New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu

Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and more

By Bob Makin

originally published: 02/27/2019

Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and moreNew Brunswick-based Atom Driver will play Feb. 28 at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, and March 30 at Mill Hill Basement, Trenton, behind their new EP, Here They Come, the Hornets. This week also features Josh Davidson, Stone Pony Rock to the Top finals, Kosha Dillz, Dentist, Andy. B., Steve Dadaian, Lowlight, Mike Montrey Band, Secret Sound and the 2019 Makin Waves Concert Series. PHOTO COURTESY OF ATOM DRIVER


New Brunswick indie trio Atom Driver’s third EP, Here They Come, the Hornets, is a blast of five songs that clock in at a swift 13 minutes but leave behind an emotional punch that lasts a lot longer.

The EP also was a blast to make, vocalist-guitarist Mark Segal said, as well as a whirlwind of production.

“We pride ourselves in being all business, but I think this was a new record for us,” Segal said. “We recorded and mixed it in about 15 hours. We always like to try new studios and engineers. We decided to try out Exeter Studios in Freehold because we really liked how the Zero for Conduct record sounded. Joe at Exeter is top-notch and is a maniac at the console.”

Atom Driver will play with Zero for Conduct on March 30 at Mill Hill Basement in Trenton, along with Chicago’s All Eyes West and New York City’s Abstract Artimus. But first the punk-fueled three-piece will play Feb. 28 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen with Vengents and Devil’s Bubblegum.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

After releasing two EPs in 2017, Atom Driver took a while to head back into the studio, Segal said.

“The benefit was that we got to write a lot of material and then cull through it to pick the ones we felt were the strongest and most diverse,” he said.

All three members of Atom Driver were an integral part of the New Brunswick music scene of the 1990s. Segal was in Boss Jim Gettys, bassist Justin Ingstrup was in Good Clean Fun and drummer Mike Polilli was in the Alternative Tentacles recording act Buzzkill.

Back in those days, dealing with music streams and social media wasn’t part of the rock ‘n’ roll equation, but Atom Driver have a good handle on the 21st Century mediums, including a new playlist they are curating on Spotify.

“We want to not just support us, but support indie artists like ourselves in the music community,” Segal said. “We do highlights of labels and their artists each week. We did a two-week series on King Pizza Records in Brooklyn.” 

Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and more

Asbury Park-based Hot Blood will celebrate the release of their album, Fear of a Unified Public, on March 1 at Mill Hill Basement, Trenton. PHOTO BY BOB MAKIN

Another great punk record with a tie to New Brunswick is Fear of a Unified Public, Asbury Park-based Hot Blood’s first full-length studio effort in five years following two EPs and a live outing. Largely recorded by legendary Hub City scenester Chris Pierce (Doc Hopper, The Groucho Marxists) at his Volume IV studio, the 17-song collection also was recorded at Trax East in South River and at Asbury Park’s Little Eden Studios, where owner Pete Steinkopf, guitarist of The Bouncing Souls, also mixed it. Mastering was handled by Alan Douches, who recently won his third Grammy for work on the Oakland-based metal band High on Fire’s Electric Messiah LP.

Fear of Unified Public is available at all streaming sites, as well as on limited-edition colored vinyl from the new North Jersey indie Gruesome Twosome Records, which also will release Hot Blood bassist Alex Rosen’s other band, The Battery Electric, next month (more on that soon). Celebrate the long-awaited Fear of Unified Public on March 1 at Mill Hill Basement also with Phillipburg’s Houston & the Dirty Rats, Trenton’s Over Everything, Philly’s The Barren Marys and Milltown-based Recourse recording act SophistiPunX. Hot Blood also will play March 9 at Railroad Inn in Valley Stream, N.Y., with Radio Daze, Yum Yuckers and Controlled Substance.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

