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ROCKON! This Week's Sound Bites....2/20/14

By Danny Coleman

originally published: 02/20/2014
Welcome to my musical world! This is one man's attempt to alert you to the best in area entertainment!

"I must be the most un-famous, famous rock and roll guy around," said Joe Cerisano with a hearty laugh. "I'm one of those guys, where people know my voice but not my face; it's actually beneficial that way."

Growing up in West Virginia and currently residing in Northern New Jersey, the man who jokingly calls himself the "Italian Hillbilly" recently took me through his long, tumultuous career. A career which includes commercials, bands, record contracts, orchestras, famous tenors, a brief stint with Black Sabbath and sadly; tragedy.

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Referred to me by a mutual friend, Renaissance guitarist Ryche Chlanda, because he felt that Joe's story was one worth telling; Ryche gave me a brief synopsis of Cerisano's career and I immediately said, "Put me in touch with him."

Upon phoning Cerisano, I discovered a man who has done much with seemingly very little fanfare, with a fragile, unsettled career and an eye to the future. Elaborating on his friendship with Chlanda, Cerisano had this to say, " I met Ryche back in the day, so to speak, when there was a good rock 'n' roll club circuit because the drinking age was eighteen and laws were different; I was in a group called "R-Band" and Ryche had a great reputation and had a progressive label signing, we ran in the same circles. I remember wanting to do originals but the clubs only wanted cover bands, they thought nobody would come see original acts and back then they were probably right. So, I started sneaking my originals into the set by saying that the songs were something new from Bob Seger or the Eagles and eventually my whole last set was original tunes (laughs). We had a great following and the people were really liking our material and eventually the club owners caught on but as long as we kept them there dancing and the register was working, they didn't seem to mind."

The next step was taking "R-Band" and there new found popularity on the road to New York City, which proved to be a good move, yet also led to the band's undoing. Performing up to six nights a week began to wear on Joe and its members, as frustration began to set in with the lack of a record deal. "We were really working hard," lamented Cerisano. "I got a call from Earl Slick out in California and he was asking me for originals, so I sent him a demo. Turns out, he liked it, he asked me to come out to L.A.; so I did something that was really stupid and regretfully broke up the band and drove out to California in my V.W. That was rough on me because we really had and were gaining more popularity by the day here in Jersey and the New York area; I wish I had our crowds from here out there on the west coast."

Once out there, Slick and Cerisano obtained management, added two additional players and formed Silver Condor. By August of 1980, Joe got his coveted record deal, signing for "$350,000" with Columbia Records. Even though Cerisano had written all but one of the songs on the first record, it was that "one" that they chose to release as the first single; which turned out to be a less than stellar choice, as the song only charted as high as number 32.

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With a relatively dismal tour and mounting debt, Joe pulled the plug on the road show, even though, at the time, the band was opening for a still somewhat popular Peter Frampton. A month or so later, the other three members left the group, leaving Cerisano with the "$350,000" dollar debt and a second album to record to fulfill his contract to Columbia. "I was a rookie with the first Silver Condor record, by the time the second one had come around I was just a producer really; even though I wrote all of the material once again," he said; sounding melancholy yet somewhat relieved.

Defeated and dejected, Joe packed up and headed back east; stopping home in West Virginia for a bit before returning to the New York/New Jersey areas. "In '83 I headed back east and I got a call to audition for a Miller Beer commercial. I figured that I'd make a hundred and fifty bucks and be done with it; I walked in and the guitarist that was there to assist in performing the audition was Albert Lee; I walked out of the room and said, "Is that who I think it is?" I sang, and got the gig. That commercial aired during the 1984 Super Bowl; little did I know that it was going to lead to a whole new career for me."

That "career" was one of a commercial voice overs and for the next eight plus years, that of the top session singer in the U.S. Joe's voice was everywhere; commercials for Miller, General Electric and Hands Across America, as well as singing along side Placido Domingo and an audition for heavy metal rockers Black Sabbath. "I got a call about a year after I left California, Bob Ezra called me and said that Black Sabbath was holding auditions to replace Ozzy and that they'd heard me or something like that; he convinced me to give it a shot. So I went to the audition, sang "War Pigs" and three others and went back to my hotel room. Once I got there I started thinking about how I didn't care much for California, I missed the change of seasons and after my last experience, only a year or so earlier, I didn't really want to move back, I needed a break. Well, as luck would have it, I got the gig; so yes, I was the lead singer of Black Sabbath for a day (laughs). The next day I was faced with telling Don Arden, who at the time was a very big man in the music industry, thanks but no thanks. I was sent to see Arden and when I got to his home, there were armed uniformed guards all around and I was escorted to his top floor penthouse. Mr. Arden said to me, "The boys really like you, do you want the gig?" I looked him straight on and said, "I respect you and your position but Mr. Arden I can't do it; I'm hanging up my leather pants (laughs)." That was unheard of at that time, you just didn't say no to Don Arden but he must've liked me because he thanked me for my honesty and then offered me a record deal!"

