New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Phanphest Takes A Leap Of FAITH

By Gary Wien


Every music scene has them. They're the people who basically make the engine run; they're the talent scouts, the marketing gurus, and the music fans who love music so much that they make it their jobs. It's their passion that makes them successful and it's great to see them get bigger and bigger. Drew Wajnert and Phanphest Entertainment are the perfect example.

Drew Wajnert moved to the Jersey Shore about a decade ago and banged around at various jobs. He started going out to live shows on a regular basis and eventually started Phanphest Entertainment a few years later. Unlike most promoters, Drew was neither a musician nor a friend of the bands. He just recognized the jam bandniche and had a knack for spotting talent.

"It's been pretty much learning on the fly," said Drew Wajnert. "Just thinking outside the box, looking at what was wrong with the festival industry and the music industry in general. Things like high ticket prices and convenience factors. I used to go to festivals all of the time and I'd open up a portajohn and they would be digusting. So, one of the things we said was let's get an ample amount of portajohns and get some signs on them so there are ones just for women and ones for mothers and children only. People said they had never seen that at a festival before. We'd get enough of them so people would know we cared and they'd tell others that it was a great festival.

"I saw specific festivals kind of degrading as more and more people came out each year. Instead of making the sound system great or improving the facilities people were slacking on it. That's what we're trying to fight against."

Phanphest Entertainment started out as a backyard tradition in late 2002 as Phan Phest 1.0; an intimate group of friends from The Gathering of the Vibes message boards were encouraged to gather on one acre of property for a barbeque, some keg beer, and some great music. Attendees were invited to camp out overnight on the property. Everybody had a great time, and the feedback encouraged the group of friends to do it again six months later but this time with two days of music.

Phan Phest 1.5 was held in May of 2003. Featuring two bands on both days, as well as many other acts, the backyard party maxed out the little acre with 62 tents. A larger, extended group of friends gathered for the event and were pleased with the results. But, it was pretty clear that the event had to move.

Friends helped make Phan Phest 2.0 happen in October of 2003, and realize the dream of a three-day music festival, so the event was moved to 2 acres. Thirteen bands played over 3 days on a stage that the company constructed.

The following May, Phanphest put together a festival featuring 22 bands over a 4 acres area. This was the show that truly launched the company and solidified its future. The festival was such a success that Phanphest began searching for a larger location to work with. They began producing indoor festivals and regular weekly shows in Asbury Park, NJ. Steadily, they were assembling a roster of acts dedicated to the Phanphest mission. Acts that will now be rewarded by a spot in Phanphest 3.0 this August.

Phanphest 3.0 will be held at Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY. This was the location for The Gathering of the Vibes for the last several years. When that festival decided to move on, Phanphest eagerly moved their festival to the location.

"It's 200 plus acres of property," said Wajnert. "We're shooting for 3000 people. Our vision for it is to be family friendly. We're going to welcome Deadheads and Phishheads with kids who want to bring them to a safe environment. There's a great security solution that's already built in and they have existing facilities. This is the total package. It allows me to be the talent buyer and just focus on the production."

The festival features jam bands from several different markets. There are acts from Vermont, Massachuesetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey - especially those who have worked with Phanphest Entertainment before from either previous festivals or their weekly shows.

"We wanted to stay loyal to the bands who have been loyal to us and give them their due on that property," he added. "Where Juggling Suns has played the last two years at The Gathering of The Vibes, they've played at 4 o'clock. Some of their fans and people who wanted to see them for the first time were stuck in hours of traffic and missed them. We figure that if we shoot for 3,000 people instead of 15,000 coming and creating traffic we can have everyone into the festival much easier."

Some of the local bands for Phanphest 3.0 include Turtle Soup, Karmic Juggernaut, Unexplained Bacon, One Eyed Jack, Natural Breakdown, Scarecrow Collection and Juggling Suns. And one of the coolest things Phanphest is doing this year is providing a battle of the bands starting every Wednesday in June at the Saint in Asbury Park. The winner of each round (out of 16 bands) will move on to the finals on Wednesday, July 18th at the Saint and the ultimate winner will get to open the festival.

Wajnert admitted hitting some resistance from band managers and agents towards this year's festival. As Phanphest sought bigger and bigger names, the people being contacted wanted to see a killer festival lineup before committing. Thankfully, they had plenty of local talent more than willing to be part of the festival.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it a struggle, it's taking a leap of faith every day," said Wajnert. "It's waking up early, keeping my nose to the grindstone. We haven't had a huge success yet but we're doing it for the sake of the live music fan. In a couple of years, I'd love to be a major player on the scene."

With 200 acres to work with, ads in major jam band publications like Relix, and another solid lineup of artists Phanphest already is a major player on the scene and they're only going to get bigger.



For more by this author, click here






Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.


Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!










Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

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.