BOWEN APETIT: JT, FEILES GIVE A SUNDAY-SAUCE TASTE OF A NEW PROJECT

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, November 15 2018

On paper at least, it looks like a bit of an oddball team-up; a partnership between a couple of performers who — while they can each boast some deep Asbury roots and a fervent local fanbase — have earned their musical street cred working two very different corners of that musical street.

On the one hand, you’ve got JT Bowen, an R&B/soul exciter in the classic spirit of Otis Redding; a gospel-infused entertainer with a preacher’s passion, who’s long specialized in fronting big, brassy, funky-sassy organizations on the stage — and whose long association with the late and legendary Clarence Clemons ranged from the 1960s outfit The Chosen Few, to the major label recording and touring project CC and the Red Bank Rockers.

On the other hand, you’ve got Arlan Feiles, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Jewish kid from LA who — while he’s shared stages and studios with generations of local and/or internationally renowned music makers — has spent decades on the scene as the quintessential lone-wolf solo troubador. It’s a finely tuned songs-and-stories approach that’s allowed him to excel in settings that range from the corner of your favorite coffeehouse, to the Paramount Theatre, where he captivated the crowd during last spring’s TEDx Asbury Park program.

This Sunday afternoon, November 18, Mr. Bowen and Mr. Feiles convene inside the intimately scaled space of the Asbury Park Music Foundation’s headquarters (located inside the Lakehouse complex on Lake Avenue), for the latest in a series of Sunday Sessions sounds-and-syllables events. It’s actually an encore duet for the artists who previously shared a mini-set at that TEDx happening — and who also played for an audience of people on the go, during an August set at Newark Liberty Airport.

As anyone who’s followed Arlan or JT at any time within the past several months already knows, the 3 pm matinee also serves as an appetizer for a very special endeavor: Dig Deep, a full album of Feiles originals, interpreted by Bowen and currently being prepped for release under Bowen’s name with the help of a fan-based fundraising campaign. Check out the title-tune teaser on YouTube, and you’ll hear a powerful cry for dignity and respect; put forth with a sense of slowly simmering, righteous anger by JT’s big voice (and a surprisingly chunky rocked-up rhythm guitar) — in a way that evokes the sort of early 70s symphonic-soul heat, and bitterly cold urban landscapes, of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Womack and their contemporaries.

“I first met Arlan a little over a year ago, when we were both in a show at the Strand in Lakewood,” says Bowen in recalling the origins of the highly anticipated project. “I heard about him as a writer…I introduced myself and we hit it off right away, like I knew him for a long time.”

“He’s an all around real nice guy, and a very spiritual person too,” adds the singer of his new collaborator — who, for his part, told Madison Marquette’s Gary Mottola on the TEDx stage that “I’d known about JT for a long time…he’s a local hero.”

“As I shook his hand, it occurred to me that we needed to work together,” Feiles continued during the interview with Mottola. “I told him, your voice is so powerful, and it needs to share a powerful message.”

Thus did the 71-year old veteran find his newest collaborator, in a career that’s seen partnerships with Marc Ribler, and, most famously, the Big Man.

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IT’S WHAT’S UP FOR WEEK OF NOVEMBER 15-21

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, November 15 2018

SCENES: Dr. Sketchy’s Belly Dance at Bond Street Basement 

The always-amazing and energizing CJ Mars IS the latest regeneration of the good Dr. Sketchy, the local chapter of the monthly series of themed drawing-class sessions that’s found a subterranean home at the Bond Street Basement Bar. Join CJ (pictured front and center in photo at left) and friends TONIGHT, November 15, for a very special event centered around the ever-exotic realm of Belly Dance — and featuring the incredible Brazilian-American dancer Yamé as guest live model! The teacher and leader of the SharQui Dance company (pictured above, during a previous Sketchy session keyed to the signs of the Zodiac) invites sketchers to sketch ‘er at 6:30 pm; it’s $10 admission to reserve a seat (via eventbrite.com or at the door); there’s a prize package giveaway of art supplies, plus unique merchandise for sale AND more details at the Facebook page for Dr. Sketchy’s Asbury Park.

STAGES: ANNIE at Axelrod Performing Arts Center 

Andrea McArdle, the original Little Orphan Annie of the Tony winning 1977 Broadway original, returns to the hit musical (this time as mean Miss Hannigan). Performances at 8 p.m. on November 15, 16 and 17; at 2 p.m. on November 17; and at 3 p.m. on November 18. Reserve tickets ($46-$56 adults, with discounts for seniors and students) at axelrodartscenter.com. Check upperwetside.wordpress.com for our archived Coaster interview with McArdle on the new production.

