Shoreworld: Old Man Rafferty’s “Shore’s Up”, Starcode, and The Independent Music Awards

Old Man Rafferty’s “Shore’s Up” Cookman Avenue’s Music Scene

If there’s one joint I’ve always talked up on Cookman Avenue it’s Old Man Rafferty’s. Classy but accessible, the bar sports a hi-rise circular bar and view of the street world. I always pictured this place as some distant New York City relative down at the shore with its semi-private group seating, architectural chic and expansive floor space. It’s one of the few places on the street that commands a really good vibe at a sane cost while retaining the spirit of the old Steinbach building, making it the preferred room to dine for this derelict.

Actually this is a New Brunswick-based eatery and is one of three sister spaces currently up and running. The staff has never met me (well, maybe a bartender or two), the management doesn’t know I exist, and the hostesses are way too busy to pay me much mind as I slip in the door and head to my perch in the corner. So this is no advertisement. Ask anyone: I’m a big-time fan of the place.

And besides the regular dinner crowd, the late-nighters have been making this part of their nocturnal stop on weekends now. I had always wondered why there had been no nighttime entertainment, an issue that was fixed this summer with the addition of the Asbury Music Series at Rafferty’s on weekends. They’ve already featured many well-known local entertainers such as Status Green, The Sunday Blues, Rick Barry and Laura Warshauer who recently inked a big deal with Island Records (Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Toni Braxton, and Pink) and plan to carry the series as far as it will go.

The one thing I would change is that I would put the entertainers more towards the back, bringing people towards the action and getting rid of the natural bottleneck near the front walkway to the bar. It’s all about getting to the bar. And it would be really cool to hear some jazz in there, too. Ok, those are my restaurant industry “tips of the week.” This month features the holiday sounds of The Soul Project on this Saturday, Dec. 26.

If you dig shades of Wilson Pickett, The Neville Brothers and James Brown then this is the horn banging band for you. Wrenched from the hurricane Katrina ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans, this eight-piece group continues to tear it up shore style from coast to coast. Come see them on Saturday, Dec.26 at Rafferty’s. The Ole’ man is located on 541 Cookman Ave in downtown Asbury Park, NJ. No cover and music starts at 9:30 p.m. and goes to midnight.

Starcode—Dec. 9 at The Saint—LIVE!

Have you ever had one of those nights that as soon as you got to a club you knew it was a good idea to come out instead of opting for the couch and a bottle of wine? Well, this Wednesday night was that night. The weather was crap, the room wasn’t full but there were a few great people hanging around the bar just having a good time and that could have been enough for me, but NYC’s Starcode made the most of it and made an otherwise quiet night into a great time for all. Instead of turning their backs on the small group and doing that weird band thing where it’s somehow my fault that the room is dead, they got everyone involved in their act and generally charmed the folks with their laid back perspective. They had no nervous ticks or chortles of “tip your bartender” and “more monitor,” which makes all the difference when things could go either way. There were a few Parkway jokes about the traffic and a mention about the “smell” just outside of Newark as well as the tale of what eating a pound of pasta and drinking a jug of wine before driving down to Exit 100 will do to your system.

But seriously, the band was great and reminded me of a mix of old Soul Asylum (before major label killed them), Blink 182, and the Sugarcubes with a little bit of Allman country and the progressive nod of ELP tossed on top if you can wrap your head around that. All great musicians, I knew this band could write as soon as they launched into the tunes of their latest disc entitled, A Fine Line. Tight and catchy and produced by Dale Penner (Nickelback, Econoline Crush, and Matthew Good), Starcode unleashed some surprising sounds on The Saint with, “Don’t Jump,” “Close Your Eyes,” “Coming Back” and several others from the disc and I’m glad we got to see them live.

Scott from The Saint says they’ll be back and that’s a good thing. At the end of the day, Starcode is more of a songwriter’s analytical couch than a pop rock group. Well thought out verses, bridges and choruses made way for simple and effective lyrics. This is one group I hope the major labels don’t mess with as it works best as is.

An interesting side note is that band members Dan O’Connor and Steve Bernstein used to play with MILC, a band that was signed to Megaforce Records in the ‘90s. Find out more about these New York City proliferates over at

And The Award Goes To…..

Man, those awards shows keep on coming. The IMAs, not to be confused with the AMAs or APMAs or IMANs, is finishing up its ninth year with global nominees in many diverse categories and sports a veritable “who’s who” of artist and industry judges, including Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, The Black Keys, Aimee Mann, Ricky Skaggs, Pete Wentz, Mark Hoppus, The Apples In Stereo, David Garrett, Suzanne Vega, Judy Collins, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and will be announced in early January of 2010.

The Garden State has several hopefuls shooting for top awards this year such as Hazlet, NJ’s, Amanda Duncan (featuring Phil Bensen) who is nominated for the Best Love Song category, Brine And Bastards out of Newark for Best Punk Song and Return To Earth for Hard Rock/Metal Album Of The Year.

I’ve been involved with the IMAs in the past and they take great pride in being leaders in a complex industry. One of the better groups out there in the industry today, IMA listens to the fans and their suggestions. And at the end of the day we all know fans should really be in charge of the musical forecast out there anyhow. Speaking of fans, you can vote for your favorites over at The IMA Vox Pop Jukebox, which receives submissions from self-released and indie label talent as well as stuff from artists that were on major labels (previous) from more than 70 countries on six continents.

Past winners and nominees include: Joan As Police Woman, Koko Taylor, Lionel Loueke, Jeff Healey, Johnny Dowd, Chris Whitley, Ike Turner, The Apples In Stereo, Mary Gauthier, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), and Dengue Fever among many others.

And all you musical geniuses that think you have what it takes, submissions for The 10th Independent Music Awards program are currently being accepted over at

Ok, that’s it. Break out the eggnog and the remote and have a Merry Christmas from all of us here at The Aquarian Weekly!