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James Deely & The Valiants Ride Again

By Gary Wien

originally published: 11/24/2016

James Deely & The Valiants Ride AgainFreed from the constraints of time and the dreams of landing a big record deal, James Deely took his time to work on his first album since 1995.  Backed once again by the Valiants, the record called A Harder Road was ten years in the making.  This decade of time was as difficult as the title suggests, but led to arguably the band’s finest release.

James Deely and the Valiants originated in Long Beach Island in the 1980s.  They played many popular bars from Asbury Park to New York City and Philadelphia.  Like many bands, they took their shot and put a lot of money behind a record with the dream of making it big.  When the record deal didn’t come, the band split up, but remained in touch over the years.  Deely would later release a solo album, play in several bands, and eventually move out to California where he owns and runs a moving company.

When Paul Ford (the bassist for the Valiants) told Deely he would be in California for a couple of days on the way to Hawaii, James realized they had a great opportunity but had to move fast.  He called up Pete Barnett (the band’s original drummer) who was also in California and they quickly headed into the studio and cut 11 tracks.  After the recordings, Deely and Tunkel began the long process of overdubbing and trying to finish the songs.

“We all have jobs and lives and stuff,” explained Deely.  “It’s not like the old days where you’d go in and finish the record in a month or whatever.  It got spread out over time, which I kind of enjoyed because I could mess around with it more.  I almost didn’t want to stop working on it. I got addicted to it I guess.”

The record would add appearances by Tunkel, PK Lavengood, Steve Barlotta, and what may be the last recording by Kevin Kavanaugh, the long-time member of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, who passed away in 2011. Sadly, Kavanaugh is only one of many who passed away during the decade.  The list includes Deely’s wife, his father, and the album’s original engineer.  “There’s a dedication list on the back that goes on forever,” Deely notes.



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Deely and Tunkel knew each other from the 80s when the Valiants and Red House (Tunkel’s old band) were both playing in the same clubs.  They were two of the few bands who could play The Stone Pony and the Green Parrot — two very different worlds; one filled with traditional rock and roll, the other with new wave and alternative rock.  Together the pair finished the record over time, working from opposite coasts.  In recent years, Deely would release a finished song online to let people know the full record was definitely coming.  When Deely returned to New Jersey last year before a trip to Ireland, he joined Tunkel on stage at the Dragonfly Music & Coffee Cafe in Somerville.

“Bruce said ‘What song do you want to do?’” recalled Deely.  “I said let’s do Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’ because that’s the way I feel now.  We’re not bound by any shackles.  We’re not bound by any money or any commitments.  You want to go play in the Dragonfly, go do it.  You don’t want to play, don’t do it.  You want to record and put a song out — whatever you want to do you can do it.  We’ve basically reached a point where we don’t have to rely on music for money and it kind of takes us back to when we were teenagers.  Back then, we just played because we loved it.  And that’s the way it is now.”

Few bands are ever remembered for one town the way James Deely and the Valiants are remembered for Long Beach Island.  The shore town was a haven for cover bands until the Valiants were featured in the local newspaper, The SandPaper.  In the article, Deely pointed out how the band would travel to Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Philadelphia, and New York for shows, but couldn’t get a gig in town.  The owner of The Tide bar read the article and saw an opportunity.  He gave the Valiants their first hometown gigs and the band was off and running. LBI became a place where the band could always make enough money to keep going.

“So we would just do some gigs there, make some money, and then run around,” said Deely.  “We were out of our minds! We were chasing women and drinking - that’s the way I thought it was supposed to be! You know you take that out of it, it’s like ‘What are we doing here?’  I was taking vocal lessons there and they were telling me you can’t drink and sing.  I’m like, I need a new vocal teacher!”

With A Harder Road, Deely gives long-time fans a chance to hear what the band they used to see around LBI would sound like if they put a record out today.  The songs have the same vibe and energy found on the band’s original releases with one difference — the addition of saxophone on a pair of tracks.  Screamin’ Steve Barlotta’s sax adds a touch of Jersey Shore flavor to “The Last Ride” and “Scars On The Outside” - an ingredient that they largely avoided back in the day.

“We tried to stay away from the saxophones,” explained Deely.  “I was afraid that in South Jersey if we had a saxophone we’d get tied too much into Springsteen.  Then when Clarence Clemons died, I started thinking maybe we should put sax on a couple of these songs as a tip of the hat to Clarence.  Some of my favorite music of all time is the early Jukes and E Street Shuffle days - the South Jersey / R&B sound.”

It may have taken ten years to finish this record, but it won’t take nearly that long for the next one.  Deely is already working on a more acoustic record for his next release.  He likens it to Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love - something that isn’t exactly a rock record, but still contains drums and percussion. In addition, he’s got dozens of tracks from the Set The Night On Fire sessions that were recorded and transferred to digital.  He figures he has about two other records waiting to go out after this one.

Jersey Shore music fans will love A Harder Road.  It not only stands up to the band’s original releases, it surpasses them. This one was worth the wait.





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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.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.


"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.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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