WHAT’S UP FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 19 -25

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 19 2018

Keepers of the punk flame invade the market stalls and mini-malls for an entirely respectful “wreck-a-store-day” weekend…the mayor and friends saddle up the Pony during a Rodeo for Recreation…acapella devotees go LIVE without a net, on the Pollak stage…magical PJs at the Paramount, and a Lenny Centennial at the APAC…Runapalooza pounds the boards for the Special Olympics NJ…trash is treasure is TRUE at an Earth Day After Party…and a wise old Byrd comes back to roost on the MU campus.

It’s WHAT’S UP in and around Asbury town these next seven days and nights…check the printed pages of THE COASTER for the full rundown of music, movies, art, theater and more…and dig if you will the highlights HERE, on the upperWETside!

SCENES: A Weekend of Punk Rocking ‘n Shopping

Here in the place Where Music Lives, old-timers are still talking about the time that Michigan-based proto-punk godfathers The Stooges and the MC5 waged informal band-battle at the old Sunshine In…while over at Convention Hall, fellow Wolverine staters Grand Funk Railroad added to a legendary 1960s/70s roster that famously included Jim Morrison and The Doors. On the unofficial high holy day of 4/20, those concert memories of yore flashback in style, as our still-standing Circuit landmark the Wonder Bar hosts a Tribute Fest that features Black Licorice as Grand Funk; Manzo Rising summoning the Lizard King and company; Future Now kicking out the jams as MC5, and the Street Walking Cheetahs channeling the raw power of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. It’s all-in at 7 pm for Friday’s fest, with tickets ($10 advance, $12 at the door) gettable at wonderbarasburypark.com.

Any vinylphile could tell you that April 21 is Record Store Day at indie institutions like Holdfast and Groovy Graveyard — and on Saturday afternoon, the latter outpost of pop culture (inside the Shoppes at the Arcade, 658 Cookman Ave) celebrates Platterday with another in a series of super-fun live music presentations on the upper level of the engagingly offbeat mini-mall. Returning to the Graveyard shift FREE-for-all at 4 pm are the Brunswick-based cowpunk/psychobilly cats The Junk Rumblers (pictured above), followed at 5 pm by Asbury’s own unique band of pirate-themed punkaneers, The Jolly Daggers (featuring merrily moonlighting members of such upstanding organizations as Battery Electric and The Black Flamingos).

The weekend’s worth of alternative NOWstalgia comes to a climax on Sunday, April 22, when the forces of Groovy join more than 100 other local/regional purveyors of vinyl records, CDs, movies, magazines, books, toys, collectibles, wearables, and MORE for the springtime edition of the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market. Hosted inside Convention Hall, the three-ring flea circus opens its big heart to all, and its doors at 10 am, with admission $5 between 11 am and 5 pm (and an earlybird rate of $10 for savvy scouters). There’s live and DJ music in the air as well, with a full rundown of vendors viewable at asburyparkpunkrockfleamarket.com.

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A SPRINGSTEEN CONFERENCE AT THE EDGE OF TOWN

Clockwise from top left: Gary Cavico and Vini Lopez, Joe Rapolla, and Pat Roddy help Monmouth University mark the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, during a weekend of words, music, and history. (Bruce photo by Michael J. Booth; Rapolla photo by John Posada)

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 12 2018

From the bins of Sam Goody and Record Town — to the win-an-album wheel games where so many life-changing LPs found their forever-homes — Memorial Day 1978 came and went without an official transmission from the Future of Rock and Roll. But from the boardwalk to the bars and the bedroom communities beyond, there was a palpable “Something in the Night” that said the world would soon hear again from Bruce Springsteen, the man whose Born to Run spun the scene off its axis in summer ‘75; shining a sudden spotlight on all things Jersey Shore, and shuttling its author to a realm of national magazine covers and radio rotations.

