Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Redheaded Strangeness or On the Road Again

This article is a continuation of my last post. When we last left our hero (me), he was dreaming about peaches, dune buggys, and the Mach 5. Ok, enough with the second person stuff, it's mildly weird. I woke after 4 hours of sleep knowing I'd need to get up early to get back up to work at 1pm. I rose from my 10 year old futon, which was not a comfortable place to sleep. Years of tossing and turning and several moves with that contraption had turned it into more of a pit trap than bed. But I was at my dad's place in south Jersey, you can't really put a price on a free night's rest. Well you can, hotels charge around $130 for four hours....and the kind of hotels that charge hourly aren't exactly the sort of place a man gets any rest.

The commute from South Jersey to Jersey City is a long one, filled with it's own sort of adventure. Public Transit south of Trenton isn't the same as north. Managing the bus system is like surveying the Amazon to someone who's not quite familiar with the area. Thankfully, almost every bus hits Walter Rand Transit Center in Camden on it's way to Philadelphia. Yup, Camden, THAT CAMDEN! The one Chris Rock warned you about! Now, as an avid traveler and a man knowledgeable to the various situations of danger on the public transportation system, I follow a few well manufactured rules.

Rule 1. Keep your mouth shut and your head down!
You are the mark! Talking to people for prolonged amounts of time serves only to distract you attention from the pair Raptor in the bushes adjacent to you!

Rule 2. If asked for change, shrug, if they give you shit tell them you need what you got to get home.

Rule 3. Don't be an asshole! This is Eagle's Country.
If asked your team affiliation respond in kind, (they call him the Philly Fanatic for a reason)I'd rather be sick to my stomach later on, than punched in it right now.

Rule 4. When in doubt, pretend your kind of insane! Note this doesn't work on other people with mental deficiency. Use this on the wrong person and you'll be talking like furbies on acid.

Ok, those bases are covered. I just missed the 410 at 9:54. So I had to wait for the 410 at 11:00. Once the bus came I took my spot in the middle and put on my MP3 player. Not long into the trip a woman turned around and demanded my cell phone. "I'm gonna use your cell phone, I gotta call my work." It was something along those lines, most importantly this was not a request! I almost laughed audibly. I had to applaud the fact that the woman was a crafty social engineer at the very least, but her simple Jedi mind tricks were no match for one trained by Dave Minick. I feigned poverty, "I got no phone, I'm late for work too, missed the bus before." She wasn't interested in my story. Oddly enough she didn't ask anyone else.

From Walter Rand to Trenton, from Trenton to Newark, from Newark to Jersey City. It only took 5 hours! I got to work and waited out the day for A Saturday Night event at Kilkenny Alehouse. A tribute night to Willie Nelson in honour of his recent birthday. Time ticked by pretty quickly and before I knew it I was at home getting changed and ready to make the scene in Brick City.

I got in just at the end of Bern and the Bright's set. I was highly disappointed because they are long over due for a once over! Another of the Montclair Crew. These girls are really making waves on the local scene and even getting a little radio time here and there. No worries though, they'll be playing At Lucky 7 Tavern on my Birthday with Honah Lee, Deivito, and Kagero. If you happen to be in the mood to rock out come May 16, I invite you to stop on by! Tonight B&tBs were playing with the McMickle Bros. as well. I told you, those boys get around!

Deivito hopped up on stage with, Wes of Tip Canary and Sam of McMickle Bros. They played the entire Red-headed Stranger Album. These fellas were wailing away on their guitars, I was swilling beer and stomping shoe! The Highwayman would have been proud.... Of All three of us I'd wager!

The Crosstown Country All-Stars got on stage with two members that were previously unsung on the last post about them. Ace Case and Ken Trotta still round out the Guitar and Vocals, but tonight Bill Henry(key) and Rodney Azagra(drums) took the stage is this ragtag group too! Rastabouts as always Ace and Ken tried to start up a rivalry with Anyday Parade. I think they said something to the effect of Anyday Payday. You gotta understand Ace's sense of humour. I saw him play a week for Election night. And he was pretending to support McCain's Country First Slogan, as a joke. I think I was the only person in the crowd laughing, for a town full of Liberals you'd think they'd laugh a little less conservatively. Anyhow the set was crafted with comedy and good old fashioned joshing around, plenty of country favourites and some originals as well.

