to write, so I've been sitting down in that basement and spending a lot of time creating music. It's fun.

There's a vision that I've had. I'm a huge Black Crows fan, huge Stones fan, Lenny Kravitz - I just always loved the way a rock and roll band with a couple of girls in the back looked. And to have this vision and watch it come together. It felt so good to have this picture in my mind out there.

For a while it's going to fall on some deaf ears, but I think it'll turn around.

What was it like during that first show at Stinger's? You're used to seeing that flood of people in front of you. What was it like to play again for a dozen or so?
It felt great! I was so excited about it. It's a new challenge.

Is that how you felt about making your debut album?
Yeah, every step in the process of getting it out there is exciting. It's exciting despite these small crowds. And I'm definitely coming out at a tough time. The first show was in the middle of November; the second show was the end of November; the third show is two weeks before Christmas. It's a tough time to launch. I think some of those Cone people will get on it eventually. They'll come check it out - out of curiousity.

Can you build on the Cone audience or do you think that they're two separate audiences?
I'll have a few curiousity seekers and some die hards that will be interested. There definitely will be a small infiltration of Cone people, but I'm not expecting the masses to come over because they want to hear us play Bon Jovi and Blink 182. I'll get some, but I'm not expecting the masses.

But let's call a spade a spade. If Big Orange Cone was playing a Wednesday night at the Stone Pony in the middle of a freezing night two weeks before Christmas, I don't think we'd be doing all that great anyway. And that's another reason it's tough because I have to do it on the nights that people don't like to go out. But I have no choice, the Cone takes precedent right now.

So will you be doing Cone shows while trying to squeeze in original shows here and there?
Yeah, well that's my plan - pursue them side by side. I know what I have with the Cone and I'm not going to screw that up. It's a great thing we've built.

Like Big Orange Cone, another big cover band in the Benjamins have started doing original shows now. Is there any particular reason why this is happening now? Or is it just coincidence?
That's a great question. I don't know. Maybe it's just a gut feeling.

Sort of like maybe the time is right?
The ship may turn because in the early 90s it was all about girls flocking to original bands now they flock to cover bands.

Now the Benjamins are going out as the Benjamins. The only confusion they're going to run into is if they say The Benjamins at the Stone Pony; people may come here hoping to hear them play Bon Jovi perhaps. I've gone completely separate. Big Orange Cone / Dennis Zimmer - one's cover and one's original. The Benjamins may draw but people may be wondering where the Bon Jovi songs are. They have to really specify that this is an original show.

I guess it's just gut. It seems that lately the gut tells us to get on it... to get something going.

You can hear tracks from Dennis Zimmer's debut record, In My Head, and see where he's playing at his official website www.denniszimmer.com


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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
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.






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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