New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Lonnie, Anthony D'Amato, Israel Nash Gripka: A Solid Trio At The Saint

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ - JULY 20, 2011) -- Mid-week shows at The Saint in Asbury Park are always the best in my opinion. These are the days when you really get a chance to see up-and-coming artists before the music press gets a hold of them, the hype machine starts spinning, hipsters latch on, and tickets become hard to get. It's also the kind of day when clubs get to present some of their most interesting acts. On Wednesday, July 20, the Saint presented a night that featured two up-and-coming artists along with the club's debut of a wild avant-garde performance act. While attendance was extremely light, I have a feeling all three of these acts will almost certainly play before much larger crowds when they return.

Up first was Lonnie featuring Lonnie Rutledge. Now I had seen him perform at the Saint many times, most notably in bands like Sunshine Flipside, but I was totally unprepared for this new incarnation. Beginning with audio from the Teletubbies, Lonnie bounced around on stage from left to right blowing out candles that his daughter and another guy (whose name I didn't catch) kept lighting. Physically challenging and rather demanding, it was one of those oddly fascinating scenes that grabbed you and didn't let go. And the weirdness didn't stop there.

The three each wore a white t-shirt with a different expression on it. One said "Yes", another said "No", and the third said "Maybe So." The three played out what I imagine to be some sort of conceptual show about a looney bin. It was almost like someone created an entire performance skit out of an episode of Dr. Demento. Lonnie sang and played harp to recorded music that bore a bit of a resemblance to the Lost Boys soundtrack from the 80s -- largely, dark, moody music. But in keeping true to the Dr. Demento idea, he even covered the 60s novelty hit "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" which sort of lightened things up a little while being haunting in its own way.

At one time unblown balloons were snapped into the audience, another featured the two wrapping Lonnie up as if he was in a straight jacket. With Lonnie's father (Sonny Kenn) watching on, it was truly a wild debut for the new project. Instead of trying to follow his father's legendary axe abilities, he dared to take the guitar out of his hands and succeeded in my opinion. I'm generally not a fan of many avant-garde acts, but I'd definitely check these guys out again.

Anthony D'Amato was up next. An extremely promising young singer-songwriter currently based in New York City, Anthony has been written up in everything from Paste Magazine and American Songwriter to features in the New York Times and artist of the weeks nods from the nationally syndicated NPR show World Cafe. He's also been a favorite of mine for many years now - ever since he moved from the world of young music journalist to an original artist in his own right.

His voice has gotten better and better over the years, no doubt helped by his increased confidence in performing live. While in the past some of his best work was left for his recordings, he is now able to fully present that side on stage as well. At the Saint, he ran through a set comprised mostly of the best songs from his most recent album, "Down Wires" including "Ballad of the Undecided", "Holy War", "My Father's Son", "Hank Williams Tune", and the title track.

Currently working on a new album, Anthony played a handful of tracks which will likely be on the next release. My favorite was a song called "Arrowhead" that made its debut about a month ago when he performed it at the Montreal Folk Festival. On each of his previous two albums was a song or two that I consider among his best and this song looks to continue that tradition. He's in the groove. That wonderfully maniac period of brilliant writing that artists dream about. For me, "Arrowhead" took me back to a period of time when I couldn't wait for an album to come out because I loved the first song so much. When you hear that special song, you just know. As a music writer, that feeling gets rarer and rarer as I get older, and it becomes that much more special when it returns.

Other new songs included "On The Banks Of The River Where I Died" - a song inspired by Woody Guthrie and "Songbirds" - a tune that was written around the time of "Down Wires" but didn't quite fit with the rest of the album.

If you've never heard Anthony's work, check out the first three tracks of "Down Wires" and "Skeleton Key" from the prior release. They're about as imaginative and brilliant as anything being played today. Visit for more info.

The final act of the night was the New York City band Israel Nash Gripka, who had a very good rock and roll sound blended with a touch of Americana/country rock. They sort of reminded me of a NYC band from the late 80s called The Brandos - a harder edge than most Americana and a little less twang than most country rock.

Making their debut at the club, they largely played in front of empty barstools - the curse of the touring bands trying to extend their reach. It was the type of night when you look across the room and wonder where the crowd was. It sort of reminded me of the first time I saw Ingram Hill at the Saint. Only a handful of people were there that first night, but within a gig or two the numbers were quite substantial. Saint owner Scott Stamper has a knack for finding these types of bands and booking them before anyone else does. This was definitely a word-of-mouth kind of band and I'd expect them to do much better when they come back to town.

Performing songs off of their first two albums, my favorites were "Pray For Rain" (which reminded me of The Band) and a new song called "Wichita" about a true life bar fight gone bad. They also did a blistering take on Neil Young's "Revolution Blues" for an encore.

During the show, I wondered if a little Orwellian plot spread across social networks could pack a club on slow nights like this. I can just imagine a false "Springsteen just entered the club" rumor placed on Facebook with bartenders timing how long it took to get the bar stools filled. It's a shame that in an area that appreciates live music so much, it's still so hard to get people to come out during the week. Just remember their name because it might be a bit more difficult finding a good seat next time they're in town. For more information visit

For more by this author, click here

Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.

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.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

View all events

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.