The Paramount Sessions
@ The Paramount Theatre
Ever since Walter Reade inaugurated the Paramount Theatre with a showing of the film Wings on New Year’s Day, 1930, it has been synonymous with presentations of unique entertainment. Hosting everyone from The Marx Brothers to The Who, The Paramount Theatre is a top surviving historical venue in New Jersey. Continuing under that statement, local musicians have banded together with town developer Madison Marquette to bring the boardwalk pounding public another original and no strings production. It’s called The Paramount Sessions and it will feature several of our regional and national Jersey shore acts on the big stage.
This is an interesting mingling of corporate and rock and roll as town developers put their best ear towards the musician’s voice, listening to the players that put this town on the proverbial map and coming up with social events such as this to honor them with. It’s a smart move by Madison Marquette chief Gary Mattola and the result is an enthusiastic musical explosion up and down the ocean mile.
This Labor Day weekend will feature an all day exposition of New Jersey music, starting on Sunday Sept. 5 at 11 a.m. over on the First Avenue Green Space and culminating with the 7 p.m. performance at The Paramount. Some of the great musicians you’ll see out at the Green Space will be, Asbury punk darlings The Obvious, Divine Sign, Keith Monacchio, Colie Brice, Anjelia and The Boy, Sheli Arden and more. The Green Space is located right on the boardwalk and is central to anything your greedy little heart (or stomach) desires. Performers will also be collecting non-perishable food donations throughout the weekend at Green Space. This charity drive comes courtesy of Move for Hunger, a nonprofit organization committed to helping end hunger in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
The main event welcomes three of the areas most popular acts. John Lennon Songwriting award winner and recording artist Rick Barry kicks the night off with his dark and eclectic storytelling style. If you dig Jeff Tweedy and Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) you’re going to love this performer and his unique take on life. Jerzy Jung is another standout performer that has raised the bar for originality in New Jersey. Yes, Jerzy is her real name and she excels at taking sonic snapshots of everyday life and turning them into exquisite sound tapestries. Outside the Box have been beating down stage floorboards statewide and guarantee some raucous rock and roll for all who attend. Outside The Box provides an inside look into the evolution and continuation of the Jersey shore sound that continues to influence artists in the traditional vein of Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen.
Former Styx member and Beatlemania bassist Glen Burtnik will host the night, introducing these fine artists and no doubt wowing the crowd with some of his compositions culled from a long career. Glen has penned hits such as “Sometimes love just Aint Enough’ for Patti Smyth and Don Henley as well as charting with his own album Hero’s and Zeros with “Follow You.” His ongoing role as a solo performer takes him all over the world. And if that’s not enough for one night, after the Paramount show ends, The Stone Pony invites you to come on over for an after party featuring the Sunday Blues at 11pm.
The Paramount Sessions is a brave new step at solidifying relationships between the town, the public and the musicians that have made Asbury Park recognizable worldwide. For more information on the Paramount Sessions or Green Space performers, head over to apboardwalk.com. The show will start at 7 p.m. and it’s FREE!
Rootstock Music Festival
August 6, 2010
JACKSON, NJ—When you gather hundreds of people on acres of land it’s always a crapshoot as to what can go right and what will inevitably go wrong. Rootstock 2010 in Jackson, New Jersey demonstrated a lot of good and bad, but the festival, as a whole was definitely a successful venture, bringing in donations for the Children’s Specialized hospital charity. Rootstock also brought in rides for the kiddies as well as supplying great food (the sausage and pepper sandwiches were killer) and drink throughout the entire weekend.
The vendor tents and kiosks offered everything from musical instruments to temporary tattoos. There were two stages, including a smaller stage in the back with the vendors that offered a cash prize for a karaoke contest as well as smaller band and acoustic performances from great acts such as little Mike Butler and Kelly Carvin. In other words, there was nothing I could really complain about up till then and that’s a good thing. The folks that put this together really worked hard to come up with a streamlined event and from website to porta potties, no item was overlooked in the festival preparations.
Okay, so what is the bad part you may be asking? Throughout the entire first day there were major technical difficulties with the PA system and the engineers that were behind the board. The physical gear was top-notch and the main stage featured full system with separate monitoring section and light show on the gigantic covered stage. There was no logical reason that I could see for the sound to be as atrocious as it was. It seemed as if some of the engineers just didn’t understand how to work the board and the sound system.
Performers such as Matt O’Ree, Blondesense and Danny Nova soldiered thru, pulling off good performances while wading thru waves of feedback and dropouts of an unprecedented proportion. Drums and bass would simply disappear, as guitar volumes would increase to unbearable levels, drowning out vocals and keyboards. I had to hand it to the bands, with the exception of Black Rain (who were pissed, having lost sound and lights at the end of a very long night) no one complained and soldiered thru as best as they could. As I stood next to the soundman I couldn’t help but wonder what he was hearing compared to what the rest of us were suffering through.
When I finally packed it in sometime after 10 p.m., Black Rain was onstage and losing both power and lights as they tried to get through their set. And as they said from the stage, people paid good money to see this show and there’s really no excuse for a break down of this proportion. I did not attend Sunday’s performance, but a performing band member told me that Sundays sound improved dramatically due to the lower demands of power on the generators and the wake up call given to the sound engineers from the bands on Saturday.
On a positive note, the festival raised a good amount of charity funds and the Fender Stratocaster donated by Joe “Ciid” Birardi and Jerry Mack brought in a sizeable chunk of change for the Children’s Hospital charity and that’s always a good thing.
I would encourage a return trip next year as Rootstock 2010 wasn’t a total loss and offered a lot of great things to the public. Sometimes an undertaking of this size can include errors that the organizers wouldn’t permit if given a second chance and I sense that here. Next year when I return for 2011, I hope they have professional sound engineers as well as real security and a stage manager. That, along with what they offered this year will make Rootstock a formidable player in the world of festivals. For more information on money raised or the other performers, head over to rootstockmusicfest.com.