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ROCK ON! This Week's Sound Bites...1/28/16

By Danny Coleman

originally published: 01/28/2016

"WFIL AM,""Famous 56," "Philly Gold," "WFIL Dynamite," are all synonymous with one of the hottest radio stations in a major market city during the time when AM radio was king, FM was in its infancy and "Radio Personalities" were known as DJs or "Jocks." That city was Philadelphia, PA and the station; none other than WFIL 56 AM. 


"FIL" as it was known, wasn't always at the top of the tower so to speak; the station's ratings were abysmal and the format had the station firmly entrenched in last place among terrestrial radio outlets in the Philly market. The story goes that media mogul Walter Annenberg, who owned the station, the local TV station and both major city newspapers, was approached at a party and told how poor the programming was at WFIL. This apparently agitated the station king pin so much that he ordered sweeping changes and when those changes failed; he fired all of his decision makers except for three, hired a consultant, switched the format to rock and the ascent up the charts began.  


Jim O'Brien, Dan Donovan and Glen Barton became household names and if you're over the age of 50, the music from the station's "Golden Years" may still evoke memories; perhaps like none other can or ever will.Thanks to a group of South Jersey musicians; those years along with the magic are being recreated as they've put together a show focusing on the music, the jingles, the history and even a classic commercial or two that's guaranteed to transport those in attendance to a different time and place. 

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"I've had the idea for quite some time," says drummer and originator Chuck Calcese. "I wanted to assemble a band to pay tribute, in my opinion, to the greatest time in music history; 1966-1974. The problem was; how many other people shared my same sentiment?" So Chuck began asking around and in his words found people's reactions to be "Overwhelmingly positive." 


Buoyed by this response, he next set out to assemble a supporting cast; one which shared his verve for the project. "My next step was finding a band who shared the same passion as me because I knew this was going to be a lot of work. I ran the idea past my current band mate Frank Clayton and he suggested that we create more of a show atmosphere. A DJ on stage, announcing songs, playing jingles, etc; with these two ideas I knew we had a winner." 


Bass player Clayton became a time traveler as he immediately recalled memories from his youth and instantly fell in love with the idea. "It was April of 2015 when Chuck reached out to me as I was walking into theBeachcomber Bar in Seaside; I listened intently as he talked about the music of the times. I flashed back to my times at the Yardville Swim Club when I was a kid listening to WFIL on the AM radio that they had there. I remember having my own transistor radio and that particular electronic smell that they all had. The more Chuck talked about the concept, I couldn't help but think about doing something bigger than just being another bar band playing oldies; this had to have a show aspect to it. I started researching WFIL on the internet and I found so many sound tracks on You Tube of the DJs of  the time and this gave me the idea of recreating a radio show experience where the songs would be introduced through the DJ talking over them and the outros just like a real radio broadcast with commercials and station identifications as well." 


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Like Calcese, Clayton's next thought was on how to assemble the right cast of characters. "We had the concept, now we needed the players," said Frank. "Chuck and I reached out to our other band mate, keyboard player Vince Civale and the three of us became the core of the WFIL band. The music was diverse though and we needed musicians who were also diverse." That diversity first manifested itself in the form of Rachel Rocco; a female vocalist who Clayton has a working relationship with. "I knew we needed a female vocal, it was apparent from day one; the music called for it. I've been working with Rachel who is such a great vocalist in other projects so I called her and asked if she'd be interested. Fortunately for us she accepted and to her credit and talent she's learned a lot of songs that she had never even heard before. "My second thought was that we needed a utility player; one who could play a couple of instruments and was able to play a variety of styles. My first thought for the position was Bud Belviso. I've seen Bud perform with Tom Reock at the Kelsey Theater and was always very impressed with his ability to play both lead guitar and keyboards as well as sing; Bud and I had also worked on a past project together and I knew that he would be a great fit. We also needed a rhythm guitarist and after struggling to find a good fit; Chuck recommended Steve Guarino who was more than willing to join the group. The last piece of the band was the DJ personality; my first and only call was to Danny Coleman. Danny has emceed many shows and tributes and is the host of "Rock On Radio" and along with his percussion ability and his gift of gab; the band was set."


Now that the music makers were in place, the music itself and the show had to to be chosen and crafted. In an effort to see what worked and what didn't, Clayton and the band began building a song catalog of classics; some forgotten ("To Sir With Love"and some not so much ("Summer In The City"). "We created a list of songs," says Clayton, "A list and then we started banging away at them and developing the show aspect. I don't think any of us anticipated how complicated it would become; we use spread sheets to keep track of who is playing what instrument, where and when. It became more involved once we added the proper harmonies, station breaks, commercials and the talk ups before and after the songs. We actually record and review every rehearsal so as to help with scripting the show." 