STAGES: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Monmouth U

A clever pastiche of 1920s Jazz Age tunefests (and the fans who love them), the Tony winning 2009 meta-musical (with songs by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison) comes to the Lauren K. Woods Theatre in a production from the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at Monmouth U. Professor Sheri Anderson directs a student cast, with performances at 8 p.m. on November 15, 16 and 17, plus a 3 p.m. matinee on November 18. Reserve tickets ($20; free for MU students) at http://www.monmouth.edu/arts.

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AT MONMOUTH U, A FAB FOUR-DAY FORAY INTO A BRIGHT WHITE ALBUM

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, November 8 2018

It’s “the anti-Sgt. Pepper” if you will; an audacious, ambitious, eclectic piece of work that “if you surrender to it…batters you around like a shuttlecock” — and that “looms large as a big, brash, bold statement.”

The words are those of Kenneth Womack, Ph.D — Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University; award-winning author and critic; in-demand lecturer, and internationally recognized authority on the history, the lasting legacy, and the cultural influence of a little band called The Beatles. And the not-a-Pepper in question?  That would be the album also called The Beatles — a two-disc touchstone that marks the 50th anniversary of its release here in November 2018, and that remains known — due to obvious optics, and lack of any other formal christening — as The White Album.

Even if you’re not accustomed to big, brash, bold statements that arrive in deceptively plain, blank, “no frills” packaging, there’s no denying that the 1968 double-LP remains the great white elephant in the room for a couple of generations of music fans and cultural observers — an inviting canvas that would come to be embraced by both people-pleasing politicians and murderous Mansonites, and a cheerfully challenging opus that dispensed with the candy-colored psychedelia of 1967; re-establishing the Fab Four as a cohesive band, even as it laid the groundwork for the group’s quickly onrushing End of Days.

Beginning TODAY, November 8, and continuing in an extended weekend of events through Sunday, November 11, Monmouth University hosts The Beatles’ The White Album: An International Symposium — the latest in a successful series of academic conferences sponsored by the Bruce Springsteen Archive and Center for American Music at Monmouth; the resource whose director, Eileen Chapman, is both a longtime figure on the Asbury Park music scene and a current member of the city council.

Although The Beatles never played Asbury Park (they did perform a Philadelphia concert that was produced by Convention Hall event promoter Moe Septee), the music-mad city makes its presence felt here on Thursday’s opening day, with a Rock and Roll Walking Tour of local landmarks conducted by authors and Boss authorities Jean Mikle and Stan Goldstein. It’s an encore presentation of a featured attraction from several of the Springsteen-themed conferences hosted previously at Monmouth (including last spring’s salute to Darkness on the Edge of Town), with tickets ($35; see Monmouth.edu/the-white-album) still available, and the two-hour tour commencing at 1 pm from The Wonder Bar (Ocean and Fifth Avenues).

From there, the action moves to the West Long Branch campus of Monmouth U, where the school’s auditoriums and public spaces host an impressive array of Beatles experts and collaborators, as well as an assembly of Shore-based musicians who are raring to share their own musical perspectives on the album of the hour.

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IT’S WHAT’S UP FOR WEEK OF NOVEMBER 8-14

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, November 8 2018

SOUNDS: The Duprees at Tim McLoone’s 

Their catalog boasts “My Own True Love,”  “Have You Heard,” and what might just be their finest few minutes on record — that travelogue pledge of undying love, “You Belong to Me.”  Some 60-some years on, The Duprees don’t just belong to the ages (or to that know-it-all “oldies” collector in the track suit who wouldn’t cut you a break on that scratched-up single by the Jive Five) — but to the here and now, as the doo wop quartet has never stopped delivering their sublime little slices of streetcorner soul to a multi-generational public that’s hungry for harmony. On Saturday, November 2, the veteran vocalizers take it topside to McLoone’s Supper Club for some smooth slow-dance Saturday night sets of favorites from the Fifties, the early Sixties, and both-ways beyond. Available tickets for the 8 pm show start at $40, with seating reserved at timmcloonessupperclub.com.

