This week, Makin Waves features a preview of the Sgt. Pepper 50th Anniversary Celebration happening on June 1 at Pino’s with the Sgt. Pepper Jersey All Star Band, The Paper Jets, Fun While You Wait, Anthony Carrera and Ser Xerri, reviews of Cook Thugless, The Bayonets and The Afraid Brigade, streams of Brian Clayton, Rob Jennings and Lil Asmar, and briefs on Garden State Hip Hop’s “New Jersey Live 2” concert, Williams Honor, a stacked Planned Parenthood benefit in Jersey City, and A Halo Called Fred.
With the all-ages Sgt. Pepper 50th Anniversary Celebration, rock music’s most iconic album will be saluted in a concert featuring four of Central Jersey’s most talented acts: The Paper Jets, Fun While You Wait, Ser Xerri, and Anthony Carrera. Pino’s, 13 N. 4th Ave., Highland Park, will be the spot on June 1, the day of the release of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” 50 years ago, where families can gather to celebrate the influential LP. Admission is $10 but free for youngsters under 18, who must be accompanied by a parent.
To end the night, Carrera and members of The Paper Jets and Fun While You Wait will come together with members of Backyard Superheroes, Waiting on Mongo, and Jesse Elliot’s Falconaires as Sgt. Pepper Jersey All Star Band to recreate the LP in its entirety, something even The Beatles never did. The Pepper All Stars will include Paper Jets front man Brian Erickson as vocalist, guitarist and musical director, his former keyboardist Kristen Leu also on vocals, Carrera on sitar, Dallas Hosey of the Falconaires on lead guitar and vocals, Will Hosey on bass and vocals, Backyard Superheroes trombonist Brian Lawrence, and Fun While You Wait drummer Keith Leming, vocalist-ukulele player Devon Moore, and trumpeter Bruce Krywinksi Jr., also of Waiting on Mongo.
“No album captured the zeitgeist of the late ’60s like ‘Sgt. Pepper,’” Erickson said. “It’s been tasked with the responsibility of having been called the greatest album of all time, a responsibility that The Beatles we’re ready to own at the time. My favorite thing about ‘Sgt. Pepper’ is that The Beatles weren’t afraid to try literally anything in order to succeed on the album they literally quit touring to create.”
Based in Princeton, Erickson has dedicated his leadership of the Sgt. Pepper Jersey All Star Band to his late friend Tim Ryan, who introduced him to The Beatles in high school.
“The Beatles tribute set is what most people may come for, and that’s great because everyone loves The Beatles,” Erickson said. “But don’t let that be the only reason. Enjoy local talent playing their own original music. The Beatles were once a local band and people paid them that courtesy. Anthony, Ser and Fun While You Wait all deserve that same kindness.”
An eclectic world-music artist from Morris County popular in the New Brunswick area, Carrera said he was honored to honor The Beatles with such a strong lineup of New Jersey musicians, all of whom toured a large part of the country.
When it comes to a conversation about highly influential music, it’s nearly impossible for The Beatles not to be brought up, especially the work on ‘”Sgt. Pepper,” said Carrera, whose sitar skills will be featured prominently on “Within You Without You” by George Harrison. He also will perform with Jersey Shore belly dancer Marielle Cannon, while he also performs hand pan and Flamenco guitar within his own set.
“The Beatles opened the doorway and brought new ideas and concepts for how to approach music in all of its facets from the musician, the producer, and to the listener as well,” Carrera said. “I also particularly loved how this album helped spread Eastern music, culture, and spirituality. While the (1965) track ‘Norwegian Wood’ did feature a little sitar work … ‘Within You Without You,’ while it’s not by any means an Indian raga, is a much better combination of Indian and western music. It actually features Indian musicians and uses a few musical ideas and lyrics that are much more reminiscent of Indian music. By being a part of the 50th anniversary show, we are essentially bringing the fictional Sgt. Peppers band to life, and that I think is the greatest honor in of itself.”
