Makin Waves Scene Report with North Jersey Indie Rock Festival, Jersey City Rocks, Saturday Afternoon Song Swap & More

Also featured this week are Parlor Mob, Night Birds, School Drugs, Randy Now’s Mancave, Jeff Rusnak, Backyard Superheroes, Vessel of Light and Bob Lanza Band.

  The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns Oct. 6 to Jersey City with a showcase of acts on five labels:  Mint 400, Sniffling Indie Kids, Rhyme & Reason, Little Dickman and State Champion. Performing from 4:30 to 11 p.m. at White Eagle Hall will be Black Wail, The Components, Dentist, Ex-Maid, Glazer, Glenn Morrow’s Cry for Help, Guilty Giraffe, LKFFCT, Professor Caveman, Psychiatric Metaphors, The Royal Arctic Institute, Secretary Legs, Shithead’s Rainbow, Smock, Tony Saxon, Ultra Major, The Vaughns and Yawn Mower. An after party with The Vice Rags and Tru will take place down Newark Avenue at FM Bar.

  Also happening at White Eagle Hall on Sept. 29 is Jersey City Rocks, another local showcase featuring Overlake, Debra Devi, Desir Decir, Alex Tea, Drum and a Tantrum, 50 Ft. Furies, Dontique BMR, DJ Bizz Nice, plus an art exhibit by Kayt Hester. About 500 people attend the last Jersey City Rocks in January, so curator Devi, a blues-rocker from JC, thought to do it again. Partial proceeds will benefit Friends of Liberty State Park.

  Also happening in Jersey City will be the 10th anniversary Saturday Afternoon Song Swap organized by singer-songwriters Deena Shoshkes of The Cucumbers and Rebecca Turner on Sept. 29 at FM Bar. Among the 40 songwriters who will be performing will be Tony Tedesco, Renée LoBue and Ray Ketchum of Elk City, Ed Melee, Adam Bernstein, Dots Will Echo, Ed Seifert, Sharon Goldman, Tom Kanach, John Baumgartner, and Larée Cisco. The show will coincide with the release of the series’ two-part 70-song compilation, “Swap Thing: Part 1 & 2.” The Song Swap also is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a Spotify playlist.

  Asbury Park scene veterans Parlor Mob are gearing up for the release of their next album early next year on the new Warner-associated Britannia Row label with a second single, the vocally sweet, diversely pulsing “Setting with the Sun”. Equally sweet is their next gig at See.Hear.Now Festival on Sept. 30 on the Asbury Park beach. They will share the bill of the two-day surfer-themed beach fest, also Sept. 29, with Jack Johnson, Incubus, Social Distortion, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Blondie, The Front Bottoms, The Menzingers, Lettuce, The English Beat, Deer Tick, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, G. Love & Special Sauce, The Original Wailers, Twin Peaks, Rayland Baxter, Nicole Atkins, Deal Casino, Jessie Malin, The Battery Electric, Tangiers Blues Band and much more. Parlor Mob also will play Oct. 4 at Zone One at Elsewhere in New York City with Deep Sea Peach Tree.

  New Brunswick-based Fat Wreck Chords recording act Night Birds are back with their latest collection, the eight-song Roll Credits, featuring the funny single/video, “My Dad is the BTK”, which includes guitar by old basement scene pal Mike Hunchback, who also plays on two other tracks. Night Birds will celebrate the release of Roll Credits on Oct. 19 at Market Hotel in Brooklyn with Radioactivity from Texas, Spiritual Cramp from Northern California, and No Love from Raleigh, N.C. Other area dates include a two-night stand at Asbury Park Brewery on Nov. 9 with Dark Thoughts, Executors and Primitive Lips and Nov. 10 with Conmen, Wall Breaker and School Drugs, and Nov. 23 at Everybody Hits Philadelphia also with Dark Thoughts, as well as fellow Philly band E.D.S.

  Speaking of School Drugs, the Jersey Shore-based punk outfit have dropped a five-song seven-inch and cassette, Relative Suffering, the first-ever release of the Trenton indie Hell Minded Records, run by Joe Kuzemka, founder of Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market. School Drugs will celebrate the release of Relative Suffering on Oct. 6 at Mill Hill Basement in Trenton with Over Everything, Dusters, and Stud. In addition to that and the aforementioned Brewery show with Night Birds, School Drugs will play Sept. 29 at the Brewery with SICK SHIT, Muscle Before Paradise, Primitive Lips and Dog Date. They’ll also play on Nov. 23 at Mill Hill in a punk tribute show as Gorilla Biscuits. Also on that bill will be a special one-off band, Trenton Makeage, featuring Kuzemka on vocals, School Drugs drummer/Night Birds producer Chris Pierce on guitar, drummer Brenden Lipiria, and bassist Chris Newman in a tribute to punk-pop pioneers The Descendents. A benefit for Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, the show also will feature The Cryptkeeper Five as The Ramones and Pissed as The Bouncing Souls.

