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REVIEW: Will Hoge at the Saint

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) - On Saturday, August 5th Will Hoge returned to the Saint on a bill that also featured Rick Barry & The Mourning After and Almost There. People have been raving about Will Hoge's shows for years and after seeing him live it's easy to see why. It was an enormously fun night with great sets from all three acts, but Hoge's set might have been one of the best I've seen this year.

Almost There from Ocean Township kicked off the night. Dressed up in slick suits (thank God the heat wave broke the day before) they blazed through a rather energetic set of rock and roll tunes that had a solid pop rock base. A cover of the Beatles somewhat missed the mark but the band's originals were pretty solid. Speaking of the suits, are we experiencing some sort of Jersey Shore 60s image revival going on with Status Green and now Almost There both dressing up even during hot summer shows? Both bands have a serious 60s influence too. It's like Liverpool has taken over!

Rick Barry & The Mourning After followed. Well, actually a couple members of Rick's band couldn't make it so it was more like a "Rick Barry & Friends" show. Even with a makeshift band, it certainly didn't sound like one.

Rick opened with a solo performance of "Courage For A Rainy Day" - the song which was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for song of the year. He then brought the band on stage for the rest of the night. As the club began to fill, the crowd somewhat resembled an "Asbury-palooza" of sorts. The local music scene was well represented through member of Days Awake, Status Green, Woodfish, Maybe Pete, Last Perfect Thing, Divine Sign, and Agency.

Didn't anybody else have a gig on a Saturday night?

It was an interesting set from Mr. Barry. Probably due to the makeshift band, but this was the closest I've ever seen to a "Greatest Hits" night from him. Normally, he's debuting several songs per show. Tonight, he focused on the songs he's most known for. There were killer versions of "The Vixen" (a song that sounds a million times better with a band behind him), "Will You Be My Whore" (which probably appeared the earliest in a set I've ever seen Rick play it), "I've Got Your Number", "Wasteland" (which is my favorite Rick Barry song when he's doing a full band show), "Broken English" and "Stupid American Song".

I swear someday I'm gonna try convincing Rick to hire 20 beautiful models for a big show to sing backup on "Broken English". Maybe have them dancing in a steel cage - yeah, steel cages and bikinis! All I know is that it would be guaranteed to grab at least a few dozen new fans.

The great Will Hoge closed out the night. I'd been hearing tales of his Saint shows for years and finally got the chance to see him live. Let's just say that everything I was told was true. He truly is a spectacular live performer. And it was one of the most fun sets I've seen in a long time. The band reminds me of the first time I saw the Black Crowes on tour in the late 80s. They have the energy and passion of the Rolling Stones and the gritty raspyness of the Crowes. Hoge even sounds a bit like Chris Robinson.

Some highlights included "Man Who Killed Love" and "Pocketful of Change" off of his most recent CD and several cover tunes that rocked the house. The band did a very trippy cover of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" - it kind of sounded how I would imagine Eric Burdon would have done it in the 60s. A wonderful cover of "Money (That's What I Want)" took the party to a new level, but it was the surprise of Van Halen's "Jump" that made the evening complete. Apparently "Jump" is one of the songs Will Hoge and his band fool with during soundchecks and always threatened to do live. With Russell on lead vocals, "Jump" was one of those moments you just had to see.

With his choice of covers it's easy to see why people have compared a Will Hoge show to an early Bruce Springsteen show. Both seem to enjoy taking classic songs that you know by heart but probably haven't heard it a while and simply have fun jamming with them on stage. On this night, it looked every bit like Will Hoge was having as much fun as the audience was.

Two people that weren't having much fun were from the Asbury Park Fire Marshall department who came to the club halfway through Hoge's set. Interesting to see them on a Saturday night, but their timing couldn't have been better as Adam Weisberg, the co-owner of the Saint and the club's legal arm, was in the house. Adam answered their questions and had them on their way within a few minutes. Another disaster avoided!

If you've ever wondered how a tiny club like The Saint gets people like Will Hoge to make a stop through town, Hoge offered up a hint tonight. He told a little story about when he first put the band together he was playing in New York City and needed additional places to play. A booking agent told him about the Saint and it wound up being one of the first places they played in the area. He then personally thanked Scott Stamper for giving him that chance. The loyalty so many artists show to Scott and the Saint is why the club is able to continually bring big names to town.

For an encore Will Hoge introduced a song that should appear on their next CD. It was a beautifully soulful number written from a woman's perspective. Hoge said the inspiration came from listening to an awful lot of Aretha Franklin on the road. And with that, the enormously fun night came to a close. From party songs to bluesy numbers to straight rock and roll, Will Hoge and his band did it all. If you've never seen him live, make sure to catch him next time he rolls through town. The cult is growing bigger each time...

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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

View all events

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