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What A Long Strange Trip It's Been...

By Gary Wien

(FRIDAY, JULY 25 - NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- In 1978, two young musicians named Glen Burtnick and Marshall Crenshaw played the roles of Paul McCartney and John Lennon in Beatlemania. Thirty years later - after dozens of albums, world tours, films, and various bands - they found themselves on the State Theatre stage in New Brunswick, NJ playing Beatles songs once again in the 2nd Annual Beatles Bash.

Last year, Glen Burtnick lined up over 40 musicians to perform "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" from beginning to end to celebrate the record's 40th anniversary. This year's challenge was to celebrate the anniversary of the "White Album" - a more straightforward record, but with the added challenge of being a double album and the rarely (if ever) performed "Revolution Number 9."

"This whole Beatles Thing... Someone's got to stop it!" said Glen Burtnick with a laugh. This year's lineup featured Burtnick along with a stellar cast of musicians that include Marshall Crenshaw, Bob Burger and Marc Muller, along with an orchestra led by conductor James Egan, band director at North Brunswick Township High School. Everyone on stage appeared to be having a great time and treated the material with the same respect an orchestra would treat Bach or Mozart.

Every song was done in order and reminded me of two things. First, I had forgotten just how brilliant the album was. And, secondly, I had forgotten that this was one of the few Beatles albums where I thought the sequence of songs were placed in a rather ragged order that emulated anarchy instead of blending songs together into one piece of art. This was the album which revealed the inner workings of the group, one that was literally breaking apart. The songs on this album previewed the solo works to come more than showcased the collaborative genius of prior records.

In fact, one of the evening's highlights for me was "Long Long Long" which gets the prize for best song that radio has ignored through the years. A brilliant piece by Harrison that backs up the argument that Lennon and McCartney were keeping the songs from George down. After hearing this one on the same album as the masterful "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" it's easy to see why he released a triple album as his solo debut. One only can wonder just how many of those tunes were written during the Beatles period.

With so many great songs and so many great performances it's hard to come up with my favorites of the night, but the list definitely includes such numbers as "While My Guitar Gently Sleeps", "Dear Prudence", "Glass Onion", "Bungalow Bill", and "Sexy Sadie". Christine Martucci guested on "Yer Blues" with a rendition that would have made Janis Joplin proud. Joe Hurley, a regular at Glen Burtnick's Xmas Xtravaganza shows, did an impressive take as Ringo on "Don't Pass Me Bye." Tony Shanahan, another Xmas regular, played bass on a few tunes and sang lead on "Mother Nature's Son."

"Blackbird" was truly a song made for Glen Burtnick while Crenshaw's take on "Julia" gave me chills. Bob Burger was the lead for "Honey Pie" and one of my all-time favorites, "Cry Baby Cry" and received loud applause for his efforts.

And, of course, "Helter Skelter" simply rocked! It reminded me why I always wondered why the song is placed so far into the album. It would have been a great kickoff to the album in my opinion. Glen on lead vocals screamed in a way I haven't seen since the "Talking In Code" tour. Crenshaw, who had previously said good night to the crowd after the previous song, couldn't help returning to take a solo during the song.

One of the evening's biggest surprises wasn't the lack of lead vocals by Marshall Crenshaw but the fact that Crenshaw was on drums for roughly 1/4 of the night. Mark Muller and Drew Hill provided wonderful lead vocals for the rest of the numbers.

Glen Burtnick's daughter Sally acted as Yoko Ono and was especially wonderful in her role during "Bungalow Bill."

Many of the songs were enhanced with videos on a screen behind the performers. The videos, a mixture of psychedelic images done in a modern way, were created by a company called Altered Imagines. Highlights included "piggies" - a video that looked like it was created with a computer mouse in one hand and a joint in the other. And an utterly amazing array of images from 1968 kept the audience riveted during the entire performance of "Revolution Number 9." Afterwards, an audience member screamed, "Now play it backwards!" from the balcony.

The conclusion of the double album wasn't enough Beatles for the fans that packed the State Theatre that night. Encores included "Revolution", "Twisted & Shout", "Eight Days A Week", and concluded with "Hey Jude" with Burtnick on piano, just as he was in a photo taken from Beatlemania that once was shown in the Asbury Park Rock 'N Roll Museum.

"You guys seem totally into this, which is cool because it would suck if you weren't" said Burtnick halfway through the show.

Of course we were. We're all Beatles fans. Now and forever. And we're all getting ready for the tribute to "Abbey Road" which hopefully will be one of the highlights of next summer!

For more by this author, click here

Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
(BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
(RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.

Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

Event calendar
Friday, Jan 18, 2019


John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

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