Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), November 21, 2019. Tallie design by Eric Schiabor
Tallie? Tallie Who? According to producing partners Brittney Dixon and Bob Makin, she’s the “overlooked girlfriend” of Tillie, the iconic figure whose toothy Cheshire-cat grin has graced many a souvenir and signifier of Asbury Park. She’s also someone whose name means princess in Gaelic, and from Friday, November 22 through Sunday, November 24, she’ll serve as spirit guide namesake for a three-day/ three venue happening designed to “shine a light on 22 female and female-fronted music acts, as a means to raise funds for two impactful women-operated Asbury-based charities” — an ambitious project called Tallie Fest.
Taking place on the stages of Marilyn Schlossbach’s Langosta Lounge and Asbury Park Yacht Club on the famous boardwalk, as well as Scott Stamper’s Main Street mainstay The Saint, the inaugural Tallie Fest celebrates “the many talented women based in Asbury and throughout New Jersey,” even as it raises funds and awareness for Food For Thought, the nonprofit initiative through which Chef Marilyn’s flagship restaurant feeds the homeless and hungry with free holiday dinners (on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter), in addition to operating a food truck that employs inner-city youth. The slate of shows also aims to benefit the Asbury Park Women’s Convention, the annual empowerment event (and its related year-round activities) that occurs during the Women’s History Month of March.
As the onetime manager of the landmark New Brunswick nightclub Court Tavern, and the promotional powerhouse behind the Brittney On Fire music showcase events (seen regularly over the past few years at venues like The Asbury Hotel’s Soundbooth Lounge), Dixon has indisputably ranked among the most influential women on the Garden State’s burgeoning music scene — although, as she readily observes, this highly anticipated “female powered” festival was originally the brainchild of Makin, the Dean of NJ Rock Journalists, and the veteran event organizer whose Makin Waves programs have raised beaucoup bucks for many a worthy cause.
“Tallie Fest was actually all Bob’s idea…I ran into him at a show at a local cafe, and he brought it up to me and I told him I loved the idea,” she says. “This is the first time we’ve ever officially done an event together, and I’m really thrilled with what we’ve created.“
“There have always been fantastic women doing their thing in the scene, and I’ve worked with a bunch of them from the get-go,” Dixon observes. “But it does seem that in recent years, bands with females or female fronts are taken a bit more seriously…it’s still not where it needs to be, but hopefully the scene can keep improving.”
Tallie floats her first notes over the chilly Atlantic with a pair of concurrent-but-connected concerts on Friday night, at the Schlossbach group’s sister saloons on the boardwalk. Langosta Lounge offers up an eclectic bill of locally based music makers, beginning at 9:30 with an unusual and exotic twist: the Middle Eastern percussion and instrumentation of music educator (and co-founder of the NY Arabic Orchestra) April Centrone. She’s followed by a young mainstay of the Shore scene, pop vocalist/ songwriter and bandleader Taylor Tote, with a closing set by Leah Voysey (from Brooklyn via Joisey).
Meanwhile, the Yacht Club features Pony-pedigreed singer and songwriter Stella Mrowicki, launching a Friday triple bill that further features Mamadrama (“a mom-only Jersey Shore band spicing rock and punk covers with inspired originals”), and Ella Ross, teamed here with a genuine Asbury original, Blaise. Both shows (as well as the two Saturday night events) are free of charge, but half of the entertainment budget will be donated to Food for Thought, which also will benefit from a 50/50 raffle, a silent auction (for color prints of co-sponsor Eric Schiabor’s Tallie poster), and a food drive through which attendees are encouraged to bring canned, nonperishable items to the show.
Brittney Dixon (photographed here by ace lensman Jeff Crespi) is not just the co-founder of the inaugural Tallie Fest, she’s also a client…as the “Brittney On Fire” impresaria steps out as frontwoman for her project, Band of Hard Truths.