Tree, The Chucks, Larry, and JD took the stage as the Voltron that is Anyday Parade.
They joked back about All-stars' comment. They quickly turned the nob, from Defrost to Simmer as they worked into their songs. Tree's classic voice melded in a stew with Larry and JD trading off leads and answering her musings. Chuck D. worked the bass in a mesmeric fashion, but this time he looked like he was immune to his own magic, moving around the stage like a snake tail inbetween the vox/guitar Cerberus of the band. If the rest of the band was a mythological three-headed hellhound, then I guess Chuck R. was Zues himself, bringing down the thunder!

I sat out in the crowd singing along to every song and dancing with the rest of the crowd at the alehouse. You better make sure you come to the next show they have! You're missing out on one hell of a good time in Newark.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Presidents of the USA at the Trocadero or The Old Man in the Mosh Pit

Back in late 1995, I was just 15 years old, Not really sure about my direction. My direction in life, in music, in anything. I knew one thing for sure: I was weird. Not strange, not exotic, just plain weird. And while other bands popular at the time were writing song about their terrible high school experience, or how no one understood them, a shining beacon of hope emerged from the mire of Seattle grunge rock. The Presidents of The United States of America, hit the scene! They were wacky, they played a two string guitar they wrote songs about things that didn't even make much sense to me at 15. I loved it. And that Christmas I received my 4th CD.... Self-Titled By PUSA. Finally it was ok to not like everything my classmates were listening to. I hopped on the grunge wagon well after Kurt Cobain passed away. Before this I was listening to Frank Zappa and old Dr. Demento Albums. That album was one of the most influential buys I made in my entire life. I listen to it non-stop. Songs like the MC5 cover Kick out the Jams and We're not gonna Make It got me thinking about a faster, harder, more emotional kind of music before I thought punk rock was more than just a bunch of guys that coloured their hair funny and fought the Ninja Turtles.

So imagine My excitement when some of my friends told me they were still playing music together! There was a show at the Trocadero in Philly coming up! Did I want them to get me a ticket? HECK YES! I busted out the records and I started jamming out to Cleveland Rocks and Mixed-Up SOB and I listened to every song they put out. I was 15 again for a little bit.

So it came the day of the concert, Last Friday, I woke up early went to work restocked the bar talked to my boss about how excited I was and I left and got on the train. I must have seemed like a teenager to everyone I talked to. "I'm going to see the Presidents!" I'd say, beaming like my homecoming date had just said yes. "Yes they're still around. They have like six albums!

I arrived in Philly a bit early. Hungry for some mall food. The train (Septa's R7) drops you off right at the Gallery Mall on 8th and Market in Philly a mere block from the Trocadero! I needed food. And I came to a crossroads in my journey. The Choice between mall sushi and Chik-Fil-A was not a hard one, in truth, but I felt the need for some form of drama. And there you have it, pitted between my love for sushi and my fear of the low quality crap that malls churn out. Lucky for me there was a shining light of fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. After my meal, I walked over to the Trocadero. 6:30pm I was an hour and a half early and My friends weren't leaving south Jersey until about 8pm. I just waited in line...I was the first.

As the time wore on, I wondered if I might be able to get an interview, and what I would say. How would I not lose my cool? As these questions whizzed around my head like X-wings in the Battle of Yavin. Chris Ballew walked out of the Troc (presumably to hit up a Wawa) I recognized him immediately! Knowing that If He left via the main entrance I focused on his return in the same fashion. The line grew. When he came back I gave a wave and a "hey, man!". He turned smiled back and said, "Hey,man! First in line! Good Job!" I don't think I was able to muster up much of a response, a goofy smile, perhaps a thumbs up. Somewhere under all this cool and and past the smooth dance moves I'm still that awkward 15 year old kid.

So we get inside the venue and the Presidents start-up. (Sadly, they didn't let me take in my gear and the band's management deal with all the interviews.) I think they started with Kitty. And I'm in the thick of a pogo rhomp. everyone was jumping up and down acting like fools. These are my kinda people! As the songs change the dancing goes from moshing, slow dancing, to a good old fashion circle pit. I could go on about the entire show song by song but thats really not much fun. Suffice it to say it was one of the best shows I've seen in a while. After the show I went to Denny's. I had some Country Fried Steak, Got to my dad's house in south Jersey, and slept. I did however get a little video with the cell phone. Sound's a little harsh but, you might get a kick out of the stage dive!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuesday Night with Kagero at Lucky 7 Tavern

It's been a long time coming. I've seen Brooklyn's Premier Japanese Gypsy rock band something like 6 times. My first bad shoot in a bout four years was of these fellas back in late Dec. I was trying to figure out a project for myself. That was a few weeks before my first post. But in the last few months I haven't been able to get out to their shows. So a staple part of the Jersey City band social scene has been missing. Well no longer! It was a beautiful Tuesday night, if not a little muggy as I left home for Lucky 7 Tavern.

