(ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On July 20th, the Saint welcomed back Jen Chapin to Asbury Park. She not only brought her husband Stephen Crump with her but her new baby was in the house as well! Supporting her on the bill was All Things New, Kasey Sheik and Divine Sign. It was one of the most anticipated shows of the summer at the Saint and it was worth the wait.
All Things New kicked off the evening with an interesting blend of rock, funk and 80s beats. The band shows promise as they straddle the line between jam band and straight rock and roll. They seemed to be at their best when they just let loose as they did with their next to last number. It was a nice free-flowing jam that was perfect for a hot summer night.
Jen Chapin followed with songs largely from her new album, Ready, which was released in July. She ran through tracks from the CD like "Strip It Bare", "Election Day", "Ready", "Goodbye", and "Let It Show". Cuts from 2004's Linger included "Little Hours" and "Manchild".
Chapin's music is a wonderful blend of jazz, folk and rock and roll. It's too jazzy to be called rock but a bit too rock to satisfy jazz purists. But together it's unmistakable. Jen is not just another member of a famous musical family, she is truly a brilliant and unique artist in her own right and the band is the perfect compliment to her words. Between the steady bass and the slick guitar solos, the music is sultry, sexy and timeless.
I've gotta say that I simply love watching Stephen Crump play his upright bass. His mouth never stops working - humming off the notes about to come. It's almost as if the notes are out there floating in the air just waiting for him to grab them and bring them back down to Earth.
Some highlights from the set included "Goodbye" - a song about moving on from the beach home her family owned for over 30 years; "Let It Show" - about her new child who is currently on tour with her. Showing the natural instincts of a performer, the baby let out a big cry heard across the club when mentioned from the stage; performances of "Manchild" and "Little Hours" from her last album and "Election Day".
"A lot of crazy things have happened in the last 5 years," said Jen Chapin before launching into "Election Day". "I'm talking about torturing people in the name of freedom. We're not allowed to talk about such things. Don't watch what you say!"
Kasey Sheik and her band were up next. The band plays bawls out rock and roll with Kasey belting away on vocals.
"I'm from Brick," she said. "Is anybody here from Brick? Nobody's ever from Brick. It's like nobody's ever from Florida." But to prove her Brick cred she wore the t-shirt from her youth soccer days in the township -- a shirt that once came down to her legs now barely fit her.
Kasey, sister of Duncan Sheik, has an almost operatic voice that contrasts well with the rock and roll backbeat behind her. The band plays throughout the tri-state area and will almost certainly be playing more dates along the Shore in the future. Be sure to check them out when they return.
Closing out the night was Divine Sign.
Ever since they added members to become a full-fledged band, Divine Sign's music has grown from the harmonies of Kerri and Lindsay into a top-notch rock band. The music is bigger and more powerful than when performed as a duo. Some songs will flat out surprise longtime fans of the duo. The addition of thundering bass, drums and lead guitar virtually renders the songs as brand new.
If you've only seen Divine Sign perform as a duo you need to see just how different the full band sound is.
To see photos from the show, go to:
And, in this case, different is good? very good.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.