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REVIEW: King of the Blues Returns To The Saint

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On July 27th, the Saint in Asbury Park welcomed back the newly crowned "King of the Blues" - Matt O'Ree - with a great night of blues and power rock performances.

Robert from the band Crash started off the night with a nice mix of singer-songwriter tunes ending with a good cover of "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles. He was solo tonight due to a bit of a medical emergency. The band is normally a trio that just started playing out about a month ago. Keep an eye out for Crash because it seems like they've got some intelligent and lyrically strong songs.

The Bruce Wacker Band was up next. I had heard this band's name around so I was glad to be able to catch them live. And they did not disappoint! They came out guitars blazing like a late 60s power trio. If you like classic rock bands like Cream you should check these guys out. Their set was a cool blend of heavy blues-infused rock and roll with tasteful solos and straight-ahead in-your-face guitar playing. While watching them I started wondering why power trios always seem to rock harder than full bands?

Bruce Wacker and his band showed they could easily turn it up and down during a bluesy number that roamed from mellow blues to power rock and back featuring the work of Bruce Wacker on guitar. This guy can definitely play! I liked how his solos were strong but always stayed within the song - complimenting it rather than dominating the music. It's a fine line that many bands cross too often in my opinion.

After a stellar set of originals the Bruce Wacker Band closed with a nice cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows" by the Beatles. A great ending to a great set.

Following Wacker was Matt O'Ree, the headliner of the night, who started off with "Coming Home" from his CD. With recent wins in the Acoustic Showdown and Guitar Center's "King of the Blues" competitions, Matt seems to have confidence bursting out of every cell in his body right now. If you ever wish you had seen someone like Stevie Ray Vaughn on the way up you have to see Matt live. He's beyond being the real deal. He's proof that music is still an art form; proof that music can still make you gasp in wonder; and proof that genius can still come from Jersey!

The blues just come so naturally for Matt. He makes it look easy even during the most intense guitar solos. He's a natural. It's great to see him starting to make a name on the national stage and things like winning the "King of the Blues" competition may lead him to bigger and bigger things. Catch him in a local bar while you still can. Someday you'll be able to impress someone by telling them you remember seeing Matt O'Ree back when he started.

Watching the crowd love Matt's set (and the entire night) made me wonder why it is that the Jersey Shore loves the blues but has always had so much of a difficult time keeping blues clubs alive. Maybe the idea of having clubs like the Saint feature a blues night once a week would work out better than a pure blues club. Regardless, the blues and summer go hand and hand and tonight was a great night of blues music.

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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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