The McMickle Bros. started off the show. This was a last minute gug for these boys. This performance included a special treat. John Clifton (keys) was playing with them. One of many great things about the Mcmickle Bros. is they are part of a tightly knit crew that hails from Montclair. Virtually everytime one of these bands plays (Mcmickle Bros., Tip Canary, Bern and the Brights, Deivito! even The Crosstown County All-stars) there's a great showing of the other bands. It's refreshing to see that kind of support locally. Robbie from Tip Canary and Deivis of Deivito fame where on hand for the set as well as plenty of fresh faces from the Montclair area!

The McMickle Bros. have appeared in my work several times, if you don't know about them check out my post on them and on the One and Nines. I'm gonna tell you about how John's slick work on the keys really added a synergy to songs I now know by heart. Filling in areas that I never would have thought needed any help with some piano sounded interminably entertaining and well thought out. There was some dancing and foot stomping and plenty of singing along for everyone!

Kagero is one of the wildest and most innovative bands I've seen and heard locally or otherwise. They blend crafty violin solos with rocking harmonica driven bridges solid backing bass, and break out guitar verses. The bands Front man Kaz, certainly pulls the gypsy look off well. From the scarves, and fedoras right down to the small details, like his steampunk goggles! JW the bands Violinist also pulls out that anachronistic feel generally wearing a suit and keeping it classy. Rob (who was out for the night) is a touch more lax in his garb. Jeans and a rock T shirt will always do the trick no matter what kind of music you play. Last time I saw them Rob was rocking a Heart tee.

All of this is well and good but it doesn't tell you whats inherently important about this band. What do they sound like? Well it's like a slow motion riot that builds up over time. Sometimes they start out slow other times they jump right into the rock! They go from folky and shift gears right into dance rock, and then jump train for a little rock ballad. Few songs implement this as well as "Red and Black" it starts off with a little harmonica and Kaz let's you know about his colour fetish. Then the chorus demands a tango beat the brigde duels the harmonica and Violin, and slows back down for the 2nd verse. It's fun and it's something you don't hear everyday. The crowd was in a full on dance mode by the time they got finished. And we weren't letting them go anywhere without an encore!

Just as Kagero finished their set. It started to rain. They had apparently pleased Old Kuraokami. They had pleased me at the very least. After the show I sat down and had a few drinks with the gang. Matt Sam Robbie Deivis and several hangers on took a walk after the rain died down and we crawled around to a few other bars. Like the busted tilt-o-whirl we represented, eventually all this fun had to shut-down. There's no denying that for a Tuesday night it was one crazy time!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prosperity Preserved, Verronica Defended! Empire Saved!.....for now.

Popular folklore would have you believe that there exists in the underworld ruthless men who fear nothing, perhaps this post will help you make up your mind! If you were in Jersey City, April 18th 2009, perhaps you were privy to meeting some of those men, members of the most epic rock band I've see in this town, well ever! I'm talking about LAST DAYS OF EMPIRE. I stumbled into IMAC a bit late that night hoping for something amazing, something unprecedented. The second band had just finished up. I hit the bar with a vengence, and watched as LDOE set up.

I had a fire in my head from the night before, a hangover the likes of which would have made Prometheus feel bad for me. Never being the most devout man, religiously speaking, I decided a little meditation might do the trick. Meditation in the form of live music, beer and some picture taking. LDOE got off the ground about 15 mins later. I'm not sure they ever came down, in fact there were reports later of a six piece Epic rock band hovering over the Hudson later that night!