Saturday, November 23 dawns with the first of two Fest-affiliated matinee shows at downtown Asbury’s boxcar berthplace of rock, The Saint. The noon-to-5 pm program, for which a cover charge ($10 for 21 and up; $15 for 18 to 20 years old) will be assessed, opens with a solo set by Jenny & the Felines frontwoman Jenny Cat, followed up with appearances by Sayreville-based “sad songs” singer Rhonette & Not Those Smiths, Chevonne Ricci fronting North Jersey hard rock unit The Fuzz, Asbury-based duo The Well Wish (with Anya Schildge joined by her longtime composing/ performing partner Patrick Angeloni), and another act anchored in the city’s scene, the riff-heavy rockers Roulette featuring lead vocalist Jess Bariletti.
Back to the boardwalk on Saturday night, Langosta Lounge kicks things off at 9:30 pm with a special solo set by Freehold’s Jennifer Karma of the band JAHK, followed by the return of “Asbury-based song and life partners” Sara and Joseph d/b/a New Narratives at 10:15, and a closing set by Asbury singer-songwriter Deirdre Forrest and her new band, The Back Seams.
Just down the corridor at AP Yacht Club, a night of rock action with Honey Wild and Asbury Park’s Daughter Vision (the magickal, visual, electronickal experience fronted by Amarna Yoni) is keynoted by an act whose appearance is a must-see event in itself: Band of Hard Truths, the new project spotlighting the performing skills of Tallie Fest impresaria Brittney Dixon.
As Brittney explains, “our show during Tallie Fest will be our first live performance together. It’s a trio and a dynamic unlike anything I’ve experienced musically, and I’m pretty excited to see where it goes!”
The inaugural Tallie Fest closes out with another Sunday-go-to-meetin’ session at The Saint, with the November 24 program (running from 12 to 5 pm, with cover charge) highlighted by Asbury’s own punky brewmasters Candy Cavity, plus Juli De La Cruz and her buccaneer boy bandmates in The Angry Pirates, as well as pop-punk progeny hailing from New Brunswick (Foxanne), Trenton (Jamie Parker’s Space Jaim), and “New Jersey” (Running Backwards featuring Khristina Juarez).
Half of those proceeds from the Saint shows will benefit the Women’s Convention, as will a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction for Tallie prints, while a canned food drive will benefit Food for Thought.
And, as to where Tallie and her Fest go from here, the co-promoter notes that “There are so many talented female-fronted or all female acts we weren’t able to lock down and book for this…but we are hoping to grow Tallie Fest and keep shining a light on all of the kick-ass and talented women in our scene.”
That said, “There is still a struggle. A struggle for visibility. A struggle to be heard, taken seriously…but even if people don’t take us seriously, we are still going to fight to be heard and seen. The girls are out here taking big leaps and making serious strides and I don’t see that slowing down even with all the hardships.”
As the regional music biz veteran sees it, “Technology has been both a blessing and a curse…it’s easier to create and produce music, but it’s also led to over-saturation and a lot of competition.”
“But in regards to women in music, I think the technologies have helped us be heard,” says Dixon in reference to such virtual tools as Garageband and the most popular platforms of social media. “We don’t need some creepy producer who will only work with us because they think we’re attractive, or some predatory promoter who hits on us at our shows.”
“Also, I don’t think Brittney On Fire would have made it without Facebook and Instagram,” she adds. “That could just be my age showing…but social media is how I’ve pushed all of my shows and made a career for myself.”
While Dixon maintains that “my shows these days are much more infrequent…I’ve taken a bit of a step back to focus on my personal life and my own music,” the Brittney On Fire brand is hardly in danger of being doused this season, with the promoter returning to Asbury as soon as November 25, for a special edition of the free Happy Mondays series at the Wonder Bar headlined by Dave Mooney & Viewers Like You.
Take it to talliefest.com for full details and updates on ths weekend’s slate of shows; follow Brittney On Fire on those aforementioned social media platforms — and as always, check back here each week, for the most comprehensive “legacy” litany of local listings on printed paper!