As 2021 begins to shrink in our collective rearview mirrors; this space thought it would be enlightening and informative to publish some thoughts, musings and what some of our indie artists both locally and abroad have in store for 2022.
Mark Sacco (Drummer Jimmy and The Parrots, Rock and Roll Heaven) from Hamilton, NJ says: “The last 2 years have rendered an extremely wide range of success and setbacks for us all. I am thankful for the successes for sure... and am hoping the scales tip more towards those successes for us all in 2022! I will continue touring with Jimmy and the Parrots with gigs all up and down the east coast in the coming months.
Rock and Roll Heaven, my latest project, will continue to grow and expand our fledgling fan base.
I am continuing to augment gigs with solo appearances doing a live looping show and I will continue work on video and audio projects out of Square Studio with several new projects scheduled for 2022!
Jack Furlong (Jazz Saxophone, author, entrepreneur) of Pennington, NJ states: “I just published my first book, entitled "On Sportsmanship: A Critical Reader and Handbook." It's available now on Amazon in both physical and Kindle copies. I also opened a cottage bakery: Commotion In Motion Bakery (www.commotioninmotionbakery.com), where a portion of sales is donated to my friend recovering from 20 strokes. And I got ordained and started a small wedding officiant service called Independent Catholic Marriage (www.indiecatholicmarriage.com). In terms of music, I've got monthly gigs lined up at The Logan Inn in New Hope, PA and The Watt Hotel in Rahway. I'll also probably be playing at The Lafayette Bar in Easton, PA in the spring at some point. Some gigs are duos, some quartets, and some even quintets. I'm still booking more gigs in 2022 (so anyone looking for jazz should call me ASAP); it's just difficult when the state of the world is constant fear, causing gigs to get canceled. I would love to be working so much more but the number of venues is shrinking.”
Helen O’Shea (Singer/Songwriter, collaborator, voting member of the Recording Academy) who resides in Princeton, NJ says: “2021 was a challenging year with some wonderful highlights. There was the creation of the peer to peer Jersey Girls Rock group to support our Jersey girls in the local music scene, recording "Stay Here Now" with my beautiful daughter Lauren and my release party for "Know You're Enough" at The Saint's re-opening in July. There was the “Holiday Festival” in Ewing, NJ which featured all of my bands - The Shanakees, Shenanigans and my newest project Rays Of Hope as well as Jo Wymer's moving and inspiring benefit show which brought so many talented musicians together. My thoughts on 2022? Another challenging beginning to the year with show cancellations spreading like wildfire but hope for the full return of live shows. I’ll be booking The Shanakees at The Saint, The Bitter End in NYC, Transparent Clinch Gallery and more. I’m working on the creation of a live stream show by the Shenanigans for March, adding to the repertoire of Rays Of Hope as well as songwriting and the recording of a brand new project with Marc Swersky at Sound On Sound Studios in the Spring!”
Freehold, NJ artist Don Lee (Guitarist The Wag, solo performer) offered this: “Although live performances were basically cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic for the first few months of the year; it was a busy time for me. I recorded my solo album as well as wrote new songs via text recordings with my bandmates in The Wag. The 2nd half of the year was very exciting with some great opportunities for the band as well as releasing the solo album; my first in 7 years! As far as 2022; although the recently emerged Omicron variant of Covid seems to be putting a damper on things, I’m still hoping for another exciting year of shows along with the release of a new album with The Wag!”
The artist simply known as SOF who makes her magic happen from East Brunswick, NJ says: “In 2022 I’ll be releasing a ton of new music, beginning very soon. I spent 2021 constantly writing and experimenting with new ideas in the studio after forming a great collaborative partnership with my friend and producer, Russell Hayden. Last year we released three singles together; one which I wrote and he produced called “Movement,” and two we co-wrote and co-produced called “fruit water szn” and “fruit water szn (Stripped).” In addition to being featured on his two releases, “Cupid’s Chokehold” and “Monster Mash.” I also released my 2012 cover of Britney Spears’ “Criminal” which has garnered over 300k streams on Spotify since April. Though last year’s releases were exciting, nobody is even remotely ready for what I’ve got in store this year. I can’t wait for everyone to hear what we’ve been cookin’ up!”