Having kicked off Feb. 21 at Jamian’s in Red Bank with The Dead Ramblers, Reality Suite, The Walk Arounds and Morningside Lane, the “Jersey Rock” Showcase continues Feb. 28 with The Ones You Forgot, Ruby Bones, Lunatic Fringe and This Year’s Comeback at Reef & Barrel in Manasquan. Heard 11:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays on 95.9 the Rat, Tom Hanley’s “Jersey Rock” is one of the greatest supporters of the New Jersey music scene and its annual month-long Showcase is a culmination of that. The series also will feature Matt O’Ree Band, Baron Praxis and Roulette on March 7 at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como and Frankenstein 3000, Vextion, The Skullers and Ropetree on March 14 at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. Tune into “Jersey Rock,” its webpage or its podcast for more details about the showcase and all the bands who are playing.


Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and moreFreehold-raised journalist Josh Davidson has published a book about the 1970s Asbury Park band Cahoots entitled “In Cahoots in Asbury Park.” PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSH DAVIDSON

Around the time that Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes were emerging as a national act, one of the local bands that kept the Sounds of Asbury Park in AP were Cahoots, one of the best rock ‘n’ soul units to call the City by the Sea home. Freehold-raised journalist Josh Davidson has written a book about the band, In Cahoots in Asbury Park, which recreates those ’70s glory days in glorious detail with interviews with band members, their fans and club owners and staff. The book is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Davidson is best known as the co-founding editor of the Chorus and Verse local music news site. Now based in Baltimore, he hopefully will be heading home again soon to celebrate the publication of his enjoyable book.  

The finals of the Stone Pony’s year-long Rock to the Top contest are finally here. On March 2, New Colony, Lunatic Fringe, Casanovacaine, Screenage, Elephant Talk, Green Knuckle Material, Shallow Green, Switch Mob and Rugburn will vie for an opportunity to headline the legendary club, as well as a cash prize, gear, recording time and a Makin Waves Interview.  I look forward to being a judge once again of the finals.

Jersey-bred Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz returns home from his L.A. base to rock March 1 at FM Bar, Jersey City, with Green Knuckle Material, Cook Thugless, and Feli Fame, and March 2 at The Saint, Asbury Park, also with Cook Thugless, as well as Experiment 34 and Chris Rockwell. The dates are sandwiched by shows at Sundance Film Festival in Utah and the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, all in support of his latest single, “The Other Side of Happiness,” featuring Alverez Kings. 

 Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and more

Asbury Park-based Dentist once again are headed to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, with an official showcase amidst a three-week tour that coincides with a new video. PHOTO BY BOB MAKIN

Just as the Asbury trio Dentist drop a new video next week for “Alone in the Garden” from last year’s Night Swimming LP, they will hit the road for a three-week tour, including another official spot at SXSW. The clip was directed by Dana Yurcisin, who did their acclaimed video for “The Latter,” the first single from the latest LP. Tour dates include March 6, Club Café, Pittsburgh; March 7, MOTR Pub, Cincinnati; March 9, Replay Lounge, Lawrence, Kan., and March 11, Lola’s Saloon, Fort Worth, Texas. Then its five shows at SXSW, including an official showcase on March 13 for “Nochebeuna III,” the third annual festival show by Cigar City Management and Symphonic Distribution. Dentist will be one of 16 bands playing Stay Gold, including HAELOS, Jackie Mendoza, Big Bliss, Death Hags and A Deer A Horse. Other South By dates include the “Rock or Die VI” showcase of Asbury-based Little Dickman Records and CoolDad Music also featuring Sharkmuffin, Yawn Mower, Well Wisher, Looms and more on March 14 at Hard Luck Lounge. Dentist also will play with Fruit & Flowers, Warm Sugar, The Velveteers and others on March 15 at “Cosmic Clash Daze” also at Hard Luck Lounge. 

