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Hello, Lloyd: One of the biggest events of the Whole Kid Year returns to Asbury town this weekend, when madcap mogul Lloyd Kaufman brings the TROMADANCE Festival back to the center Lanes for TWO big nights, May 4 and 5!
The MayDay claxon’s already sounded; things are getting tensely tight around Asbury Parque (and by extension, the Upper Wet Side) in anticipation of the blizzardlike blitzkrieg that is the Bamboozle Fest — a wristband Woodstock that not only corrals “the kids” for three days and nights within a space where people actually sorta/kinda live, but THIS year invites their fiftysomething parents to stay and do something other than idle in queue at the designated pickup/dropoff areas. More on THAT as it happens midmonth — for now the pace picks up considerably in and around the place Where Music Lollygags, and if you dare to stray from the clearly demarcated Festival Area you’re SURE to find something weirdly wonderful…
FRIDAY and SATURDAY! 13th Annual TromaDance Festival at Asbury Lanes. You don’t have to be a conventioneering connoisseur of the Troma Films brand to have a blast at this yearly freewheeling filmfest, but it helps to enter into the bargain with some working knowledge of the MegaLoBudget sleaze cinema “studio” that gave the world The Toxic Avenger (plus associated kid cartoons, sequels and Off Broadway musicals) — a brand that continues to survive, maybe thrive, in a climate where the Drive Ins, the home video market, and even FILM as we know it have effectively joined the body count of motion picture arts and sciences.
Originally kickstarted in Park City, Utah as a freebie flip-off to the corporate-indie Sundance suckfest, TromaDance returns in its 13th annual edition to the atom-age Asbury Lanes this Friday and Saturday (May 4-5), with that most Fellini-esque of neighborhood rockbars playing host for the fourth(?) time to a no-charge, “No VIP” event in which “celebrities and fans are treated equally.” Lording over the affair once more is that Disney of Disturbia, that David O. Sleazenik, that Louis B. Mayhem mogul of madness — Troma chief, producer, director and sometime actor Lloyd Kaufman.
Some three dozen shorts from filmmakers all over the world (none of whom need to pay an entry fee) will be screening over the course of the weekend, with each night also spotlighting a new feature-length fracas. Friday’s full-lengther will be Manborg, a “cult-tastic throwback to 80s sci-fi action films like ROBOCOP and THE TERMINATOR” from Steven Kostanski and the Astron-6 Video collective — in which “a soldier, brought back to life as a cyborg, fights alongside a band of adventurers against demon hordes in a dystopian future.”
That latest from the director of Father’s Day will show at 8pm on May 4 (program starts at 7pm) — and at that same hour on Saturday, it’s a free screening of The FP, a grindhouse gangbang co-directed by the sibling tagteam of Jason and Brandon Trost, the amped-up cinematographers behind the likes of Crank: High Voltage and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Brother Jason stars in this story of “two gangs locked in a turf war in rural wasteland Frasier Park, in the deadly arena of competitive dance-fight video game” — a “fury of fierce footwork, triumphant montages and neon street wear” that features as narrator none other than James Remar of The Warriors (and, lately, Dexter). Take it here for Dorothy Creamer’s interview with Yale alumnus (and former GWB classmate) Kaufman, conducted for our old Red Bank oRBit site and archived for your enlightenment here on the upperWETside. Asbury Lanes, Fourth Ave., Asbury Park • 7pm/ FREE!
That ain’t even the one-sixth of it; flip the record over for more…
Anarchy in the BK: Some of the most instantly familiar images captured by ace rock photographer Bob Gruen (including this shot of The Sex Pistols on their fateful American tour) are on display — with the man himself in person — with Friday’s opening of a new show at Art629 in Asbury Park.
FRIDAY! Bob Gruen ROCK SEEN at Art629. Nineteen Ninety Nine. Has it really been that long since the Upper Wet Side saw a solo-show exhibit dedicated to the wowsome work of Bob Gruen? Back on the cusp of the hopeful new millennium, this rock photographer’s rock photographer — a man of whom it can be said has captured many of THE most iconic, most viewed images of Led Zep, John/ Yoko, The Sex Pistols and countless others — gave local crowds an up-close gawk at a largely bygone world in which the Rock Star strutted tall, during an installation at the long-gone ArtForms gallery in Red Bank.
