Christine Martucci – Still All In @ The Stone Pony, Jan. 8
Christine Martucci stormed the Stone Pony with a bold new rock and roll image and her gang of ever-faithful fans dubbed the “Tucci Train” in attendance. While she still straps on an acoustic guitar for a few numbers, she’s putting down the axe more and more, letting the band handle the music while she concentrates on belting it out. CMB has morphed into a highly concentrated and stripped down rock and roll machine, which was definitely noticed by the audience at hand.
Her Stone Pony opener for Johnny Winters also featured an all new line-up of musicians that backed her with a professional snarl. I’ve always been in Martucci’s corner and you really have to be when you see someone shrug off negativity and industry naysay while going on to do exactly what they want time and time again. From her early projects with guitarists like Tim Quick (also a current working partner) to her recent one-woman play, Breakfast With Janis, shes taken the brave steps to reach self awareness time and time again. Her energy on this night cut through the crowd like a hot knife through butter on such Tucci classics as “Outta Here,” “Waiting On The Rain,” “Come The Night,” and her award winning single off of I’m All In, “There You Are.”
Christine’s knack for choosing solid pickers is also top notch and this outing featured the axe talents of B.D. Lenz who rode shotgun and blasted out gutsy blues rock riffage underneath Martucci’s powerhouse vocals. Also on board were the rhyhtm steady team of Jim Arra on bass and Joe D’Angelo on the drums. Martucci put on a steady, well-paced show as fans shed their coats at the foot of the stage in an effort to shake, rattle and roll all over the Pony dance floor.
Martucci’s move away from standard blues rock territory and into a more diverse compositional direction was born out of necessity to “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” Comparisons to Melisse Etheridge or Joplin may be flattering but really aren’t where she’s going and she’s made smart moves to prove that point. She also recently landed “There You Are” as the theme song for 2009’s OUTMusic Awards and will be airing that on the MTV station some time in February.
Christine is also working up a brand new record with guitarist- producer Anthony Krizan from the Spin Doctors. Still in pre-production at Krizan’s own Sonic Boom Studios, Martucci told me that she’s writing feverishly and that Krizan is a motivational mentor of the highest degree in that compositional department.
While Martucci hasn’t come to a decision for the album’s title yet, the first single slated off the platter is to be called “Ocean Avenue” and is her ode to Asbury Park’s main drag strip and the music, history and people that have made it famous. And let’s face it, Christine Martucci is definitely all in the family around here. Further info can be found on the web over at myspace.com/christinemartucci.
Light Of Day, Day Two At The Paramount Theater, Jan.16
What do you get when you combine big named headlining gold with a noble cause and a whole lotta of people? Light Of Day, of course. This year’s three-day benefit was bigger than ever and purportedly raised an estimated $90,000 in the effort to battle the debilitating Parkinson’s Disease and provide funds for the patient support programs of the ALS Association. The series has been going on since 1996 when founder Bob Benjamin discovered that he suffered from Parkinson’s himself. The 51-year-old musician, manager and industry vet came up with the name in an interesting way.
“Light Of Day” comes from a song Bruce Springsteen wrote for a Paul Schrader film. Schrader had sent Bruce a script for his latest film project under the working title Born In The USA. Bruce appropriated Born In The USA for the name of his 1984 album and its title song. It was a huge hit. Springsteen followed up by writing the song “Light Of Day” as payback to Schrader. Schrader named his film Light Of Day with his stars, Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett, singing the title track. The song’s inspiring chorus, “Just around the corner to the light of day,” was an anthem in the movie. In 2000 it became the name and battle cry for Bob’s annual fundraising concert.
Since that time Light Of Day has played host in seven countries with many big names from actor Michael J. Fox to Robert Earl Keen and just as importantly, many local musicians and patrons who step up selflessly to donate time, labor and love for Benjamin and his cause. I’ve been coming to these shows for about five years now and it blows my mind each time to see the way things come together. Industry professionals pool their talents to provide performers, venues, promotion and more, spreading the word and drawing contributors to the East (and West) Coast shows.
This year’s Paramount show was the only one I could attend out of the three but believe me when I say that it was a good cross section of what was going on in Asbury all weekend. Headliner Ed Kowalczyk, singer and frontman for the group LIVE, did his acoustic thing and other great acts included Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Outside The Box, Joe Grushecky and the House Rockers and the incomparable Willie Nile. Local artists such as Lisa Bouchelle and Bobby Strange, along with the duo talents of Melissa Chill, held down positions along with Danny White, Rob Dye, Jon Caspi, Bruce Tunkel and Anthony D’Amato.
Band performances were laid back and punctuated with fellow performers popping in on each other’s time slots for a collaborative song or two. Of course the big guest was none other than Bruce Springsteen himself, who quietly came out to guest on Jesse Malins “Broken Radio,” Willie Nile’s rousing barrelhouse version of “Heaven Help The Lonely,” and others before taking off the gloves to grind it up old school with Joe Grushecky’s House Rockers and taking a song or two for himself on standards like “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” and “Atlantic City” which drove the hardcore Bruce fans crazy. He also did one that I like (shocker), “Johnny 99.” While I skipped the after party, I heard the Wonderbar was packed as Bruce, Willie, Joe and Bob and the rest of the gang all partied like—well, like rockstars.
Willie Nile summed it up best when he told me, “The Paramount is a magical venue with a great history and the reaction to the songs we all played was heartwarming to say the least. And for Bruce to take the time to come early so he could join us on ‘Heaven Help The Lonely,’ that was heaven (laughs). The man has a heart the size of New Jersey. But really, here’s to all the musicians and everyone who gave of their time and effort and money to make it all happen. It makes you feel good to be alive, and to celebrate the amazing rock ‘n’ roll happening on that stage all night long. Look out Parkinson’s, here we come!”
I can only wonder how LOD will top this year, as they no doubt slide into preparations for next year’s show. In the meantime, this event still lives on and you can help in a big way by donating over at lightofday.org.