Hey Charles Dickens (the writer), Willie Nile Band is Performing Live in Rahway, New Jersey Saturday Night January 26th By Calvin Schwartz(0)
Hey Charles Dickens (the writer), Willie Nile Band is Performing Live in Rahway, New Jersey Saturday Night January 26th By Calvin Schwartz
Suddenly last spring, I heard Willie Nile sing for the first time. In the scheme of eventualities of rock and roll music, “last spring” is not particularly one of those full lengths, long career, long time ago happenstances. Put another way, it wasn’t a long time ago. But you see; my journey into rock and roll music or any music for that matter began only a year ago. It’s like an old black and white movie with James Cagney climbing a tower, “Look Mah, I’m on top of the world.” And suddenly I am because it’s never too late for life events. So I’ve become a huge fan of Willie Nile and his band. And I can’t get enough. I’ve come to appreciate the joy of pure lyrics and rock music coming together (just like I’m also a huge fan of the Nick Clemons Band). Willie Nile electrifies and overwhelms. I find myself using the “damn” word every time I hear/see him live. “Damn, he’s so good. Damn, why’d I wait so long?”
It’s funny how you’re drawn into the aura, or a rabbit hole of discovery, or a ballistic epiphany. I discovered the joys of Willie Nile; an auditory gift to all of us and especially us North East folks living close to live gigs and Willie’s home geography. What I mean by the aforementioned two sentences is that I can’t believe I’ve become such a fan, so fast. But I have. I think sometimes I’m too old to be a rock and roll fan then I think about Ebeneezer Scrooge who thought he was too old to change. So I’m not too old, Charles Dickens. Some of my expressions and words may seem a trifle absurd. They are; maybe to make a point but it’s absurd if you care about music (any kind) and you don’t get a chance for Willie Nile live (or some digital music source of pure mountain running spring water and no plastic unrecyclable bottles)
The purpose of my words now is let you all know about a Willie Nile concert this Saturday in Rahway, New Jersey. Before the concert info, a little digression into a recent Willie Nile series of live sightings; actually exactly a week ago when I was with Willie at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park just as he was finishing a live interview on WCTC 1450 radio with Bert Baron as a prequel to Light of Day musical events over the weekend. Willie told me (we’ve done several photo ops together) that “I’m toasted. I just got back from Europe doing live gigs for Light of Day and last night I performed at Asbury Lanes to kick off Light of Day here.”
The setting was a relatively quiet empty surreal Stone Pony. Many musicians and Light of Day founder Bob Benjamin had gathered for the WCTC live radio broadcast for interviews. All of a sudden, I looked; Willie had sat down on top of a bar with a thousand guitars on the wall behind him. I took the picture and thought how wondrously synchronistic (one of my favorite words these days of discovery) because two of my all-time favorite songs (beating out ‘Puff- The Magic Dragon) is Willie’s “House of a Thousand Guitars” and “One Guitar.” A few minutes later I told him that I’ve been listening and watching his ‘One Guitar” video on YouTube (from last year with Springsteen backing up) at least ten times a week. I said, “I really am over ten times a week.” He smiled, “I believe you.”
Later that night Willie Nile and band were back at the Stone Pony for an unplanned short gig to fill in time for a missing musician. I found my nirvana a few feet away when they did ‘One Guitar.” On Saturday night, the Willie Nile Band was back at the Paramount Theatre performing in the main Light of Day concert. They were introduced as the best rock and roll band in America. I told my friend, “wait until ‘One Guitar’” The entire theatre was on their feet. Willie Nile electrified. “It’s what it’s all about,” I thought, thinking I might’ve been the oldest audience member gyrating above his seat.
Perhaps the best part of my well lit weekend was after the magical concert walking back to my car with acclaimed DJ, Dave ‘The Rave’ Kapulsky (Relics and Rarities Show). We walked by (at 2 AM) the Berkeley Hotel where many musicians and Light of Day fans were staying. Magnetism drew us into the lobby and by 2:30 AM Joe Grushecky started an improv jam session; then at 3 AM Willie Nile electrified a hundred people in the lobby with another ‘One Guitar.’ It was a quintessential real live pre-dawn jam session with a performer who constantly soulfully gives back. Yes you should’ve been there.
I guess the best way to close this article is to say if you’re in the mood to be musically, spiritually electrified on Saturday, then come on down (get off the sedentary sofa) to Rahway and see/hear Willie Nile with band mates Johnny Pisano (bass), Matt Hogan (guitar) & Alex Alexander (drums) Hey, maybe Mr. Dickens might be around in some form. It is New Jersey you know.