Of course, the Boss had spent those three years locked in a legal quagmire with his old manager, and unable to release new music; a case of careerus interruptus that would have proven lethal for any less grounded artist. But he had also spent that time in careful burnishing of a growing legend — gigging throughout North America; putting his stamp on those fine early albums by Johnny and the Jukes; hitting the charts through covers (Manfred Mann) and collaborations (Patti Smith); doing cagey cameos on records by Robert Gordon and Lou Reed; watching as a slew of popular bootlegs kept the fanbase energized — and working on a massive trove of songs that would eventually become his fourth long-player, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

When the album dropped on June 2, much of the world got its first look at a new, Schick-shaven Bruce pouting out from the cover of Darkness. Gone was the grinning wolfman in the po’boy cap; replaced by a Thinking Man’s Fonzarelli whose brooding challenge suggested that the truth wasn’t out there on the highway escape routes after all, but somewhere within the papered walls and drawn blinds of a room full of secrets — and that you’d have to go through him to get to it.

The sound inside the spiral scratch was at once instantly familiar but also transitional; the word-high poetic epics and one-act playlets beginning to give way to muscular mini-manifestos, in which those working-dude hopes and dreams were sparked with the seeds (and stems) of doubt— and extinguished within the somber ballads that smoldered each side of the record to a close.

That was forty years ago; several lifetimes removed in the roller-coaster ride of Asbury Park history, and an alien place defined more than anything by all that we didn’t see coming — not the least of which was The Promise, the 2010 box set of remasterings, recollections and revisited outtakes that served to illuminate and complicate a work that had become a part of so many listeners’ lives.

Beginning today, April 12, and continuing through the weekend, Monmouth University shines new light into the heart of Darkness, during a fan-friendly International Symposium of words, music, and history that commandeers some hallowed haunts around Asbury, as well as the MU campus on the edge of town.

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WHAT’S UP FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 12-18

That’s right, it’s our weekly roundup of highlighted happenings in and around Asbury Park! Check this selfsame space for our feature on this weekend’s DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN Springsteen Symposium…and check the printed pages of THE COASTER for the most comprehensive listings of music, movies, theater, art and special events in town!

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 12 2018

SOUNDS: Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony

“As crazy as it gets, I’m committed to these awards…and a lot of people look forward to them,” said Scott Stamper, ringmaster of rock’s downtown boxcar berthplace The Saint, and the patron producer behind the peer-reviewed promenade that is The Asbury Music Awards. Back for its 26th annual edition, the “gala night of celebration for our music community” returns to the Stone Pony stage (having long since outgrown the Main Street musicbox and its original home at the long-gone T-Birds Café) for a glittering tribute to “the men and women who put their self-respect, their solvency and their sanity on the line for our entertainment, day and night.” Returning host and Asbury Award-winning comedian Taylor Allen (pictured up top) emcees the affair that features mini-sets by Waiting On Mongo, Dentist, Black Suburbia, The Double Negatives, Billy Walton and the proverbial many more. It’s all ages admitted for $20; 21 to drink, with nominees (of which there are many, in some 50 separate award categories) admitted free. Check thesaintnj.com/asbury-music-awards.php for a full list of nominees — and catch Allen on the bill with Derek D and Friends Who Are Funny, Friday at House of Independents. April 12, doors at 6:45 pm; $20

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WHAT’S UP THIS WEEK, APRIL 5-11

Here are just a few additional reminders highlighting things to do in and around Asbury Park this week…for a complete rundown of music, movies, art, theater, words and MORE, check out the weekly WHAT’S UP section, ONLY in the printed pages of THE COASTER!

SCENES: A downtown Devil  of a Festival 

It is decreed, by proclamation of the Mayor of AP: the Jersey Devil is the official cryptid of Asbury Park. And not a moment too soon, as Kathy Kelly of the recently re-opened Paranormal Books and Curiosities has staked out this very weekend to honor our homegrown haunter of the deep dark pines (and a few roadside rest stops), with a Jersey Devil Festival that offers all due sympathy for the Devil by folding in film, art, spoken word, scholarly study, and a cloven-hoofed cavalcade of activity along the Cookman Avenue corridor.