"So our journey started about six months ago in August of 2015," stated Calcese. The first test comes this Saturday January 30 at the Ivy Tavern in Hamilton, NJ. We've put together some good sounds and have some cool ideas to enhance the show; stay tuned for the reviews!" 


Adding to the cast is one of the area's best, Christopher "Stoney" Moore handling the lighting and opening act Honey Spot Blvd's Rusty DiPasquale carrying the load of sound man. Both men play a vital role in the success of the show as their timing must be spot on given the intricacies of the script. 


"I always wanted to be part of a show where there was a  sitting audience," explained Clayton. "This show is a dry run to see where we stand and where we need to fix and take things next. Ultimately we'd like to present it in a theater or a dinner/theater environment with a grand plan of more media and facts and a bigger presentation." 


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The show kicks off at 10 p.m. at the Ivy Tavern located at 3108 South Broad Street in Hamilton. Local favorites Honey Spot Blvd. will get the crowd revved up and then the WFIL Band takes the stage at approximately 10:45 p.m. The show admission is free and promises to be a unique evening of entertainment. 

That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!
Amalfi's Restaurant
146 Lawrenceville-Pennington Rd. Lawrenceville
(609) 912-1599
Fri. 8:30 p.m. John Savage & Classic Rockers
Sat. 8:30 p.m. Papa Delux
Amarones Windsor Inn
29 Church St. Windsor
(609) 448-7144
 Fri. 8 p.m. Smoked Ice
Sat. 8 p.m. Sounds of The Street
Blend Bar & Bistro
911 Highway 33, Hamilton
(609) 245-8887
Tues. 8 p.m. Triviajam 
Backstage at Championship Bar 
931 Chambers St. Trenton
Fri. 5 p.m. Toothgrinder, Burial Mound, Prosper Or Perish, The Greatest Virtue, Sentinels, That Of A Lion, Gyre. All ages, $10/$12
Sat. 5 p.m. (TBA). All ages, $10
Candlelight Lounge 
24 Passaic St. Trenton
(609) 695-9612
 Sat. 3 p.m. Mile Lee Tenor Sax Quartet (No cover-$10 minimum)
Chickie's & Pete's
183 US Highway 130 North Bordentown
(609) 298-9182
Tues. 8 p.m. Acoustic Music Night feat. The Dawgs
Wed. 9 p.m. Quizzo Trivia
City Streets
510 Route 130 South East Windsor
(609) 426-9400
Fri. 9 p.m. Tangled
Dempster's Pub
437 Pine Street Mount Holly
(609) 261-0500
Thurs. 8:30 p.m. DJ DNIAL
Fri. 9 p.m. DJ Chris
Dog & Bull Brew House
810 Bristol Pike (Rte. 13) Croydon, PA.
(215) 788-2855
Thurs. 8 p.m. A Thousand Days band
Fri. (4 p.m.) "Happy Hour Jam" feat. Visoon (9 p.m.) Visoon
Sat. (11 a.m.) "Saturday Brunch Jam" feat. David Dzubinski Group (9 p.m.) Wizard Duo
Sun. (11 a.m.) "Sunday Brunch" feat. Dick Gratton 
Fran's Pub
116 S. Main St. New Hope, PA.
Sat. 7 p.m. Kim Yarson Band
Mon. 8 p.m. Open Blues Jam
All shows 21+
Havana New Hope
105 S. Main Street. New Hope, Pa. 
(215) 862-9897
Fri. 8 p.m. The Slim Kings feat. Liberty DeVitto. Doors at 7 p.m., $15
Sat. 5:30 p.m./8:30 p.m. Two shows "Countdown To Ecstasy" Steely Dan Tribute. Doors at 4:30 p.m./7:30 p.m., $20
Sun. (1 p.m.) Midnight Sun Orchestra (6 p.m.) JB Kline Band
Hopewell Valley Vineyards
46 Yard Avenue Pennington
(609) 737-4465
Thurs. 6 p.m. "Thurs. Jazz" feat. JP3
Fri. 6 p.m. Hopewell Valley Vineyards Jazz Ensemble
Sat. 6 p.m. Rick Winow
Sun. (2 p.m.) "Jazzy Sundays" feat. Keith Franklin (6:30 p.m.) "Winter Vintner's Dinner" $29 (Check website for availability)
Ivy Tavern 
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
(609) 888-1435
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Fri. 10 p.m. Papa Delux
Sat. 10 p.m. Honey Spot Blvd./WFIL 56 AM Radio Recreative Broadcast. 
All shows 21+
John & Peter's 
96 S. Main Street New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-5981
Fri. 9 p.m. Gabrielle Cacciola & Moonbreaker
Sat. (3 p.m.) The Porchistas (9 p.m.) The Karmic repair Co. 
Sun. 3 p.m. Miss Pumpkin Presents: A Drag Show Benefit
Mon. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night