SATURDAY NIGHT CONCERT INFO:
Legendary Willie Nile is flying high in 2013, coming of a critically acclaimed tour of Italy and turning up stunning shows 4 days in a row for Light Of Day NYC & Asbury Park, NJ. Last week was just a warm up because Willie is bringing his rocking band – Johnny Pisano, Alex Alexander & Matt Hogan to do a full show at Union County Performing Arts Center this Saturday night! Get Ready to Rock Jersey!! Union County Performing Arts Center – Hamilton Stage, 360 Hamilton Street, Rahway, NJ. Get Your General Admission tickets before there gone at http://ucpac.org/html/event_popup.cfm?id=300
Willie Nile Home Page: http://willienile.com/home/index/
Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song: Introducing ‘The Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons ‘There’s Still Christmas.’ By Calvin Schwartz December 5, 2012(2)
WHY is this story here at NJ Discover? Because the song was born right here in New Jersey, USA. All New Jersey musicians. And the song was re-discovered right here in NJ.
A long time ago in another state, in another city (which has alternate side of the street parking), I was aimlessly flicking television channels with an antiquated remote when I caught the black and white beginning of a movie that I’d never seen, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It was early autumn. Within a few minutes, I was drawn into the mystique and charm of this movie; throw an angel into storyline and I’m hooked for the long haul. I loved the movie’s message; about friends, family and dreams. The movie became a Christmas classic but not for many years after it was made in 1946. It was actually released in the summer that year and bombed at the box office.
When I finished watching the movie, I wondered why this wasn’t a classic with its timeless message of Christmas spirit, incredible cast and storytelling. Over the next few years, Ronald Reagan became President and the movie began surfacing on television during the holiday season with uncanny frequency. I said to myself, “I knew it would find itself holiday time;” and did it ever. Back in the Garden State, in the early eighties, a few weeks before Christmas on a Saturday afternoon, I was flicking channels again with a more modern remote and stumbled upon “It’s A Wonderful Life” on six different channels at the same time, staggered so that you could see the ending if you were so moved; six times. “Atta boy Clarence,” Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey) says near the end; witness to the multi decade birth of a Christmas classic movie. Television stations today conspire to only do one showing per season; but it’s still a certifiable classic. Segue to the title of this article, ‘Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song.’ By the way, I find it particularly haunting in my microcosmic synchronistic world that the angel in this movie is a Clarence, and I’m writing about Clarence(Clemons). Hmmm!!
I told the story of the movie because in our crazy mixed-up, digital, smart-phone, fast food world, we’re likely to be witnessing the birth of yet another classic; this time an incredible Christmas song with such a moving emotional voice, the late ‘Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons. If you want to get in the mood before reading on, here’s the You Tube link to ‘There’s Still Christmas.’ Go listen and come back here.
I love angels and synchronicity. Six weeks ago, I came to know Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke who created this song with Clarence Clemons back in 1981. I’m a story teller so here goes.
Back in 1981, Stevie Betts (lyricist) and Dennis Bourke (melody) wrote this song, ‘There’s Still Christmas’ and teamed up with Jim Nuzzo (arranger, producer) and got manager Natty Bruer (assistant tour manager for Springsteen back then) to approach Clarence Clemons. They all met at Clarence’s Sea Bright, New Jersey home, had some wine and presented the words of the song to the ‘Big Man.’ Being on hiatus from touring with Springsteen, Clarence wanted to do it. He loved the message of the song; when things look down, there’s still Christmas; simple yet poignant. And Clarence’s rich baritone voice that is silenced now; propels this to classic status. At the first recording session in October 1981, Clarence arrived wearing a cowboy hat. The next day he was wearing a Santa Claus hat and red vest exposing a chubby belly. He had Christmas lights put on the music stand; he was so in the mood to do this song. They rehearsed the song at ‘Big Man’s West’ in Red Bank; Clarence’s club. Jim and Dennis both told me about getting chills being in the same room with him when he performed. “He was a gentle down to earth guy,” Jim said. To relax during the recording sessions, they played video games. To prepare for record company submission, Clarence recorded the other side on solo sax another Christmas classic “The Christmas Song.” The record company never picked up the song so it’s been sleeping all these years waiting for classic beams of particulate historic energy. Last year the song was released(thanks Terry Camp) but like the movie, so few of us knew it existed. I listened and was blown away; his voice and persona holds me in a suspended state; like I’ve known him all these years; like it’s a special legacy to all of us to have him back in our lives at Christmas this year.
But there’s more to the legacy of Clarence and this song. Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke (A Viet Nam vet) have affiliated with this amazing charity ‘Give an Hour’ http://www.giveanhour.org/Home.aspx a non-profit organization providing free mental health services to US Military personnel and their families affected by current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
All of which means as we move to make this wonderful song a Christmas mainstay and classic, proceeds from the sale of this song on iTunes, CD Baby will help our military. Imagine, after all these years that this song comes to us from Clarence at the holiday time of year; part of his enduring legacy.
Here’s some links to this wonderful life song/info:
A percentage of cd sales from “There’s Still Christmas” by the legendary Clarence Clemons will be donated to Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that provides free mental health services to military personnel, their loved ones and hometown communities affected by conflicts abroad.
