REG SATANA of Defiance Engine and 19DRT (photo by Judi Hull)
Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), May 16, 2019
Although there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a traditionally recommended gift for a 31st anniversary — most sources have it as somewhere between pearl and coral — that’s hardly any excuse for music fans to skip the momentous milestone occasion unfolding on the famous stage of a landmark rock bar this weekend. In fact, the official designation of the first annual Makin Waves Fest can be regarded as a Year One celebration that merits a gift of paper — namely, the legal-tender currency that allows access to one of the must-see events of the season.
The occasion is the latest birthday for the beloved baby of entertainment journalist Bob Makin — which is to say Makin Waves, the long-running, award-winning music column that appears in The Aquarian Weekly, New Jersey Stage and other Jersey-based outlets. The veteran news reporter has staked out a ringside seat for every significant development on the Shore scene throughout the past few decades; interviewing scores of music makers, promoting live shows, and in the process helping to raise many thousands of dollars for children’s charities, arts education, community food banks, and other non-profit entities.
This time out, the designated beneficiary is one that’s unabashedly close to home, as the inaugural Makin Waves Fest is a “Save the Wave” endeavor designed to help the multi-media venture “sustain itself due to a lack of revenue and funds.” To that end, Makin has partnered with a panorama of co-sponsors (including Wave Resort, BlowUpRadio.com, and Tito’s Vodka, facilitator of featured drink specials for the four-day fest) — in addition to primary host venue The Brighton Bar, the Long Branch-based outpost of the innovative and fiercely indie that carried the torch of original music, when other stages had gone dark, or surrendered to the demands of the cover-band dinosaurs and the disco ball. Under the stewardship of co-owner, public schoolteacher and seasoned punk rocker Greg Macolino, the West End wonder at 121 Brighton Avenue soldiers on into our strange new century; staying connected to its own wall-of-fame legacy, even as it nurtures another new generation of bands, off-beat comics, and other vanguard vaudevillians.
Look closer at Makin’s list of event partners and you’ll notice the banner of “Reg Satana Presents,” a name that denotes the (more or less) official entry into the band booking biz for a figure who is herself no stranger to the Brighton stage: thunderdome drummer, record label exec, pop culture authority and supermom Reg “Satana” Hogan.
“Bob suggested that I help him line up bands for the Saturday show,” explains the scene stalwart whose extensive resume includes stints with fondly recalled bands like Dimebag, Solarized, Freak Theater, and the nationally renowned Daisycutter. “I was happy to do it, since I’ve done some occasional shows at The Saint, and I’m glad to be playing it…twice!”
Reg (whose stage name pays tribute to the late great Tura Satana, one-of-a-kind star of the 1960s cinema classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) appears as a member of two distinct power trios, during the May 18 multi-band blitz that kicks off at 3 pm. The surgically jagged noise-rock incursions of Defiance Engine find the drummer teaming with her husband, bassist-vocalist Jim “Rex” Hogan (with whom she co-founded the now-legendary 1980s/90s label Heat Blast Records), as well as with guitarist Rich Walter. It should be noted that, in addition, to their string-throttling skills, the two guys in the band are ace administrators of a pair of must-view Facebook groups for likeminded fans: Rich as curator of NJ Hardcore Reunion, and Rex as all-seeing watcher over the ever-growing online community known as Noise Rock Now!
The drumminatrix returns to the driver’s seat with the more recently minted 19DRT (a semiprivate-joke reference to a person or thing being so old, that they date back to the year “19-dirt”), in which “I play ‘Sammy’ to my fellow Rat Packers, Frank (Burdynski) and Dean (Monjoy).” Flexing her promoter muscles — and tying in to the day’s theme of bands who boast a connection to the fabled history of the Brighton — Reg also brings aboard the five-piece Full On Empty (featuring Keith Ackerman of The Atomic Bitchwax) and Solace (featuring Tommy Southard and Rob Hultz of the high-profile national recording act Godspeed).
“Nowadays so many musicians are virtuosos; people who can divide their time up between various kinds of bands,” the drummer says of her numerous past/present bandmates and musically minded circle of acquaintances. “Me, I’m just a straight-ahead ‘cableman’…I HIT shit!”