Dave Orban (Guitarist Mojo Gypsies) of Hamilton, NJ said: “I’m currently hard at work preparing material for an upcoming CD, to be released sometime in 2022. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been spending Thursday nights at the Candlelight Lounge on Passaic Street in Trenton. There, I’ve had an opportunity to listen to and perform with a wonderful variety of jazz musicians including organ players, horn players, flautists, drummers, and even xylophonists; the experience has really expanded my songwriting palette. As an example, written and recorded during the pandemic, "The Trouble With You," represents a bit of a sonic departure for the band. In addition to writing and arranging the song, I played and recorded all of the instruments. You can check it out here: https://youtu.be/_g6voGftrO8. As I continue to write material for the new CD, I’m very much looking forward to playing out again, once we get through this pandemic.”
Mark Hopkins of Romford, England in the UK (Guitarist, Lark Allegro, Spin On It Records) looks forward to building on his current success: “2021 for me was a milestone year as it was the first year releasing music again on my brand new label: Spin On It Records Ltd.; I managed to release six tracks as a starting point. The year 2022 is going to be a year of many collaborations, multiple projects and releases with lots of exciting music ahead. I will also be building the foundations for a rather large scale live project.”
Rob Freeman and Joy Okoye of Lawrence, NJ based band The Beagles are looking forward to a productive 2022: “In 2022 Joy & Rob of The Beagles are working with producer Peter Gregory on The Beagles’ first album with sound healer Joy Lynn Okoye. Joy's songwriting partnership with Rob emerged organically when she posted her poem “Anew” on Facebook and 45 minutes later Rob called and sang it to her; he turned it into a, “Beautiful song!” To promote their upcoming album, they are shooting a music video with director Scott Glazer for “We’re All Alone,” a tune Rob calls a, “Sultry blues seduction that delves into the darkness of desire,” as well as scheduling return engagements at Princeton’s Palmer Square, Lawrenceville’s Music In The Park, and Hopewell’s RainbowMoon Festival; and venturing into new performance spaces. Check out Joy & Rob’s live performance videos and keep up on their upcoming engagements by following them at Facebook.com/JoyRobBeagles.”
Bassist John Charles of Jersey Shore area blues band Jump Back elaborated on the band’s last two years: “Jump Back was featured on Christine Vitale’s adio show on Hudson River Radio. The band was also featured on “Danny Colemans Rock on Radio” and “Danny Coleman’s Got the Blues” radio shows. Also in 2020, Jump Back could be heard on Sirius Radio, “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” and the Genya Ravan Show twice. We released our first Album, “Blues in the Red” in September 2020; a compilation of five original and five well-crafted covers. As we went into 2021, we started to again play some dates in late winter and had very good socially distant shows. By early summer we were back to full live shows, playing a few beautiful outdoor gigs and some great clubs dates. In 2022, Jump Back has a full calendar starting in January and is heading into the studio in January to start on our second release, this one a 10-song collection of all new original music.”
Johathan Tea (Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Voiceover Artist) of Shark River Hills, NJ who hosted the popular “Spilling The Tea” musician showcase offered up these thoughts: “2021 was a tough year full of false starts and stops. Just when I thought it was going to be safe to start booking shows again, new variants of the Corona Virus kept popping up. I just never felt like it was safe for myself and the audience. I know a lot of artists were able to get back out there and play, but I couldn’t ever really feel comfortable with that. I connected with a studio in Boston and started doing some remote recording with them, but then they lost their lease and had to move, which put everything on hold for months. I’ll be starting back up with them in 2022 and also going back into the studio locally with my band at Lakehouse Recording Studios. I want to record my new songs as live as possible so they feel real and raw and in your face. I’m also going to start doing more live solo shows on social media. You can’t beat the experience of playing to a live audience, but for all I know, that could still be months away for me. So… back to social media it is. I’m looking at this year with fresh eyes. I’m no longer waiting for this pandemic to be over; it seems like it may never be over sometimes. So, I’m rethinking the best way to get my art out there. I’m focusing on recording as much new material as possible. If I can’t make music for an audience, at least I can give them something new to listen to at home.”