Seriously though, Last Days of Empire is Cory(guitar), Brian(guitar) Jason(Keys) Michael(guitar/vox) Rob B.(bass)and Rob(drums). I'm not up totally on the story here but apparently this is a concept rock band. They are the soundtrack to a movie that hasn't been written, a story partially told! It's like the ingeniousness of the 8bit Metroid soundtrack with lyrics! It's cosmic, its conspiratorial, it's prolific as all get out! Michael's vocals are the harbinger of darker days calling, pleaing for revolution! Jason sets a really dystophian mood, like all the things Lovecraft warned you about gone horribly wrong! He is the band's Erich Zann.
Rob serves up the rhythm for the march of the resistance, and the rolling of the tanks they assault. Rob B.'s pounding bass threatens to break rank as Brian's leads dogfight with Cory's rhythms Red Baron style. Watching the band in motion is almost as entertaining as hearing them!

You know that feeling I told you about? The one I got at my first show, the one I feel a little bit every time I see a live band. Its hard to explain it, like the sadness from watching the end of E.T. mixed with the optimism from the Last Starfighter, and a pinch of the the HELL YES! from the fight scene in Three O'Clock High. It was like my heart was breaking right there with the band. No it wasn't like that, IT WAS THAT! I haven't felt like that since I saw CK5 back in February. Not to detract from the other bands I've seen of the last few months. I'm a hard nut to crack. After the show I couldn't help but pick up a t-shirt and their latest EP: Black Armband Holiday. I'm very excited about these guys and I think you can tell from the pictures!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

All American Friday with The Amboys, Mike Ferraro, and Jett Brando

This week I went to Caven Point to support the Jersey City Softball League's Opening Day. The weather was perfect! It was a great day for all things American. Things like bar league softball, Budweiser and Rock N Roll. After a walk-off win for Lucky 7 Tavern, I went home showered up, took my gear and went out to IMAC for a little local rock music.

I walk in and Metropolis is playing on the big screen. This lends it self well with the rock going on. A great black and white pre-talkie, one of the precursor movies to science fiction as a genre. But if you're spending time paying attention to the movies during the bands, don't be surprised when I call you a dirty commie! The night started off with Mike Ferraro and the Young Republicans. Mike's vocals and guitar coupled with Ralph Cappasso's drums and backing vocals, have a cool vibe. If Tom Petty played guitar like Joey Santiago (of Pixies fame) you'd have Mike Ferraro. Ralph's drums serve as a build-up to the guitar infused choruses. This band transcends any real comparison or genre category.

I have a feeling that was the intention of tonight's line-up. Jett Brando is just as hard to put into a box as a rabid wet bobcat on amphetamines! Jett Brando is Jeremy Winter (guitar/vox) Pete Murphy (bass), Brian Doherty (drums) Eric Schnare (guitar). The band rocks out with all the cool of Chris Isaak and half the camp value of the Misfits. They have a late 60's optimism commingled with an early 90's dirge. It's and interesting dichotomy.

For the sake of argument Nashville, Tennessee is now located in Asbury Park, just follow me here. In this alternate universe, Tiger Army plays guitar infused country-rock with Langhorn Slim on lead vocals. All this fiction in the fantasyland I've created for you leans on this: The band I'm describing is very real, and while not made up of members of the acts I mentioned, their sound is no less authentic. The Amboys are that band! CM Smith (Lead Vocals, guitars) Manny Castanon (Bass) Kissy Constantine (Background Vocals) Connor Effenberger (Drums) Kyle Waugh (Guitar). They have a Rattle and Hum vibe. I've never been much of a U2 fan, (mostly due to what I feel is an overactive involvement in world politics) but this is a sound I can really vote for. It's homey and robust, CM and Kissy play off each other well. Connor and Manny root the band well but but take wing from time to time. Kyle's guitar coupled with CM's serve to pick up the pace and shift their sound out of neutral and right into cruise! And before I really felt like I had my fill of rock for the night, it had all dissolved. Maybe it was me, I was on edge from the softball game or the Budweisers, but I was a bit disappointed. The night ended prematurely for me. But then I guess when you're rocking out, time really twists and spins a bit faster than you'd like.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A word from the Rocker Tycoon

I made a comic! I'm gonna track activity today. Hopefully its a success!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Movin and Shakin' with Division of Planes And WJ & The Sweet Sacrifice

"Motion creates Emotion!" I can't claim that as my line. I got it from Ben Affleck, who got it from whoever wrote the movie Boiler Room....But the origins of that phrase are simply not important. Its a truth of the universe, if you move you'll feel better. And There is a direct correlation between feeling good and rock music. I think it's .87 (if you took Psych 101, you should chuckle, if you don't chuckle, then you probably didn't pay much attention). Right, I just went off on kind of a tangent.....sooo, OH YES! Saturday Night, I scuttled across town to see WJ and the Sweet Sacrifice. I was extremely worried that I would miss the show as I was getting out of work at 11, and WJSS was set to start up at 11. But, on my luck (which seems to be taking a turn for the positive as of late), they hadn't started yet.....AND there was one more band left before they were to start!

