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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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Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme Presents Patrick Fitzsimmons On December 16
(SUCCASUNNA, NJ) -- Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme (RR&R) presents Patrick Fitzsimmons on Sunday, December 16 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the Investors Bank Theatre in Succasunna. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for RAA/SSG/JAM members; and free for those under 18.
Outpost in the Burbs Presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Outpost in the Burbs presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams on Saturday, December 8th at 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church, 40 South Fullerton Avenue.  Opening the show will be New York City-based singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson. Outpost volunteers will be accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the holiday season for Toys for Tots at the show.
Jann Klose and The Voice's Josett Diaz To Perform At Ethical Brew To Benefit A Cause Close To Home
(TEANECK, NJ) -- On Saturday, December 8th, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jann Klose will perform at Ethical Brew on behalf of Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, a community arts and cultural center for children and teens located in Bronx, New York.  Doors open at 7:30, show begins at 8:00pm.
Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.
State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.


"Great Music!" Tavares and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes LIVE! at the Strand Theater
The music of the 1970s is alive and well this Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Lakewood, NJ’s Strand Theater with a concert by the ’70’s R&B and soul groups Tavares and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes!
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018


THEATRE
The Madness of George III @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm and 7:00pm


MISC

Warren Miller’s Face of Winter @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

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