Returning home once again, Cerisano continued to sing, being brought in on session after session and working with some of the world's best studio players. "I met the guys in (David) Letterman's band and worked with the Saturday Night Live band and they introduced me to so many great players; they helped me start my own band! I was so lucky, I mean, I worked with Placido, Phil Ramone, Mike Smith of the Dave Clark 5; Toto was the backing band for the "Hands Across America" recording...."

The excitement flowed from Cerisano as he spoke of these encounters. Getting paid for his talent and meeting so many of music's elite suited him well, well enough for him and his wife to move several times within a short period and start a family. By the end of the '80's though, Joe noticed a change in the recording industry, studios closing down, smaller rooms for production and the advent of the computer taking a larger role. Realizing that he could still sing but had stopped writing, he bought a home in Nashville, TN to be near, whom he considered to be the top writers of the time. While maintaining a residence in New Jersey, Joe would travel to "Music City" and work on his passion; song writing. "I wanted to get my writing chops back," he said. "I bought a small house which I rented with one condition, that there be a room kept open for me (laughs). I would travel down there several times a year. I had a crappy car that I'd use to get around but it was incredible. I worked with so many top notch musicians and wrote so many songs; wrote enough that I drew interest from Asylum Records who came down to see me."

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Asylum wanted to offer Joe a record deal. He and his wife Marie flew down to Nashville earlier to look for a home to purchase in anticipation of this potential resurgence in his music career. Upon the completion of one of these trips, the couple were awaiting pick up from the airport by Joe's sister-in-law Marlene and their six and a half year old son, first born Joeseph Cerisano IV. A horrific car crash involved Marlene's vehicle being forced into the back of a tractor trailer, sending her into a three month coma and taking the life of Joe the IV. "That ended everything," said Cerisano. "That really just stops everything in its tracks.To lose my son, our child, and the ensuing effects on our lives, marriage and remaining family; my wife's sister, it's just devastating, indescribable. Something like this confounds every bit of faith in God and religion, it changes everything; literally changes lives."

Confiding in me that the long road toward recovery from such a tragic loss is still a work in progress, one that has caused a renewed perspective and devotion to family, Joe once again turned to music to help sooth his pain. "My wife and I had another son several years after the accident and I began writing again. Then I received a call in 1998 from Paul O'Neill, creator of the Trans Siberian Orchestra and he asked me to sing on "The Christmas Attic," so I did. I recorded with them in 1999 and toured with Trans Siberian Orchestra for four years until 2003; then I gave it up. Honestly, I just didn't want to do it any longer."

Currently writing material and with a new single that's drawing rave reviews titled "Carbon Copy," Cerisano is still working his talent and hoping for different results other than record deals. "I want somebody to record it ("Carbon Copy") and make it a hit," he said through a laugh. "What am I going to do these days? I've written some good new things but to get through the obstacle course to get them on a CD is a different thing now than it used to be. I've been writing some Americana type stuff but at my age who's going to follow me? Music today is akin to white noise, so much out there, anybody can have a recording; even the kid who bags my groceries has a CD today (laughs)."

This by no means is an indication that he is scaling back any attempts at making music. The future is just taking him down a varied path from his past travels. "Oh I'm still playing and occasionally performing. I recently put a band together and opened up for Bill Medley in Asbury Park, NJ. I've still got my singing chops but there's really no place for me. I am not going to play places for free or sell tickets so that I can get paid; I'd just as soon not play out at all if that's the case. People still send me MP3s and ask my opinion, or to do vocals for demos or jingles, I can still give guitar lessons, possibly songwriting lessons; my options are there."

So there you have it. Chances are, if you're a middle aged individual, you've heard his voice for the better part of your life and didn't even realize it. Cerisano's been in more living rooms than plush carpeting across our land and now, hopefully he will be again.

To find out more about this very interesting career and man, please go to

Rarely in my career as a musician, has such a a maneuver as implementing a cover charge to enter a live music establishment caused such a furor. With the recent and very unexpected decision by Cedar Gardens Pub's ownership group to do just that, without any warning ; they created a firestorm of feedback, some pro, mostly con against the venue. Bar manager and local live/original music enthusiast Ted "Z" has been handcuffed by management decisions to no longer pay the musicians; asking them only to work for a cover charge, tips or both. "It's out of my control, it's definitely going to hurt business as well as our music scene," he told me recently. "I can't speak for the musicians but they are always welcome to play here; sadly it's under the new terms."

