21st Annual Asbury Music Awards – Dec. 12 – Live From The Legendary Stone Pony
The holiday season is upon us. The flurry of holiday activity is an intense period where most of us can only hang on for dear life as it does its best to hand out nervous breakdowns. But part of the addictive fun is that hustle and bustle of new places to go, exciting things to do, and wonderful people to see. The idea of fast-moving scenarios and unforeseen directions keeps us in the moment and over the top, but I’m pretty sure none of us would trade it for all the serenity of Buddha himself.
So in conjunction with that celebratory mood, it’s time to hail in the new year of musical attention grabbers and scene-stealing Lotharios associated with the city of Asbury Park. The 21st annual Asbury Music Awards follow the tradition of the past when it comes to praising the abundance of talent associated with New Jersey. The AMAs have featured some interesting moments over the last two decades, and many of today’s popular acts received their first “taste” of area recognition by performing or receiving an award at the AMAs.
Each year, the event coordinators reach out to all areas of the musical community, acknowledging not only artists, but also labels, writers, radio stations, print media, festivals, agents, promoters, publishers and the many others that help organize and build the infrastructure necessary for all genres to be celebrated and to achieve recognition.
Of course, the good that this music awards show achieves also brings along some of the darker aspects of the musical community and the traditional narcissistic drama that fires back and forth between strutting, flabbergasted “talent” is as entertaining as the show itself. I’ve always thought that part of the responsibility of accepting a nomination is the ability to understand that this is a recognized honor from your peers, not an intuitive right or divine signal of the next coming of our musical messiah.
But every year the jubilations of success are matched with the anguishes of defeat, and it’s about as close as I could ever hope to get to being in the coliseum of biblical Rome. But isn’t that the beauty of competition and politics? The only way around that clash of Titanic triumph and loss is to survive the battle and come back next year. And they do. At the end of the day, it’s about the recognition of sound, and I go to see the new musical possibilities that have muscled their way to the top, while I hang out with friends that I need to catch up with.
The AMAs are also important for budding bands to recognize their place in the local cosmos. It’s the outcome of a solid year spent proving themselves, and the event gives them a direct opportunity to make their mark in the community on their own terms. It also gives food for thought as to where they should be heading down the road. That’s one of the reasons bands are only qualified for a set amount of years before they are turned out and put into the “Beyond Asbury” category. Sort of like when your parents kick you out at 30 and tell you to get your own apartment.
That being said, several AMA alumni have left the nest and flown far and wide. Nicole Atkins, Brick + Mortar, River City Extension and Laura Warshauer have all gone on to achieve major label status, and that should be the goal of everyone associated in any local scene. Remember, there will be plenty of time to sit out in front of Johnny Mac’s drinking your career away when it’s time, so I would really try to make the present count.
Over the years, the Asbury Music Awards performance stage has been graced by New Jersey luminaries Brick + Mortar, Joe Harvard, River City Extension, Nicole Atkins, Laura Warshauer, Scarlet Carson, Status Green, Last Perfect Thing, Outside The Box, Karmic Juggernaut, Low Flying Jets, Lance Larson, Twine, Keith Kenny, Phil Benson, Matt O’Ree Band, The Parlor Mob, Maybe Pete, Christine Martucci, Tony Tedesco, Sekond Skyn, Chemtrail, Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why and The Black Clouds, to name a celebrated few.
Stone Pony doors open at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, and the show will begin promptly at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are now available for $15 at The Saint and The Stone Pony box offices, or on Ticketweb and Ticketmaster. Admission will be $20 at the door. All nominees will be admitted free. For more information on the 21st annual Asbury Music Awards, contact Scott Stamper by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to thesaintnj.com.
The Grip Weeds Slip Into The Groove – Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks)
The Grip Weeds are one of my favorite New Jersey bands. Combining the psychedelic insight of Strawberry Alarm Clock with the solid, bone-crunching rock and roll dynamic of The Who and The Godfathers, The Grip Weeds utilize powerful brand recognition to attract a growing fanbase of people who have turned their backs on current musical deception.
I’ve reviewed past releases here in Shoreworld, and their 2012 CD, Speed Of Live, was one of the best records of the year. Now the group has returned with a fascinating series of dusty gems culled from the trippy center of their minds. The band describes these tunes as songs found on the very last bit of an artist’s record, where the secret tracks are placed for fans to find. A vested insider’s trip through the storage vaults of musical history.
Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks) offers 11 compositions comprised of distinct single remixes, B-sides and songs culled from over two decades of compilations, outtakes and demos. Many tracks saw very limited release via the band’s website and other enhanced DVD/CDs.
Like a journey back through time, The Grip Weeds have taken steps to revisit their past and delve into their collection of treasured oddities. Grip Weeds singer/drummer Kurt Reil said recently, “Remixing some of the songs on Inner Grooves was like looking at an old picture of yourself, except you get to go back there, inhabit the same space you were in and soak up the vibes of that moment in an interactive way.”
A standout song that I wanted to point out on Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks) is “We’re Not Getting Through.” The single version they’ve chosen combines amazing 1960s harmonies and jangling, reverb-drenched guitars. Drums pound and flail Keith Moon style as guitars go into smooth, sun-drenched pop verses. The melodies interlock seamlessly with instrumentation and the choruses turn heads all day long. String scrapes peel down six-string necks and launch off the edge into Pete Townsend/Ted Nugent (Amboy Dukes Nugent) guitar salvos of vox-fueled virtue.
Another CD favorite is “She Don’t Care About Time.” With more jangle per pound than Lennon and McCartney’s “Ticket To Ride,” The Grip Weeds once again employ those addictive 1960s melodies to launch this nostalgically qualified hit into the angst and veneration of love. Kurt Reil has this most distinct and pleasing vocal presence of our era, and he uses it to full effect on this song and throughout the CD.
Yes, I might be a bit pro-Grip Weeds, but I’m far from alone. As Little Steven himself has said, “We like to mix it up in Jersey and The Grip Weeds are a great example of that. A touch of John Lennon, a bit of The Byrds, a dash of The Kinks, a pinch of The Who and a dollop of Zombies, and you get something quite original, and quite cool.”
For more on The Grip Weeds and Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks), head over to gripweeds.com.