This week, Makin Waves chats with Vini Lopez and Paul Whistler of Dawg Whistle, reviews and streams new records by Sharkmuffin and Magic Mountain, streams an exclusive track from Speak into My Good Eye’s Wilco tribute comp, and features video briefs of Comb the Desert, Norman Seldin and Anthony Krizan and briefs on Lost in Society, A Halo Called Fred, Afraid Brigade, White Eagle Hall, Black Potatoe Music Festival, Caroline Romanelli Presents, Asbury Park Music Foundation, and CoolDad Music.
I was a lucky kid.
My father was the features editor of the Asbury Park Press, and my little sister’s best friend’s dad was good friends with Bruce Springsteen, everyone in the E Street Band, the Jukes and a dozen other Asbury Park bands of the late 1970s. Every Labor Day, Mark Dornan, and his wife, Rita, would throw a Goodbye to Summer Bash on Elizabeth Carter Beach in in our hometown of Point Pleasant Beach.
In the summer of 1978, I saw The Lord Gunner Group, featuring Vini Lopez, the original drummer of the E Street Band and countless other Asbury and Neptune bands. The following summer, I saw Paul Whistler & the Wheels, which, like Lord Gunner, was the band most likely to follow in Springsteen and Southside Johnny’s successful footsteps. I wasn’t even 16 yet, but I was soaking in the bar band-oriented Sounds of Asbury Park thanks to the Dornans, plus, my Pop, and, of course, all the players.
Fast forward nearly 40 years, and I’m sitting around a table at Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten, drinking beer and munching on pretzels, potato pancakes and elk sausage with Whistler, Lopez and Dawn Bearce, Lopez’s girlfriend. It was great catching up with these old friends and once again listening to their many amazing stories about the history of the Asbury Park music scene.
That history recently came to life two weeks ago during the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival when Lopez and Whistler participated in the reunion jam of Upstage regulars tied to a documentary in part about the historic Cookman Avenue coffeehouse. From 1968 to 1971, The Upstage was where Springsteen, Southside, Steve Van Zandt, the E Street Band’s Danny Federici, David Sancious, and Garry Tallent and dozens of other musicians, including Lopez and Whistler, grew from boys wanting to be The Beatles and The Stones into men making their own music. All of the aforementioned players – with the exception of Tallent and the late Federici -- plus several more “Upstagers” were on hand for the jams that took place throughout the weekend of the film festival.
Those jams will continue when Tallent -- Lopez’s (and Southside’s) Neptune High School pal -- rolls back into town to rock the Stone Pony on May 12 with his own band in support of his 2016 solo debut LP, “Break Time.” Dawg Whistle, Lopez’s and Whistler’s bluesy roots band with bassist John Sebastian Brice and keyboardist John Mulrenan, will open the show with Richie “Taz” Taskowitz on sax and fellow Upstager Gary Cavico on guitar.
Dawg Whistle also will perform May 6 in Bath, Maine, at benefit to battle Lyme’s disease in honor of Lopez’s and Whistler’s late friend Billy Chinnock, who suffered with the disease before he died in 2007. The band also will play May 20 and June 29 at McCloone’s Pier House in Long Branch; May 28, Yvonne’s, Neptune; June 2, Pete’s Steakhouse, Ewing, and June 24, July 15, and Aug. 5 at Val’s in Rumson.
And now, here is my chat with Lopez, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the E Street Band and Whistler, a member of the New Jersey Blues Hall of Fame:
Question: So Dawg Whistle are going to be playing a Lyme’s disease benefit in Maine in honor of Asbury Angel Bill Chinnock. In what bands did you play with Billy?
Whistler: I didn’t play with him, but I knew him. My ex-wife was very close with him too. At different times, we stayed with him when we were on the road in Tennessee and Maine. We never worked together, but we sat in together.
Lopez: The first band I was in with him was the Downtown Tangiers Rhythm & Blues Band. I tried out for The Storytellers with Danny Federici and all them, but I wouldn’t play ‘Wipeout.’ Chip Gallagher became the drummer. I wanted to sing and play. Chinnock said, ‘No Wipeout, no job,’ so I got fired before I even played a note (all laugh).
Whistler: Causin’ trouble already (all laugh).
Q: Before Dawg Whistle, what bands did you play in together?
Whistler: Vini was a Wheel. Vini and I know each other since the late ’60s. I had a head shop in the West end of Long Branch on the side of a place called The Ink Well. A mutual friend of ours introduced us. And we’ve been hanging out ever since, playing together off and on and on and off, and we’re still doing it.
