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Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Small Town Factory" by Joe Normal

By Bob Makin

originally published: 03/24/2023

Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Small Town Factory" by Joe Normal

“Small Town Factory,” the latest single and video for Elizabeth-raised “Glamericana” rocker Joe Normal’s new LP, “Public Works,” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week.

With his brand new album “Public Works,” Springsteen-like blue-collar singer-songwriter Joe Normal pays homage to his hometown of Elizabeth, a place known for its importance in Revolutionary American history and industry, as well as its notorious struggles with environmental issues and crime.

The album’s latest single and video, “Small Town Factory,” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week.

As the Makin Waves Song of the Week, “Small Town Factory” also can be heard between 6 and 8 p.m. on March 24 on “Radio Jersey” at If you miss it, you can tune in any time in the archives at The Penguin or MixCloud.

About the inspiration for the song, Joe says, “My father was a trained tenor singer but gave up his dream to support his family for the steady pay the factory offered. He ultimately got laid off in his mid-50s and never recovered from that, as an unskilled worker. I grew up fearing the factory. It became a symbol of unsung dreams. I found that playing music and joining a rock band was the only ticket I had out of such a future. Ironically, our town's historic factory was the Singer Factory, which is eventually what I would become.

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Looking back, I am grateful for the history and provision our factories blessed us with and was sad to see them close down and fall into disrepair.”

Other “Public Works” songs, such as "Warinanco Pond," "Living In The Borough" and "Bayway Refinery," also glorify the beauty and nostalgia of “Elizabethtown,” while condemning its harsh unpleasantness and reputation. 

Just as this area of The Garden State is known for its diverse mix of cultures, people, and influences, a hodgepodge of Americana, glam and folk-rock satisfyingly blends to define Joe's sound, which he dubs “Glamericana.” Also often compared to Paul Westerberg and Tom Petty, the transplanted L.A.-based artist is a founding member of the Jersey-originated '90s Sunset Strip glam-pop act The Zeros, whose influence on Glamericana has for Joe much in common with contemporaries Jesse Malin (D Generation), Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses), and Aaron Lee Tasjan (Semi Precious Weapons).

Joe’s songwriting credits a co-wrote of the title track to Sammy Hagar’s “Not 4 Sale” LP. He’s also appeared and performed alongside celebrities Howard Stern, Bobby Flay, Eric Estrada, and Loni Anderson on television and radio, recorded with punk icon Stiv Bators and his Lords of The New Church, and with The Zeros was Restless Records label mates of The Smithereens, Poison, Social Distortion, and They Might Be Giants. For Howard, The Zeros wrote an early theme song before the shock jock was fired from WNBC.

“Public Works” follows several singles for the veteran rocker, as well as nearly a dozen of albums with The Zeros and subsequent bands. Summer tour dates and house concerts are in the works for the Mid-Atlantic, Nashville and Southern California, Joe said. Additional major cities are TBA, he said. 

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Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at

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