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Recap of the Upstage Radio Benefit

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- February 11, 2006 - As the season's first major snowstorm barreled through the tri-state area, the benefit for Upstage Radio took place at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park in front of a crowd of die-hard music fans who were treated to an exceptional night of music.

The show started shortly after 5pm with "Jersey Storytellers", a special look at several artists in an acoustic setting. One by one, the artists took turns telling stories and playing tunes. The set kicked off with Joe Harvard who proceeded to tell an amusing but very long story about his past in Boston and Ohio and how he came to Asbury. Afterwards Smiles Again (formerly of Green Machine) joked about setting up a short story instead of a book. When Joe's turn came around again he promised to try keeping it to a novella that time!

The "Jersey Storytellers" segment featured Joe Harvard, Smiles Again, Jason Mather, Brian Amsterdam, Tommy Anton, and JPAT. It was set up somewhat in the style of the popular "Writers In The Raw" series and managed to evoke many of the old WITR memories - especially during moments like when JPAT interrupted a Brian Amsterdam story. The two musicians share a long history together and it was moments like that which made the segment truly special.

Mike Black gave the introductions for the Jersey Storytellers and served as host for the night. He also took tons of great pictures throughout the show.

At 7pm, the night kicked into full band mode with a wonderful set by the Jon Caspi Band - one of the most popular artists played on Upstage Radio. He was followed by Meagan Brothers who did a solo acoustic set. Divine Sign was up next and showed why they're starting to make a great name for themselves in the scene.

An incredible stretch of music was led off by Cool Days End into Steven Baggs and his band. Steven Baggs was making his first appearance in Asbury Park and we thought he might be the surprise hit of the night and he did not disappoint. The New York City performer is shopping around for a label and with the way his band played on Saturday night, I'd say they just might find themselves in a bidding war shortly.

Tony Tedesco, one of four Upstage Magazine writers to perform during the night, was up next and played several of his recently written tunes - some of which are currently being played in rotation at Upstage Radio.

After Tony came the headliner of the night - Val Emmich. It was a hybrid band of sorts for Val with another guitarist and a drummer using a very basic drum kit. Val's set showed why so many people around New Jersey have their fingers crossed for the artist. He was totally on! Val played several cuts from his debut record for Epic and was brought back for an encore where he played "Absolutely Still", one of his newer songs. I've seen Val about a dozen times now, and this was one of my favorite performances by far.

Aeria Records, Agency (formerly known as Republic) kept the music going with a high energy set comprised of songs from their soon-to-be-released debut record. Brian Saint and the boys continue to show that the Jersey Shore has a much more diverse mix of sounds that it gets credit for. The band will return to the Wonder Bar on March 4th for the official record release party.

After Agency was supposed to be The Successful Failures, a side project for Mick Chorbo of the Dipsomaniacs, but the snowstorm forced them to cancel. The band is was coming from the Trenton/Philly area, which had the storm long before the shore did. Amazingly, the benefit only had one cancellation on a bill of nearly 17 artists!

Maybe Pete followed with an explosive set - something that has become the norm for them. It had a little of everything from the classic Maybe Pete tunes to Frankie playing guitar on the merch table (and breaking one of the tables!) to setting up the highlight of the night - a closing cover of Neil Young's "Rocking In The Free World" with a mini-all star jam. On stage along with the band was Rick Barry, Smiles Again, Brian Saint and Meagan Brothers. You really had to see and hear Meagan's blistering guitar work to fully comprehend just how awesome it was. Neil Young would not only have been proud but would have bowed his head in awe.

Rick Barry stayed on stage to close out the night with a wonderful set as the snow began really falling. The crowd had thinned out quite a bit, but there were still dozens of people as Rick took us to bar closing time. The Asbury Music Award winner's set was a great way to finish 7 hours of music. All in all, the benefit was a tremendous success. The show was set up to help raise money for Upstage Radio to pay for construction and electrical costs associated with a fire at the end of 2005. In addition to those who came to the show and those who purchased raffle tickets, funds are still being raised as people who wanted to see the show but could not due to the storm have been mailing checks and sending money through Paypal. If you would like to make a donation, here is the information to do so:

Mailing address: Upstage Magazine, PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762

Click here to see photos from the show by Mike Black. And click here for photos from Maureen Nevin of

For more by this author, click here

State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
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
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.

"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
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!

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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