Rosie’s Cafe Concerts & LA East Productions Present George Wirth And Friends—LIVE! Jan. 18 At The Atonement Church Hall, Asbury Park, NJ
Brenda Wirth’s Sunday shows at the Church in Asbury are special to behold for many reasons. The most important is the people that come. You can’t find a more attentive group of fans than at one of these acoustic shows. Rosie’s was actually started as a home concert series by Brenda and named after her dog Rosie. The house concert series was moved to the bigger venues when the home was sold and the rest is where we’re at now.
Acoustically, the hall itself is perfectly built, eliminating the need for microphones and other technical sound gear. And as I grew accustomed to the space and the vibe, the fact that the church was willing to lend the hall to the community for musical performances was impressive to me.
Tonight’s show was an “in the round” setting with four writers taking turns showcasing their compositions with the audience sitting in a horseshoe style in front of them. The BYOB policy is another welcome luxury and a key contributor, along with food provided by attendees for a nice, relaxed atmosphere. Each one of these artists was a perfect fit for the night. And of course I got to talk guitar shop with the artists about their instruments (including Monacchio’s 1959 Gibson SJ200 loaner) and a nice sunburst Collings owned by George Wirth.
I don’t have space for all the tunes but picking through the night begins with Janey Todd who stepped up with her song “Got Six Lies,” a stark, sassy trip through life’s questionable territories. Janey is a true “Adirondack Sweetheart” full of tongue-in-“chic” humor that had the crowd laughing out loud. Keith Monacchio’s plaintive and stark style kills in this type of setting and he took advantage of the quiet room as he did his thing on “Angel On The Horizon.” Bobby Strange sounds as tough as a bar on the Bowery as he extols weather beaten tales with the bluesy “My Little World,” his gritty Jersey growl has quietly made him a household name in the Garden State.
George Wirth exuded the old time flavors of Warren Zevon, Arlo Guthrie, Steve Goodman and John Prine. Like a traveling tunesmith out of the ‘30s and ‘40s, George’s inviting and honest approach had people right from the beginning. Looking around the room, I could see that he’s been cultivating some of these fans for years. Wirth laid down his stark “Nebraska”-vibed contemplations with songs like “Monroe” and “Heavens Gate” as well as “Memorial Drive.” I hope to catch more of him at his upcoming Saint show. George Wirth is the genuine folk article. Check him out as soon as you can.
As I looked around the room, I noticed organizer and fans alike, all singing along to the different artists and knowing their words well. And to me that’s the reason for all of this. It’s refreshing to see a real music lover running this instead of a booking agent. The care that goes into these shows protects the essence of what these musicians are offering to the public. Come join Rosie’s Cafe on Sunday, Feb. 22 for Joanna Burns and Amanda Duncan in the next installment at the coolest little room on First Ave. For more information head over to myspace.com/rosiescafeconcerts.
The Milwaukees—LIVE! Jan. 16—The Saint
The Milwaukee’s straight forward style has raised their visibility ever upward over the last couple of years, using their roots-oriented rock and roll to push them across the stages of just about every club in the tri-state area and beyond.
Featuring the countrified vocals of Dylan St. Clark and melodic guitar work of Jeff Nordstedt, the band is pushed along by the steady handed bass of Donovan Cain and heavy mad beats of Pat Fusco. The band was at the Saint in celebration of Jeff Raspe’s 20 years on the air and they kicked in a fitting set, finishing up a great night that also included Steve Wynn, Willie Nile and Laura Warshauer.
The Milwaukees kept the people in the club with outstanding tunes from their CD, American Anthems, Volumes 1 and 2 (unreleased yet) with songs like “Highway In The Sun,” a song that gleams with Americana gold and features strong choruses ala Train. The country rock twang of “Oak Ridge,” featuring strong hooks and a great chorus ala The Gin Blossoms era, and another cool tune, the Eddie Vedder feel of “Rich And Famous” complete with gritty Lenny Kravitz-vibed guitars and drumming fired right up the Saints middle.
The band is currently looking at an overflow of new stuff for release for American Anthems, Volume 2 and they aren’t adverse to investors. Hell, they’ll even play you’re living room to get this done. So far the group has had some success with their own version of “The Living Room” tour having done shows in Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Springfield, and they will tell you flat out that they’ll come play your house. Its all in the name of finishing the record, and to me, it’s a great investment.
Do yourself a favor and also take advantage of their music downloads at the website where you can literally grab the whole American Anthems, Volume 1 for nothing more than the time to click the mouse. milwaukees.com.
The Saint—Feb. 6—Rick Barry CD Release Party w/ Special Guests Frank Bressi Trio, The Bloodsugars And Scott Liss And The Sixty Four
Rick Barry’s latest Cd since the 2006 release Declaration Of Codependence is entitled This Antediluvian World, a mouthful for sure but loaded with some new directional changes behind it. The new CD features the production team of Ron Haney (The Churchills) Bart Schoudel (The Churchills) and Gordon Brown (Mr. Reality and All Hour/Near Records) This production duo has been making big waves lately with their work with Jerzy Jung, Mable, and of course the super talented Jillian Rhys.
Rick’s music has taken a band-oriented sound much deeper into the framework than previous projects, combining his trademark melancholy aura with Brown, Haney and Schoudel’s industry visions. Rick will be performing with the New Rick Barrys that will also include Bart Schoudel, Ron Haney, Allie Moss and others. It promises to be one of the events to catch if you’re in town that weekend. For further information head over to thesaintnj.com and get the info. Show starts at 9 p.m. and its $10 to get in. Rick Barry’s CD can be purchased over at rickbarrymusic.com.
Leaving Sideways w/Mr. Brownstone—Starland Ballroom—Feb. 7
These central Jersey rockers may be new but they are tearing up the circuit with their special brand of guitar heavy rock. Out in support of their self-titled release, Leaving Sideways, the group utilizes the time honored approach of guitars bass and drums to deliver their crunch flavored wall of sound. Combined with recent airplay on 105.5 WDHA, this live show looks to be the group’s reintroduction to the Jersey scene. The three-song disc is well produced and flavored with traditional rock and roll sounds in the vein of Great White, Bon Jovi Creed and Blink 182. Tickets are available at the Starland box office or at the band’s MySpace over at myspace.com/leavingsideways.