Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 27 2018

SOUNDS: Melanie Up Close, at Tim McLoone’s

“New Jersey always wanted to claim me,” the veteran folk-pop singer Melanie told us in an interview some years back. “But when we first moved (to Long Branch) from the city, it was then very provincial…they hadn’t seen the likes of me.” The self-proclaimed “outcast andoddball” who got her start singing at a Sea Bright restaurant, who made her first big splash at Woodstock — and who scaled the charts with hits like the soulful “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” the nostalgic country-honk “Look What They’ve Done to My Song,” and the teasingly playful “Brand New Key” in the seasons before Springsteen — makes a rare Shoreside homecoming appearance TONIGHT, September 27, when she takes it topside to Tim McLoone’s Supper Club for an intimate concert that teams Melanie Safka with her longtime tour accompanist (and son) Beau-Jared Schekyryk. Produced by RUE Events, it’s an Up Close and Personal set of songs, stories, and Safka-esque observations from an artist who’s appeared on some of the world’s most famous stages, achieved international stardom, and managed an enviable balance of fame and family life, on her way to becoming a traveling ambassador of peace, love and cross-cultural understanding who can still “basically think that the world can be changed with a song.” Reserve tickets to the 7:30 pm show ($49.50) at

SOUNDS: Pete Yorn Acoustic at the  Stone Pony

A Jersey guy by birth ‘n breeding, and a longtime favorite about these Shore Points, Pete Yorn returns to the Stone Pony stage this Friday, September 28, on the northeast leg of an “Evening With…” tour that finds the multi-instro singer-songwriter kicking it solo acoustic, despite the fact that his two most recent releases found him harmonizing with occasional collaborator Scarlett Johansson (the Apart EP), and 90s alt-rocker Liz Phair (a cover of The Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man”). Anticipate a retrospective of the artist’s growing catalog (including some high-profile Hollywood film score contributions, and the odd dip into the deep end of the covertunes pool), and maybe even some as-yet unreleased items from the workshop drawing board. Tickets to the 7 pm show ($30 advance; $35 d.o.s.) are available at — and the artist’s website offers “VIP backstage experiences where fans can meet Pete, watch soundcheck and even attend a pre-show performance of a song in the dressing room.”

SOUNDS: Dramarama at the Wonder Bar

“The songs are all about me,” John Easdale told us several years back in reference to his alterna-powerpop group Dramarama. “If I’m doing my job right, then people will see a bit of themselves in the song.” Despite the singer’s relocation to LA, the band that emerged from Wayne, NJ to gift the world with “violent and twisted” ditties like “Last Cigarette” and “Anything, Anything” remain perennial favorites here on the Shore (thanks in large part to heavy rotation on the old WHTG-FM) — and on Friday, September 28, the Drama-tists return to the Wonder Bar for a rocking “33 1/3 Years of Dramarama” retrospective, for which tix to the 8 pm show are $21 at the door or from

STAGES: Catapult’s “Magic Shadows” at Monmouth U

They wowed the national television audience when they appeared on Season Eight of America’s Got Talent — and yet, the members of Catapult remain shadowy figures to the general public. Founded in 2008 by choreographer (and veteran of Pilobolus Dance Theatre) Adam Battlestein, Catapult is a troupe of artists who perform behind onstage screens in a way that melds contemporary dance with centuries-old storytelling and even sculpture. When the company brings its Magic Shadows show to the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University on Friday, they’ll convey a cycle of eight “shape transformation” stories (through movement, music, and something akin to magic) that just might inspire you to never look at your own shadow the same way again. Tickets to the 8 pm event ($40-$50 adults; $20-$25 children) can be reserved by calling 732-263-6889, or visiting

STAGES: NENA’s “Secret Garden” at JS Arts

Returning to the auditorium of Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center for their annual fall offering, producer-director Nick Montesano and his NENAproductions Theater Project present a new production of The Secret Garden, the Tony-winning musical adapted from the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Boasting songs by Lucy Simon and Pulitzer winner Marsha Norman, the oft-filmed story of a young orphaned girl named Mary, the tragedy-haunted uncle she’s sent to live with — and a hidden neglected garden that offers both mysteries and a chance for redemption — stars Maura Whalen in a followup to her turn in NENA’s staging of Fun Home. Jeffrey Fiorello (pictured with Maura) co-stars as Uncle Archibald, and the supporting cast features many returning company players under the music direction of Jeff Brown. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays, September 28 through October 6 at 7:30 pm, with a 3 pm Sunday matinee on October 7. Tickets ($25 adults, $19 kids) can be purchased at the door, through, or by calling 732-988-1007.

SCENES: DJ Spooky’s “Book of Ice” at Monmouth U

“I think of Antarctica as a place of meditation and deep time,” said Paul D. Miller — aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid — in an interview that appeared here in this space several months back. “Everyone who has been there is humbled by the scenario…it really is the most un-Earth like place on this planet.”

A trip-hop DJ, composer, musician, software designer, visual artist, author and educator, the “interdisciplinary” master was inspired by his own travels to Antarctica to create the “part fiction, part science” project The Book of Ice; a print work that also inspired an album, a symphonic work, and a touring Book of Ice multimedia presentation that comes to the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University this Tuesday evening, October 2. Originally scheduled for this past March, the polar explorer’s visit to campus was postponed due to some light snow…ahem…but when That Subliminal Kid takes the stage of Monmouth’s flagship performance venue, it will be a FREE 6 pm event that’s a presented as part of the ArtNow: Performance, Art and Technology series. A string quartet of area musicians and Monmouth faculty members joins DJ Spooky on electronics, providing a soundtrack to a display of projected images that’s followed by a post-performance discussion with the artist. Admission, once again, is free of charge, so take it to the Pollak for a unique Tuesday night out — and search this site for our archived interview with Paul “DJ Spooky” Miller.

But why stop there? Take it to the pure print edition of THE COASTER, where the What’s Up pages of Asbury Park’s fightin’ weekly fun-tab have the details on movies, art shows, and lots more music — including a special Bruce Birthday Bash hosted by Jo Bonanno…sets by local favorites Waiting On Mongo and The Cold Seas…the Asbury return of singer-songwriter Josh Zuckerman, an all new monthly Open Mic series at Palette Gallery, and the kickoff to an extended Oktoberfest of live Polka bands, at Asbury Festhalle Biergarten!