Vini was in the second edition of the Wheels in 1989. We played a festival in Oregon.
Lopez: We played in this little bar where they filmed ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’
Whistler: Depot Bay. The place was literally rockin’.
Lopez: The place was built on cliffs.
Whistler: It was the Depot Inn at Depot Bay. And we had so many people in there. They were taking speakers from their houses to add to the PA. It was kids, dogs, people, old, young, having such a good time. And the place had so many people in it, it was literally rockin’ because it was basically on stilts. And if you remember in ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ when they stole the boat, that’s Depot Bay.
Q: Vini went to Neptune High School with Garry, Southside, Ricky DeSarno and a few other Upstage regulars. Paul, where did you grow up?
Whistler: I grew up in Irvington, but I was back and forth all the time because I had relatives down here. My grandparents lived year round in Ocean Grove. And my mother’s parents had a summer bungalow in Long Branch, so I was always here anyway and finally moved down here in the ’60s. And then I had a business.
Q: When did you guys meet Garry?
Lopez: When we were in high school. We had a band called The Moment of Truth.
Whistler: I met Garry around the same time I met Vini. We were introduced by a woman named Lee Bishop, who worked for me. Garry and I were in bands together, but we never made past rehearsal.
Q: After all this time, how does it feel to be opening for Garry at the Pony?
Whistler: I’m just happy to see Garry.
Lopez: Yeah, me too.
Whistler: Garry’s produced me. And his wife at the time and me and mine, we were a foursome. We went everywhere for quite a while. We hung.
Lopez: I hung out with him and Southside in high school. We were all in the same boat: ‘Get down to the office’ (all laugh).
Whistler: Garry and I got along because we loved a lot of the same stuff, like records. We bonded over records. And, of course, Buddy Holly. We always had common ground. A lot of us bonded over those records.
Lopez: When we were in Moment of Truth, we played this gig up in Long Branch. Garry had just built this bass. I forget what song we were doing, but we had gone to see The Who at Brooklyn Fox Theatre up in New York. We were doing this song, and he just went nuts and busted that bass all to shit.
Whistler: He knew he could build another one tomorrow (laughs). Garry’s such a Buddy Holly fan. He had the reel-to-reel tape of the last things he ever recorded.
Lopez: I had so many records because of Buzzy (Lubinksy, the drummer-DJ son of Newark-based Savoy Records’ founder Herman Lubinsky). We got to go to the pressing plant. They’d be pressing Deep Purple, and they would press us Deep Purple in purple. Buzzy’s father liked me. He hated Buzzy, but he did like me (all laugh).
Whistler: We were all record collectors. Vini collected, Garry collected, Southside collected, Popeye (original Jukes drummer Kenny Pentifallo) collected. Everybody had great collections. Popeye’s basement was like a record store. He had the actual bins.
And then we started collecting instruments. It was like, ‘We need a Gibson on this.’
Q: How did you know Buzzy?
Lopez: When I was in eighth grade, I went to Holy Spirit School, right over yonder in Asbury. My friend, Augie Rioli, and I went to this teenage dance at the USO Club. We heard a band playing, but when we got inside, it wasn’t a band. It was Buzzy playing drums along with the record. He had two turntables and headphones on. And he did these teenage dances.
Then he gave us a job, sweeping up, carrying crates and drums into the car. Buzzy did all the dances, like at the Shark River Yacht Club. One night he did a show with the WMCA Good Guys and Cousin Brucie. Buzzy would do his thing when they took a break. Up comes this guy and hands Buzzy a record. He says, ‘I’m gonna sing this now.’ So he puts it on the turntable, cues it up, and picks up the sticks. The guy goes, ‘Hey, I don’t need any accompaniment. I’m just gonna sing along with the record.’ Buzzy says, ‘If you want to sing this song, I play drums. It’s on my turntable. If you want me to play this, I play drums.’
It was Van Morrison, and he was doing ‘Brown-Eyed Girl.’ He came with the WMCA Good Guys, the radio DJs. That was like ’66. I didn’t know who he was yet. He was just this little runt guy.
Q: Did Buzzy inspire you to play drums?
Lopez: Oh yeah. He reinforced me a couple of times to become a drummer. Then we went to a Brooklyn Fox show with (DJ) Murray the K, and Cream was playing. I got to stand behind Ginger Baker. I was looking up, going, ‘I wanna do that.’
Q: What were each of you doing before you came to The Upstage?
Lopez: I was playing with Sonny & the Starfires … and with Buzzy … Sonny & the Starfires were the house band at the Asbury Hulabaloo (teen club). But when we played the Hulabaloo in Middletown, we had to play outside. And when you played the Hulabaloo in Toms River, unless you were with Buzzy, somebody was going to crack your ass.
It wasn’t cohesive. But when The Upstage came around, that’s when it became cohesive … because everybody got to play. (Owner) Tom Potter was not discriminatory in what color you were or what you played and who you played it with. You did what he told you to do. He was the force that said, ‘OK, you play bass. You play with him.’ That’s jammin’. Anybody can go jam with their band that just rehearsed three songs.
Whistler: At that time, I had the only head shop around. I was keepin’ hours with The Inkwell, which was open until 6 a.m. I was the only place to buy papers and pipes and that kind of stuff anywhere besides New York City. It was the same business hours, so I didn’t get to the Upstage as often as I wanted to. Sometimes I would have to leave the store with someone else just to play. I would always get there late.
(Dawg Whistle keyboardist) John Mulrenan and I had a band called Rasputin and the Mad Monks. He was Rasputin, and I was the Mad Monk. I was playing keyboards, Farfisa organ, and he was the guitar player at the time. Our first gig was at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park in 1967.
Lopez: You know the same three drunks that were that night probably sat there until The Wonder Bar closed.
Q: The Wonder Bar is older than The Upstage?
Whistler: Way older. It opened in the ’20s.
Lopez: It used to be the Longest Bar in the World. It snaked around the place.
Q: How else was The Upstage different from the other places you had played?
Whistler: It wasn’t a gig.
Lopez: Yeah, it was just a place to hang out.
Whistler: Because of Tom and Margaret Potter. He would tell you who to play with.
Lopez: They had the jams in his living room late at night. Guitar players would get done with their gigs and go and congregate at their house on Friday or Saturday night. It was right by the Upstage, around the corner. That was where they got the idea to open the place up. They opened the Green Mermaid Coffeehouse with entertainment by the people who were jammin’ in their living room. It was all acoustic. I played the washboard in Albee’s Hired Hands.
Then they opened The Upstage above that. Steel Mill played there. And Dr. Zoom & the Sonic Boom. That was in between Steel Mill and (the Bruce Springsteen Band). Garry, Steven, Big Danny Gallagher and I all were in it.
Q: The Upstage closed in 1971, a year after the race riots in Asbury Park. Where was the place to play after The Upstage?
Whistler: The Student Prince.
Lopez: Mrs. Jay’s.
Whistler: Back then, the Pony was Mrs. Jay’s Beer Garden. And then it was a few other things before it was the Pony.
Lopez: The Roman Arches. I liked the jungle place on the corner.
Whistler: The African Room. I loved that place ever since I was a kid. It was on Kingsley on either Third or Fourth. It was a hotel. It was exotic. The décor was all African.
What was great about Asbury Park is that the whole place was full of hotels that all had music, even if they had just a piano player. Every hotel had a bar that had a band.
Q: What was the consensus among musicians when the Stone Pony opened? Was it just another club or was there a sense it might be something special?
Lopez: It was fun. Lord Gunner was one of the first bands to play there. The first version of Lord Gunner with two drummers, bass and guitar. The other drummer was Steve Schraeger. We had our drums set up so I could touch some of his, and he could touch some of mine. And we had Bones Boy, our skeleton, in the middle (laughs).
And then there was the Blackberry Booze Band. I got Southside his job with that band. Me, Clarence (Clemons) and Danny (Federici) had a house in North Long Branch. It’s a Mexican restaurant now, Casa Comida, but it was a nightclub. They used to play there, the Blackberry Booze Band, so when we were not touring, me and Clarence and maybe Danny would come and drink beers and sit and listen to them guys. Clarence would play with them. I’d play with them a little bit. One night I’m talking to (guitarist Paul) Dickler, and he’s saying, ‘Man, I wish we had a harmonica player.’ I was talking to John: ‘Not for nothin’, but you play harmonica. Why don’t you give him a call?’ And he did. Now he’s in the Blackberry Booze Band.
Q: Blackberry Booze Band became the Asbury Jukes?
Whistler: Steven got involved. Paul Dickler had a great sound. He was an excellent guitar player, and the Jukes wanted him, but he was always reluctant. He wanted to do other things. The one who ended up staying from the original Blackberry Booze Band was Popeye.
Lopez: David Meyers was in there for a little while.
Whistler: But they replaced him with ‘Doc’ (Alan) Burger. David didn’t want to stay without Dickler there. So the only one who was an original Blackberry that ended up staying was Popeye. And then they added horns and became the Jukes.
Lopez: Steven added the horns and coached Southside on how to do stuff. Him and Bruce helped Southside.
Whistler: Steven produced him. Afterward, I put Blackberry back together before the Wheels. After they were the Jukes, I was working in this club called the Stoney End. It used to be The Banjo Palace on Second Avenue in Long Branch. Moment of Truth used to play The Banjo Palace all the time … so it became The Stoney End. I was there a couple of nights a week … so I started putting different players together. And I got together with David Meyers and Paul Dickler, and the three of us started playing together. We got different drummers from here and there. We had ‘Big’ Bobby (Williams), and we would have had Popeye if he was not with the Jukes. So we start playing. I was booking the gigs and doing 90 percent of the vocals. And David would sing a song and Paul would sing a song. And we brought in George Meyer on keys and Bruce Stewart on drums. But George ended up going with Ian Hunter and then with Meat Loaf. We kept the name Blackberry Booze Band.
Lopez: Then (after the E Street Band) I was in The Shakes. Little Vinnie (Roslin, Steel Mill’s original bassist) was in that band. We took over the Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at the Pony.
Q: So that was around 1975, 1976. Then around 1978, 1979, Vini, you were in Lord Gunner, and Paul, you were doing the Wheels?
Whistler: We made up T-shirts: Summer Tour 1979, Paul Whistler & the Wheels and Lord Gunner. I found an original one and I gave it to Lance (Larson, Lord Gunner’s front man and current Wonder Bar co-owner) on his last birthday. The joke was that we went from the Fastlane to Pee Wee’s. That was the tour. Me and Schraeger pushing the equipment up the street (Fourth and Kingsley).
Q: So it was the Fourth Avenue tour?
Whistler: Yeah, it wasn’t even half a block (all laugh).
Vini and I always played together, even if it was just sitting around a table, like this, drinking a few beers and maybe smokin’ a joint. The thing with Vini and me is that we harmonize. We just sang together so well, no matter what we were doing. That was always our connection. It was always really about the vocal harmony between he and I. Vini has the perfect harmony voice for me.
Lopez: Yeah, we sing good together.
Q: What’s going to happen with Dawg Whistle next? Are you going to follow up the 2016 EP, ‘As Far As It Goes’ soon?
Lopez: He’s writing stuff.
Whistler: I’m writing all the time, so it’s just a matter of finding the time. Vin’s a busy guy. I have three dozen songs ready.
Two generations of Asbury Park drummers with Vini Lopez, right, and Biff Swenson of Yawn Mower
at Happy Mondays at The Wonder Bar. PHOTO BY BOB MAKIN
Q: Compare what the Asbury Park music scene was like in the 1960s and ’70s to what the scene is like now.
Lopez: Well, there’s no place like The Upstage. Let me start off with that. For local musicians, there is no place like that anywhere around.
There’s a lot of bands now. There were a lot of musicians then. There were a few bands, but there were nightclubs all up and down the coast where everybody could play. Everybody could play somewhere. There were a lot of bars. Well, now, there ain’t that many places for people to play. There’s a few around here and there. You can name them. It’s not like the old days. Now there’s a lot of bands … and they’re all trying to compete. There aren’t as many places for all that crap to happen. It just ain’t there.
Whistler: We had places to cut our teeth. They don’t really have that anymore. Everybody wants to come in and play for free: ‘Come on in on my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday for nothing and let me see how many people you’re going to bring in.’ Nobody builds a club to have a following. They all want you to bring in all the people.
COURTESY OF MITCH SLATER
Q: Did the Pony ask you that when they booked you to open for Garry?
Whistler: No. We know them on a personal level.
Lopez: We’re going to have a hundred guests, so we’re going to owe them $200 (all laugh).
Whistler: Kyle (Brendle) realized it was a natural fit to do that. We probably won’t work at the Pony again for another eight months or something.
We’re working in more of the Steel Mill songs and adding that to my original stuff and mixing that with the blues and R&B, and we call that ‘Jersey style.’
Lopez: The places we play, they’ll say, ‘Do Bruce!’ I say, ‘Well, here’s a Bruce Springsteen song from 1969.’ And they go, ‘Huh?’ And then we play ‘Back to Georgia.’
Whistler: Or ‘The Ballad of Jesse James.’
Lopez: At the (Upstage reunion) show, Bruce let me sing that song at the Paramount. When was the last time you saw Bruce Springsteen on stage and somebody’s singing one of his songs and him do harmony on it? He trusted me to do it. It was way awesome!
I said, ‘I’m going to sing and play one of your old songs.’ And he said, ‘Well, what song are you going to do?’ I said, ‘We’re going to do ‘The Ballad of Jesse James.’’ He goes, “I don’t know the words to that fuckin’ song. Do you know the words?’ I said, ‘Bruce, I do it with Gary (Cavico) all the time. He’s right over there.’ He said, ‘All right.’ And he let me sing it. He didn’t it at first, but then it came to him.
But he let me sing that. I don’t think he let Miami (Steve Van Zandt) sing one of his songs. It made me feel great.
Whistler: Me and him were singing on the microphone together, face to face.
Q: What were the other high points of that night, getting all those guys together again?
Lopez: For me there was a few. Being with guys that were E Street all in the same room without anybody else. Just us. That was cool.
Whistler: For me, it was getting to sing harmony with Bruce. I was glad it came off … because it’s not straight ahead. I was concerned about it, but it happened perfectly. And the only spot on the mic was with Bruce, so I took it. And we had a great time harmonizing. We were laughin’. I just had so much fun. I looked around, and everybody was having fun.
Lopez: That was some night. Just as ‘Johnny B. Goode’ was ending, I stepped on the chord, and it went, ‘Crunch!’ And Bruce looked at me, and he goes, ‘That was actually a good ending’ (all laugh).
Editor’s Note: This interview took place on May 1 just hours after the passing of Obediah “Obie” Dziedzic, pictured at far left at The Upstage with Steel Mill. Obie was a crucial supporter of the Asbury Park music scene, often assisting Bruce Springsteen well into the years of his greatest success, as well as John Eddie, who paid a loving tribute to his old friend on Facebook. Her memorial service will be 3 to 6 p.m. May 6 at Buckley Funeral Home, 509 2nd Ave., Asbury Park.
Jersey Shore-raised, Brooklyn-based Sharkmuffin guitarist-vocalist Tarra Thiessen and bassist-vocalist Natalie Kirch follow up their 2015 full-length debut, “Chartreuse,” with “Tsuki,” their second offering from Asbury Park’s Little Dickman Records. Not much has changed between records except drummers. For “Chartreuse,” Sharkmuffin used Patty Schemel of Upset and Hole, while “Tsuki” features Kim Deuss of Permission to Panic.
Otherwise, the psychedelic take on Ramones-flavored punk rock mixed with the trim tremolos of a bit of ’60s beach pop remains fairly similar but a little heavier and meatier. The vocals also are stronger, especially the harmonies.
“Puppy Love” stands out with Sharkmuffin sticking a cute crush into a raging blender of shoe-gazing grunge, math rock, girl-group classics and Hole-like sass, then pouring the resulting irony into a chilled and salted Margarita glass. The spiraling crunch of “Too Much Fun,” the embattled grunge of “Leather Gloves,” and the scorching, spacey howl of “Sully Is a Sharkmuffin” also are delicious treats.
Having celebrated the release of “Tsuki” on May 3 in Brooklyn with touring guitarist Chris Nunez and drummer Drew Adler, the Shore gals will return home to rock the Bond Street Complex in Asbury on May 4 with label mates The Off White before jumping the pond for a U.K. tour through the rest of the month.
The ever-busy Thiessen, also a member of Ex-Girlfriends and Kino Kimino, then will tour with the latter as an opener for Waaves. Whew!
Magic Mountain are a super group featuring a who’s who of ’90s New Brunswick bands, including Bionic Rhoda, Duochrome, kiaro skuro, as well as the veteran Jersey City outfit The Milwaukees. Many of the same influences color the quartet’s self-titled debut EP for front man Jeff Scavone’s Power Bunny 4x4 label. They most notably include ’80s alt-rock pioneers The Smiths and R.E.M. The echoing mope of the former and the sunny jangle of the latter make for an interesting dichotomy that is like an artistic and emotional tug of war and a musical version of yin and yang.
With layers of guitars that ring like bells around an earnest lyric and vocal, “Halls” is the most impressive of the EP’s six numbers. Other top tracks include the Cheap Trick-inspired power-pop of “Break of Day,” which artfully channels anger into two-minute-plus nugget, and The Who-on-XTC romp of “Both Suns.”
Magic Mountain will celebrate the release on May 6 at Pino’s in Highland Park with The RocknRoll HiFives and will return there to perform with Megan Jean and the KFB on May 25. In between, they’ll rock The Brighton Bar in Long Branch with Bar/None recording act Overlake and Don Giovanni recording act Secretary Legs.
Following the release of a Queens of the Stone Age tribute compilation and three 24 Hour Songwriting Challenges, the “Speak Into My Good Eye” music site will release “I’ll Be Around: A Tribute to Wilco” on May 5 to benefit The Project Matters. The New Jersey nonprofit works to further the creation of music with an emphasis on aspiring musicians aged 25 and younger. Artists are offered a network of industry advisors and mentors who lend their expertise in the areas of business, technical, performance and emotional support.
Exclusively streaming above is Wilco’s “Ashes of American Flags” by Mike Herz, a nationally touring folk singer-songwriter from New Jersey. “‘Ashes of American Flags’” hit me pretty hard the first time I heard it years ago,” Herz said in an email. “From the mundane observances (diet coca cola and filling up bags of leaves) to the heavier thoughts about truth in lies and being born again, the song seems to be refreshingly honest. There are no unnecessary words or messing around, and the title phrase seems suddenly more poignant than ever, given where we are at.”
The Asbury Park punk band Lost in Society will release a limited-edition red flexi single with two new songs that will be supported by a full U.S. tour. Presale orders are available at https://goo.gl/31yDGB. Tour dates will include shows with Face to Face on May 11 at Knitting Factory, Brooklyn; May 12, Once Ballroom, Somerville, Mass.; May 13, House of Independents, Asbury Park, and May 14, Rock and Roll Hotel, Washington, D.C. Then Lost in Society head west for shows in Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, Utah, Boise, Seattle, Portland, Reno, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. On May 28, Lost in Society will participate with their pals The Bouncing Souls in Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival in Las Vegas. The tour then will route south to Austin, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Charlotte before heading home on June 23 for a show at the Brighton Bar in Long Brach with Nothington …
The quirky New Brunswick ensemble A Halo Called Fred will celebrate their 25th anniversary May 5 to 7 at Steampunk World’s Fair at the Radisson Hotel Piscataway, 21 Kingsbridge Road, Piscataway. Other highlights of the world’s largest steam-punk event will include tango lessons, steam-punk arts and crafts workshops, tea parties, game rooms, aerial art, a poetry slam, kid’s activities, a special burlesque dinner, D.A.R.Karaoke, Steampunk Yoga, and other musical performances by Valentine Wolfe, The Long Losts, Platform One, and Lenino. Three-day passes are $66 at http://steampunkworldsfair.com and $80 at the door; $75 and $100 for VIP tickets, and $30 and $40 for kids. Single-day passes at the door only are $35, $50 for VIP and $18 for kids on Friday, $50, $60 and $25 on Saturday, and $25, $30 and $13 on Sunday …
Well, the alt-rock band The Afraid Brigade were supposed to release their debut EP on May 6 at Old Franklin Schoolhouse in Metuchen. The release has been postponed, but there still is going to be a banger of a show going on with ManDancing, Lowlight and Bombshell Winter, a new punk trio featuring the Linden brothers of Rose Boulevard and Jeff Linden and the Black Spot Society …
If you were at the Hub City Music Festival show on April 22 at the Court Tavern, you know you were treated to stellar performances by The Turnbucklers, RocknRoll HiFives, Lowlight, Disposable and Comb the Desert. If you missed it, Comb the Desert have dropped a little demo of what you missed with a live single of “Oh, My Brother” from the show at https://combthedesert.bandcamp.com/track/oh-my-brother-live-court-tavern-4-22-17. Oh, brother, can you spare a download? You will not be disappointed...
The long-awaited White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave., Jersey City, will celebrate its grand opening 4:30 p.m. May 5 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony feature municipal dignitaries followed by a free show with local indie rockers The Rye Coalition and Sunshine & the Rain. Other upcoming shows include Buck Cherry on July 6. Now a state-of-the-art concert venue, the historic hall built in 1910 by Polish immigrants is famous for its beautiful, hand-crafted stained-glass ceiling skylights and as the home of the nationally ranked, Bob Hurley-coached St. Anthony High School basketball team …
In celebration of a big year for women in music, half of the 21st annual Black Potatoe Music Festival will feature female solo or female-fronted acts, including about 80 percent of the line up on Saturday, July 15. From July 13 to 16, the festival will feature from as far away as South Africa, as well as from California, New Mexico, Mississippi, and a dozen other states. They include KC Cary, who will celebrate the release of his latest CD, Karl Dietel Five, Mike Montrey, The End of America, Experiment 34, Scott Sharrard Band, Bruce Katz Band, Pat O’Shea, Dwight & Nicole, Stuff Brothers, Caren Kennedy, The Matt Angus Thing, Nalani & Sarina, Tenia, Joe Ike, Belle House Band, Halley DeVestern, ilyAimy, LO8, Danielle Miraglia, Elaine Romanelli, Olivia Frances, Katie Henry, Lisa Brigantino, Karen Dahlstrom, Collins Brothers, Ellis Paul, Wily Porter, Gregg Cango, Sharrar Sisters, Jann Klose, Jenny Cat, Max Hatt & Edda Glass, Michaela McClain, Spook Handy and more. Tickets are $25, $40 for July 16, and $90 for a four-day pass …
Caroline Romanelli Presents has expanded to present shows on May 6 at Romanelli’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, her Pop’s shop in Madison, with Cold Weather Company, Above the Moon, and Little Engineers, and on Fridays throughout the summer season at Scarlet Pub in New Brunswick. The Friday shows will start May 19 with Map Of Rome, Feeny, Rebecca Emont, and Three Date Theory. Romanelli currently offers shows on Sundays at Scarlet Pub, as well as a Wednesday open mic. The May 7 show will fuse comedy and hip-hop with comics Patrick Lonergan, Eric Knittel, Danish Maqbool and Chelsea Moroski and the music of Murdock, Logan Bros, Max Lowe and ROEBUS ONE …
Jersey Shore piano great Norman Seldin will present “Where the Piano is the Attraction” from 7 to 10 p.m. May 6 at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theater in West Long Branch. The show will open with three young up-and-coming pianists Nicholas Budny, 9; Taksh Gupta, 12, and Charlie Liu, 15, all of whom have won honors in Steinway Society & Golden Key competitions, plus performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City. Seldin, the founder of the Joyful Noize band that launched the late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons’ career, first will appear solo, then will be joined by Vance Villastrigo on a “Dueling Pianos" set featuring everything from Billy Joel to New Orleans R&B to original songs. From Bach to rock and New Jersey to New Orleans, the keys will sizzle on two all-American hand-crafted Steinway & Sons Model D - 9' concert grand pianos supplied by Jacobs Music Co. …
Bidding for The Asbury Park Music Foundation’s Live Auctions page is in progress for E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg’s DW Collector's Series drum set, the opportunity to be a character in a James Patterson mystery novel, and a framed Bruce Springsteen print signed by photographer Danny Clinch. A new auction will be coming soon featuring a guitar signed by the many players who jammed at the recent Upstage reunion at the Paramount Theatre. The guitar was played by former E Street Band member David Sancious and also features signatures by Little Steven and Southside Johnny …
Having recently presented Baked, Lost Boy ?, and UNI at The Saint, CoolDad Music has a slew of slammin’ shows coming over the next couple of months in Asbury Park. Check out Dentist, American Trappist and Toy Cars on May 5 at Asbury Park Yacht Club; Fruit & Flowers, prim, and Algebra II, May 12, The Asbury hotel; Exmaid, Nervous Triggers, School Drugs, Finchler, and Free Children of the Earth, June 3, Asbury Park Music Foundation; Roadside Graves and El Noordzo, June 4, The Anchor’s Bend, and Happy Mondays with Dentist, Overlake and Psychic Teens, June 19, The Wonder Bar …
Don’t miss Jersey guitar great Anthony Krizan on May 6 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen. It’ll be his last time there for a while, and he’s performing some new songs with a horn section consisting of Benjamin Clapp and Chris Fitzgerald. The players featured on his 2016 solo debut LP, “Dust and Bone,” also will be performing with him. They are drummer John Hummel, keyboardist John Korba, bassist Muddy Shews. Opening will be HollowPoint.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.mycentraljersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com.