Beginning with an opening reception this Friday night — an event for which the lensman promises to be present, as he was during a private event at The Showroom this past Tuesday — an array of Gruen’s most instantly recognizable (and infinitely resonating) images will adorn the walls of Art629 Gallery, the downtown Asbury Park artspace established by painter, promoter (and former booking guy at the late lamented Club Bene!) Patrick Schiavino. It’s a smorgasbord of snaps that include such Gruen milestones as “Sid Vicious with Hot Dog” (now in London’s National Portrait Gallery), scenes of The Clash @ Convention Hall in 1982, Jon Bon Jovi at the boundary-busting 1989 Moscow Music Peace Festival — and still more from the man behind John and Yoko’s volume Sometime in New York City, and not one but two seminal documentaries on the New York Dolls.
For us, though, Gruen’s rep was staked on his long tenure as a staff or stringer photographer for vintage magazines like the amazing Creem or the much-missed Rock Scene — alternatives to the eternally stodgy and clueless Rolling Stone that telegraphed tomorrow’s trends (and chronicled a golden age of epic excess) largely through the candid, unorchestrated, often way out of control portraits by this man who preferred to stay out of the limelight himself.
None of which is to suggest that there’s not a great book in all of this — and last year’s publication of the Gruen collection Rock Seen led directly to the installation at Art629, an exhibit that remains on display, most all this merry month of Bamboozle, during normal gallery hours through May 27. Art629 Gallery, 629 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park • 8-10pm
Help Yourself: Asbury Park hip hop hope Solo For Dolo takes the Press Room stage for the first time on First Saturday, in a record release party for his new SELF TITLED, that’s also part of a three-way Bangs Ave block party benefit for the nonprofit Mad vs Cancer.
SATURDAY! MAD VS. CANCER benefit on Bangs Avenue. Corpspeak types would brand it “synergy,” but when the monthly First Saturday slate of activities returns to downtown AP this Cinco de Mayo, it’ll feature a subset event in which a threesome of relative recent arrivals on a banging stretch of Bangs Avenue band together in cahoots for a tri-pronged fundraising effort to benefit MAD vs. CANCER.
It’s an endeavor that’s keyed to the big Two Year Anniversary at ReBearth Artist Boutique, a genuine pioneer/ pacesetter on the fast-transforming easternmost blocks of Bangs, and a center of city life in which 10% of all sales this Saturday will be dedicated to the ongoing battle against what the Vegas hipsters used to call The Big Casino. Down the street at the new Bangs Art Gallery, proprietor (and proponent of Spraypaint SurrealiZm) Doug Z presents Ocean Spray, an International Graffiti Exhibition that showcases the work of such Rustoleum Rembrandts (and Krylon Klimts) as KAVES, NASTY, ENUE, MARS, KR ONE, SAMP, VERS, DEALYT, DEZO, AIR 3, MONOVISUA, SKOPE, YES 2, CES, and SLICE. The reception runs from 6pm all the way to midnight, with art sale proceeds to MAD and live painting demos (“prepare to have your mind blown”) for the duration.
“Rest in peace to the Moon Rock and the places we’d skate,” declares hip hop artiste (and Asbury Park original) Solo for Dolo on “Asbury Rising,” one of the tracks on his brand new longplayer Self Titled. “Shout to the ReBearth for the cans I spray.” The word-dense lament for a transitioning hometown that’s sold off pieces of its soul (“Way back when Kingsley was strip clubs and bars, before it got revamped and they censored out every part”) is one of several standouts on the new release, an effort that shows a still-defiant but increasingly reflective S4D shaking off some of his residual teenpunk angst as both he and the city enter into a new evolutionary phase.