Still, as Reg tells it, “The biggest thing I’m working on is trying to cultivate this scene of heavier…I don’t want to say ‘underground’…noise rock that doesn’t make it onto commercial radio.”
“There’s a vibrant scene in this area…it just doesn’t necessarily gravitate to Asbury Park,” says the multi-tasker who can be found several days each week behind the counter of The Groovy Graveyard, the rollicking repository of vintage vinyl, movies, magazines, books, comics, posters and toys that she manages inside downtown Asbury’s Shoppes at the Arcade. “The Brighton Bar has been the constant, really, when all the others have come and gone.”
The four bands under the Satana banner join a slate of acts that boast some unimpeachable Brighton bona fides. Hailing from Red Bank and the greater Asbury area, The Ribeye Brothers bring their globe-trotting experience with Monster Magnet back to the “detached garage” for their signature blend of supercharged “bar ballads and cautionary tales.” Known to a generation of local audiences for his frontman stints with Mischief and Well of Souls, Tom Kanach returns to the onetime Home of the Frosted Mug, while Greg Macolino reunites for the special occasion with his 80s/90s band The X-Men. Brighton Bar Records artist Jon Caspi explores the edgier side of his singer-songwriter skills with his band The First Gun, while next-gen teen talent Ezra Caspi keynotes the proceedings at 3 pm, with the action continuing on to midnight and admission priced at $10.
In addition to playing designated den-mother to her stable of acts, Reg will observe closely as “my drum set does duty as backline for eight or nine bands…I beat the hell out of it all the time, and I expect everyone to do the same, while treating it with love and tenderness.”
The months ahead are lining up to be busy ones for Reg Hogan, as 19DRT undertakes the process of shopping its recorded music to labels — and Defiance Engine prepares to re-enter the studio. On top of all that, there’s some potentially very exciting news on the horizon, with an anticipated reconvening of Daisycutter.
“Jim and I have at least three new ‘Daisycutter’ songs…we wanna create a new recording as our summer project, and we might have a lineup together soon,” she says of the band whose various personnel changes revolved around the constant core of the Hogans and Seth Fineberg.
“Maybe from now on I’ll continue lining up bands for shows; start looking into that more,” the savvy Satana sums up. “I’m the type who’s always gotta have something new going on!”
The Brighton brouhaha gets going in earnest on Friday night, May 17, with a card of “four great indie acts” that’s headlined by the retro-garage groovie ghoulie-isms of The Cryptkeeper Five (above). TV Tramps, 40 Pound Hound and Christine Mitchell round out the program that starts at 8 pm, with admission a mere $5.
Then on May 19, the Third Annual Makin Waves Jam ‘n Groove Fest brightens the Brighton stage with a salute to three clasic acts that mark their 50th anniversaries this year — The Allman Brothers Band, Little Feat, and The Meters — as choicely channeled by Jersey Shore jamster juggrnauts Secret Sound, Dark City Strings, Dogs in a Pile, The Inflatable Head, FungkShui, Ten Foot Tall, and the Mike Montrey Band. The “trio of teen ‘n tween siblings” known as The Green Planet Band calls the Sunday meeting to order at 3 pm, with admission $10 throughout the day.
Extending the already action-packed weekend into the foothills of the working week, the Makin Waves Fest moves to Asbury Park’s circuit landmark Wonder Bar on May 20; teaming up with the Happy Mondays series of free local-music showcases for a bill that spotlights “three of New Jersey’s most popular female-fronted acts.” A favorite attraction at many a Makin-promoted event, Nalani & Sarina open the show that further features ascendant Shore star Taylor Tote and band, plus a Fest-closing set by Asbury’s own Desiree “Des” Spinks and her assembled Swagmatics (above). As with all Happy Mondays offerings, there’s no charge for admission, with the promise of free promotional items to attendees.
As Bob Makin reports in his press materials, “Despite this Save the Wave effort, all artists will still be paid thanks to the generosity of presenting sponsors The Aquarian Weekly, Light of Day Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Wave Resort.” Take it to facebook.com/makinwavescolumn/events for full details — and check out Bob Makin’s recent interview with the Hogans, in which Jim and Reg discuss their considerable impact on the regional (and national!) music scene, at https://www.newjerseystage.com/articles/2019/04/03/makin-waves-with-defiance-engine-hogan-heroes/.