Kim Yarson of East Windsor, NJ (Kim Yarson Band, Gyrl Band, Miss Kim, Songwriter) has her sights set on the upcoming year as well: “I am working on a Rock Cue album for film/TV with my son Joseph. I am working on a spiritual album as well called "Real Life Story" which will incorporate inspirational songs, meditation and affirmation songs. 2022 is going to be an amazing creative year for both Kim Yarson and my other brand Miss Kim's Children's Music and I am excited about all of the projects I am working on and delivering."
Toms River, NJ solo artist Lisa Kovacs (Keyboardist, Author, Composer), like some others has more than one iron in the fire: “My movie script “THE PIANO LESSON” is being read by some directors and production companies. I’m starting to release my books, my first poem book and a children’s book because I just got a new illustrator; I’m also looking forward to starting to play music out again. In the movie I wrote my band and seven of my songs into because it is a personal story inspired by true life events; I also had my first interview titled, “Inside The Jam Room,” it was with me and Arnie Brown who coproduced my album with me.”
Long time Jersey Shore music scene fixture Poppa John Bug (Bassist, Guitarist, Songwriter, Richie Havens) of Long Branch, NJ has a new release in the works and it is somewhat of a “Family Affair.” “We are working on a new album, my son who is an editor is working on creating musical videos from this new project highlighting the background videos as the song plays. We are gonna start performing live in late Spring; waiting for the pandemic to calm down before we book gigs and wee’rgoing to start to PR the new project on as many radio stations as we can add to our playlist.”
Lyndhurst’s Paul Marzano (Singer/Songwriter, Bassist, Guitarist, Aloha Monkey) says: “I have another full album (12 tracks) on tap for ‘22 release. The title is “Whispers of a Song” and the featured talent includes Andy Russo and DeeDee Pie, Dan Sakumoto (of Have A Good Season) and Ray Andersen.”
Joe Grillo (Saxophone, Gumbo Gumbas, The Boomers, Songwriter, Vocalist) of Ewing, NJ says that 2022 is looking very busy as of now. “The Gumbo Gumbas released “Back to NOLA,” our first album, on Mardi Gras 2020 and then the pandemic hit and we were shut down for 18 months. The band managed to get in a few shows during the pandemic, we performed a very successful and well received concert at Pier Village in Long Branch last summer which was videotaped and is available on YouTube. We performed at world renowned sculpture Seward Johnson’s memorial service at Grounds for Sculpture in June of 21 and also did a few outdoor community concerts. Most of our time was spent writing and recording our second album “Zydeland,” which will be released in the spring of 2022. One of the favorites off the new record is called “Drinks on the House” and is the story of an alien abduction. We are working on an animated video that will be released along with the new record and this recording also features multi-instrumentalist Gary Oleyar on guitar and violin.”
Hightstown, NJ area bassist Timmy Douglas offered up a straight pleasant wish for us all: “Looking forward to the energy of the new year and doing everything. I'm all about being optimistic, spreading love and being with the people Happy New Year y'all!”
Steve Keller (Ripped, Entertainment Journalist, Radio Personality, Songwriter) of the Manahawkin, NJ area and who is always in the know had this to say. “2022 is about to be a busy year for Ripped. New Music, new videos, we are going back to the Starland Ballroom and whatever venues are left. I hope that everyone will support their local bands, your friends need you, Ripped needs you; as a matter of fact, the surviving venues need you.”