Please open up your hearts, honor Clarence and support our veterans by purchasing your copy for this holiday season.
Available for purchase on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and Backstreets.com http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/theres-still-christmas-single/id474038459?uo=4http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/clarenceclemons
You can also find ‘There’s Still Christmas’ on Facebook.
Bottom line. Please go listen and fall in love with the song. Purchase it. Sit by the fire place with a glass of wine or egg nog. Enjoy the Happy Holidays. Listen to his wondrous voice.
Thanks to Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke for their passion and time.
By Calvin Schwartz
Also at: http://www.vichywater.net/blog/
Garden State – Marc Ribler (Music Video)(4)
Song is written and produced by Marc Ribler.
Video produced by NJDiscover
“We are selling the song for $1.29 and 100% of the profits will be going to worthy Shore Relief charities including www.SandyNjReliefFund.org. New Jersey and the surrounding area’s took the greatest beating that we have ever seen in our lifetime. So many folks are displaced. They need food, shelter, clothing and most of all your love and support.The boardwalks, bridges, homes and many many towns are ripped to shreds and they desperately need repair. This will take some time and we all must do our part.I will also be donating 50% of the profits from my first 2 Cd’s, This Life andLife is But A Dream.” – Marc Ribler
Please go to www.marcribler.com to PURCHASE “Garden State”
Asbury Angels Induction Ceremony: [Video] Asbury Park NJ Sunday September 23rd. Calvin Schwartz (writer) Tara-Jean Vitale(0)
Asbury Angels Induction Ceremony: Asbury Park NJ Sunday September 23rd. Calvin Schwartz (writer) Tara-Jean Vitale (video)
By Calvin Schwartz
Twenty minutes before the Asbury Angels ceremony. Shooting down Asbury Avenue for the 78th time this year; that’s an approximation but probably close. I’ve developed a love affair to remember with Asbury Park and find myself there three or four times a week; hey, I’m a music, art, environmental and evolving cerebral journalist and Asbury has morphed into a renaissance/ re-birth. I’ve been saying for some time now in my writings that part of this dynamic is the celestial descending of particulates of molecular energy from the living and past musical history of this town; I’m saying that the world knows about Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Vini Lopez, and the vast array of current performers whose roots came from Asbury.
Yes, for me this energy is absolutely palpable. Last summer I remember walking down Cookman Avenue and looking across the street at several houses. One had a pastel green back porch; a young teenage boy was playing a guitar and gyrating. I was certain he was pretending /dreaming ‘Springsteen.’ I thought to myself; it’s the sprinkled particle energy of the living legends. I also thought while heading down Asbury Avenue, adhering to the speed limit, passed an Italian restaurant and beautiful red brick church, that I was heading to an emotional poignant ceremony honoring particulate energy of Asbury music history of those who have passed on.
Iconic Tony Pallagrosi, so deeply involved in the musical and philanthropic composition of Asbury Park founded the Asbury Angels. “The mission of the Asbury Angels is to honor and memorialize the lives and history of members of the Asbury Park musical community, including but not limited to, musicians, tech support persons, DJs, journalists, club owners, record company personnel, managers and promoters.”
NJ Discover’s team, Tara-Jean Vitale (editor, producer) and I quickly slammed car doors in front of the Stone Pony, and joined the hundreds assembling on the boardwalk for the induction of the 2012 class (first one) of the Asbury Angels. Jackie Pappas from the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce introduced Tony Pallagrosi who read brief biographies of the inductees. Families and friends applauded each reading; the ocean glistened in the background; the sky was perfectly blue and the weather Gods cooperated. The night before, Pallagrosi hinted, Springsteen’s concert at Met Life stadium was rain delayed until 10:30pm.
I listened to every word of each bio. These were legends and icons that did so much for Asbury music. I kept thinking in the midst of the throngs consuming the whole width of the boardwalk, that someday these Angels would’ve contributed to making Asbury Park one of the world’s music destinations. I want to think everyone thought like me. After all, look at the depth, range and impact of these Angels. Its two days later as I write this. I’m still intestinally queasy. I was so moved being there.