Based in Bordentown, singer-songwriter Xerri, a member of the new Beatles tribute act Penny Road, added, “The Beatles were true creators. They didn’t limit themselves to traditional ideas, and they experimented wildly with techniques and sounds. So much of the music we all love today stems from their ideas. I am really happy to celebrate the band that has been so important to all of us and to help continue to spread their music to new listeners and musicians alike.”
The Sgt. Pepper Jersey All Star Band, clockwise from upper right, Brian Erickson of The Paper Jets, Dan Hosey of Jessie Elliot & the Falconaires, Will Hosey, Keith Leming of Fun While You Wait, Brian Lawrence of Backyard Superheroes, Bruce Krywinski Jr. of Fun While You Wait and Waiting on Mongo, Anthony Carrera, Kristen Leu, formerly of The Paper Jets, and Ryan Weil of Backyard Superheroes. Missing Devon Alana of Fun While You Wait.
You can catch members of the Sgt. Pepper Jersey All Star Band performing and chatting on the following radio shows:
Carrera and Xerri, 8 a.m. May 30, “The Bert Baron Show,” 1450 WCTC AM
Fun While Wait, 8 p.m. May 29, Live from the Dining Room
Erickson, 10 p.m. May 29, “Beatles Tonight,” Home Grown Radio NJ.
The Pepper concert isn’t the first time I have paid tribute to The Beatles. Earlier this year, the Makin Waves concert series included an anniversary celebration of the album combined with a 50th birthday salute to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. The Black Clouds, Experiment 34, Wicked Hollow and Yorkshire Tenth played their own music and that of The Beatles and/or Nirvana on April 29 at The Saint in Asbury Park.
In 2003 and 2004, I produced a total of 10 Beatles tribute concerts across the state as the All You Need Is Love Fest. Both festivals included a children’s enrichment event that turned a total of more than 100 youngsters onto The Beatles.
The Pepper concert will take a similar approach as an all-ages show in which parents are encouraged to bring their children age 18 and younger free of charge as a means to turn them onto The Beatles, hear the album live and celebrate its anniversary together. For 19 and up, admission is $10. All younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent. Doors open early at 6 p.m. and the show will end by 11 to give families an opportunity to enjoy the event on a weeknight.
An incredibly popular nightspot with one of the best craft beer and wine menus in the state, Pino’s also offers take-out from most of Highland Park’s great restaurants. So families can have dinner before the show.
The Beatles are the most influential rock band of all time. They also are my all-time favorite band. One of my most fond memories is of my grandmother winning me vinyl inflatables of the Fab Four at the Guess Your Weight game on the Asbury Park boardwalk in the summer of ’69 and a copy of “Abbey Road” at a game of chance in the spring of 1970. I wore the grooves out of that record over the next 10 years until you could see the vinyl peeking through the cardboard sleeve.
Nearly 60 years after their formation, The Beatles still are inspiring young musicians to pick up instruments and play. That’s astounding and something that should be encouraged for generations to come. The Pepper party is a step in that direction.
The concert’s sponsors are NJArts.net, NewJerseyStage.com, MyCentralJersey.com, Danny Coleman’s “Rock on Radio,” Carousel Arts, Volume IV and Trax East recording studios, Dynacoustics, and Red Pants Productions.