STAGES: ANNIE at Axelrod PAC

Andrea McArdle, the original Little Orphan Annie of the Tony winning 1977 Broadway original, returns to the hit musical (this time as mean Miss Hannigan) in a new production at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Ocean Township. Performances at 8 p.m. on November 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17; at 2 p.m.  on November 10, 11, and 17; at 3 p.m. on November 18, and at 7 p.m. on November 11. Reserve tickets ($46-$56 adults, with discounts for seniors and students) at axelrodartscenter.com. Check upperwetside.wordpress.com for our archived Coaster interview with McArdle on the new production.

STAGES: HAPPENSTANCE at Jersey Shore Arts 

The prolific collective La Strada Ensemble Theater returns again to the third floor cafe space at  Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center, with a program of four short original “plays about rolling the dice” (by Tom Cavanaugh, A.J. Ciccotelli, and Emmy winner William Mastrosimone) plus a cast that boasts Lite FM radio personality Christine Nagy (pictured at left). Performances are November 9 (8 pm) and November 10 (2 and 8 pm); reserve tickets ($25; senior and student discounts) at lastradaensemble.org or 732-455-2748.

STAGES: THE DROWSY CHAPERONE at Monmouth U

A clever pastiche of 1920s Jazz Age tunefests (and the fans who love them), the Tony winning 2009 meta-musical (with songs by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison) comes to the Lauren K. Woods Theatre in a production from the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at Monmouth U. Professor Sheri Anderson directs a student cast, with performances at 8 p.m. on November 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17, plus 3 p.m. matinees on November 11 and 18. Reserve tickets ($20; free for MU students) at http://www.monmouth.edu/arts.

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IT’S WHAT’S UP FOR WEEK OF NOVEMBER 1-7

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, November 1 2018

SOUNDS: Anderson East at the Stone Pony 

Okay, so his name’s not Anderson East (it’s Michael Anderson; not to be confused with the guy who plays The Man from Another Place in Twin Peaks). And — despite his Nashville base of operations, and his tendency to be romantically linked with contempo-country recording artists — the Alabama native is more akin to a pop/rock/R&B singer who also happens to get nominated for Americana music awards. Whatever categorical pigeonhole he’s deftly dancing around at the moment, there’s no denying that Anderson East has worked his way up to the bigs from the perceived hinterlands of the DIY scene (thanks in no small part to some great exposure on the hit soundtrack to Fifty Shades Darker) — and when he makes his Asbury Park debut this Friday, November 2 behind his latest album Encore, it’ll be Brookdale Public Radio 90.5 The Night (and not Thunder 106) that welcomes him to the Stone Pony stage. Grizzled veteran “Nashville underdog” Travis Meadows makes for an interesting choice of opener for the show that opens the door at 7 pm, with tickets ($20 advance; $25 d.o.s.) still gettable from the box office window or stoneponyonline.com.

SOUNDS: Waterfront Duo at Patrick’s Pub

There’s the Asbury Park music history that gets celebrated in sprawling New York Times stories — and there’s Leon Trent, a man who’s been writing his own personal SOAP saga since long before The Boss ever graced the cover of a dentist-office newsweekly. A west-side wonder and a member of The Broadways — the 1960s Asbury/Neptune vocal group who released two singles on the nationwide MGM label — Trent truly achieved his musical destiny when he formed the eight-piece Waterfront in the 1970s. Known as much for his “fashionable and flashy” sartorial style as for his mastery of the “kick ass funky horn band” sound, the seemingly ageless entertainer continues to cover the waterfront well into the new millennium, transforming a corner of your favorite local watering hole into an arena for some classic R&B stylings (and literally hundreds of decades-spanning pop hits). On Friday night, the format is Duo — and the arena is Patrick’s Pub in Neptune City, the neighborhood tavern located at the Stop & Shop plaza just off Route 35. There’s no cover charge to take in the music — and no stopping the man who “turns a song into a show, and quickly becomes the audience’s onstage friend.”

SOUNDS: Billy Hector Electric Explosion at Langosta

“All I ever wanted was to play guitar for a living,” Billy Hector told us in an interview that appeared in The Coaster this past August. “…and I win!”  The Shore blues-rock legend whose career spans some six decades continues to make his presence felt up and down the Shore; both acoustically in settings like the recent Asbury Undergound Art & Music Crawl (as well as a regular gig at Belmar’s Ragin’ Cajun), and in plugged-in contexts that constitute no less than an Electric Explosion. Such is the case on November 3, when Hector, joined by his rhythm section of Sim Cain and Wilbo Wright (and who knows what manner of guests who come in from the cold) get behind the hitching rail of the Langosta Lounge stage for some Saturday night sets that promise to draw from the guitarist’s ever-deepening database of record releases (including the very recent long-player Some Day Baby) and his mapmaker’s mastery of the Chicago blues/ classic rock crossroads. Sounds start at 9:30 pm, with no charge for admission (but plenty of ee-lectrical charge in the air).

