Makin Waves Scene Report with Elk City, Yung Wu and More

In this week’s Scene Report, find out about Elk City, Yung Wu, more Bar/None Records news, the Makin Waves 2018 Concert Series, Levy & the Oaks, Secretary Legs, Stephanie Chin, and River Monsters.


  The forthcoming Elk City album, Everybody’s Insecure, builds on a working relationship that started back in the early 1990s and hasn’t used its safe word yet. From humble, noisy beginnings to a sonically rich sound that is full of depth and detail, Montclair-based Elk City’s soundscapes encompass galaxies while retaining intimate and introspective thoughts and feelings, like epic adventures under the skin. Everybody’s Insecure, the group’s fifth album, will be released by Hoboken-based Bar/None Records on Mar. 16 (look for a Record of the Week here on Mar. 15).

  Mainstay Elk City lead vocalist Renée LoBue and drummer-producer Ray Ketchem, who also made up the core of the late, great Melting Hopefuls, are abetted by Luna guitarist Sean Eden, keyboardist Carl Baggaley, bassist Martin Olson and guitarist Chris Robertson. Throughout the album’s recording, Ketchem was building his new studio, Magic Door, having worked with Guided By Voices, Luna, Versus, Chris Mills, Brother JT, and Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help.

  Elk City will celebrate the release of Everybody’s Insecure on Mar. 15 at New York City’s Bowery Electric, but first they’ll play another special show on Feb. 23 opening for James Hunter Six at Maplewood’s Rent Party, an exceptional series of concerts that helps fight hunger by supporting three North Jersey food pantries, maintaining a large community garden on the front lawn of the South Orange Elks that raises fresh produce for those pantries, and providing the BackPack Pals program to about 100 food-insecure school children with a weekend’s worth of nutritious food.


  In other Bar/None news, The Feelies pop-oriented side project Yung Wu will re-release Shore Leave, their 1987 debut on Coyote Records, on April 21, Record Store Day. They too will play Rent Party on Mar. 9 with the Campfire Flies and Wild Carnation, both of which also are associated with The Feelies. A Record Store Day version of the LP will include a limited-edition flexi disc of front man (and Feelies percussionist) Dave Weckerman’s rare 1980 solo seven-inch comprising the original version of Shore Leave’s title track and the B side, “Out Of Baby’s Reach.” The original lineup of Yung Wu features today’s current Feelies, also guitarists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, drummer Stan Demeski, and bassist Brenda Sauter, who also plays in Wild Carnation. John Baumgartner from Campfire Flies, Speed The Plough and the Trypes joined them in the studio playing keyboards.


  On Feb. 23, Bar/None will release The Langley Schools Music Project: Innocence and Despair, a deluxe CD repackaging of the two 1970s LPs released by a 60-voice choir of Canadian school children who subsequently inspired School of Rock and Spike Jones’ soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are. Also featured in a VH-1 documentary, the Langley Schools Music Project sang the songs of The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and more. 

  Also recently released by Bar/None is the first-ever vinyl issue of Ben Vaughn’s 1995 album, “Instrumental Stylings.” The re-release includes a download card with four bonus tracks.


STREAM Williams Honor 


    The Makin Waves 2018 Concert Series kicked off Feb. 3 with Blood & Roses: The Court Tavern Tribute to Pat DiNizio, featuring surviving Smithereens members Jim Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken, The Grip Weeds, Lost Romance, Mike Daly & the Planets, and members of Mr. Payday, True Love, the Rockin’ Bricks, Swingin’ Neckbreakers and Platinum Load. More than $2,000 was raised to help Pat’s mom with expenses, as will a tribute to Pat on Feb. 25 at Crossroads also with Babjak and members of Pat’s side project, The Scotchplainsmen. Visit

  The Makin Waves Concert Series will continue with the Makin Waves 30th Anniversary Party on Mar. 31 at the Wonder Bar, with Williams Honor, Colossal Street Jam, The Vansaders, Nalani & Sarina, Karen Mansfield, Paul Whistler, Sutton Thomas, Mike Brody vs. the People, Mike Daly & the Planets, Tom Kanach’s new band, The WaterMakers, and DJ Lee Mrowicki of “Radio Jersey” on Highlights also will include a free commemorative T-shirt to the first 100 paid guests and free stickers for all from Fat Rat Press, free anniversary cake from Confections of a Rock$tar, and a free Wheel of Chance to win prizes from Makin Waves, the Wonder Bar and Stone Pony, The Aquarian Weekly, 95.9 the Rat, Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery, Debra L. Rothenberg Photography, the Brew TEA Spot, Cookman Creamery, Bubbakoo’s Burritos, Silverball Museum Arcade, and Asbury Park Music Foundation, which also will benefit from partial proceeds, along with the Boys & Girls Club of Asbury Park.  