As each name was read, a plaque on a boardwalk bench was unveiled with the bio of the Angel. Huge scissors were summoned to cut the yellow ribbon to share the memorial for the ages. It was Asbury Park’s walk of fame. The 2012 Asbury Angels are: Arthur Willard Pryor, Bobby Alfano, Larry ‘Bozo’ Blasco, Bill Chinnock, Clarence Clemons, Danny Federici, John Luraschi, Joe Arthur Major, Arthur Morris, Tom and Margaret Potter, and Moe Septee. When the ceremony was over, I watched people hugging and shaking hands, photographers capturing plaques, old friends seeing one another after decades, smiles and bittersweet teary eyes; a panoply of emotions. I did my joyous deep inhalation/exhalation. “Hey Mah, look where I am,” and thought ten thousand people should’ve been here to experience this. (Or more)
You can find the biographies and information on the Asbury Angels here:
A MUSIC SERIES: Arlan Feiles ‘Wows’ With New CD: “Weeds Kill the Wild Flowers” By Calvin Schwartz(0)
If you let too much time go by and you happen to be living in an evolving blur of change, then it becomes difficult to remember first and even succeeding times. But it’s not too late for me to remember first hearing Arlan Feiles sing in Asbury Park; it was seven months ago; the mild winter was submitting to spring. I went to Asbury Park’s iconic ‘Saint’ and heard him for the first time. Afterwards, I needed more Arlan sounds; the experience was like an ice cream bar; it was so good, I finished several ice cream bars in rapid succession and buried consumed wooden stick evidence until I passed a proper receptacle, preferably in Asbury Park where I heard Arlan sing again; this time with several singers in a concert called ‘Art of the Protest Song,’ at Gallery 629 on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park.
Protest songs were a perfect magnet for me since coming out of the sixties and still wondrously tethered to those changed times. And what could be more perfect than to find Arlan Feiles, a troubadour, lyricist, rarified individualist, passionate singer and commentator of our modern times. How I love magic carpets back to the future. How I love listening to Arlan’s musical emoting and watching his facial visages express depth and conviction. How I love words like essential and quintessential. So on that night in an art gallery briefly converted to a small concert venue, I became a fan of Arlan Feiles.
No long winding roads here; just a sleepy small Monmouth county highway that connected our domiciles. As an emerging journalist, I asked if we could talk about the world of his music and words. We began on his living room sofa and then walked down a main street passed a coffee shop and into an old fashioned park with swings and splintery wooden benches. Oh, it was mid-June, sunny and warm.
Arlan is a LA Laker fan; he proudly stated on the park bench. “A long distance rooting for a team. You must be from LA?” I was right. And during his musical journey from Pacific to Atlantic (coasts that is) he’s shared the stage with a plethora of musical icons; Richie Havens, Dave Matthews, Bob Pollard, Joan Baez, Warren Zevon, Hot Tuna and more. I simply said, “Wow.”
He spent a long time in Florida and found huge success with the rock band, ‘Natural Causes.’ I got up from the park bench and walked over to the swings. “Do I dare try the swing out?” He laughed. Then another “wow” from me: In Florida, Arlan became friends with iconic legendary producer Tom Dowd who passed in 2002 and was inducted into the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Dowd mentored Arlan and ‘Natural Causes’ and they recorded two albums garnering much acclaim. Arlan reminded me of the amazing accomplishments of his mentor Dowd who recorded albums by Clapton, Chicago, The Rascals, Meat Loaf, Sonny and Cher and Diana Ross, The Eagles and more. I said, “Wow,” yet again.
“Let’s head back to the house,” Arlan said. Fittingly, while we walked in a hot sun, Arlan told me about next hitting the road for six months, discovering intimate America in clubs and coffee houses. Comparisons to Woody Guthrie (whom I call the first real American troubadour musician) crossed my mind. Arlan slept in his van sometimes and once played 88 shows in 90 days. I kept thinking a purist, iconic, sensitive, depth charged singer and lyricist is walking ½ step behind me (I have long legs). To arrive where he is now (this very day), so much has gone into Arlan’s cerebral process which makes for extraordinary music and thought. At a long red light on a busy two lane highway, I told Arlan, he’s like a Hemingway of lyricists. Hemingway wrote after living things first; experiencing life and feeling humanity. So has Arlan who even paid for his cross country adventure by selling CDs out of the back of his van. And Hemingway drove an ambulance in Italy during World War I. “Same thing,” I wondered.
As we approached the house, I saw a basketball backboard in the backyard. “Do you shoot hoops,” I said. “What’s your game,” he asked. So for 77 minutes Arlan and I shot hoops then played ‘around the world’ so I didn’t have to stress my 25 year older knees playing one on one. How many journalists shoot hoops until dripping wet in a hot sun during the interview process? Back inside, we ventured into the special world of Arlan’s recording studio; a quiet, eclectic and spiritually warm place of limitless creativity. I felt it.
Bringing me up to date, Arlan mentioned returning from his sojourn and finding Williamsburg, Brooklyn and forming the band, ‘Gift Horse,’ which had a hit “I’ve Got to Tell Ya;’ it was on the soundtrack of Ed Burns’ ‘Sidewalks of New York.” I said, “Wow,” yet again. (The groupie in me causes excessive ‘wows.’) After moving to New Jersey, Arlan recorded two solo albums garnering many honors including ‘Top Americana Artist’ at the Asbury Music Awards in 2007.
Back upstairs we talked about his just released album (the reason why I’ve travelled down a straight highway to talk and shoot hoops with Arlan), “Weeds Kill the Wild Flowers,” recorded with his group, ‘The Broken Hearted.’ As of this writing (August 29th), I’ve listened to the CD a dozen times; his melodious voice easing me into recognition of similarity with historical musical artists which Arlan conjures up. His perfectionism will take Arlan on that ultimate journey of universal acclaim. I’m a writer and thrive on his passionate words. I’ve seen him perform often now and watch intently as his face changes with emotion; a consummate troubadour and sociologist.