  Legendary Trenton scenester Randy Now is turning up the heat at his Man Cave, a collectible consignment shop and rock ‘n’ roll record store that often hosts small, intimate concerts with big names. The stacked schedule through to the end of the year will include Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, Sept. 28; Cowbell Superstar, Sept. 29; Na’Bodach, Oct. 6; Hamell on Trial, Oct. 12; The Peace Creeps, Oct. 13; Raymond the Amish Comic, Oct. 19; Pat Guadagno, Oct. 20; Halloween Show w/Christian Death, Oct. 26; Halloween Party w/The Mighty Incisors, Shewolf and Dana Kain, Oct. 27; Pleased Youth/The Accelerators, Nov. 3; Melanie, Nov. 7; Beatles Engineer Geoff Emerick, Nov. 9; Parasites/The Fiendz, Nov. 11; Glenn Morrow’s Cry for Help/Elk City, Nov. 16; Adam Realman, Nov. 17; Chris Barron of Spin Doctors, Nov. 30; Marshall Crenshaw, Dec. 2; The Donuts, Dec. 7; Christmas Concert with harpist-singer Erin Hill, Dec. 14; Richie Cole’s Alto Madness Holiday Concert, Dec. 21; Oi! Christmas with Doc Rotten, Dec. 22, and Guy Davis, Dec. 30.

  The late Trenton scenester Jeff “Jefty” Rusnak was a disc jockey, musician, producer, Princeton Record Exchange manager and photographer. Rusnak co-founded Music Mercer Now and Bird O’Pray Records, the first label to release a Ween album, 1988’s The Live Brain Wedgie cassette, one side of which was recorded at City Gardens. Rusnak will be honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland with an exhibit of his music photography chronicling the many punk and alternative acts he captured early in their career, particularly as they came through City Gardens. The Jeff Rusnak Photo Collection will run from Oct. 3 into February, but more than 10,000 of Rusnak’s photos will remain archived by the Rock Hall via former City Gardens promoter Randy Ellis, aka Randy Now.

  Central Jersey ska faves Backyard Superheroes are celebrating the release of their latest album, Never Give Up, Never Surrender, on Sept. 29 at the Brighton Bar, Long Branch, by bring Ska Mic Con to the East Coast. Produced in association with Legends Entertainment, Citizen Original Productions, What Do You Know About Ska, and Pocket Entertainment, Ska Mic Con NJ will feature two stages of music also by No Such Noise, King Django, Joker’s Republic, P-Funk North, The Upfux, Behind Deadlines, The Schwam, Molly Rhythm, Nerd Surge, The Penniless Loafers, Disposable, The Nameless and Ill Rendition. The epic day of ska nerdery also will feature video game competitions, a cosplay contest, and vending by artist Brian Middleton, Colesmith Comics and Stubborn Records. Backyard Superheroes also will play Oct. 13 at Asbury Park Brewery with The Toasters and Maid of Ace and at Skanksgiving on Nov. 23 at Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, with Reel Big Fish, We Are the Union, Ballyhoo!, and Psychotic Submarines.

  Doom-rock duo Vessel of Light feature guitarist-bassist Dan Lorenzo of Hades and Non-Fiction and drummer-vocalist Nathan Opposition of Ancient VVisdom. They recently released their debut full-length, Woodshed, on Argonauta Records, following last year’s self-titled EP. Vessel of Light will make their live debut on Sept. 29 opening a sold-out show for Life of Agony at Bowery Ballroom in New York City. In the music scene, what goes around, comes around because once upon a time, LOA used to open frequently for Hades, whose Jimmy Schulman and Ron Lipnicki will be joining Lorenzo and Opposition on stage.

  Bridgewater-based Bob Lanza Blues Band have just released a new album, Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women, on Houston-based Connor Ray Music. In celebration, the band will host an album release party on Sept. 29 at Stanhope House. Acclaimed keyboardist John Ginty, who played on the album, will open the show.

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