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New Jersey's Original Alt-Weekly

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    Livestock – Legacy Ranch – Howell, NJ – May 10

    With the welcoming warmth of spring breathing down our necks, it’s once again that irresistible time in which we usher in a cavalcade of yearly music festivals. Every year around this time we start to hear about the big boys cranking out New Jersey’s open-air concerts and multiple-day activities. From Skate And Surf to Jersey Shore Music Fest in Seaside Heights, the musical mechanism is in gear, and it is unquestionably full-speed forward.

    Along with the big festival magnates, the last few years have also shown some amazing smaller…


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    The mid-1800s statement from the ironically gullible David Hannum, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” has never rung truer than it does in today’s entertainment business. With major music festival costs rising into brackets that even a Kennedy would balk at, it’s become both complex and economically ridiculous for many to see their idols in person. But still they attempt it, putting up with surcharges and bundled costs that attach like sucker fish on a shark belly. Hotel costs skyrocket to ludicrous levels at festival times, joining food, beverage and unbridled merch dealers in their push to score scads…


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    When I reviewed Anton Roolaart’s 2007 Dreamer, I quickly understood that this was no middle of the road commercial artist following tried and true formulas for corporate success. Steeped in the imagery of the Middle Ages, Anton mixed the visionary storytelling styles of original Renaissance writers Keith Relf and Jim McCarty with the tone and texture of bands such as Gentle Giant. Roolaart brandishes said craft as he would a broad sword against dark and unfathomable forces, battling his nemesis in tales of tragedy and triumph to build overall stories of action and victory. This experimental fortitude continues on…


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    Nearly four million people suffer from Parkinson’s disease worldwide. It’s estimated that somewhere between 500,000 and 1.5 million are afflicted in the USA alone, and new cases are said to range up to 50,000 per year. A mystifying and debilitating disease, there is no known remedy for Parkinson’s, and researchers continue to toil tirelessly to find a way to end it. Myriads of groups have raised monies to fight Parkinson’s, but it’s never enough and the fight continues today.

    While Parkinson’s disease takes its toll on the world at large, individual health costs are even worse, and the disease…


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    Emily Grove reminds me of a line in The Devil’s Advocate when our lord Al Pacino says, “I’m a surprise, Kevin. They don’t see me coming: and that’s what you’re missing.” That’s the impression you’ll get when you discover a performance from this dark, brooding Berklee-schooled prodigy.

    Emily Grove is not your average sugar-laced pop singer down on her knees pleading for prom date consideration and American Idol glory. She’s shown to be wise and articulately mature far above her tender years when it comes to having something to say, and that’s why I’m delighted to be to delving…


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    Grainy, fast-moving images of dusty faith healers spitting brimstone sanctification fill the speakers as Ed Tang and his fellow bandmates gallop in on their brand new eponymous release, Ed Tang And The Chops.

    Ed Tang has always impressed me with his candid ability to deliver without shrouded melodrama or compositional copycat dullness. I’ve read some other articles from guys considered to be scene wizards and I am always interested that most miss what’s right in front of their nose, specifically primary rock and roll deliverance from a band that cares more about the focus of real ability than they…


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    Asbury Park’s Chris Brown is responsible for much more than slinging drinks down at the fabled Bond Street Bar. A former math instructor at St. John’s Prep, the Monmouth County native is also a volunteer fireman serving the Allenhurst area. And if that isn’t enough, he’s a full-time musician out in support of a brand new mission. Brown used his developmental years cutting his artistic teeth on the local scene, mixing covers with his own unique trademark of sing-along rock and roll anthems.

    Brown’s new record is called Anchor, and it is comprised of nine solidly united songs varying…


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    In a state that is famous for one or two signature (and redundant) “shore” sounds, original, unsigned musicians continue to carry the region, lobbing one-two punches in a battle to enlighten music aficionados in theaters, bars, clubs, coffee houses and eateries along the Eastern Seaboard. Essence of folk, country and homegrown Americana blend and flourish with high levels of punk and prog rock originality, spreading great and grassroots prophecy far into the Garden heartland and beyond.

    Spotswood, New Jersey, native Deirdre Forrest steps up to take her shot at that everlasting movement with her latest offering, titled Weathered Woes.…


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    I can remember being backstage on June 15, 1986, at Amnesty International and observing John Eddie command the sing-along masses with “Pretty Little Rebel,” “Jungle Boy,” and a few others that I don’t remember. As I stood stage left, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way this Jersey son addressed the crowd of thousands, putting his stamp on a musical territory that didn’t seem to have any more room at the top. But, as history has shown, Eddie elbowed his way in, sticking to his guns through good times and bad, and woodshedding his way to a veritable…


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    New Jersey is home to many out-of-state musical refugees, playing host to an extensive array of stylists, sounds and influential nuances and incorporating those artists into the growing power of our East Coast presence.

    The Dawn Drapes are yet another distant cousin intent on utilizing New Jersey’s musical reputation. Hailing from Virginia, The Dawn Drapes are a 2011 concept straight from the burgeoning minds of Michael Sanzo and Daniel Rice.

