Maria Mar’s Local Radar: The Joe Baracata Band, Tommy Guns And The Hitmen & The Good Life

Happy Hump Day my local rockers, we meet again! I hope you enjoyed last week’s issue of the young bands, for they rock harder than most veterans. I’ve been trying to stick to themes in the last couple of weeks, but sometimes it’s hard! I received an overwhelming amount of submissions already this year, and the new music these bands are providing is just purely insane. However, as much as I love my local music, we all know that there are some nationally signed acts that we dig. Don’t worry, I am not going to review Metallica or Shinedown, but I’m going to provide some kind words on a few songs that we love, performed but some of my favorite local acts. On that note, I will be informing you all of some amazing cover bands. In the broadest definition, a cover band is an act that “covers” or performs songs by other groups or artists. Now one may ask, “What makes a good cover band?” That is a tough question, almost like asking, “How do I write a hit song?” The formula one must follow is you have to find out what your potential fanbase wants, and then adjust accordingly throughout shows. The key to success is simple: If you’re going to play the songs, you need to play them right while making them your own. If you are a bar fly, you have to be aware of some of the greatest cover bands on the Jersey Shore, and trust me, there are many. Whether you follow a band that covers specific artists, such as the E Street Shuffle (for all of you Bruce heads) or Badfish, there are so many to choose from. This week I am going to focus on three bands that play a variety of songs, always getting people in the mood to dance, sing, drink, and be merry. Some are established while others are just getting on the map, destined for success. Please allow me to introduce to you The Joe Baracata Band, Tommy Guns And The Hitmen, and The Good Life.

I first discovered The Joe Baracata Band back in August, and was almost hitting myself for not knowing them beforehand. Their setlist is so diverse, never providing a dull moment for anyone in the crowd. I find familiar faces in the audience each time I see them, for they definitely have a consistent following, and rightfully so. If you’ve never seen them, you’re in luck, because you can basically find them on the map every weekend. With Johnny on the keyboards, Rich on the saxophone, Chris B. on bass, Tony on guitar, Pat on drums (with an occasional special appearance by Josh Shields), and Chris C. also filling in on guitar, this group knows how to keep a crowd on their feet. Joe has that vocal tone that can sing any song. Playing everything from country to rock, the setlist is mastered and appropriate for every occasion. They even recently started playing one of my favorites, The Gaslight Anthem. They rock everything from Bon Jovi to Bruce, and you cannot help but sing along. They are solid musicians and I feel that if they decided to play originals, they would still draw a crowd, though they’ve mastered the craft of cover. I’ve been following them every weekend in my backyard of Belmar, and hopefully I can see some of your dancing feet at one of their shows soon.

Next is a new band on the scene—rookies of the year, if you will—and they go by the name of Tommy Guns And The Hitmen. Hailing from Wall, NJ, with members including Tom on vocals, Nick and Ryan on guitars, Seamus on bass and Josh on drums, they may seem new to the game, but they are actually far from it. These guys originally played years ago but stopped do to college educations, people moving, and a few other factors. However, they have come to their senses and are once again joining forces to provide awesome covers for our ears and hips. Their setlists have an extremely diverse variety, with some songs that you may not be used to hearing cover bands play. Personally, I love it, because for a fan of good music, this is what I want to hear. Anyone can play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” but not everyone can play The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” They also play hits from The Bouncing Souls, Kings Of Leon, and a slew of other bands to please a crowd of all ages and genres. It’s also refreshing to know that each one of these guys have played in other bands and boast years of experience in making music, so the quality of their performances will always be 100 percent. Be sure to check out their Facebook fan page to see their upcoming shows.

Last but not least is a band called The Good Life. The group consists of vocalists Keith and Dominique, keyboardist/vocalist Bryan, guitarist/bassist Pat, and drummer Seth, and they sound perfect with one another. Dominique is so enticing to watch, for she has every “it” factor pegged: the look, the voice, the style, the moves, and the engagement. The Good Life covers modern and older Top 40 hits, including everything from Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Flo Rida, and so many more. Once you walk into one of their sets, you will see a packed room of dancing bodies. In their own words, “This band effectively merges the music selection and sonic quality of the DJ with the energy and excitement of a live band, and the result is simply electrifying.” That statement isn’t sugarcoated by any means. Watch one of their live sets and you’ll see what they mean; it’s one big party. Check them out in 2013, for I feel there will be a line at the door for their next show.

So there you have it, three amazing cover bands that you can find at a bar or nightclubs near you. They will satisfy your craving for all sorts of styles and genres that has broad appeal with setlists that work within that style. I’m a firm believer that songs do not necessarily need to be fully mimicked; if you’ve got those butts shaking, you’re doing it well. Just because it may be different from the original doesn’t make it “wrong,” for there is such a thing as “better than the original,” especially if it suits a purpose better than the original would have! These are just three of the many fine cover bands New Jersey has to offer. Until next week, my friends, indulge in all that the local music scene has to offer!