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Makin Waves Scene Report with Bradstock, Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market, Jammin' for Jaclyn and more

By Bob Makin

originally published: 04/24/2019

Makin Waves Scene Report with Bradstock, Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market, Jammin' for Jaclyn and moreBrad Morrison, the founder of Absolute a Go Go Records, nurtured the careers of such great bands as Phish, Miracle Legion, Tiny Lights, Wooden Soldiers, Spiral Jetty, The Figgs and The Vestrymen. On May 4 at Monty Hall in Jersey City, several of them will gather to pay tribute to their influential and greatly missed friend. 


Also featured this week are Blackthorn, Black Potatoe Music Festival, Railroad Earth, Little Vicious, Frank Lombardi, The Porchistas, RGD, Avenel Performing Arts Center, Jersey Is Dead, Golden Dimes, and The Beagles. 

Bradstock, a celebration of the life and career of Brad Morrison, the Absolute a Go Go founder who helped put such great bands as Phish, Wooden Soldiers, Tiny Lights, Spiral Jetty, The Vestrymen and The Figgs on the musical map, will be May 4 at Monty Hall in Jersey City. Bradstock will feature performances by Wooden Soldiers, Spiral Jetty, Miracle Legion, The Vestrymen and their Absolute a Go Go label mates Painted Birds, which was Morrison’s band, plus such 1980s and ‘90s Jersey contemporaries as The Blases, The Selves, Duochrome, and several New York bands with whom Morrison had a close connection: Empire of Light, Must Be Dreaming, Super 400, and The Woodshed Prophets. Nearly all will pay tribute to Morrison, not only with their music but with spoken testimonials. The afternoon will come to a glorious close with an all-star jam on “The Weight” by The Band, one of Morrison’s favorite bands. 

“He used to sing his two children to sleep with this song,” said Wooden Soldiers’ Greg Di Gesu, a co-organizer of the event. “I think all of us who pitched together this idea wanted to make sure there was a proper musical tribute to Brad since he was instrumental in so many musical acts over the decades. Whether as producer, engineer, manager, or label owner, Brad was supportive and energized by the music and musicians. In doing such a tribute, I personally am hopeful that attendees and performers will connect in his honor and recognize the slice of talent who were able to be a part of this event. There are many others outside this roster with whom Brad also helped on their musical journey. Ultimately, we all hope proper funds are raised in support of his two surviving children."

If you can’t make this glorious event, donations can be made at their GoFundMe page. Morrison’s two teenagers, Carolyn and Ian, could use the money, especially since they’ll be heading to college soon.  

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Bradstock was co-organized by WBJB 90.5 the Night Music Director Jeff Raspe, whose first gig in the music industry was as Morrison’s right-hand man at Absolute a Go Go. 

“In 1990, I started working with Brad at Absolute A Go Go Records & Miracle Management,” Raspe said. “He was about to release new albums from Tiny Lights (Hoboken, N.J.) and The Vestrymen (Amherst, Mass.). He was also managing Miracle Legion (New Haven, Conn.) and Shelleyan Orphan (U.K.). Over the next five or so years I worked with him part-time at a little office in Oakland, N.J., that he shared with his dad and his business. When people ask me what I did, I always say, ‘I did everything but say yes and sign checks.’ And I did. In my time there, we also released records by or managed Phish (Burlington, Vt.), The Figgs (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), Black Sun Ensemble (Tucson, Ariz.), and Spiral Jetty (New Brunswick). I didn’t notice it at the time, but I was learning ‘the business’ the whole time. And to this day, almost 30 years later, I still put the lessons learned to use.”

Kirk Miller, the soundman at New Brunswick’s Court Tavern when Morrison discovered Wooden Soldiers, Tiny Lights and Spiral Jetty there in the mid-’80s, is coming in from Colorado to do sound for the show. The Band Jam will be backed by The Woodshed Prophets, a roots-rock outfit from Sidney, N.Y., produced by Morrison and whose guitarist Dan Hardy has assigned the various vocalists on each verse, much like the “Last Waltz” version The Band did with The Staple Singers. 

“We'll be in good hands and ears,” Di Gesu said.