    The duo formed in late 2010 and wasted no time as they jumped into influential explorations, pushing boundaries and intricate sounds through a rotating group of unique musicians. By…


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    Weather has always been the deciding factor in any outdoor activity. As I sat on the couch Friday morning, watching reruns of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, I couldn’t ignore the chill that went through me as I thought of all the people hustling plastic covers over ruined dreams of picnics, parties, fireworks and shows that had presumably fallen to the cold, wet finger of Mother Nature. By 2 p.m. it was really coming down, and the bubbling rivers of water that ran by my house told me that the day was pretty much a bust. But that’s when the…


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    Monmouth County, NJ continues to be a hotbed of rock and roll superiority. Even the razor challenged crews out in Brooklyn make the holy trek south to play uber visible rooms like The Wonder Bar, The Stone Pony, The Saint, Asbury Yacht Club and Long Branch’s Brighton Bar, just to name some of the big dogs in the game.

    But as this ongoing trend demonstrates the unique popularity of our Tri-State Area, my focus this week is centered on a feisty local Shoreworld unit called The Vansaders. Hammered from that traditional “chip off of the old block,” the band…


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    Nicole Atkins has risen to international acclaim due in large part to her unique approach to song composition and collaboration savvy that snags some of the world’s most diverse musicians and producers. That talent, combined with a dark, glimmering style more akin to a David Lynch backdrop than anything in her Garden State heritage, has resulted in Atkins becoming one of New Jersey’s most exclusive and prodigious artists to break out in the last 10 years.

    But that galactic status has not come without hard work. Atkins has traversed the major label highways like a veritable vagabond, first landing…


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    Brick + Mortar Fall Victim To Equipment Thievery

    Stolen. The very word paints portraits of unsettling shock, gut-punch indignity and incredulity. Stealing is regrettably part of the American reality, flooding our media banks with stories of material seeking criminals that would shake even the most jaded criminologist to his or her center. Thievery affects all cultures, races, classes and peoples. It predates biblical ages and shows no signs of slowing down.

    Many I know, including myself, have felt the bite of theft at least once. And throughout the years, I’ve heard the stories of musicians, from locals to the…


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    When I first discovered Jefferson Grizzard back in 2011, he was out in support of his freshman record, A Crack In The Door. That record was important as Grizzard used it as a thumbnail sketch look into his evolving thought process as a composer.

    Grizzard has returned with an even more focused foray into the world of soul-drenched, gritty, rock and roll Americana drive. If he has learned anything from the last several years kicking around in clubs and on the road, it’s that a smooth compositional accuracy and continuity can only come from a willingness to open up…


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    Having grown up in the rock and roll badlands of Ocean County, I’ve always been privy to the bizarre world of rock and roll garages and basements. Power chord marauders have slithered from these darkened tombs to roam some of the world’s largest stages. Evolving from beer-drenched woods parties, these bar-chord barristers have seen career destinies soar into a myriad of both tragic and glorious realities.

    I remember standing slack-jawed in front of long gone Toms River legends like Richard Sweat, a blazing guitarist who brought powerful recollections of Robin Trower straight to Fischer Blvd., and a guy who…


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    Free Fuel Heats Up The Jersey Shore – The Headliner – Aug. 22 – Special Guests End Of An Era And Planeside

    We all know who they are, and we know the music that catapulted this Tennessee foursome to megastardom in the early 1990s. Songs like “Shimmer” made Fuel a household name. The band went on to record several other hits including “Bad Day” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” from Something Like Human, as well as “Falls On Me” from Natural Selection. They also had mega-success with hits “Jesus Or A Gun” and “Sunburn.”

    But what most probably do…


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    One of the more common traits of the songwriter, no matter what degree of success they have achieved within their band unit, is to push ahead and show the world what they can do on their own. This trend isn’t a bad thing, or an ego thing, but a form of communication that demonstrates to the public that while the band is strong as a unit, the individual writer feels that, in their way, they still have something vital to communicate to the world at large.

    This is the case of Jimmy Cutrera. Cutrera is the cornerstone of popular…


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    What do Robert Randolph, world-famous producer Tommy Marolda and supergroup Asia all have in common? Well, Sammy Flow, of course. That’s right, not only has this next New Jersey artist shared the stage with Robert Randolph, but he’s also scheduled to join Asia—those “Monsters Of Rock” that penned the mega-hit, “Heat Of The Moment”—on a stage in New Hope, PA at Havana on Sept. 26. His website also includes strong praise by the guy who was involved with my current favorite series of movies. Tommy Marolda is well known for his addictive work on The Expendables, a star-studded action…


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    Tommy Strazza Presents Songs From The Escape

    Tommy Strazza strikes a special chord with me because of his dedication to the guitar. Sure, lots of guys around are good players and can handle vocal and lead duties, but Strazza has American G.A.S. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, that stands for Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. Many of us have it, and it’s a lifelong illness that seems to increase steadily. Strazza’s quest for both intricate presentation tools and a gritty, life-fueled tone is a commendable foray both live and on disc, and his latest…


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