Having added a whole new dimension to the local year-end holidays through her annual Krampus Festival, the mistress of the arcane and eldritch hosts a salute to the Garden State’s proprietary gargoyle that begins in earnest on Friday evening, April 6 at The ShowRoom. It’s there that a one-night-only Jersey Devil Film Festival unspools at 7:30 pm, with a selection of Devil-themed short subjects followed by a 20th anniversary screening of The Last Broadcast, the ultra-indie horror epic that staked a claim to being the first feature shot on handheld video camera and edited on a desktop suite. Director Lance Weiler joins Asbury Park Press correspondent Alex Biese for a live discussion of the 1998 film, during the program for which tickets ($10) are available at theshowroomap.com.

Then on Saturday, April 7, the legend and legacy of the Jersey Devil — from the storied spawn of Mother Leeds, to such cryptid cousins as The Big Red Eye — takes center stage in and around the all-new Paranormal Tower at 621 Cookman. Beginning at noon, attendees will thrill to a Devil-themed Hall of Images exhibit, author/ storyteller readings, lectures on our state’s freakish folklore, plus contests (tattoos, stories, posters, and costume contest at 4 pm), free walking tours of haunted history — and, at 4:30 pm, a March of the Jersey Devils to a Summoning Site at which “competitors will hoot, howl and growl…enough to wake the Jersey Devil!” The devil, as they say, is in the details…and the details are there for the searching, at paranormalbooksnj.com (events are free, but registration is recommended). Continue reading

MAKIN MUSIC HISTORY, FOR 30 WUNDERBAR YEARS

Williams Honor (Reagan Richards, Gordon Brown) is among the acts of Asbury Park’s musical past/ present/ future convening at the Wonder Bar on Saturday, March 31, as Jersey-legend soundscribe Bob Makin (below, with daughter Bekah) celebrates the 30th anniversary of his go-to column MAKIN WAVES.

(Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park, March 29, 2018)

“I was introduced to The Sounds of Asbury Park in the summer of ‘78, when Lord Gunner played my friend Kelly’s parents’ annual Labor Day Beach Bash,” wrote Bob Makin some years back, in a retrospective series of articles. “My old man tried to turn me onto Springsteen a couple of years before, but I thought Bruce was ‘a big, hairy werewolf with a sore throat’.”

“Little did I know I would become a music journalist, inspired by Springsteen, the Asbury Park music scene and my entertainment editor dad.”

Thirty years after that pivotal summer when he published his first music dispatch — and in a writing career that approaches the threshold of its fifth decade — the veteran reporter is Makin Waves once again, with an all-day bandfest that celebrates the “pearl anniversary” of his column by that name; in the process paying tribute to generations of music makers here in the seaside city that so electrified his Selectric way back when.

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POLAR VORTEX: WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF ICE?

Paul D. Miller — aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid — joins Monmouth University faculty members on March 21, for a free performance of music, words and images inspired by his travels to the Antarctic continent. (courtesy sozo artists)

(Expanded from an article published in The Coaster newspaper, Asbury Park NJ, March 15, 2018)

“I think of Antarctica as a place of meditation and deep time,” says Paul D. Miller, the multimedia master who explores an array of creative frontiers under the name DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid. “Everyone who has been there is humbled by the scenario — it really is the most un-Earth like place on this planet.”

Even for a multi-platform artist who’s traveled the world — delivering his  work to audiences at universities, museums and concert halls in cities on several continents — it might seem just a step or two out of accepted bounds to take one’s act to the place that he calls “a kind of Utopia at the end of the world…the only place with no government.”

But then, accepted bounds (or any other creative protocols and pigeonholes) mean pretty close to nothing, to a  man who describes himself as “an ‘interdisciplinary’ artist…and that means all boundaries are blurred.”

In the space of some two decades in the public eye, the native of Washington, DC has compelled attention as a trip-hop/ “illbient” recording artist; a turntable DJ of expansively experimental vision; a software designer; a composer for ballet troupes, orchestras and filmmakers; an exhibited media artist at major galleries; an artist in residence at NYC’s Met museum; an author (of the MIT-published The Imaginary App); an educator, a magazine editor (ORIGIN), and a performer who’s mixed and matched with everyone from avant garde composer Iannis Xennakis and Yoko Ono, to members of Public Enemy, Sonic Youth, and Slayer.