I had spoken with Billy Alpha a few weeks prior about coming out for the show, he's been really helping me out by telling people what I'm about, and that's been opening up some doors for me. I was really looking forward to see them again since the last time was back in July of last year. Jersey City over the past few weeks has come to embrace me as their rock writer! It's an exciting time to be a Rocker Tycoon! In fact, on that note, earlier this week Eric of Borosix (the cats behind the booking of shows for IMAC) reached out to me in appreciation for the pics and write-ups. That was mighty cool of him to do. Knowing that people give a damn about what I'm doing is half the reason I get out of bed in the morning!

Division of Planes was setting up I took a shot grabbed a beer checked my equipment and let the calm of not being at work rush over me like a warm shower. Saturday's are long for me they start around 10am and don't finish up til 11pm. It feels good to shake off the day with a little live music! I unclench my ass, relax for a second and then I realize I only have nine pics left on my memory card! Whats worse is because the other pics weren't shot on my camera I can't erase them. Remember what I was saying about good luck? Yep well that shite's right out of the window. That's not a whole lot of pics...But I've worked with less. Quality not quantity I just have to be in a little more controled. As I'm scrambling for some kind of answer, DOV gett into it.

From their very first song, Division of Planes were making use of their area! They sound like a chase scene and their body language was no different. The bassist (J. Johnson) is a one man mosh pit! The Drummer (Jonathan Johansen) is a methodical madman. Lead singer Guitarist (Tom Unish) has a rippingly catchy guitar and haunting voice! and the....wait thats it? There are only three guys in this band? It sure sounds like there's a four or fifth member. Talk about going to 11! They played at 110% for all of their set then they were finished.... The ghosts of Sunny Day Real Estate, Boy Sets Fire and Mission of Burma look on in approval. I have seen the future, friends, and post punk is alive and well in Jersey City! After the show I picked up both of their albums and chatted it up with J. Johnson for a few minutes. Very approachable guy, more than friendly, and totally amped after his set! I haven't seen any other shows listed on their page or myspace, hopefully they'll update soon. I'm making a point to get out to see them again!

WJSS hit the stage like a jack rabbit on a date! WJ and the Sweet Sacrifice is William "Billy Alpha" Ferrera (guitar/vox) , Erin "Colossus of Rhodes" Conners(organ/guitar/vox), Mike Moebius (Bass) and tonight Thomas Barret of No Pasaran! was filling in as drummer for Ray James Hill. First Impression: I'm thinking I need a Cadillac, white '89, a Deville. This is classic driving music! Not chase scene style driving music. No, the "get the fuck outta Dodge cuz your wanted by the law and your woman left you" driving music. The kind of music you play the drums on the dashboard and the bass on the steering wheel to. Route 80 twenty mph above the speed limit music! Billys pleas and groans cut right a river right into his guitar, Erin multitasks between songs going from guitars to the Rhodes, to tambourine and supplying backing vocals, the poor thing rocked out so hard you'd think she suffered a rock concussion. Mike Moebius pounded the bass in accent to Billy's guitar, and even took a sidetrip or two for something a little more scenic! Thomas on the drums was a great substitute, you'd think he'd been playing with the Sweet Sacrifice for years. He put his nose to the grindstone, knuckled up and navigated right through the set into the encore! You can tell form the pictures there was both motion and emotion running wild during the set!

Billy and I talked for a few after the set. I asked him for an interview with the Band and Tom. They complied. I think we got something pretty special camera got turned on me for a second. Ignore the Hawaiian shirt, I was at a beach party. But before you go into that. I just wanted to say something about the local scene.

