Asbury Park’s Double Header—The Stone Pony—Back In Business And O’Tooles Introduces The Monday Night Live Series
I’m glad to announce that the Stone Pony is open for business and better than ever. Sporting big new lighting rigs, new floors and beautiful high ceilings, the Pony proves that’s its talent for survival is unsurpassed. The new renovations also give patrons more space to hang with the unchanged classic Stone Pony vibe. So for those puritans out there, relax; Madison Marquette didn’t change the essence of the club, they just added to the longevity and structure. Stage and sound received slight upgrades as well. And as far as tradition, never fear, the employees and bands haven’t been changed, which is a sign of good faith in a growing musical community from both Madison Marquette and Live Nation. This coming weekend will feature Joe Harvard on Saturday, Jan. 24. Speaking of Harvard…
Another great place that’s been making waves along the boardwalk is O’Tooles. Run by Caroline O’Toole, the bar hosts that ever-popular APM “Capo” Joe Harvard and his Monday Night Madness. O’Tooles is a cool little escape out of the elements and inside the Convention Center. The Grand Arcade has retained all the charm and history of its early years while adding great new shops and eateries along its interior. If you haven’t sat at the O’Tooles bar and had a few drinks, you owe it to yourself to come and check it out.
The Monday Night Series features Joe Harvard’s musical trivia and quiz show shenanigans. He gives out great prizes, plays some phenomenal music, has many special guests and the drinks are cheap! Just last Monday I won a Gary Moore songbook and World War II videotape. I’m going back this week to try for the matching set of encyclopedias. So pull up a genuine church pew and join the crew. Show starts at 9 p.m. and goes all night. For more information head on over to theasburyparkboardwalk.com.
Keith Monacchio—Peter Tork—The Record Collector—LIVE!—Bordentown, NJ—Jan. 2
The Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ, has a unique thing going on. Its called “The Living Room Concert Series” run by Randy Now and located right on the main drag in the little downtown area of Bordentown. Owners John and Susan have loyal customers stretching as far as Japan, Europe and Russia. That’s right comrades, and there’s a long line waiting to get into the little storefront shop most nights as well. Not because there’s a giant sale going on or because they’re giving away free Jersey Devil T-shirts, but because the folks are waiting to see high-end live music. The bands that grace the humble Record Collector stage are a veritable who’s who in the music industry. One night you might find the Doughboys there and the next could be The Bouncing Souls or The Grip Weeds. In other words, be prepared to get your money’s worth when you walk in the door.
Tonight’s show featured Trenton’s Keith Monacchio as well as Peter Tork (The Monkees),now with his band Shoe Suede Blues. I immediately dug the vibe of this little retro place. The walls are lined with stacks of collectible vinyl as well as racks of CDs and memorabilia. Much different than your average bar scene, this was a true break from the usual. I noticed that people act much differently when in this type of setting as well—more reserved, relaxed and polite. I think I’d bust out laughing if I saw some guy get tossed out of this environment. It was nice being able to listen to the artist without straining to hear over typical bar chatter.
The Record Collector reminds me of the old Ernest Tubb “Midnight Jamborees” held at his record store in Nashville back in the ‘40s; a place where people could come hear great music and buy the artist’s record directly from the band. That’s pretty much what goes on at the Record Collector. It’s a timeless method that still works for the performer. Play a show, sell some CDs, its just that simple.
Tonight’s show started promptly at 8:30 p.m. with Keith Monacchio. Keith was also in The Commons and put out one of 2007’s best (and most underrated) albums called American Ghost and he had just come off of a nation-wide acoustic tour this fall and was in perfect form tonight. Intimate and well-voiced, Monacchio went through half a dozen tunes ranging from “Angels On The Horizon” to his ending gem “She Stumbles Gracefully.” Monacchio has a unique style that is shamefully overlooked by the musical community at large. Keith’s use of warmth and vulnerability drops the listener’s guard and draws you into each story he tells. I watched the faces of the crowd and he didn’t lose a one of them for the entire set. Monacchio is a guy that will leave his mark on our collective music history.
The Shoe Suede Blues were up quickly with Peter Tork noticeably more laid back than last time I saw him. At one point while he was explaining a song, a store photographer climbed by him on a hand railing causing him to pause with comic expression and audience laughter while he waited for the kid to skidaddle. Tork’s band is top notch and they played some scorching blues along with the Monkee’s fair. I still think its funny when I see someone come to see a famous band. People will wait all night to hear those few famous tunes. Classic. Tork graciously signed just about anything they brought to him after the show.
The Record Collector is booked by famed City Gardens guy Randy Now and is owned by self-proclaimed record guru John Chrambanis. His lovely wife Susan runs the website and they are all friendly and down to earth people who have come up with a great idea. Before I left I had to buy a Bonanza album that I spied up on the wall. From 1965, the entire cast sings and plays guitar. Even Hoss. And really, what else is important in life? The Record Collector is located at 358 Farnsworth in Bordentown, NJ. Go check out the great events at the-record-collector.com.
The Winter Hours Tribute Show—Saturday, Jan. 24 At The Maplewood Arts Center
“A Few Uneven Rhymes,” a tribute to Winter Hours, is on a roll. Jeff Raspe from 90.5 has informed me that there are three confirmed live shows planned for this CD, and the first kicks off on the 24th of January at the Maplewood Arts Center. Hosted by Deena Shoakes (The Cucumbers) along with Rebecca Turner. Deena will also be performing at this show, along with Jack Bragg and about a dozen other musicians including Winter Hours’ own Michael Carlucci.
Some of the other groovy ‘80s gurus like Dots Will Echo and Yung Wu, featuring Glenn Mercer, will be there to round things out as well as many other great performers doing tunes from a time period that put the New Jersey scene on the musical map.
Show number two will take place on Jan. 31 at the famed Maxwell’s in Hoboken and will include several surprise guests for dedicated followers of ‘80s alt rock featuring Michael Carlucci (Winter Hours), Glenn Mercer (The Feelies), Rob Norris (The Bongos), and Stanley Demeski (The Feelies), Luna & Winter Hours and Wild Carnation.
The last will take place at the Strand Theater in Lakewood on Feb. 7 and will feature Gordon Gano (The Violent Femmes) and The Ryan Brothers. Also set to perform on that bill is The Parkway Charlies, Joe Whyte, Christian Beach, In Between Dreams and Frankenstein 3000. In the meantime, go take a look at the CD at mainmanrecords.com and for the Maplewood show info go to 1978artscenter.org and get the scoop. And don’t forget that channel of unstoppable knowledge at myspace.com/afewunevenrhymes. Come to these shows and become part of New Jersey’s musical alumni!