The Makin Waves series will continue with the following events (all are co-presented by MyCentralJersey.com, NJArts.net, New Jersey Stage, Rock on Radio, Carousel Arts, the participating venue and additional sponsors indicated):
June 16, Makin Waves Rock Circus III with Will Wood and the Tapeworms, Experiment 34, Ser Xerri, Pixel Face, and aerial act Vertical Fixation, 8 p.m., Roxy & Dukes, 745 Bound Brook Road (Route 28), Dunellen. 18-and-up
July 21, Makin Waves Jam n Groove Fest to benefit Russell Perry Memorial Scholarship with CC Coletti Band, Danielle Illario Band feat. Anthony Krizan, Garden State Line, Waiting on Mongo, Mike Montrey Band, Alan Grant Band, Joe Stuby & Rocking Horse, Karl Dietel 5, Lil Asmar, and Midnight Moonlight All Star Jam feat. members of The 90 Proof Band and Bones Weedsley, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., American Spirits Roadhouse, 1090 Route 173, Asbury (Hunterdon County). All-ages show. Co-presented by Sonic Boom Studios
Aug. 4, Planned Parenthood Benefit with Secret Mountain, dollys, EVL MOMMZ, Teenage Halloween, Curtis Cooper and Nine of Swords, The Lakehouse, 621 Lake Ave., Asbury Park. Time TBA. $10, also to benefit Asbury Park Music Foundation
Sept. 23, Makin Waves Film Feastival with William DeVizia, Olivia Baptista, Lamar Mackson, Zack Morrison and Kather Sei, 6-10 p.m., Ria Mar Restaurant and Bar, 25 Whitehead Ave., South River. Invitation only
Oct. 21, Makin Waves Rock Circus (Roots n Spooks Showcase) with Coach ’N Commando, Mass Folk Commons, Anthony Carrera & Marielle Cannon, burlesque dancer Vivi Noir, Vertical Fixation, sword swallower Dean Formica, artist-photographer Tiffany Harned and more to be announced, 8 p.m. Roxy & Dukes. 18+
Nov. 18, Makin Waves Roots Fest to benefit Community Food Bank of New Jersey with Lowlight, Accidental Seabirds, Jackson Pines, The Porchistas, Coach ’N Commando, Jeff Linden and the Black Spot Society on two stages, plus VIP seats with special incentives, catered Thanksgiving treats, cash bar, and food drive, 5 p.m. Union County Performing Arts Center Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton St., Rahway. All-ages show.
Makin Waves also will co-sponsor the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival 2017 presented by Hi-Tide from Aug. 24 to 27 throughout Asbury Park with Los Straitjackets, Black Flamingos and much more.
Also, Makin and several music media colleagues, including all of the series’ media sponsors, have helped New Brunswick Cultural Center and its annual Hub City Sounds summer concert series expand the ROCK New Brunswick festival dedicated to the local music scene to three days of special events. With the help of Smugbug Productions, ROCK New Brunswick will take place Sept. 8 to 10 throughout Hub City. Several new and exciting attractions will be announced in late June along with the lineups of the festival’s four concerts at www.newbrunswickarts.org.
Cook Thugless are an amazing New Brunswick-based band who have made three exceptional concept albums: 2013’s “SPACE,” 2015’s “TIME” and the recently released “Money,” the best of the bunch and, so far, the best local release of the year. It’s rare when a local unsigned act makes lasting art, but that is what Cook Thugless have done with “Money.” The 17-track collection proves that rap and hip-hop can uplift the soul and expand the mind rather than waste time, space and money in the gutter glorifying violence and degrading women.
“Money” also proves that hip-hop blends beautifully with jazz, something the New Brunswick music scene, especially the gig-plentiful New Brunswick Jazz Project, should realize and utilize. Fans of Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Groove Collective, and Guru’s Jazzmatazz will dig this LP, as the band once again fuse psychedelic rock, ambient jazz, chill funk, and rap tales that tell a story, like the chapters in a book. The trip-hop elements of Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul add to the grooves, such as on “Pu$$y Money Bling,” “New Release,” “Beautiful Brown,” and the single/video “Junk Stew.”
This time out, the concept revolves around the band staying true to themselves in the face of the temptation to sell out and the lack of opportunity to do otherwise. Often funny with tongue-in-cheek interludes and spoofs of the rap scene, the music industry and apathetic affluence, the disc also is at times furious about society’s lack of empathy. Rich with rhymes and rhythms, “Money” would make the music industry just THAT if it got hip to Cook Thugless. On “Gucci in My Kitchen,” the band declares, “Cook Thugless been a start of revolution comin’ at the music industry till we get our restitution.” Right on!