Things being as they are with a government in chaos and jobs going flat it's nice to know that rock is flourishing here. I think we take it for granted up here that the local scene is as rich and significant as it is. Don't get me wrong I love my country dearly, but it seems each time we turn a corner there's more conniving and backhanded shady dealings going on. I say all that to say this: PROTECT YOUR SCENE! Politically speaking vote in your local elections. Jersey City's in coming on May 12. Register for your town/ it's not enough to just be registered in your state, if you live here, vote here! Few political concerns matter to me more than freedom of speech and the right to assemble. We need to hold those rights, the most sacred ones, on a pedestal! I think that's something we can all agree on! I'll step off my podium now. Please enjoy the videos and the interview!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Getting Naked with Tip Canary and the McMickle Bros.

Judging from the fact that my key demographic is heterosexual males age 18-35, that probably doesn't sound too appetizing. No, I'm not trying a new tactic to get more girls to read my blog. By Naked I meant Naked Music Series at Life Cafe on the corner of 10th street and Avenue B in NYC. The idea is quite genius in its simplicity. Bands play unmic'd without amps in a friendly atmosphere. Dana McCoy is responsible for the event.

So, tonight I came out specifically for Tip Canary! Another band of the Montclair crew. I hadn't seen them play since right before I started up Rocker Tycoon. It was due time to check them out! But first the McMickle Bros. were up. In the spirit of the naked concept they had decided to play as the McNipple Bros. That got a chuckle out of the crowd. And so I decided to ante up to the idea of shooting Naked. In that interest, I went with B/w no flash and my 50mm 1.8, like the way I had to shoot back in school. I never went to school for video, so I just went ahead with filming in B/w too.

After the McMickles' performance, which was wrought with comedy and crowd participation, there was a special treat. Caitlin Cannon and Neville Elder played a few songs. It seems it was Caitlin's first live gig! I took a few shots (pictures not drinks, Jesus man, its a Monday godsakes!) And a video of her very first live performance! Caitlin has a pretty unique voice! She played a really cool song that I sadly didn't get a recording of after that, she found in a book of women's liberation songs. It was pretty different, I gotta be Honest I dug but wasn't sure if I should have laughed or politely nodded and winked. That said, she did an excellent job for her first time scratch that! She did a great job all around!

Then Tip Canary sauntered to the forefront. Tip Canary is Robbie (guitar Vocals)and Wes (Guitar vocals). I can't rightly remember what they played first..... Oh wait sure I can. It was Part one of the Doobie Blues! Robbie takes the audience on a mythical journey of how he wound up in Mexico. This song has all the common themes in the life of a stoner; hassled by the law, bummed about politics, and even a good old police chase scene. Wes fills in behind with guitar for mood. Then they headed into Broke A$$ Game.

Let me stop here for a second, and give you a frame of reference, Donnie! The guys are wordsmiths, cynical, self depreciating and autobiographical, to the point that some of their songs are almost direct passages from my own life. Rob's asides and Wes's greek chorus style, make them a veritable combination of Laurel and Hardy meets MC Paul Barman. It's witty and it entertains! Most importantly it's not over your head, there's nothing pretentious about their whole get up.

Broke A$$ Game is a tale of misplaced passion and girls who don't have cell phones....or claim to not have cell phones, at the very least. So after a few songs They called up Sam McMickle and they Jammed out to Apple City. Hell! I even got in to the act with spoons! You might be able to hear me on the video. Now, I have to say this: The Rocker Tycoon would never condone the use of drugs, in fact in the whole Sex drugs and rock N roll scheme of things (and it is a scheme kids don't be fooled) I get a hell of a lot more Rock 'N Roll than sex and since I don't even do drugs, that's right out of the water, BUT (and I stress the but here) songs about drugs and sex are what makes the world go round. They are many times sad, many times tragic even, but when they make me laugh, they're god-damned awesome! This write-up was long long overdue! I included for you a number of the videos from the show. I invite you to listen and enjoy the hell out of them, with or with out refreshment ...liquid or otherwise!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Back in time with the Coffin Daggers and the Black Hollies

No no no, settle down! Put away your flux capacitors and your Dr. Who bootlegs. By back in time, I mean these bands evoke a different era of rock. Let's begin at the start of the night. 8pm Saturday 4/4/09: I had just gotten out of work. My friend Kevin had spent the day at my bar deciding what he was going to do for the night. After a few pints of liquid persuasion, I convinced him it was in his best interest to come with me to the Kilkenny Alehouse in Newark for a rock show! He agreed and off we went! From the Path to the cab to the KAH, in a pretty quick succession. The weather was just about perfect for a night out!