The Self Titled (not self-titled) album is the center of attention during a Saturday night record release event at yet another welcome new arrival on Bangs Ave — The Press Room, the Bruce-blessed destination rockbar co-owned by Alecia Brooks. Shoreshot and Fresh Vets join Solo for Dolo in the live show that kicks off at 10pm, with proceeds from the recession-busting Press Room cover charge of $5 going once again to the evening’s MAD vs CANCER fund drive. The Press Room, 610 Bangs Ave., Asbury Park • 10pm/ $5
Elsewhere on and around the Cookman Avenue corridor on First Saturday, the sporty and luxurious Doug Ferrari‘s relocated/ reborn Shore Institute Of The Contemporary Arts hosts an opening reception for the sixth annual edition of SICA’s High Relief event, a group show highlighting the best high school sculptors in NJ — “those who demonstrate not only technical achievement in the handling of their material but that essential creativity which demonstrates the spirit of contemporary art today.” Winners of the competition will be announced during the reception running between 6 and 10pm, with the exhibit continuing through May 25 and selected entries considered for inclusion in SICA’s annual SculpToure Urban Sculpture Park (about which more to come in these pixelated pages).
Over at The Paint Place, designer and fashion expert Brittany Guba shows off “her new creation Beautiful Havoc, the most wonderful watch ever” — while the characteristically amazing group show Strange Matter continues at Pop Art paradise Parlor Gallery, with eye-popping “wearable art and art created with unusual materials” by Morris Jurgensen, Ray Geary, Joe Iurato, Betsy van Langen, Miss Ellie, Tina Kerekes, Mike Leavitt, Hey Sailor, Blood Milk, Matthew Cox, Roxie Darling, Kim Alsbrooks, C. Pazia Mannella, Hannah Fink, Ben Conrad & Vahge. And at John Vigg’s Gallery 13 (inside the downtown Shoppes at the Arcade), you’ve got another chance to view a Ring-A-Ding-Ding collection of 1950s-60s images featuring Frank Sinatra and the people in his swaggering Rat Pack orbit, from the Kennedys to Dino and Sammy. It’s a pretty astounding assemblage of shots, many of them completely unfamiliar and at least one of them showing a toupee-less Ol’ Blue Eyes in an unguarded moment.
Don Dazzo and The Whirling Dervishes — pictured here in their 1980s heyday, forever on the threshold of breakthrough greatness — reunite for a salute to the long-gone rockbar The Green Parrot, this Saturday at the (still alive and kicking) Brighton Bar.
SATURDAY! Green Parrot Reunion at The Brighton Bar. As put-upon readers of this blog surely guessed by now, we’ve been around this scene for some time longer than the one year or so that upperWETside has been live — in fact, we can trace our pathetic pedigree to a rag called Pipeline, a bi-weekly newsprint music/ entertainment zine (covering South Amboy down to Seaside) that we published in the early to mid 1980s. So humor us as we spin a tale of a classic Shore nightspot of yore — no, not the Upstage, Student Prince or any of those can’t-go-home-again SOAPboxes from a bronzed era of skinny Springsteens and fat facial hair.
No, we’re referring to The Green Parrot, which for a relatively brief time in the 1980s served as a real-world annex to the Modern Rock airwave action put forth by the old WHTG-FM. Located a short world away from Asbury out on Route 33 in Neptune (the building was razed in the early 1990s for additional parking space at Jersey Shore Medical Center), the bar served as the scene of some memorable sets by alt-rock faves like Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz, Living Colour, Faith No More, The Fleshtones, The Feelies — and a whole lot of local alterna-bands, a fistful of whom re-assemble like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (with the ostensible blessings of the Yaccarino family) for a Reunion Party this Saturday night, Mayo the Cinco.
With the Parrot having squawked its last more than 20 years ago, the action moves to another landmark latespot of the 1980s — West End’s Brighton Bar, a crucial crossroads in the history of the Shore underground and a place that if anything is still vitally hallowed ground to this day. Saturday’s bill is a thrilling one for geezers like us who covered the waterfront back in the day when we Wanted Our MTV — a bill that boasts The X-Men (fronted by Brighton co-owner Greg Macolino), Westfield sensations The Whirling Dervishes (of “Mr. Grinch,” some fantastic EPs and the jaw-dropping movie Thin Mints), the underrated Well of Souls, and The Wallbangers, a very groovy band that we never thought we’d see again.
All of these combos are coincidentally represented on the Brighton’s must-see Wall of Fame (making this a circa-1985 Brighton reunion as much as a Parrot bash); doors open at 8pm and below-radar history continues to be made at the Home of the Frosted Mug. Brighton Bar, 121 Brighton Ave., Long Branch • doors 8pm/ $7