Wed. 9:30 p.m. The Invitational
All shows 21+
JoJo's Tavern
2677 Nottingham Way Hamilton
(609) 586-2678
Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke
McGuinn's Place
1781 Brunswick Avenue Trenton
(609) 392-0599
Fri. 9 p.m. The Drunk Monkeys 
McStews Irish Sports Pub
5316 New Falls Rd Levittown, PA
(215) 949-9570
Fri. 10 p.m. The Fredz / Bottoms Up
Sat. 10 p.m. "Saturday Night Party" w/ Dueling DJs
Tues. 7 p.m. Quizzo hosted by Mike
Millhill Basement
300 S. Broad Street Trenton
(609) 989-1600
Sat. 9 p.m. Sick Shit, Impossible Colors, Broken Field Runner. $6
O'Connor's American Bar & Grille
1383 Monmouth Road, Easthampton
(609) 261-1555
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Crazy Ivan
Sat. 9:30 p.m. Radio Fiction
Olde Liberty Tavern
2114 Liberty Street, Trenton
(609) 396-2262
Sat. 10 p.m. Open Mic. Night
Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Rd. Hamilton
(609) 838-7979
Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke
All shows 21+ 
Patriot's Crossing
1339 River Rd. Titusville
(609) 737-2780
Fri. 8 p.m. DT & The Burnerz
Sat. 8 p.m. Raven Rock Rounder
Pete's Steak House
523 Whitehorse Ave. Hamilton
(609) 585-8008
Fri. 9:30 p.m. Ernie White & Tom Reock
Sat. 9:30 p.m. The Drunk Monkeys 
Plumsted Grill
457 Rte. 539 Cream Ridge
(609) 758-5552
Fri. 9 p.m. Dirty Red Duo "Boys Night Out Unplugged" 
Randy Now's Man Cave
134 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown
(609) 424-3766
Sat. 6 p.m. "A Tribute to David Bowie" Local musicians performing the music of David Bowie
RHO Waterfront
50 Riverview Plaza Trenton
(609) 393-7300
Thurs. 10 p.m. "College Night" w/ DJ Bob E Luv. Ages 21+
Tara's Tavern 
1 Cookstown-New Egypt Road, Wrightstown
(609) 286-2300
Thurs. 9 p.m. Acoustic Out Of the Red 
Sat. 9 p.m. El Ka Bong
Tavern On The Lake
101 Main St. Hightstown
(609) 426-9345
Fri. (6:30 p.m.) Paint Party (9 p.m.) Shore Ratz 
Sat. 9 p.m. DJ Night
Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke Night 
The Cool Cricket
216 4th Street Fieldsboro
(609) 291-9110
Fri. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Sat. 9 p.m. Blind Lemmon Pie
The HOB Tavern
146 Second Street
(609) 291-7020
 Fri. 9 p.m. DJ A3RO
Sat. 9 p.m. Karaoke
Sun. 2 p.m. Annual Chili Cook Off
Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night
The Ivy Inn
248 Nassau St. Princeton
(609) 921-8555
Thurs. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Ron
Fri. 10 p.m. River Dogs
Sat. 10 p.m. Box O' Rox
Tues. 8 p.m. Quizzo w/ Bob E Luv
Wed. 10 p.m. "Wednesday Wheel Night Spin To Win Karaoke" w/ DJ Rockn Ron
The Roost 
181 Rte. 539 Cream Ridge
(609) 208-0050
Fri. 9 p.m. The Polish Nannies
Sat. 9 p.m. Bent Mushroom
The Sticky Wicket 
2465 South Broad St. Hamilton
(609) 439-0007
Fri. 9 p.m. AM Heroes
Sat. 9 p.m. No Way Out
The Sun National Bank Center 
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 656-3200
Check website for upcoming events
Tir Na Nog 
1324 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 392-2554
Fri. 9 p.m. Joe Vadala
Sat. 9 p.m. The Shantys
Sun. 5 p.m. Mary Courtney
All shows  21+
Trenton Buzz
702 Pine St. Trenton
(609) 392-6000
Fri. 8 p.m. Live Band & Open Mic. 
Trenton Social
449 South Broad Street Trenton
(609) 989-7777
Fri. 7 p.m. First Friday / Anker CD Release Party
Mon. 9 p.m. Monday Night Karaoke w/ Benny P
Tues. 7 p.m. Open Mic. Night
Triumph Brewing Company (New Hope, Pa. Location)
400 Union Square New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-8300
Fri. 10 p.m. The Dawn Drapes. ($5 cover charge)
Sat. (1 p.m.) Looseleaf Trio. (10 p.m.) Nat Osborn Band.  ($5 cover charge)
Sun. 7 p.m. Open Jam Night (Sign-ups at 6:30 p.m.)
All shows 21+
Wildflowers Inn
2572 Pennington Rd. Pennington
Sat. 9 p.m. Acoustic Rock 
All shows 21+

Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 7:000pm EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.



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