I like to get to a show early, it gives me a chance to set up, feel out the crowd and have a few drinks. That said I was 30 mins late! No worries though, the show was going to start a little late tonight anyhow. Jen, who sets up the shows, greeted me and Kevin and we talked about the last show I was at (see I won a dance contest). She asked me about what I've been upto as far as the local scene was concerned, right as Eric of No Pasaran! fame emerged! I introduced them as she had just told me she was looking to get some more punk and metal stuff together for upcoming shows.

As all this was going on I ordered my second beer, and the Coffin Daggers took the stage. I moved to the front and got to action. Coffin Daggers is Viktor Venom (guitar/theremin) Eudocia Rodzinak (keys) Peter Klarnet (bass) Pete Martinez (drums). WHAT! No Vocals!? How strange! What do they do for a front man? Who intros the songs? How does the band not just descend into chaos? CALM THE HECK DOWN, READER! Breathe deeply into your brown paper bag! All this jibber jabber ain't good for your blood pressure.

To answer your questions, In unconventional style bands many times an unlikely hero will rise..... with the cream and bastards. Pete Martinez acts as the bands lead, though I'm sure he'd most likely deny that fact, jumping from his stool and drums to intro the next song. And the band does descend into Chaos.... but the really awesome kind of chaos, instrumental surf rock dance mayhem type chaos! Though, no one shifts any egos into the forefront. Peter Klarnet's bass and Eudocia Rodzinak's keys compliment and some times clash Viktor's guitar. Viktor had more guitars at his disposal than the Swiss Army has options in a pocket knife. And just when I thought he got to the last one......THE MAN WHIPS OUT A THEREMIN! Pete Martinez's Drums often gave me that two tone style beat that just gets my feet moving!

I went for a third beer during their set and Jen pulled me aside. It seems she wanted a rematch from the events of her birthday. She challenged me to help her get the crowd moving. You gotta love Jen. She puts all the effort to get this show set up, supports the scene, promotes the hell outta the show, and she still has the nerve to challenge me to a dance-off! (Plus she wears these cute outfits, that's gotta do something for you!) Anyhow, I'm never one to shy away from a dare. Call it the Michael J. Fox in me, but I won't be called chicken! (There's your "Back to the Future" reference fan-boys!) I'm not much for starting this kinda thing out though, so it was definitely a joint effort. We got a few people to move up and dance! But just as the momentum got rolling the set was over. I was just feeling like I was at the hop in a fifties beach movie!

The Black Hollies blasted us right over to London during the same era. These cats were so mod I was waiting to give Joe Friday "Just the Facts"! Really though the Black Hollies have this really authentic sound that melds that part of history in rock with a more current one. They were truly out there doing their own thing. The Black Hollies are
JUSTIN ANGELO MOREY(Lead vocals, electric bass) HERBERT JOSEPH WILEY V(Lead guitar, Vocals) JON GONNELLI(organ, rhythm guitar) and NICHOLAS ALBERT FERRANTE(Drums). And you can say it was the booze, but I was so into the music that I couldn't just sit back and be content taking pictures. In fact after about three songs it looked like the whole place was dancing. Kevin, normally a wallflower when it comes to these things, even got in a few moves!

After the show, Kev and I left the bar in hopes of finding a cab..... but we found a Subway instead. Kev waltzed in and proclaimed his want, NAY his need for a $5 foot long! After we were sated, we promptly found a cab. And made it to the Path. It was a half hour wait for the train. And just like my time in Trenton the train at 3am in Newark on a Saturday night is no joke. But rather than tell you about the scary things I saw and the stuff they did, I'd like to just show you a picture of Kevin asleep at the end of the night on the Path, sleeping like a little baby! Sorry Kev!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trains, Rain and Shining TV screen.

Fishtown is a dirty looking place on a rainy Wednesday Night. Philadelphia's back alleys are tight and not as easy to navigate as NYCs mass transit friendly system. But If you get down there I suggest spending the cab fare to make it to The Manhattan Room, down on W. Girard. They have a great draught selection, Good looking Menu, burgers and wings. They're wings were great I split an order with my little sister. That's right the amongst all the other things going on in my life i still manage to visit the family every now and then. We got there a little early, the bar was full of the same sort of Daytime hipsters and locals that frequent my bar. So needless to say I feel right at home. The super attractive bartenders didn't hurt either!