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THE F.L.O.W. BRINGS ASBURY PEDIGREE, EPIC BIO, SCARY SKILLS TO A SAINTED STAND

KhadijahMohammedCOLORIn-demand singer, songwriter and proud Asbury Parker Khadijah Mohammed teams with brother Talib at the front of The F.L.O.W. Show, the musical force that’s seducing new fans through a monthly residency at The Saint. (Photo by King Joseph Photography)

(Expanded from article originally published in the Asbury Park Press on June 19, 2015)

She’s performed at Giants Stadium with P. Diddy; sang before a London audience of 100,000 people with Lenny Kravitz; toured internationally with Dave Matthews, and shared a recording booth with Cissy Houston at the invitation of Luther Vandross. But even if Khadijah Mohammed has spent much of the past 25 years as a sought-after backup singer for some of the biggest arena-scale acts in the business, there’s no venue as important as anywhere she performs in any given moment…no song more exciting than the original music that she’s now sharing with the world…and no place like Asbury Park, the music-mad city where she and younger brother Talib grew up and eventually assembled the band known as The F.L.O.W. Show.

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A SONICS RENDEZVOUS IN ASBURY TOWN

Sonics_2_by_Merri_SuttonThey were covered by Bruce; coveted by Little Steven — and for the first time in nearly 50 years, the legendary band of 1960s Northwest stompers THE SONICS hits the East Coast for a tour that takes them to NYC’s Irving Plaza (April 8) and Asbury Park’s Stone Pony (April 9). (photo by Merri Sutton)

“Strychnine.” “Psycho.” “He’s Waiting.” “The Witch.” You won’t find a one of these stomping, screaming Sixties seethers in your directory of Billboard chart-toppers, but if you hail from any of the generations of proto/post-punks and detached-garage revivalists who made them gospel chapter ‘n verse — or if you’re, say, Bruce Springsteen, who made “Have Love Will Travel” a centerpiece of his 1988 tour — The Sonics are pure pantheon.

Blasting their way out of Tacoma’s working-class/ working-band scene in the early half of the 1960s, the fivesome fronted by soul-soaked shouter and organist Jerry Roslie — and fortified by brothers Larry and Andy Parypas on guitar and bass; Bob Bennett on bash, and supersonic secret weapon Rob Lind on honking, gargling, quackety sax — delivered a take-no-prisoners brand of band-battle rock ‘n soul that was born and bred in unglamorous three-sets-a-night reality. It was also preserved for posterity on a pair of sought-after long players, Here Are the Sonics and Boom — albums that encapsulated their raw-power mix of originals and hard-earned bar band essentials like “Louie Louie,” “Money,” “Do You Love Me,” and even “Since I Fell for You,” the slow-dance blockbuster best known from Asbury Park’s Lenny Welch.

The Sonics went their separate ways by 1967, completely skirting that whole Summer of Love/ Woodstock thing — but fast forwarding to the strange new world of 2015, we find the septuagenarian core of the band (Jerry, Larry and Rob) — reinforced by Kingsmen bassist Freddie Dennis and Agent Orange drummer Dusty Watson — back in business with a tour that takes them back east big-time, with dates at NYC’s Irving Plaza (April 8) and Asbury’s Stone Pony (April 9).

It’s an incredible journey that began with a popular-demand reunion gig in 2007; led to a first-ever Euro-tour the next year, and culminated in the self-release of This is the Sonics, a relentlessly rocking self-release (on Revox USA) that mixes originals like advance track “Bad Betty” and the screamer “Livin’ in Chaos” with caterwauling classics from the likes of Hank Ballard, Willie Dixon, Ray Davies and Ray Charles; all “recorded in earth-shaking Mono” by producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs). Make no mistake: The Sonics have been summoned back into being to “Save the Planet” (“it’s the only one with beer!”).

Your upperWETside Control Voice rang up Rob Lind on the eve of the album drop marked with a big Seattle show that paired the boys with their spiritual progeny in Mudhoney. Flip that record over for more…

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