I mention sociologist; one of Arlan’s most passionate songs on the new CD is called ‘Viola.’ I’m a product of the sixties; the deaths of the three civil rights workers (Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner) in Mississippi in 1964 changed my life forever. Arlan’s deep roots/feelings into social conscience and commentary led to his awareness of the life and death of Viola Liuzzo; keen particulates of energy swirled into one of his most moving songs.
As the sweat from our basketball confrontation vaporized in his kitchen, Arlan told me about the life of Viola Liuzzo, a housewife in Michigan who was horrified by the violence in Selma, Alabama and decided to go there herself because the struggle for civil rights was everybody’s. Four Klansmen killed her while she was driving local marchers in March 1965. I never knew about her. So now I do thanks to Arlan’s magic. And there’s reverberation as I write this piece; Arlan’s words; Viola’s family; daughters grown up. I have to share a few lines from this haunting amazing song.
“Hold tight we’re gonna fight, yes I told ya’
Stand tall stand upright you’re a soldier
We’re gonna take this head on shoulder to shoulder
I hope you’re with me Viola”
Words link me to Hemingway’s spirit. I need to live and experience before I can write. I told that to Arlan. Our day together was, as the credit card commercial goes, priceless. Another favorite song from “Weeds Kill the Wild Flowers” is ‘Katie Truly.’
“I’ve been working hard for minimum wages
And I’ve been writing down pages and pages of empty
Since you left me
My car broke down on Pulaski Skyway
This old town she just ain’t going my way this season.”
I’m a spiritual universal kind of guy; always looking for essence and commonality. When I heard this verse for the first time, I yelled, “Oh Wow!” You see, back in 1965, the year Viola Liuzzo died, my car broke down on the Pulaski Skyway. We shook hands and said goodbye. Interview over. A sleepy highway back home.
It was a great day with Arlan Feiles for me the interviewer for NJ Discover. When you least expect it, you bond and find commonality in this crazy mixed up world. A few weeks later, Arlan and I were at St. Rose High School in Belmar for the Jersey Shore Basketball League; a college league with mostly offence (spectators we were). Maybe in a few days we’ll do round two of ‘around the world’ hoops; this time at my home court. But in the great cosmic design of things, I found this amazing lyricist, singer and keyboardist. My job is to promulgate, share and move readers to expand horizons. Arlan Feiles is a horizon; easily attainable by checking out websites and procuring his music. Yes, “Weeds Kill the Wild Flowers” is a powerful resounding, “Wow!”
To find more information about Arlan and the CD:
Christie Rampone Soccer Gold Medalist from the 2012 Olympic Games Welcome Home Event Jersey Shore Medical Center [Video](0)
Hundreds of cheering fans welcomed Christie Rampone home! Christie Rampone is New Jersey’s very own Soccer Gold Medalist from the 2012 Olympic Games!
After winning her 4th Olympic Medal, Christie is now the first four time Olympian on the United States women’s soccer team. Dedicating 15 years on the national team she has proven herself to be the perfect example of a young women who has never given up on her dreams. Because of her focus on staying healthy and fit, she was chosen to be spokesperson for the K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. With this opportunity Christie has given more children the opportunity to experience her enthusiasm along with her personal support and guidance.
Christie Rampone’s commitment to her team as Captain is equaled by her devotion to her family. Being the only mother on the team, Christie keeps her children close by. Both Rylie, 6 and Reece, 2 attended the event at Jersey Shore Medical Center.
Also, in attendance was Jersey Mike’s Sub’s owner Peter Cancro showing his support for Jersey girl and Olympian, while giving subs to all of her fans. – TaraJean Vitale, NJ Discover
NJ Discover TV Hosts Frank DiCopoulos & TaraJean Vitale were on the scene at K. Hovnanian’s Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
Renault Winery Italian Festival Little Egg Harbor [Video](0)
Renault Winery’s Italian Festival!
I Love Asbury Park Series: Dr. Sketchy at Asbury Lanes. August 4, 2012 By Calvin Schwartz(1)
There’s a recurring theme to my words and explorations this past year. “I love Asbury Park.” Sometimes I feel like Winston Zeddemore, the character from ‘Ghostbusters’ when he proclaims at the end of the movie, “I love this city.” I do. But it’s Asbury Park. I’ve been saying for a long time as well that I keep feeling a magic dust constantly descending upon this New Jersey seaside city. Part of the dust is definitely a Bruce Springsteen affectation; pure magic and inspirational. You can feel it everywhere. Good old palpable dust that moves you to creativity and dreams. If you want a piece of it, to experience it, then come to Asbury Park.