Ted and I are in agreement on several fronts on this issue; it seems that the bands/artists who draw the least crowds are the ones whose voices are complaining the loudest. I however, still contend that if the venue(s) would assist in advertising and/or promotion (if even only through social media) of their entertainment schedules, the benefits would be unilateral for both. Bars and music venues are not and I repeat not in business to lose money but I do know that they tend to cry hungry with a loaf of bread under each arm. I understand eliminating the loss associated with musicians who bring no paying patrons into the venue and for these artists I say, "it's time to walk the walk," for the established musicians with a following; the ball is squarely in your court. I do know this much, Cedar Gardens Pub's ownership handled this very poorly. their decision to make this "effective immediately" cost anyone booked there in the month of February to cancel or lose the anticipated financial windfall that they'd become accustomed. Perhaps, honoring their February commitments with an effective date of March 1 would have been better serving to our music community; especially since profits from music nights seemed to offset losses from non music evenings. Only time will tell but as of now the backlash does not seem to bode well for this once well supported music room.

Friday evening, Rich Schneider will be tickling the ivories from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Blend on Rte. 33 in Hamilton. Recently returning to performing in public, this long time area musician is a local favorite and always provides great entertainment.

Also on Friday, despite the above diatribe on Cedar Gardens Pub; two of our areas legendary players will be hitting the stage at 9 p.m. as Paul Plumeri and Joe Zook pair together for what promises to be an amazing evening of music. Rarely seen performing together much of late, anytime these two blues magnates team up it's guaranteed to be special!

Saturday evening, Pete's Steak House in Hamilton entertains a new band of familiar faces as Mercer County Pour is on tap at 9:30 p.m. Recently formed from members of several different area bands, this cast will rock your socks off. I am not going to give their identities away just yet, as I'd rather prefer that one sees them for their self and enjoy the surprise.

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This space welcomes any suggestions and/or comments. Please send them to:

That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!


Alchemist & Barrister

28 Witherspoon Street Princeton
(609) 924-5555

Thurs. 10 p.m. Arnie Baird

Sun. 9 p.m. Kenny Cunningham

Wed. 10 p.m. Open mic. night Hosted by Eric Puliti

All shows 21+

Amarones Windsor Inn

29 Church St. Windsor

(609) 448-714

Thurs. 6:30 p.m. Pizza Party Night feat.Scott Gager & Debbie

Fri. 8 p.m. Larry "D"

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Sat. 7:30 p.m. Meg Hanson Band feat. Billy Hill

Tues. 7 p.m. Texas Hold'em


911 Rte. 33 Hamilton

(609) 245-8887

Fri. 9 p.m. Rich Schneider

Sat. 9 p.m. ZQ Acoustic

Mon. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Candlelight Lounge
24 Passaic St. Trenton
(609) 695-9612

Sat. 3 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Web T & Face Quartet. (No cover-$10 minimum)

Cedar Gardens Pub
661 Hwy. 33 Hamilton
(609) 587-0930

Fri. 9 p.m. Paul Plumeri & Joe Zook. $5 (cover charge)

All shows 21+

Centro Bar And Grille

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2360 Rte. 33 Robbinsville

(609) 208-9300

Thurs. 9:30 p.m. MJ Bernabe & Friends

Chambers Walk Cafe
2667 Main St. Lawrenceville
(609) 896-5995

Fri./Sat. 6 p.m. Dick Gratton

The Backstage at Championship Bar
931 Chambers St. Trenton

(609) 394-7437

Fri. 7 p.m. Bystander, Home Again, Christian Diana and The Fox Fires, A Golden Era. All ages, $10

Sat. 5 p.m. Lehnen, InAeona, Episode Earth, We Remain So, (TBA). All ages, $10

Sun. 10 p.m. Cornelius the Third, Wade Wilson, Triggered Impulse, Mr. Mooch. Ages 21+, $5

Dubh Linn Square
167 Rte. 130 North Bordentown
(609) 298-7100

Sun. 4 p.m. Irish Sessions w/ Billy O'Neal

Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. Night hosted by Shaun Ruymen

Fran's Pub

116 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.


Fri. 9 p.m. DJ entertainment

Sat. 9 p.m. Fed Up

Sun. 12 p.m. "Unofficial" Chive Meet Up. Giveaways, raffles, prizes.

All shows 21+

Halo Pub

4617 Nottingham Way Hamilton Square

(609) 586-1811

Sat. 7 p.m. The Tone Rangers

Havana New Hope
105 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-9897

Thurs. "Beat The Clock" College Night DJ Dance Party

Fri. 8 p.m. Hair Metal Time ('80's Hair Metal Band Tribute). $5 Donation at door.

