Shoreworld: Michael Brett’s Twisted Trio and the Asbury Park Music Awards

Michael Brett’s Twisted Trio, Oct. 24 @ The Twisted Tree

Michael Brett is no showboat. He has quietly circled the area, flying underneath the drama radar and doing his own thing at the various the coffee houses, clubs, open mics and occasional festivals that Monmouth County has to offer. The late great Chris Barry once commented on Brett saying that he was a solo artist “whose world weary vocals and blues harp interludes give heart and warmth to lyrically comforting songs,” and I couldn’t agree more. Soft spoken and quiet, this Upper East Side scrapper is tuned and toned when it comes to his craft, breaking out in the traditional styles of Gram Parsons and the Lennon Beatle.

The Twisted Tree has long been a place for acoustic acts to showcase material for target audiences. Done in the “round” style Brett went through a selection of brand new tunes slated for release this year on his yet-to-be titled CD. He also brought up another pair of well-heeled writers to solidify the night. Keith Monacchio and Tony Tedesco took turns with Brett pulling songs from their repertoire and entertaining the crowd quite well.

Tedesco rips rusty in the style of Tom Waits-meets-Steve Earle, literally walking in out of the rain and onto the stage, water dripping from his face as he hit us with tunes such as “Diesel Down,” “Caged Heart,” “Shine On,” “Parched,” and more. “Unicorn,” an aural painting alluding to privilege and entitlement in the local Asbury scene with the lines, “My friend’s been telling me I need to smile more these days. I gotta lot of assholes for friends what with the stars in their eyes, TV in their hearts and their silver screen dreams they have never taken the time to look at these shoes upon me.”

Monacchio took his turn and dug down deep into his last few discs, especially the massively underrated American Ghost. That record plays regularly in my CD player and whenever I hear it I shake my head in disbelief and wonder what has happened to the quality of attention spans around here. Dissed in 2007 at the AMAs, it has nonetheless held fast on my top 10 lists. Breaking out “Big Big World,” “Gas Huffin’ Housewife” and more had the room eating out of his hand and off his veggie burrito platter. At one point his comedic story of an Office Space-type co-worker had the place in stitches.

Michael Brett works well with the above mentioned, hailing from that same nomadic storyteller style and trading in the amps and drums for the starker turn taking perspective on life, emotion and humor. The deliciously tongue-in-cheek “Good Things (In My Minivan)” drives that point home (he called out from stage and said I would like this one so it must be dirty) as well as “Old Ghosts,” “Storytime,” “Let The Show Begin,” “The Crowd,” “Gamblin’ Man Blues,” “Labor Day” and “More Than The Crumbs” put Brett firmly in the upper echelon of the singer songwriter fray around here.

The problem with the Twisted Tree is that the room just isn’t set up for music. A fact made evident by the table of squawking patrons next to us, drinking giant bowls of mocha latte and yakking about dirty martini’s and doggie sweaters while Brett and the boys played through the racket. Hey, I’m not one of these dopes that shushes people, but they were even too loud for me. Once they wandered away for more “rich folk” gold card debauchery, I returned to the most relaxed show I’ve seen there. Word has it that a new musician owner is coming in and perhaps they’ll address the lack of sitting space, rickety PA system and pumpkin muffin consumption and proximity to the bands. I hope so because musicians like Michael Brett, Tony Tedesco and Keith Monacchio are what keep local business thriving with “good things” on Cookman. For more info on Michael Brett, head over to

17th Annual Asbury Park Music Awards 2009

It’s award time and the natives are restless. The arguing, the posturing and the narcissistic grandeur come together as the best of the best lock horns on Nov. 14 at the Stone Pony for the 17th Annual AMAs. Who will win? Who will lose? How many cell phones will be lost forever and who will end up sleeping on Geena’s couch? Only time will tell as the show promises twists, turns and fresh new live acts guaranteed to bring the house down.

Performers such as my favorites Chemtrail, The Obvious, River City Extension, Quincy Mumford and Jo Wymer take the stage between the “I love you darlings” and the “I’d like to thank the little people” monologues. Whether it’s naughty or nice, once a year Asbury’s industry assembles to pay homage to the year’s successes, messes and characters that originate right in this world famous hotspot. For complete line-up, ballot info and show times head on over to