North Jersey Notes


I received an interesting email from a very interesting artist that normally wouldn’t catch my attention, but my love for Johnny Cash really drew me to this week’s featured North Jersey Notes artist. The name of the band is Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts, and they really capture what outlaw rock ‘n’ roll is all about! I got to hear a few songs off the band’s self-titled debut album like “59,” “Proof,” “The Ghost That’s Chasing Me,” and “Longer Than a Country Mile.” Luther’s low vocal tone really pulls you in. I can totally listen to this stuff while driving through the countryside of Upstate New York or even through the piney woods of South Jersey. 

In these uncertain times, a little bit of truth goes a long way. On Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts’ debut album, the band takes listeners on a soul-searching journey in search of the truth as told through the eyes of a road-worn traveler who has experienced life’s uncertainties and lived to tell about it. In his Luther Black persona, singer-songwriter-producer Rick Wagner writes honest, plainspoken songs that come from the heart paying homage to Outlaw Country’s founders Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson, while keeping country music’s traditional themes of lonesomeness, restlessness, heartache and, of course, drinking throughout each song. Luther Black, however, is far from your traditional country act. Like contemporary outlaw country artists Sturgill Simpson and Shooter Jennings, Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts still bleed their hard rock influences while at the same time, exhibiting a strong affinity for country and folk music with soaring guitars and string arrangements accompanied by the twang of a baritone guitar or dobro to create a bittersweet sonic landscape to suit a raspy-voiced singer’s tale of survival in this crazy world.  

Rick Wagner’s debut with Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts came after many years of working as a session player, producer, and touring musician. His long list of recording and touring credits include bands like The dB’s, Silos, Heart & Minds, Paul Collins, Ruby On The Vine, and Storytown. His journey from a Pennsylvania coal-mining town to New York City’s Greenwich Village to the suburbs of New Jersey has had more than a few ups and downs, but he never stopped plugging away. From the reflective opening track on the self-titled album, “59,” to the elegant song “World Won’t Wait” to the down and dirty blues rockers “Trouble” and “Proof,” Wagner’s kept the one them intact and that’s “Sometimes the truth hurts.” Check out Luther Black and the Cold Hard Facts now at 


As a huge wrestling fan, I was excited to hear that my hometown buds in These Wolves had their song “Dead To Me” featured on a Cody Rhodes versus Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) promo for All Elite Wrestling’s Revolution Pay-Per-View on TNT. That is awesome! This Friday, March 13, These Wolves release their new single “Panic” and it kicks ass! For more on These Wolves or to check out “Panic,” visit

My brothers from Tonal Crush are hard at work laying down tracks for their debut record with my bud J.D. DeServio from Black Label Society engineering and producing it. Tonal Crush was also recently added to the Monster Magnet show at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Saturday, April 18. For discounted tickets to this show hit up one of the band members in Tonal Crush. For more info on Tonal Crush, visit

And finally, my new friends from The Neverends recently released their latest album, Party Boi, featuring the title track, “I’ll Shut Up,” “Split My Head,” “V For Victory,” and “Fed Up.” I have to admit that this is a pretty good start to 2020 for The Neverends. Hear these songs live when The Neverends hit Boontunes in Boonton, NJ on April 11. For more info on The Neverends, visit 

Just remember….We’re all in the same boat, so every little bit of exposure counts!

Tim Louie is the Author of S**t Happens.