The spring edition of Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market will convene at Convention Hall on May 5 with some of the best record vendors around, not only of punk but also psychedelic rock, metal and even soul. More than 125 dealers of music equipment, vintage clothing, macabre artwork, handmade jewelry and other original creations also will be on hand. The fun also will include a showcase with Sunny Gang, Suspect, Slut Magic and Rough Spring upstairs in the fully-stocked Overlook Bar, which is decorated in comfy vintage furniture, plus hourly raffles for shows at Stone Pony and Wonder Bar, and an entertaining boardwalk to and from which you can come and go via a wristband with which you will be welcomed.

The sixth annual Jammin’ for Jaclyn once again will benefit two cancer fighters to help with their medical and other expenses. This year, the beneficiaries are Christina Davis and Carl Palestrini, both of Sayreville. The charity toward them is in tribute to Jaclyn Squillance, who lost a five-year battle to cancer last year. 

In addition to a hot and cold buffet provided by more than 70 eateries, including a variety of vegan options, the April 27 event at the Knights of Columbus in the Parlin section of Sayreville will feature 10 live bands. They are Taylor Tote Band, Nick Ryan Band, Rocco & the MOB, The FOG, Jake Tavil & Indigo Soul, Amber Morgan, Levy Okun, Patsy Palma, and John Walsh. Co-founding co-organizer Michael Squillace, Jaclyn’s brother, will be featured throughout the 10.5-hour event on his sought-after saxophone. Highlights also will include a 50/50, door prizes, a photo booth and a cash bar. Tom Hanley, host of 95.9 the Rat’s “Jersey Rock,” will emcee.

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Blackthorn Restaurant and Irish Pub recently celebrated a first birthday with the music of Hub City faves P-Funk North, drink specials and a new menu. Manager Tommy Brennan, who also worked at the site’s former eatery, Old Bay, said his favorite part of Blackthorn's first year was making a new family among staff members, management and guests.

"Guests who remember this corner for really awesome beer and food, and we were able to keep them coming back," said Brennan, who was entertainment and beverage director for many years for the Old Bay, the site's former restaurant. "I think what will make the anniversary special for me is that we started a new bar and restaurant from the ground up, and that people stand behind what we're doing here. From the live music and entertainment to the amazing food that Chef Gabe is putting out on the tables. It really has been a fun creative process from both the front of the house and the back of the house."

Blackthorn's new menu includes the return of jambalaya from the room's Old Bay days. The menu will include more healthy options prepared by Chef Gabriel Rivera, including Keto dishes, such as fresh Scottish salmon & quinoa and smoke salmon & red beet slaw, as well as vegan chili, vegan flatbread and seasonal beets & vegetable quinoa. 

"Loaded tots and flat breads are a nice addition," Brennan said. "Gabe went for the healthy stuff. I went with drinking food. We're also bringing in the Beyond Burger, which is that vegan burger that 'bleeds.'"

Blackthorn's Saturday night series of local bands will continue April 27 with The Band Called Fuse; May 4, P-Funk North; May 11, Beer Goggles, May 18, The Do Rights, and May 25 Bob Denson's Blues. On May 4 event, a Cuatro de Mayo celebration will feature $4 Coronas, Modelos, Margaritas, and tequila shots. And a Cinco de Mayo festival from noon to midnight on May 5 will offer live music by Central Jersey jazz-rock outfit El Noordzo, spins by DJ Kava, a free buffet from 2 to 4 p.m., $1 tacos, $2 domestic pints, $3 Coronas and Modelos, $4 tequila shots, and $5 margaritas.

In its second year, Blackthorn plans to continue its schedule of weekly events, including:

Brennan says he hopes to book more national music acts, such as Mac Sabbath, Okilly Dokilly and Minikiss, while continuing to present locals. 

 "I can't wait to start doing some serious beer events," he said.

