Dye, Another Day: Rob Dye marks the release of his debut CD, DAYS TO HERE, with a party high above the Asbury boards on Friday, May 8.
By TOM CHESEK
Even on a wet and not particularly welcoming Sunday night, the scene in front of Jamian’s Food and Drink is spilling out onto the sidewalk smokers lounge; all analog facebooking and music-people shoptalk punctuated by a thousand points of Marlboro light. Inside is about as close as real life gets to the inside of a well-connected person’s Blackberry; as diverse and eclectic a collection of musical movers and shakers as anything you’ll see this side of an awards ceremony, coming in out of the night and showing up in the kind of numbers that usually only occurs when they’re burying one of their own — and even then only if there’s a buffet.
Some four months after Rob Dye left his longstanding gig with The Downtown to start a new Open Jam tradition at Jamian LaViola’s Monmouth Street restaurant, we’re only just now making it over to the Sunday soiree. We’d been hearing the greatest things about this worst-kept-secret of the Shore music landscape; how it’s become the place to be for people who play music for a calling and a living — people who can’t always connect with each other most working evenings.
It’s been talked up as a place where you’ll find a member of Christian singer Nancy Scharff’s band alongside the drummer from The Atomic Bitchwax; a place where somebody just spotted Lenny Kravitz’s bass player and somebody else swears they saw Richie Sambora. They speak of these Open Jams in tones usually reserved for the legendary Upstage club in old Asbury — although in truth it’s a scene that belongs largely to a new generation of players; tech-savvy and self-reliant, yet able to appreciate the joys of some spontaneous performance and a little face-time with their peers.
Just a few minutes inside the place and we were already catching up with faces from the past (Chris Dargis, Dale Lakata, Gary Wright) and making some new acquaintances — king Jirk Brian Kirk, Open Jam coordinator Mike Ghegan. We were as thrilled as anyone when Richie Havens band veteran Poppa John Bugg and a collection of avuncular looking older gentlemen plugged in and blew everyone away with a short and sweet set of funk-infused R&B — and we had to give special thanks to a guy named Joe Cotis, whose solo acoustic turn ventured into that undiscovered country inhabited by the likes of Nick Cave and The Misfits.
Visible throughout was Robert Dye, whose duties as host of the evening extend far beyond merely introducing the performers at the start of their 15-minute segments. One moment he’s rewiring a finicky PA; the next he’s laying down a George Harrison solo in the equipment-crammed corner that constitutes the Jamian’s stage, or introducing one regional music-biz person to another in a manner befitting a born “go-to” guy.
Dye, of course, has been known to write and sing a song himself — and this week marks the official release of Days to Here, the very first full-length CD of the guitarist-vocalist’s long-playing career. Melissa Chill, a frequent guest performer at Jamian’s Open Jam nights, is also among the Who’s Who of Shore area musicians that contributed to the sessions for Dye’s album — a veritable Rolodex of players that includes Ron Haney and Bart Schoudel of The Churchills, Bon Jovi bassist Hugh McDonald, Springsteen/McLoone backing vocalists Delores and Layonne Holmes, blues bandleader Matt O’Ree and the ubiquitous Andy McDonough — plus Pat Guadagno, George Ott, Bob Pantella, Bobby Boyd, Rene Wooley and pretty much everyone with whom Dye has worked in the past few years. CD sleeve photography is by the superstar lensman Danny Clinch, and the rising-star rock photog Jimmy Hubbard. One can only surmise that Dye has either earned the impassioned respect of all these people, or he’s got some kind of dirt on all of them.
In an engagingly retro move, Dye has segmented the CD into two “sides” of five songs each — “one half roots rock (including the sharply modern sounding ‘Believe’), and one half country, with a little zydeco and even a truckdriving song (’Cars, Trucks and Buses’)” that should bring to mind the great hits of Dave Dudley, minus the “little white pills” and the mistress over the next state line.
Dye cites Neil Young’s classic LP Rust Never Sleeps as having influenced his sequencing of the new CD, and plans to use the disc as a calling card to shop his songs around to publishers in Nashville and elsewhere.
“I’m hustling these days,” says the hardworking performer, who will be appearing at local watering holes The Falls and Windansea in upcoming weeks. “I’d like to really be able to make a living from playing music, and I’m at the point in my life where I’m willing to take that chance.”