Dave Stefanic (The Ruckus, The Spicy Poblanos, Acoustic Evolution, Vocalist) of Laurence Harbor, NJ has some collaborating going on in the new year. “I have been releasing music as a solo artist and also as a duo with Kyle Ward in a project called Acoustic Evolution. We create acoustic renditions of classic songs; with the greatest respect to the mighty Led Zeppelin, we just released our version of “Going To California;” we love this project because we get to put our own spin on some really great songs. Kyle and I had a busy 2021 with the Acoustic Evolution recordings and we had the good fortune to be asked to work on music for an upcoming movie starring Siobhan Fallon Hogan and Robert Patrick; we also got our mugs in the movie too (Laughs).”
Jimmy Clark (Guitarist, Gypsy Funk Squad, Ambler Blues) of South Amboy, NJ says: “We have a massive project in the works; it is in its final stages. It is a 2.5 hour music movie film; 23 music videos with a secondary non-musical narrative; think “The Wall” meets “The Princess Bride.” We are at like about 95% done with the final version of the film and the project also carries an 800 page companion book, 24 plus pieces of original art, podcasts and interviews; it is five years’ worth of nonstop content creation.”
Spotswood’s talented Mike Montrey (Mike Montrey Band, Sean Kelly Of The Samples) who always has a full plate says the trend will continue in 2022. "In 2022, I plan to record some new material in the early part of the year with my band. I'm working with a new producer, and have a booking agent setting up spring dates all over. This will be the follow up to 2020's “In The Middle of Hope.” I also did a couple of duets with Helen O'Shea (“Fairy Tale of New York” by The Pogues, and “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell); both were accepted on the first ballot, FYC for the Grammys and I hope to do more stuff with Helen as well.”
Lou Panico (Natalie Farrell, Emily Grove, Nick Ryan) of Asbury Park, NJ not only is married to one of the hottest acts on the planet in Natalie Farrell but also performs with many of the top-notch acts that permeate the Asbury Park area. “I’ll be releasing a solo album this year. My own musical diary! I’ve been writing and performing with many different bands over the past 15 years. But I haven’t released any of my own stuff in quite a while. 2022 will be extremely fulfilling for me and my creative outlet; I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to put it out into it the world! I’ll also continue to perform with my lovely wife Natalie Farrell and her band throughout the new year. Natalie has some exciting musical endeavors of her own planned for the new year including kicking if off with the annual Telegraph Hill Records show “What A Wonderful Year” on February 4th and 5th at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park!”
Marc A. Tappan (Guitarist, The Dirty Shine) of North Middletown, NJ will continue to stay busy as a musician and a luthier: “I’m still on Telegraph Hill Records and working to make some more noise in 2022!”
Hesh Meister who originates from Long Beach, NY and can be found along the Jersey Shore area offered this for 2022: “I am Hesh Meister, a/k/a THE HESH INC., I’ll be releasing my latest album, "Soul In Exile Redux," on January 28 and the album is designed to put my "Soul In Exile" magnum opus in front of a new audience.
I am also forming a power trio to play these songs live once the Omicron wave recedes and live music begins in earnest again. You'll be able to hear the album on THE HESH INC.'s Bandcamp (theheshinc.bandcamp.com), as well as Spotify and most other streaming and download sites. Also, keep track of THE HESH INC.'s activities at his website, www.theheshinc.com.”
Relative newcomer to the area John Abbott (John Abbott & The Blues Monks) who lives in Hopewell, NJ plans on getting his feet wet sooner rather than later. “We’re looking forward to producing our debut EP this year. And in response to yet another COVID wave, present a livestream Blues music series on Johnny’s website, so please look for it: johnabbottmusic.com.”
Massage Therapist to the stars Dr. Dot (www.drdot.com) of Lyndhurst, NJ whose business is one of many in the entertainment industry that faced hadship over the past year has a a steadfast take on things and hopes that we can recover from the damage done by COVID shutdowns and venue closings. “2022 will show America is much more united than the mainstream media would like us to believe. Americans will unite to keep our country safe and free. 2021 was literally a chapter out of the book “1984.” One thing we have learned from this whole lock down is “Your health is to it wealth” and to never trust the Government.”
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!