The 2018 Makin Waves Band of the Year Nalani & Sarina will be the Friday night headliner of the 23rd and final Black Potatoe Music Festival in Clinton on July 12. Whether there will be a 24th Potatoe outside of Clinton remains to be seen. Like the first one in celebration of Angus’ debut CD, this year’s Potatoe will culminate with the release of a CD, founder Matt Angus said. The nine-track “Songs from a Jailhouse in Bisbee” will be released during the festival, he said. Over the years, the Potatoe has presented the likes of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Jorma Kaukonen, Dickey Betts and Levon Helm, as well as Grace Potter, Jimmy McGriff, Lake Street Drive, Ellis Paul, Chris Smither, Edwin McCain, Patty Larkin and Buckwheat Zydeco. But the final festival will focus on New Jersey songwriters. In addition to Flemington-raised Nalani & Sarina, the fest will feature The Matt Angus Thing, Gregg Cagno, Matt & Gregg acoustic, KC Cary, Jack Tannehill, Caren Kennedy Band, Bryan Hansen Band, Karl Dietel Five, Michael Patrick, Pyrenesia, Jenny and the Felines, Mike Montrey Band, Collins Brothers, Helen O’Shea & the Shanakees, Dan Lavoie and many others from July 11 to 14 at Red Mill Museum Village. 

“There aren’t enough venues for unknown bands, and it seems that every venue is trying to rip off bands,” Angus said. “That part makes me sad that the festival won’t continue, but I’m also happy to get to out on our own terms.”

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Congrats to Railroad Earth, who were tapped by the John Denver estate to pen music to sets of lyrics discovered in 2017. On Earth Day in tribute to Denver’s work as an environmentalist, RRE released “Railroad Earth: The John Denver Letters” as a vinyl seven-inch and a digital single featuring “If You Will Be My Lady” and “Through the Night.” A portion of proceeds will benefit Youth Climate Strike, a movement of young people who aim to raise awareness about and end climate change.

In other Railroad Earth news, the ever-touring Northwest Jersey jam band have some really tasty shows coming up, including May 8, Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, Wilmington, N.C.; May 9, Variety PlayHouse, Atlanta; May 10, The Basement East, Nashville; May 11, The Vic Theatre, Chicago; May 24 and 26, DelFest, Cumberland, Md.; May 31 to June 2, Bonfire Block Party, Eagle, Col.; June 21, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride, Colo.; Aug. 4, Arise Music Festival, Loveland, Colo., and much more.

Asbury Park-based blues-edelic punk trio Little Vicious will drop their sophomore LP, “Dark Country,” on May 17 on GrindEthos Records. Look for a Record of the Week here on May 9 to preview a May 15 show at the Wonder Bar in AP with Cleopatrick and Demob Happy. They’ll also trek down to Orlando for a June 10 show at Standard Motorcycle Co. Produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls, “Dark Country” features the new single, “Hit You Right,” a Southern-style nugget of funk in the tradition of Raging Slab and Nashville Pussy. Look for an August Little Vicious tour that will coincide with a Makin Waves Interview. 

Asbury Park’s Frank Lombardi will follow last month’s digital release of his sophomore LP, “Predawn,” with the first CD to be released by Pete Mantas’ Airplay Label since 2001. “Predawn” follows Lombardi’s 2014 debut, “Whiskey and the Mourning After,” and the 2015 EP, “Francis Lombardi.” The talented singer-songwriter will play April 27 at Asbury Park Yacht Club with Jackson Pines and Accidental Seabirds. Look for a Record of the Week here on May 23.

One of my favorite songs of 2018, “The Abe Vigoda Polka” by Montclair-based The Porchistas, now is a video that has been submitted to NPR’s sought-after Tiny Desk Contest (see stream above). The delightful folk-rooted world-music band also are busy with a bunch of shows. On May 4, they’ll play Montclair Center Stage Festival with Oxygenbox, LKFFCT, Elk City, Tru, Junkanoo, Whiner, Rockstar Racecar, Travis Loves Benson, Yo the Moon and Billy & the Joels. The Porchistas will present “Sparky Loves You 2” on May 11 at Tierney’s Tavern, their home away from their nearby home studio, with Not an Airplane, Forget the Whale, and The You & Eyes. Speaking of the home studio, it will host one of the shows of the Montclair Bounce Festival, which will benefit Toni’s Kitchen, a Montclair soup kitchen, and the mental health programs at the local YMCA. The festival will take place township wide from May 31 to June 7. The Porchistas’ show is June 2. On June 28, The Porchistas will play Montclair Bread Co.’s free Friday Night Music Series. Head Porchista Alan Smith is planning a 60-mile charity bike ride with Cat McGown of Bern & the Brights from to Montclair to Asbury Park, where it will culminate in a show. Details will be announced soon.