One of the most interesting things about Cook Thugless is that they’re trilingual because co-rapper (and videographer) Jean Louis Droulers is an Venezuelan of French descent. While he doesn’t dabble in French this time out, he once again sings in Spanish on “Net Worthless,” a musical ping pong match between rapid-fire rap and flute-driven acid jazz. Also not afraid to mix up the rhythms is the closing “Lucky 27,” a frightening homage to Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison who died young but whose music will live (and funds will flow) forever.
Not about to forget that they’re from Jersey, the band shout out to Hub City, as well as Trenton and Jersey City on “Gucci in My Kitchen,” “New Release” and/or the opening “Wants and Needs,” a look at thems that gots, while Cook Thugless ain’t got nothin’ yet. And while that may be true financially, they’ve got plenty in the tunes department, and are just as good live. Check them out on May 17 at Pork Roll Fest and June 17 at Art All Night. Both events are in Trenton, the hometown of a couple of members of the band.
What do you get when you mix Paul McCartney’s bassist-guitarist, pioneering rock ‘n’ roll songwriter Jerry Leiber’s pop-rockin’ kid, and a rock chick from Argentina? None other than the sharp-edged power-pop trio The Bayonets, featuring vocalist-bassist Brian Ray, drummer Oliver Leiber, and guitarist-vocalist Lucrecia Lopez Sanz of Nube 9.
The Bayonets have reissued their 2014 debut album, “Crash Boom Bang!,” with two new tracks on Jersey-based Jem Recordings, home to such fellow Beatles-inspired acts as The Weeklings, The Grip Weeds, and The Anderson Council. Now a 12-song outing, the LP opens with the exuberant fresh tracks, “Like She Does” and “I Feel Love.”
They more than hold their own with five singles that reached the Top 10 on the Classic Rock Mediabase radio chart and an unprecedented five "Coolest Songs in the World" on Little Steven's Underground Garage. Those tunes include the exciting title track and the horn-lined power ballad “Vagabond Soul,” featuring a harmony vocal by Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler. Fans of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” will enjoy that powerful song about the road weariness of fulfilling musical dreams in the face of a father’s broken ones. The slithering, slide guitar-driven “Voodoo Doll,” which sounds a lot like Tyler and sequences nicely into “Vagabond Soul,” also is a treat. I also like the funky, guttural blues of “Watcha Got,” especially the hot co-lead vocal/rap by Sanz.
No Bayonets shows are scheduled at this time because Ray is on a world tour with McCartney that will bring him Sept. 11 and 12 to Prudential Center, Newark; Sept. 15 and 17, Madison Square Garden, New York City; Sept. 19 and 21, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Sept. 23, Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y., and Sept. 26 and 27, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. Look for an interview here with the band at that time. Meanwhile, Leiber will keep busy playing a variety of different instruments for the likes of Rod Stewart, and Sanz will rock with Nube 9.
The Afraid Brigade | “If I Ever See the Stars Again”
With this six-song follow-up to a 2015 self-titled LP, Edison-based The Afraid Brigade mix things up nicely, opening with hauntingly beautiful and all-too-brief “Stars Intro,” then blasting into the bitter “The World Don’t Want You,” an off-kilter but interesting mix of punk and Pink Floyd. The most radio-ready track, “Nothing Good,” is a clever confection of reggae-tinged punk-pop whose sound belies its heavy message of societal and generational ills.
The bright, bouncy show hall-inspired “I’m in Hell” also is dichotomous with its Paul McCartney-like sweetness pitted against bleak My Chemical Romance-like irony. Subtle, tasteful contributions by Backyard Superheroes’ Brian Lawrence on trumpet and We’re Ghosts Now’s Alexander Iannone on violin add to the track’s strength.
The less-than-original emo of “Dead Wrong” segues into the far more emotional and better composed closing number, “Let’s Die Alone,” which like the opening track is a beautiful heartbreaker. Sweet violin lines by Iannone intensify the song’s melancholy melody.
