10th Avenue Burrito has been making quite a name lately. Between their new location and the choice of musical offerings they’ve taken on, 10th Avenue Burrito looks to be a winning combination of food, drink and cutting-edge musical contributions.
The original 10th Avenue Burrito opened in Belmar back in 2004 and did quite well before moving a block from the Belmar Train Station into the Belmar Plaza, between 9th & 10th Aves at 801 Belmar Plaza. Since then, owner and head chef Brian Katz has gone on to take over the old Fixx location on West Front Street.
The atmosphere is fairly laid back, and the food is to die for. I had a steak burrito, and it was delicious. But the main reason I showed up was to see Asbury Park’s own Tony Tedesco and Gorgo Beach play a few tunes and drink a few beers. Tedesco also hipped me to Joe Fletcher, a Nashville, Tennessee, songwriter who blows through a few times a year on his way across the country.
Fletcher is the real deal. Born in the Midwest, Fletcher released his third independent record, You’ve Got The Wrong Man, in October of 2014. This intimate solo album is a departure from his previous efforts with his band the Wrong Reasons. His bio tells me that this record is made up of his “gritty original songs as well as covers by his peers Brown Bird and Toy Soldiers. It was recorded live over a few months on a mobile recording unit in Rhode Island, Georgia and Tennessee in the spirit of some of Joe’s favorite records by Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bruce Springsteen among others.”
A four-year veteran of the Newport Folk Festival, Joe has toured with The Devil Makes Three, Band Of Heathens and Deer Tick, and has opened for the likes of Jason Isbell, Lucero, Robert Ellis, John Doe, The Low Anthem and many more. Joe returned to 10th Avenue Burrito as part of his continued grassroots touring schedule.
Tony Tedesco and Gorgo Beach brought their down-home sound to the 10th Avenue stage. They played songs such as “Diesel,” an upbeat back porch romp through David Allan Coe country. Tedesco’s raspy growl ties in well with the mandolin work of Beach and the two blend old school country style with modern folkie appeal.
“Fuck You Dad” explores the background of Tedesco’s family sector. Mixing raucous guitar work with honest vocals and accompaniment, Tedesco and Beach tear through the pain and tribulation of growing up bad.
“Train Train” is another up-tempo piece centering on the time-tested subject matter of the rail. Huffing and puffing in tandem, the boys rip into the tune with pure abandonment and glee, exciting listeners and gaining new fans every time they play it.
They finished things up with “Salt.” This is a crowd favorite and always results in a sing-along good time. “Salt” was one of the singles on Tony Tedesco and Full Fathom Five and remains one of my favorite songs. Tony Tedesco gets better each time I see him and with a new record in pre-production as we speak, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Tony had this to say about the experience of the venue and the artists he plays with: “Places like 10th Ave Burrito and The Saint booking acts such as Joe Fletcher, Lily Hiatt, David Mayfield, Pete Molinari and Aaron Lee Tasjen (among others) have provided me the opportunity to not only play with, but get feedback on what Gorgo and I are doing. Their positive feedback and support when they roll back through town has been invaluable in stoking the creative fire. That feedback is often tough to find from a lot of local bands, given so few of them will actually come early or stick around to catch or set when we share a bill.”
Joe Fletcher was up next and took the crowd through a healthy mix of tunes from his last recorded project. I picked a couple of tunes off of his latest record to exemplify his style and tone. “Florence, Alabama” kicked things off as the faithful Fletcher fans got up close and personal. Mixing his traditional flurry of finger-picking and solo vocal, Fletcher floats through a lyrical story of love gone far wrong. He paints vivid imagery of barmaid lovers, the uselessness of war, gambling and more.
Another great song on the record is called “Oceanside Motel.” Fletcher goes through more passionate imagery, mixing everyday pleasures of life with love, survival and angst. Finger-picking excellence mixes with bluesy chords as Fletcher preaches on his experiences.
“Life Of The Party” is another standout track. Spinning great tales of expectation, Fletcher tells the tale of “meeting the woman of his dreams.” His guitar stylings remind me of Springsteen’s early days. Presented in backwoods Tennessee adornment, “Life Of The Party” is a fantastic song.
“The Promise” is a dark, tightly wound song in the vein of Woody Guthrie. Utilizing dissonant chord structure and his trademarked deep voice, Fletcher sings about the desolate crush of loneliness and regret as he finger-picks strange open note chords and riffs. Once again the imagery he uses covers a plethora of pictures as I listen.
“Highway Roulette” rolls off the platter next. Delivered in true Hank Williams Sr. style, Fletcher preaches about the life of a rambling man. His playing is liquid and fueled with the passionate belief of a writer in his prime. I love the feel of this untethered journey through life.
Written by David Lamb and Michael Kennedy of Brown Bird, “Mabel Gray” is the final song on the disc. Somber and minor keyed, “Mabel Gray” tells the story of boat travel, girls and the semantics of the life of a seafaring man. The choruses are sad and beautiful, cornering great big backing choruses to make its point. Though not written by Fletcher, “Mabel Gray” fits his style completely and is a great ending to a very robust disc.
Overall, Joe Fletcher was a welcome new addition to our shores and is an artist I was glad to watch live. He is currently continuing his way across the country on his latest tour. My suggestion would be to add 10th Avenue Burrito to your list of venues worth checking out and I would definitely suggest picking up Fletcher’s music at his site.
For more information on Joe Fletcher, head over to www.joefletchermusic.com, and check out Tony Tedesco over at https://soundcloud.com/tonytedesco/sets/10th-ave-burrito-11-20-15.