Asbury Park is becoming that iconic cultural hub for music, art, theater, food and walks on boards. I suppose there’s nothing quite like salt air, inhaled deeply to sweep you back to seeing news reports of President Eisenhower playing golf or Good Humor ice cream trucks pushing Chocolate Éclair bars; obviously my favorite; toasted Almond in second place. Part of the allure of diversity of culture in Asbury Park is Dr Sketchy Anti-Art School. I think it’s time to tell the deal with Dr. Sketchy and why I have so much fun attending (as a journalist).
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is both a burlesque cabaret and life drawing event originating in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and was founded in New York City in 2005, by illustrator and former artist’s model Molly Crabapple and illustrator A.V. Phibes. They’ve grown globally with branches all over. As of a few years ago, Dr. Sketchy’s branches exist in 100 cities around the world. Branches vary in their conservatism and the skill of their artists. Asbury Park’s Dr Sketchy brings in eclectic, beautiful, charming, and fun models. I’ve been to several events which are always themed. Several months ago it was ‘vampires.’ The other evening was ‘horror.’ Sociologically speaking it’s quite an event; artists sketching and photographers capturing.
Asbury Park’s Asbury Lanes has hosted several Dr. Sketchy events. For a small cover charge you’ve got up to four hours of sketching models and themes. Poses range up to five minutes and sometimes you feel as if you’re on a movie set. Props and music put you in the themed mood; sometimes the models even act as impromptu judges for a captured particular sketch. Tim, the franchisee has been particularly gracious and helpful in keeping me in the information loop.
Back to Asbury Lanes; as one donut chain advertises; it’s definitely worth the trip to set a bowling foot back in time to bygone days of the Lone Ranger, Pac Man, Photo Booths, Art Deco paintings and posters garnishing the walls and a bar that reminds me of Jack Torrance and red-rum and Stephen King. Even the water fountain belongs in a hip-hop museum. Everything about Dr Sketchy Asbury Park is in good taste and fun. The models are professional, outgoing, and intelligent and yes, beautiful. Usually a professional photographer takes part of the bar area and recreates scenes and themes with the models. I could learn to be a photographer if I keep hanging around.
Danny Coleman- Rock On! Radio: A Live Radio Show Adventure by Calvin Schwartz ( Florence, N.J.)(1)
A summer Sunday night and a 40 minute drive from Western Monmouth County into what could very well be the exact geographical epi-center of New Jersey. I was in a heightened state of anticipation; about to witness my first live radio broadcast. Heading down Route 130 South, with time to ponder, I likened my experience to a kid heading to those amusement places in Orlando for the first time. Excitation (from a Beach Boys song) was because I heard so much about Danny Coleman.
Armed with my NJ Discover TV camera (I was doubling-up responsibilities as a reporter and film maker) I continued to navigate lonely dark country roads and eventually arrived at the vast complex which housed the radio station WIFI AM 1460. Danny’s show, Rock On! Radio, runs live on Sunday nights from 10pm to 11:30pm and our arrival time at the station was perfectly synched; we pulled up in the parking lot at the same time. Our first live meeting; Danny was wearing a Phillies tee-shirt and I had on my Rutgers cap; therefore no sporting interest conflicts which insured our extreme bonding patterns. Danny’s personality radiated; it was instant “like.” You could tell right away why he’s such an amazing radio personality and DJ.
Art, the station’s seasoned engineer, arrived as I was gathering tri and mono-pods and camera bag. Then Ryche Chlanda, special musical guest also pulled-up. Ryche has a ‘rich’ storied musical career going back to Fireballet when he was a member of America’s first progressive rock band. Soon Terry Loda, nephew and co-host and station photographer Joe Powell completed what I’d like to call a magical broadcast quintet.
Danny Coleman is a drummer and percussion player with a long involvement (37 years) in the New Jersey music scene. Graduating from broadcast school in Trenton, he combined his love of music with the desire to be a radio broadcaster. There was also the notion of helping unsigned original/indie artists which moved Danny back then to approach this young radio station.
“I remember being a teenager and the thrill of unexpectedly hearing my band on the radio as I stood at a church carnival,” says Coleman. “I wanted to give that same feeling to artists who are trying to get their music heard. My goal is to help these songwriters and bands gain some exposure.” So began “Rock On! Radio,” simulcast on line at www.wifiam1460.com as well as fifteen other on line affiliates.
The program features one artist each week with surprise guests as well. Danny told me in the past that John Oates, Graham Parker, Michael Tearson, Benny Mardones as well as Peter Gabriel band mate Larry Fast have all called and shared stories from the road. This night was special for the quintet and Danny of course and me; it was the 150th episode of the show. Danny fields phone calls, monitors several of the affiliates chat rooms, Facebook and email; Coleman is wondrously hands on; that’s why his show is booked months in advance.