A mix of rowdy punk rock and some of the best balladry you could hope to hear by a local band, The Afraid Bridge prove with “If I Ever See the Stars Again” that eclecticism works well with strong songwriting and controlled passion. My only complaint is that the opening “Stars Intro” is such a great song, it should have been fully realized as a title track.
The band will celebrate the release of “If I Ever See the Stars Again” on May 27 with Jeff Linden and the Black Spot Society, Dude Elsberry, Self Proclaimed Narcissist and Gold Fonts in New Brunswick. Ask a punk for details.
Rahway-based singer-songwriter Brian Clayton has a song, “She Let Me Go,” featured in the upcoming romantic comedy “The Big Sick,” starring Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Co-written with New York songwriter Gary Costello, the tune was published by Westwood Music Group. After a fruitful showing at Sundance Film Festival, the July 14 release will be distributed by Amazon Studios, Lionsgate and Film Nation. Meanwhile, Clayton is at work on his third independent CD with The Green River Band when not busy as the eastern regional band director for “The Country Showdown” musical talent show …
The country duo Williams Honor will celebrate the release of their new single, “No Umbrella,” and new video for their regional hit, “Send It to Me,” on May 25 at The Saint in Asbury Park. The clip was shot at The Saint, as well as in Nashville. The southern gothic-sounding “No Umbrella” is garnering radio play on country stations, particularly in Nashville …
GardenStateHipHop.com will showcase Jersey Shore artists on May 31 also at The Saint with the “New Jersey Live 2” concert. A platform for local hip-hop artists since 2009, Garden State Hip Hop aims to bring more awareness to a growing Shore hip-hop scene with this concert series. An eclectic selection of six emerging acts will perform: Avery Rose Puryear, Solo for Dolo, New Star, Dane the Beautiful Monster, OFFTOP, and Joe College. DJ Ronny Rayz will spin between sets …
Pompton Plains singer-songwriter Rob Jennings will release the first single, “The Crowd Is Here,” from his forthcoming debut album, “The World Was on My Side.” The track follows 2015’s “The Boulevard Gone EP.” A July album release is expected. See Jennings live on May 30 at Piano’s in New York City …
I love when shows are stacked with local headliners. There’s a good one going down 7 p.m. May 26 at JC Underground in Jersey City to benefit Planned Parenthood, which needs all the money it can get to protect women’s health before Trump screws them over. And what a stacked lineup: Overlake, Lowlight, The Penniless Loafers, and Foxanne. Vendors will be on hand. Donations are $10 here or at the door ....
Congrats to 10-year-old South Plainfield bass prodigy Lil Asmar, who recently was chosen by Harry Connick Jr. to appear on his TV show as one of the country’s best young musicians. See the jam above that aired nationwide. You also can see Lil Asmar live on May 26 at Tavern on the Lake in Hightstown, where he’ll perform with sought-after jazz drummer EJ Strickland. Lil Asmar, who recently was featured on MyCentralJersey.com, also will open the Makin Waves Jam N Groove Fest at 5:30 p.m. on July 21 at American Spirits Roadhouse in the Asbury section of Franklin Township in Hunterdon County. Also featured at that show will be CC Coletti, Garden State Line, Danielle Illario Band feat. Anthony Krizan Music, Waiting On Mongo, Mike Montrey Band (MMB), Alan Grant Band, Joe Stuby & Rocking Horse, Karl Dietel Five, and the Midnight Moonlight Jam with The 90 Proof Band and "Bones" Weedsley …
A Halo Called Fred is re-releasing their fourth album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” on May 26, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original work by The Beatles (see above). Produced by Claude Coleman of Ween, the release will be a special deluxe 20th Anniversary CD edition with the original 1996 cassette tracks restored to their original sequence.
Also to be re-released this week is Halo's 1995 EP “Body Parts and Flying Things,” produced by Norm Demoura (Susan Tedeschi, NRBQ). Both albums will be available at ahalocalledfred.bandcamp.com, lumpnloaf.com and at A Halo Called Fred’s upcoming live shows.