Sat. 8:30 p.m. The Naturals

Sun. 6 p.m. JB Kline Band

Mon. 10 p.m. Karaoke w/ DJ Ron Sherr and Bridget

Wed. 8 p.m. Wino Wednesday Local Original Music Night feat. Pat Foran, Anker, Andrew Pittman

All shows 21+

Ivy Tavern
3108 S. Broad Street, Hamilton
(609) 888-1435

Fri. 10 p.m. The Stage Hamz

Sat. 10 p.m. Kindred Spirit
All shows 21+

John & Peter's
96 S. Main St. New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-5981

Thurs. 9 p.m. Jerry Feiss

Fri. 9 p.m. Echoes w/ I Have Been Floated

Sat. (3 p.m.) Rev. Dollar B. Ill (9:30 p.m.) The Hyde w/ The Burgeoning

Sun. (3 p.m.) Tie Dye Hillbilly Dance Party (9:30 p.m.) Midwestern Wxposure

Mon. Open Mic.

Wed. The Invitational (Featuring John & Peter's House Band)
All shows 21+

JoJo's Tavern

2677 Nottingham Way Hamilton

(609) 586-2678

Wed. 10 p.m. Karaoke

Palermo's Of Hamilton
310 Klockner Rd. Hamilton
(609) 838-7979

Thurs. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Tues. Trivia Night

All shows 21+

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. Mercer County Pour

The Revere Ristorante

802 River Rd. West Trenton

(609) 882-6365

Sat. 8 p.m. Paul Plumeri & Jerry Monk

RHO Waterfront

50 Riverview Plaza Trenton

(609) 393-7300

Thurs. 9 p.m. College Night w/ DJ Jeff Scott

Fri. (5 p.m.) Jim Gaven (8 p.m.) Groove Pocket (10 p.m.) DJ Jimmie Palumbo. $10 per person includes buffet, bands and DJ

Sat. 6:30 p.m. Ryan's Quest "Fashion For A Cure" feat. Justina Valentin, Rachel Lorin, JROME

All Shows 21+

Spigola Ristorante

3817 Crosswicks Hamilton Square Rd. Hamilton

Fri. 8:30 p.m. DJ John Rossi

Sat. 8:30 p.m. Acoustic Road

Star Subs Café

621 Rte. 130 Buckley Plaza Hamilton

(609) 333-1230

Wed. 7 p.m. Acoustic Open Mic. Night hosted by Bri LoBue

Tavern On The Lake
101 Main St. Hightstown
(609) 426-9345

Fri. 9 p.m. Far Cry

Sat. 9 p.m. El Ka Bong

Wed. 8 p.m. Karaoke Night

The Cool Cricket

216 4th St. Fieldsboro

(609) 291-9110

Thurs. 8 p.m. Kinky Bingo

Fri. 9 p.m. Karaoke

Sat. 9 p.m. Out of The Red

The Record Collector

358 Farnsworth Ave. Bordentown

(609) 324-0880

Fri. 8 p.m. Quimby Mountain Band / Steve Fry. All ages, doors at 7:30 p.m., $12 (advance)

The Sticky Wicket
2465 South Broad St. Hamilton
(609) 439-0007

Fri. 9 p.m. Monzter Zero

Sat. 9:30 p.m. D*Luxe the Band

All shows 21+

The Sun National Bank Center
81 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 656-3200

Sat. 9 a.m. Soffe Mid Atlantic Open Championship (Cheerleading comp.). Doors at 8 a.m., $10, (kids age 10 and under free)

Tir Na Nog
1324 Hamilton Ave. Trenton
(609) 392-2554

Fri. 9 p.m. Chay & Taylor

Sat. 9 p.m. Radio Fiction

Tues. 9 p.m. Open Mic. w/ Leah Kromenack & Nick Minton

All shows 21+

Trenton Social

449 South Broad Street Trenton

(609) 989-7777

Thurs. 7 p.m. Social Thursdays w/ DJ Tangency

Fri. 7 p.m. Social First Fridays

Mon. 10 p.m. Service Industry Night w/ DJ-JayKountree

Tues. 9 p.m. LiveMusic/Open Mic.

Triumph Brewing Company (New Hope, Pa. Location)
400 Union Square New Hope, Pa.
(215) 862-8300

Fri. 10 p.m. Lincoln Durham. $5 (coverage)

Sat. (3 p.m.) Spontageous (Free show) (10 p.m.) The Blind Owl Band. $5 (cover charge)

Sun. 7 p.m. Open Jam Night hosted by Up The Chain
All shows 21+)

Villa Romanza

429 Rte. 156 Hamilton

(609) 585-1717

Sat. (6:30 p.m.) Carole Lynne Jazz Trio (10 p.m.) DJ Anthony Bradley

Wildflowers Inn

2572 Pennington Rd. Pennington

Sat. 9 p.m. Live Acoustic Rock
Mon. 9 p.m. Karaoke

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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