I marveled the entire time at Coleman’s style, grace, affable endearing charming engaging manner; one of those pinch your arms sessions; look where I was and with whom; an incredible radio broadcaster. He called me to the microphone to explain what I’d eventually do with the footage and my experience. Danny is so good; he put normally shy Calvin at ease and I spoke fluently and seamlessly to his live audience in Burlington, Bucks Counties and Philadelphia.
Near the show’s end, Ryche sang live, powerfully and emotionally. Then the quintet, led by Danny, shouted, “Rock on Radio,” on air (me too) and he signed off. Esprit de corps took the quintet into a small equipment room for a group shot. This was purist unbridled fun. And I realized that it was also purist unbridled Danny Coleman.
“Rock On! Radio” exists because of the continuous support of its listeners and the fantastic artists who grace the studio. To contact Danny or to schedule an appearance or be a sponsor of the program contact: Rockonradio1460@hotmail.com
SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA: A Back Stage View. The Strand Theater. Lakewood, NJ. By Calvin Schwartz(0)
SONGWRITERS BY THE SEA: A Back Stage View. The Strand Theater. Lakewood, NJ. By Calvin Schwartz
Author’s Note: I was so overwhelmed by the electricity and intimacy of this special musical event, that the following words/descriptions you are about to read are designed to make you feel what I felt being there. Of course the words should also move you to find the next ‘Songwriters by the Sea’ yourselves.
I was picturing something new, filling with anticipation and even uncertainty and whispering words of a long forgotten gut wrenching song, “What’s it all About, Alfie?” Why am I whispering words and not singing? Because I can’t sing and I wish I could since the time my Newark elementary school put on a musical play in the auditorium. A picture of then President Eisenhower hung just to the right of the flag. Kids who could sing got special attention and privileges. I wish I could sing.
This night was special. I was driving down foggy misty Route Nine from Springsteen’s Freehold, New Jersey, toward Lakewood’s Strand Theatre for my first indoctrination into a wondrous backstage event. Alas, I can’t sing but I can write visually and sail through streams of consciousness and imagination. I was picturing things as my right hand negotiated a steering wheel. It was ‘conjure-up things’ city on a strangely empty highway. Suddenly I was at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands (I still call it that). Seventy thousand fans were yelling “Bruce.” My seats were humble and I was without binoculars. Just to see his face up close would’ve been everything. All of a sudden, as I passed a diner and barren parking lot, I was in a small Vermont town where a veterinarian’s assistant was the mayor. A group of 44 people were gathered on her green lawn in front of a porch that circumnavigated the house built by relatives of Ben Franklin. A musical porchfest was going on. I parked my car, walked over; everybody greeted me and I saw the lips of the singers moving and felt the exhaled breath of each word. And I heard every word. They were singing just to me. Relevance was my new favorite buzz word. The fog was thick; I couldn’t see the porch anymore.
A sign on the roadside welcomed me to Lakewood. Now back in Jersey and about to enter the world of a porchfest on a backstage of an historic theatre. Slip me into the world of art deco and put me next to a radio to hear President Roosevelt or Mayor LaGuardia. My anticipation was as thick as ketchup; the French banned this red food stuff in their schools; I remembered and smiled about the quirky randomness of my thinking. I was cylinder firing away because of my extreme excitement to be at a backstage event. I was following maze like theater corridors and magic marker signs leading to back stage at the Strand Theatre. I was really there.
I’m a native Jersey guy who likes history. The Strand opened in 1922 when Lakewood was actually popular with the rich and famous of the day like Rockefeller. The theater was built with a sense of acoustics as many performances of the day were solo acts. And here I was, about to walk onto the stage of the Strand for a magical acoustics evening. The Strand was signed into the National Register of Historical Places in 1982. My tripod, mono-pod and TV camera were gently deposited on the floor as ‘Songwriters by the Sea’ co-founder Joe Rapolla greeted me within my first few steps on stage. In 2008, Joe Rapolla and Joe D’Urso created the concept of ‘Songwriters’ who performed then in Asbury Park at America’s Cup Coffee on Cookman Avenue. After a year in Asbury Park, the concept grew in popularity with audiences and they expanded to Backstage at the Strand in March, 2009.
I need to qualify my writing style; strictly from the gut and reflective how songwriter performers emote while the surroundings add ambience to my writing soul. Joe Rapolla’s poignant life and musical journey has already hyper sensitized my words and observations. Therefore, this is not a review.
For the first half, I decided to plant my TV camera in the back of the stage which was several rows away from the songwriters. I wanted to feel songwriter intimacy and connections being part of the real audience. I flicked the camera on auto and spiritually drifted. The old renovated theater was dark and empty; light from the stage managed to illuminate the first few rows of seats. Dimly lit chandeliers added to surrealism; for me a silence you could see. Silence was part of the history in the walls; Burns and Allen once performed here; so did the Scarecrow, Ray Bolger. I heard Gracie’s shrill voice.