After a March 19 show at Lion’s Lair in Denver, Dentist will play the Treefort Festival on March 21 in Boise, Idaho, also with Fruit & Flowers, as well as bands from all over the country. On April 6, they’ll play a homecoming show at Asbury Park Yacht Club with Old Flame recording act Slow Caves, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based band they met on the road. 

Also showcasing at SXSW will be longtime New Brunswick scenester Andy B., whose second LP, Look What the Cat Dragged in, has been released by Indie on Air Records. Like its 2017 predecessor, My Roots Are Showing, Look What the Cat Dragged was produced by John Pittas, who’s also worked with the great Asbury Park singer and blues harp player Sandy Mack. The nine-song collection features some of Andy B.’s tunes with The VooDUDES, a veteran New Orleans/Caribbean-flavored band that he still fronts. Among them is “Master’s Ship,” which they contributed to Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares, the 2002 charity compilation CD I co-produced with Matt Angus and Seth Alexander. Andy B.’s soulful take on the traditional “Candyman” also is a standout. After the roots rocker returns from Austin, he will announce local shows with his Andy B.AND SoulFolk, featuring top Garden State players.

The Columbia University-trained Slash Guitar Contest winner Steve Dadaian recently released, Follow the Light, a concept album that features several videos, including a brand new play-through clip for “On Silver Shores” courtesy of Ultimate Guitar. “On Silver Shores is an important song on this record conceptually and technically,” Dadaian said. “This song is the soundtrack to the location where the character finds himself in his journey of the album's story. As a guitarist, I wanted the song's pace to ebb and flow like ocean waves given the title and environment. This has some of my favorite chord changes and melodies on the record with perhaps the most technically demanding picking passages. The full album track really sets the stage.”

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

Featuring razor-sharp solos, theatrical, symphonic soundscapes and unforgettable melodies, Follow the Light starts strong with an ominous introduction entitled “The Journey Ahead.” The album wastes no time beginning its epic tale with the jazz-metal of the title track and continues to flux amid orchestral-influenced pieces, such as “Forest Requiem,” and larger-than-life rock opuses, like “Soul Connection.”

Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and more

Asbury Park-based Lowlight are on a Southeast tour and will play a welcome-home show on March 3 at Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery preceding the release of a second single from an album expected by early summer. PHOTO BY BOB MAKIN

Hats off to Lowlight, one of only four local acts tapped to play the second annual Sea.Hear.Now Festival Sept. 21 and 22 on and near the Asbury Park beach! The 2016 Makin Waves Band of the Year got the news while on a Southeast tour and coincided it with the second single, "Give It a Minute," from an LP to be released in early summer by Jersey Shore-based Telegraph Hill Records. The Lowlight tour will finish up on Feb. 28 at New York Pizza in Greensboro, N.C., and March 1, Wall of Sound Music Center, Durham, NC. Then the Asbury-based alt-roots outfit are homeward bound, playing March 2 at Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia, with Morning River Band and Driftwood Soldier and March 3 at Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery in Asbury with Brian Molnar & Slow Rolling Low, Ali McGuirk and Rachel Ana Dobken. On March 22, Lowlight will play Bowery Electric, New York City, with Wylder, Bad Business and Willolux, and on May 17, they’ll return to Philly to play Bourbon & Branch with Cold Weather Company and Foxanne. Other local bands on Sea.Hear.Now are Stringbean and the Boardwalk Social Club, Brick + Mortar, and Beach Rats, featuring members of The Bouncing Souls and Lifetime. 

Also on tour is 2018 Makin Waves Male Artist of the Year winner Mike Montrey and his crackerjack band of jammin’ roots musicians. In support of their best album ever, John Street, Mike Montrey Band are playing Feb. 28, One World Brewing, Asheville, N.C.; March 1, Highland Brewing Co., also Asheville; March 17, The Saint, Asbury; March 30, the Singer Songwriter Festival of Cape May; April 12, John & Peter’s, New Hope; May 18, Brighton Bar, Long Branch; May 31, Laconia Ale Works, Sparta, N.C., and June 22, Blackthorn Pub, New Brunswick. Solo, Montrey will play April 14 as the Featured Artist of the EAMC Coffee House in Hightstown and May 21 at the Pierce Songwriting Sessions in Farmingdale. As a duo with MMB co-vocalist Jen Augustine, Montrey will play April 27 at Café Improv. 