New Brunswick-based RGD will celebrate the release of their new LP, “Million Reasons,” on April 26 at Pino’s in Highland Park with Low and Slow and several surprise special guests, plus giveaways. The indie pop trio, which features members of Rotator Cuff, Dandelion Fire, The Fletchers and Roadside Graves, also will play July 20 at the Live at the Ferry Slip concert series in Perth Amboy with Animal Masks.

Makin Waves Scene Report with Bradstock, Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market, Jammin' for Jaclyn and more

Avenel Performing Arts Center opened on April 10 with the smash “Dixie’s Tupperware Party.”  The theater was one of the first projects to receive a grant from the Middlesex County Cultural and Arts Trust Fund in 2015 and is part of a plan to revitalize Downtown Woodbridge and Avenel as hubs for the arts. PHOTO COURTESY OF AVENEL ARTS CENTER

Congrats to the new Avenel Performing Arts Center, whose first production, “Dixie’s Tupperware Party” on April 10 was a smash! The season continues with BariToned, featuring Joe Hager, Edward Miskie and Kyle Hines, and “I Hate Men – The Tough Broads & Loose Women of Musical Theatre,” April 24 and 25 and June 20 and 21; “Girls Night: The Musical,” April 26 to 28; the a cappella rock of FACE, May 2, 4 and 5; Matt Wolfe and Lainie Munro, May 3; Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, May 8 to 12; “The Italian Chicks,” featuring Maryann “Boom Bom” Maisano, Mary Dimino, Regina DeCicco, Gina Scarda and Tar Cannistraci, May 14, 15, 28 and 29; Kaki King, May 16 and 17; juggler Charles Peachock, May 18; “Will Martin Sings Dean Martin,” May 19 and 22; “Husky Panda” featuring Mike Delamont, May 23 to 26; “Housewives of Secaucus: A Suburban Travesty,” May 30 to June 2; mentalist-illusionist Wayne Hoffman, June 5 to 9; Penny Arcade, June 11 and 12; Alexandra Silber, June 13 and 14; Constantine Maroulis, June 15; “Comedy Night” with Johnny Lampert, James Goff and Andy Pitz, June 16; Hypnotist Dale K, June 18 and 19; “Broadway’s Next Hit Musical,” June 22; Jeremy Stolle, June 23; “Simply Streisand” featuring Carla Del Villaggio, June 25 and 26, and “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” June 27 to 30 and July 2, 3 and 5. 

Jersey Is Dead will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Philly-based Garcia tribute band Pure Jerry on May 5 at the Brighton Bar. The all-ages fun will include tasty eats from the Angry Hippie Food Truck and lots of vendors inside and outside the venue.

Fanwood-based Golden Dimes have two hot shows coming up in support of their six-song debut EP, “Uncommon Cents.” The five rockin’ suburban dads will play their borough’s fourth annual Rockin’ for Autism benefit for Autism NJ. The celebration of Autism Awareness Month also will feature The B Street Band Springsteen tribute, Leave the Gun, Three Piece Nugget, Bryan Hansen Band, Patrick Bumburak, Eric Harrison, Armada Gradient, Matt Levin, Jammin Jenn  and Sami Goodman on April 28 in LaGrande Park. Golden Dimes also will celebrate the release of “Uncommon Cents” on June 12 at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. NYC songstress Brooke Moriber will celebrate an album of her own that night.

The Beagles keep truckin’ with their “Bed of Roses” LP. With frequent guest vocalist Joy Okoye, they’ll play April 28 at Princeton's massive Communiversity Festival on the Hinds Plaza Stage. Then on May 18, they’ll perform a tribute to Pete Seeger and his 1950s band The Weavers in honor of the folk legend’s 100th birthday, which is May 3. The show is part of a series of Beagles tribute concerts that also have been dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin, Million Dollar Quartet and Motown Records. On Aug 1, they’ll blend their originals with covers at Larenceville Main Street's Music in the Park series in Weeden Park. And on Aug. 17, they will appear at a 50th anniversary tribute to Woodstock at the Community North Ampitheater in Princeton with a set featuring material by Jefferson Airplane, Blood Sweat & Tears, Grateful Dead, Sly & The Family Stone and more Woodstock faves.

Makin Waves Scene Report with Bradstock, Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market, Jammin' for Jaclyn 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



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