A really important part of this story, is the fact that I was in Philly to see Shining TV Screen, who invited me to check them out through Twitter! I accepted the offer and made the trip. Bands, if you're not on twitter yet, Jump the Shark and just do it already. Your fans demand it! Plus its good press! It worked for Shining TV Screen!

So at about 9pm Social Hall set up. These guys plowed right into their set! So into the rock, they almost forgot to introduce themselves! That's dedication! John Corkery (guitar/vox) fielded a small amount of respectful heckling from the crowd with a witty retort, "I still have a mustache!" I wish i knew what that was in reference to. During the set though John was all business. Mike Gartner (bass/backing vox) rounded out the guitar with some concrete bottom. Joe Aquaviva (Drums) was on fire lighting up the rest of the stage! The first few songs went by in a rush. As the place filled, up the crowd started to get into a groove. No one jumped out and danced or anything, but you could tell there where a few cats that wanted to. Social Hall had a sort of revival of rock circa 2001 sound that was straight-forward and totally toe tappin'! You gotta check it out! Seeing these fellas play again is a must!

Shining TV Screen jumped onto stage right after, and made good with the afterglow of Social Hall's energy! The first thing I must remark about is how young these guys are. Don't let their age fool you though. They've got concept, and that counts for a lot. The vocals are often soothing and reserved, which is a great contrast to the bands more flustered outbursting style! A really impressive sound, STS has a real stage presence! They popped, shuffled, spun, and rattled through their songs. After the set they promptly introduced themselves to me. They even bought me a beer and a shot!

We talked about school, and girls and bands we dug and still dig. It's like therapy for me, sharing stories with a young band about what its like to do my thing creatively. And how they have to keep at it. I mean I'm telling myself the same thing everyday.

Not to get too autobiographical here, but bare with me for a sec. I do it because I love doing it. I love music, and I love taking pictures of bands. But most importantly, I really can't see myself doing much else. Maybe one day I'll grow-up I'll get a real job and I'll cut my hair, respectably, and I'll sit in a box for 10 hours a day five days a week. I get told a lot that I won't make it or that there's no money in photography and that I don't have what it takes or the schooling for it or a million other excuses that people are simply regurgitating. Oddly enough the most supportive people in my life are my parents, who always tell me to go for it. I guess I said all that to say this. If you want an unconventional career, be prepared for people to tell you that you won't make it. The difference between us and them is that we haven't been beaten yet. I think that's inspiring, my muses are all the bands out there kicking ass on the small stage or sweating it out in the basement hoping that they can rock out for another night.

The epilogue to this tale or what I didn't mention was that about 30mins before the show my sis had to leave. So there I was in South Philly. At about 1 o'Clock I was far beyond drunk and I needed to get back home. So she, in her infinite charity, drove back on over the bridge and scooped me up from 8th and Market. And then I went back to my dad's place and fell asleep on my shitty old futon. I kind of felt like I was 21 again.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Anyday Parade Jersey City EP release party

I'll be frank! I'm not really sure if it was an E.P. release party or not. But there was a new E.P. for sale and the place was packed to capacity. As so far as I'm conerned it was an E.P. Release Party. Anyday Parade, Jersey City's own country rock quintet, recently put out four new songs in an E.P. named Where We Fall! I was keen to hear it since I'd heard they where working on it a bit before my previous article involving.

"We can't decide whether we're a rock band or a country band, so we're just doing both." JD (vox, guitar) explained to me in a tête à tête after the show. Well they seem to be doing "two hells" of a job. The album itself sounds wonderful, quality and musically speaking. JD and Larry move forward a bit more on vocals, though Tree still takes center stage. The Chucks round out the background on bass and drums. Chuck Daly on bass falls into a hypnosis during a live performance. "You caught me making love to the bass!" He chuckles when I tell him I wasn't sure if he opened his eyes during the set. Chuck Richard ended the night with a drum solo worthy of Rush's Neil Peart! There was dancing and singing and general carrying on. I think all the best looking people in Jersey City must have come out that night!

If you're looking to get your hands on a copy of the E.P. contact them via Myspace. I'm sure they'll set something up with you! You can hear most of it there too! If you're looking for the Next Big Thing in town, keep your eye on these cats. They have something going on that's unique and thoroughly rockin'! Here's video of their title track from the EP!

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