Secret Sound have a hot new jam happening Thursdays at Headroom in Jersey City. Musicians, poets and dancers are welcome to join in the open jam. A full back line is provided. Also, Secret Sound will open for Melvin Seals & JGB on March 8 at the Stone Pony. Other upcoming gigs include The Shannon Rose, Ramsey; March 16, Olde Village Pub, Middletown; March 23, Cutting Room, New York City; March 29, Reef and Barrel, Manasquan; March 30, Jamian’s, Red Bank, and May 18, Brighton Bar. 

The Makin Waves 2019 Concert Series launched with LOD@APYC in January featuring Nalani & Sarina, Rachel Ana Dobken, Avery Mandeville & the Man Devils, Little Vicious, Molly Rhythm, American Trappist and Erotic Novels, and then the Experiment 34 album release party Feb. 16 at Asbury Lanes with Des & the Swagmatics, Bulletproof Belv feat. Matty Carlock, P-Funk North and Flourish. The series continues May 17 to 19 at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch and May 20 at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park with Makin Waves Fest. The Aquarian Weekly, the Brighton, Happy Mondays, Reg Santana Presents and more sponsors to be announced will present nearly two dozen bands, including The Cryptkeeper Five, The Carousers, The Ribeye Brothers, Defiance Engine, Secret Sound, Mike Montrey Band, Nalani & Sarina and Taylor Tote Band. Look for an official announcement by Makin Waves on Facebook within the next couple of weeks.

On Sept. 28, Makin Waves and Red Pants Productions will present “A 50th Anniversary Tribute to The Beatles’ Abbey Road at Asbury Lanes featuring a performance of the iconic album from top to bottom by the Asbury All Star Abbey Road Band. Sponsors will include The Aquarian Weekly, New Jersey Stage, Asbury Park Music Foundation, Telegraph Hill Records, 3143 Artist Management and more. Asbury Lanes officially will announce the Abbey Road tribute on March 28.

The new Makin Waves Tallie Fest will be a women’s empowerment event in tribute to Tillie’s overlooked girlfriend that will feature a dozen female singer-songwriters and female-fronted acts Nov. 15 and 16 at Asbury Park Yacht Club and Langosta Lounge. The festival is Makin Waves’ third annual benefit for Food for Thought, which provides Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners to the hungry and the homeless, largely single mothers and their children. The benefit’s first two years raised nearly $3,000. Stay tuned for more details. The Makin Waves Concert Series also has shows in July, October and December in the works. 

Makin Waves Scene Report with Atom Driver, Hot Blood, 'Jersey Rock' and more


Bob Makin is the reporter for and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at And like Makin Waves at




Tuesday, February 20, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Count Basie Center for the Arts
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
category: music

Click here for full description

Richard Shindell

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 @ 7:30pm
Lizzie Rose Music Room
217 E. Main Street, Tuckerton, NJ 08087
category: music

Click here for full description

Lee Brice: Me & My Guitar

Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: music

Click here for full description

Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.



Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center

(AVENEL, NJ) -- Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center on Sunday, March 10, 2024. They are known worldwide for their award-winning sound combining original pop songs with a unique take on traditional Irish music. Showtime is 7:00pm.

Danú Takes Audience to Ireland on March 10th

New Brunswick Performing Arts Center presents Chris Ruggiero's "Summer Serenade"

Lucy Wijnands Salutes Sarah Vaughan at March Jersey Jazz LIVE! Concert in Madison

Click here for more event previews

New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!

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.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed

Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy