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Outside The Box Hits Upon Winning Formula

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- House bands at The Stone Pony are part of a pretty interesting history. Some have gone on to get major label record deals or regularly jammed with the Jersey Shore's top musicians or even wound up performing stadium shows themselves, but whoever holds the title knows they are part of something special. Outside The Box, the current placeholder, is not only building upon the club's history, but finding new ways to continue the story. And on Wednesday, August 17, another chapter was born...

I arrived at the Pony just as the band was playing their first song. Everywhere I looked I saw people, but largely unfamiliar faces. This was not the typical Wednesday night crowd comprised of Asbury Park regulars. These were people hoping to see a little of that Stone Pony magic. Outside The Box was continuing their trend of playing a complete album side from one of the albums that first inspired them as musicians and tonight's choice was a good one: "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle" by Bruce Springsteen.

Now, it's easy to say people came hoping to catch a glimpse of Mr. Springsteen, but this was the first show in Asbury Park where I can honestly say I don't think that was the case. These people came to HEAR Bruce's music. They didn't scream "Bruuuuucccceee!" throughout the night and I'd bet few people, if any, expected Springsteen to show. These were his fans, but it was the idea of hearing this wonderful album performed from start to end that brought them out to the club.

Sometimes I forget just how amazing this album is when performed live. This might have been Bruce's zenith when it comes to musical creativity. The songs combine the power of rock and roll with the smooth stylings of jazz. Performed live, the songs practically beg for improvisation. Thankfully, OTB embraced the songs and chose to infuse their own stamp on the tunes rather than attempt to play them note for note.

As a fan of the E Street Band, the show also provided a glimpse of what the music might sound like in the post Clarence Clemons era. It was hard not to think of the Big Man when it was time for the sax to take over. Nevertheless, the band did a stellar job with such classic numbers as "Incident on 57th Street", "Rosalita", and "Kitty's Back". As a bonus, the band not only played the complete album, but performed "Thundercrack" with Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez (the original E Street drummer) helping out on vocals.

OTB has definitely found an interesting angle for themselves with the perfect album side series. While many bands trying something like this would be walking a fine line of being known solely as a cover band, I think it works for Outside The Box. The band's original tunes stem from an unabashed love of 70s rock and roll. In fact, there's almost a sense that OTB songs are what Graham Parker would have written had he lived along the Shore. When the originals are played before and after these classic albums, they fit in perfectly. Instead of being a cover band inserting their own songs, the show actually makes their originals stand out.

OTB deserves full credit for making this night work. They not only work with a good publicist who made sure the press was aware of the show, but did some national promotion on E Street Radio (Sirius). When hundreds of people turn out on a Wednesday night, it dispels the idea that nobody will go to shows anymore. Their success proves that bands may have to work a bit harder at promoting shows these days, but people will come out... even on a Wednesday.

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NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
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Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
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Idle Wave To Hold Record Release Party At Asbury Park Brewery
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"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
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PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
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Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
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Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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