D’Urso (remember we’re dealing with two Joe’s) introduced the first group of songwriters. Cat Cosentino (from Oceanport and proud of it) and Bobby Mahoney (only 17 and therefore couldn’t avail himself of a real drinking bar in the rear) were the youngest rising stars. Tom Breiding lives in West Virginia while Bill Toms is near Pittsburgh. Bill talked to us like we’re in his living room back home. “The hardest person to get to know is yourself.” Then the song words , “I’ve made peace now with a stranger in me.” Backstage means stark silence except for voice echoes. He sang to me. Three rows in front, a man on the aisle rubbed his cuticles. Why write about that; because of the intimacy of backstage; sensitivity and in tune with the immediate world. I pinched myself; purist joy what I was part of; affluent, audible, flowing, meaningful words. I was back in the Meadowlands briefly, starved for wordy echoes.
Cat’s first song was dedicated to her parents; her voice melodiously electric. Bobby sang “A Delicate Fall from Grace;” which reminded of a whip ride back in Newark; that sudden acceleration. Tom Brieding sang about finding one another as we drift between stars. What meant everything to me being backstage is I heard every resonating word. The singers told stories. “You talking to me,” then I told the taxi driver to let me be. I love backstage. A man on the left, two rows down took a swig of beer; the bottle level was half-way. Then I saw a leg wearing cargo shorts stretch out in the aisle, moving to the beat of the music; the calf muscle flexed visibly. Gosh, I was in an electronic hyper state. The Strand environment worked magic. Then I whispered to myself (I do that in states of elation), “Thank you Rapolla and D’Urso.”
Intermission and time to position the camera on the side of the stage; different absorption I imagined. Both Joe’s would sing. And Garland Jeffreys, a living legend; I was a few feet away. Guy Davis; unbridled energy and blues. Jerzy Jung;( her real name) with keyboard inches away from me. Joe D’Urso, a Bronx native, sang, “I’ll prove it won’t be dark, all the stars will be out tonight.” While singing ‘Chocolate Man,’ Davis touched the audience.(proximity and sensation). And to hear every breath Garland Jeffreys took while singing ‘Coney Island Winter,’ was nirvana. “Hey Mah,” I was in that place of magic. I don’t know where James Cagney came from. Maybe I do know. I’m backstage clicking my heels.
Then Do-Wop from D’Urso and the gang. He really corralled me all the way back to Newark, New Jersey, with the words, “Why must I be a teenager in love.” The power of backstage music, I thought. The Good-Humor man was selling this new ‘Toasted Almond’ bar. Jerzy spoke about any woman or girl who ever felt unsure of herself. Soon, I was sitting around a fire place with a few fraternity brothers; Harvey had a guitar and was singing a folk song; ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ I tried to sing along. They told me to stop. I heard Rapolla’s wooden stool scrape along the stage. I was back on stage in awe, amazed at the clarity of the stool scraping noise.
Every word from Garland Jeffreys was heard while he was way down in Spanish town. And when he wasn’t singing, I watched him tap his feet to the beat. How many singers have I seen do that; certainly not from the running track in Madison Square Garden or standing chest to shoulder in a bar or in a park with a makeshift bandstand and hundreds of beach chairs as forward motion impediments.
Joe Rapolla talked about giving kids advice on love. “Don’t be afraid to throw your heart on the wind.” You’ll never know feelings of songwriters unless you are backstage. All of a sudden Bill Murray pounded a clock radio alarm at 6:00 AM. ‘Groundhog Day’ flashed. I didn’t want this night to end. Later Jerzy said that uncertainty wasn’t a bad thing. And the harmonica playing by Davis was riveting. Jeffreys walked into the audience while singing ‘New York skyline.’ Everybody was singing now. Disbelief; I noticed the shadow that the microphone wire cast on the stage floor. It was a giant shadow. Jeffreys’ voice was a giant voice. ‘Wild in the Streets’ with all the cast closed this backstage event. When the show was over, I mingled with the singers. Accessibility was in the theater air ducts. I thanked both Joe’s for their remarkable vision. And I marveled again about noticing the shadow of Jeffrey’s microphone wire. But that’s this incredible backstage world; heightened awareness and sensitivity beyond imagination.
‘Songwriters by the Sea’ series is a musical atom; protons, electrons, neutrons firing away. My mind fired away and still does. It moves me to write impassioned commentary for people to escape from sedentary sofas. But what would happen to intimacy and interaction? I thought of the word ‘secret.’ I also knew I was in a special place with special people for several hours and my atoms were musically innervated like never before. Then I thought about my not ever being able to sing but it didn’t make a difference anymore. I was part of singing for every millisecond I was backstage.
Here is an old fashioned PS to this article. I went home and found Joe Rapolla’s cover of Elton John’s ‘Daniel.’ I listened several times in a row because I read his bio and I was still in that heightened electronic sensitized state from being backstage all night. So here’s a link: Joe Rapolla ‘Daniel’
And I’m still listening.
Calvin Schwartz 6-1-2012
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