  The concert series will continue with the sixth annual Hub City Music Festival to benefit the Elijah’s Promise food justice and empowerment program throughout April in New Brunswick and Highland Park. Shows will include reunions of Wooden Soldiers and Spy Gods, plus performances of The Grip Weeds and Jigs & the Pigs, while DJ Don Dazzo of the Whirling Dervishes spins upstairs on April 7 at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick; a salute to the great work of producer-engineer Chris Pierce and his Volume IV Studios with his band, The Groucho Marxists, plus Nervous Triggers, Erotic Novels and Feeny on April 13 at V4, and the first-ever Hub City Hardcore show at Hub City Musical with Steel Toe Solution, Dusters and Player Hater on April 15 at Greenhouse Loft in Highland Park. Expanded to three weeks with 23 events, the entire festival lineup will be announced soon. More than $15,000 has been raised for Elijah’s Promise, which includes a soup kitchen, culinary school and catering service that helps the hungry and homeless to eat, learn and work. 

  The Makin Waves Concert Series also will include the Second Annual Makin Waves Jam N Groove Fest on May 12 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen with performances in tribute to the 50th anniversary of Parliament-Funkadelic and the 35th anniversary of Red Hot Chili Peppers by Experiment 34, The P-Funk North Show, Cook Thugless, Green Knuckle Material, Offkey Lifestyle, Murdock, and Groove Gangstas, plus soul, funk and punk-funk classics spun by the Composition of Sound. Highlights also will include an All I Want Is for You to Be Happy Hour with food and drink specials and a free drawing for P-Funk and Chili Peppers memorabilia. 

  Soon-to-be-announced will be four summer Makin Waves shows at Asbury Park Brewery, the fifth annual Hub City Sounds: ROCK New Brunswick festival Sept. 7 to 9, and more fun in the fall and winter. Stay tuned at


STREAM Levy & the Oaks 


    Levy & the Oaks, one of several excellent roots-rock outfits based in Asbury Park, recently shot a video for a single release, “Obsessive Love,” but a release date is not yet scheduled. However, a few tasty shows are scheduled on Feb. 23 at Asbury Park Yacht Club with The Vaughns and Strange Eclipse, Mar. 2 at the Stone Pony’s Battle of the Decades for which they’ll do an ‘80s set, while Emily Grove performs the 1960s; The Vansaders tackle the ‘70s, and The Double Negatives take on Y2K. Levy & the Oaks also will perform with Latewaves on Mar. 5 at the Wonder Bar.

    Secretary Legs will celebrate the release of their debut album for Sniffling Indie Kids, Cool Myths, on Feb. 24 at The Fruit Cellar in Edison with Joy Cleaner, Glazer, and Erotica. They’ll also play Mar. 31 at Piano’s in New York City with Punch Drunk Tagalongs, Ghost Pressure, The Sofas, and Air for Ants. In other Secretary Legs news, vocalist-bassist KG Gogan and guitarist Dash recently were married, so congrats to them!  


STREAM Stephanie Chin 


  Singer-songwriter Stephanie Chin will celebrate the release of her debut EP, Hold onto Hope, on Feb. 24 at 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing. If you can’t make the show, you can order the record at ♫ Hold on to Hope – Stephanie Chin. Listen @cdbaby. Chin’s band includes guitarist Kristen Blum, drummer Joe Casalino, bassist-cellist Ajibola Jeremy Rivers, and lead guitarist-bassist Adam Shaber. They’ll also play Mar. 23 at Logan Inn in New Hope and May 5 back at 1867 Sanctuary

    River Monsters will celebrate the release of their self-titled CD and guitarist Joe “Ciid” Birardi’s battle back from cancer on Feb. 24 at the Stone Pony. Sharing the energetic bill will be NJ Rockhouse, Plug Fiction, Dave E. Uldrich and Pathway.


Bob Makin is the reporter for and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at And like Makin Waves at