Tommy Anton was destined to be a singer-songwriter along the Jersey Shore. After all, his astrolocation astrologist told him so.
Anton has been gaining a following through his shows at the Java Joint in Toms River and the Saint in Asbury Park. Blending folk music with rock and roll and New Age like lyrics, his songs are immediately catchy.
Before coming to New Jersey, he had spent a couple of years touring with a theatre company as its musical director. Once that was over, he began looking for a place to settle down. That's when he saw an ad in the back of an obscure magazine and decided to take a chance.
"I had my doubts," said Tommy Anton. "But I was also in a very open space."
Astrolocation or astrocartography is the practice of locating certain spots based on using astrological systems. By putting yourself in these spots you are supposed to be able to increase your flow in life.
"He told me that the best place for me in North America was a fifty mile wide strip along the Atlantic Ocean. Starting just south of New York City and going all the way down to Virginia Beach," said Anton. "And he said he wasn't going to pick a zipcode or a street address for me, but I needed to go to that area and search."
At the time, Anton was living on an island in the Puget Sound in Washington State near Olympia. Previously, he had lived in Austin, California and Cambridge Massachusetts, but never New Jersey.
"I knew nothing about Jersey except for a few cliches about Springsteen and the mob," he explained. "But I decided to go for it. I thought I had nothing to lose. During the consultation he mentioned the planet Neptune several times. He said he wanted to get Neptune energy in my place. And while I was looking around, sure enough in the zone that he described, was a place called Neptune. So I used that as my guide star and aimed there.
"I drove straight towards it. It took me six days to cross the country. I tried to find Neptune and didn't realize that I had passed right through it. I ended up on the boardwalk in Belmar at 5th and Ocean and got out of the van. It was a Sunday afternoon, the sun had gone down, it was April and it was cold. It felt very anticlimactic."
After spending nearly a week driving, he desperately wanted to find a place to get out of the cold that wasn't his van. He noticed a light on in a boardwalk pavillion and a sign that said "Be Green Organic Juice Bar" and walked in. The owner told Tommy that he was getting things ready for the grand opening in a few days. Seizing the opportunity, Anton asked if the restaurant needed live music for the grand opening. About ten seconds after Tommy played his CD, he was hired to play there every Saturday for the next three months.
"I thought maybe this astrologer knows what he's doing," said Anton.
Later that same night Anton found himself further up the coast in Sea Bright. He drove by Donovan's, which was completely packed. For some reason he decided to turn around and check the place out.
"Something told me to go back," said Anton. "As if there was someone I was supposed to meet."
Sure enough, as he was walking to the front door, a car pulled up alongside him. A woman stuck her head out and asked if he was from out of state. She told him that if he came in with her that she'd introduce him to everybody worth knowing inside.
Her name was Renee and she introduced Tommy to people up one side of the club and down the other. At the end of the night she insisted he come back to her house and stay in a guestroom. Renee was a single mother of two teenage boys. The next day they all told Tommy that he was welcome to stay for as long as needed and could even practice in their garage. He wound up staying there for eight weeks.
Things have had a way of going right for Anton since moving here. He's performed at several clubs, coffeehouses and churches in New Jersey and New York City. He has become one of the area's top percussionists, often guesting with other musicians. And he feels as though he's growing as an artist. In a way, it kind of seems like things are going exactly as planned. Or maybe his destiny was truly written in the stars. Anyone know a good astrolocationist?
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.