SOUNDS: Gypsy Funk Squad at the Yacht Club 

The finny faithful who attend the Asbury Park Promenade of Mermaids each year know them as the World Fusion/ Belly Dance Troupe that keynotes and heralds the colorful annual procession atop the boards (and beneath the warm summer sun). But the strolling street performers of NJ’s own Gypsy Funk Squad have also been known to stay put in one place when need be — and on November 3, the eclectically acoustic traveling carnival makes a rare indoor (and autumny-weather) appearance on the boardwalk, when Jack, Ohannes, and their crew of musical mer-persons dry-dock at the AP Yacht Club for some Saturday night sets that kick off at 9:30 pm. It’s a special Black Light Party that’s guaranteed to put a glow in that off-season/ set-the-clocks-back gloom — and there’s no cover charge, as always.

SCENES: Asbury Park Vegan Social  

It’s a Fat Cat Fiesta, hosted by one of our favorite creative culinary best-kept-secrets — Crust & Crumble — inside one our favorite downtown hangs, Shoppes at the Arcade (the ever-eclectic mini-mall located between Cookman and Lake Avenues at Bond Street). Going on Sunday afternoon from 12 to 4 pm, the happening offers up an all-vegan Fat Cat Sandwich Bar catered by Chef Luke and his C&C crew, plus a craft beer/ wine tasting, and live music courtesy of Brendan & Chris (pictured) from the sought-after event/party band Enjoy! All this plus a custom t-shirt, for a $45 ticket — with proceeds dedicated to the nonprofit Three Little Kittens Animal Rescue. There’s a Cat Costume Contest and “cat games” as well, so call 732-776-7767 to get social for a kittenly cause.

SOUNDS: Tuesday Night Record Club at Monmouth U

Returning to historic Wilson Auditorium at Monmouth University on November 6 is the Tuesday Night Record Club, the series that offers music fans a chance to share their perspectives and passions on some of the greatest albums of all time, in a listening-party setting (presented in partnership with The Grammy Museum) featuring moderators, guest panelists and fellow fanatics. This time out, the topic is the ultimate white elephant in the room — the 1968 double album THE BEATLES (aka The White Album), itself the subject of an ambitious International Symposium of words, music and activities that runs from November 8-11 on the Monmouth campus (and about which much more to come in this space). Put the headphones down and get sociable; admission to the 7:30 pm keynote event is FREE (register through eventbrite.com), and it’s followed on the schedule by December 4 exploration of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

None of which is to suggest that we’ve forgotten the sold-out events starring LIFETIME (Saturday night at House of Independents) and ELVIS COSTELLO (Election Night Tuesday at the Paramount Theatre) — they just didn’t seem to need our help! But don’t YOU forget to set those clocks back for a bonus hour in the wee-hours ‘twixt Saturday night and Saturday morning…don’t forget to change the batteries in those smoke alarms…and don’t forget to check the November 1 print edition of THE COASTER, for the deep-dish listings of music, movies, comedy, theater, art, and Sex Toy Bingo (when applicable)!

A HAPPENIN’ HALLO-WEEK, IN AND AROUND ASCARY PARK

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, October 25 2018

Let other towns lay claim to being the area’s capital of Christmas cheer; home to the longest running St. Patrick’s Day celebration; scene of the most star-spangled July Fourth display. With dozens of venues in which to dance the witching hour away — and plenty of world renowned boardwalk and boulevards on which to strut one’s carefully costumed stuff — Asbury Park has a lock on the days and nights leading up to the Eve of All Hallows, making the seaside city that so famously “came back from the dead” the undisputed headquarters of Halloween festivity.

It’s an interlude that sounds an early-October keynote with the Asbury Park Zombie Walk, the annual lurch previewed in these pages a few weeks back. And in between there are events like this past Saturday’s Haunted Carousel Dance Party, the gala-ghoul benefit for local charities from which images can be seen at ahauntedcarousel.com. But from the moment the sun goes down tonight, October 25 — and on through the moment the clock strikes midnight on November 1, the Day of the Dead — both the legendary haunted landmarks and the shiny new haunts of the greater Asbury area are where the sights, the sounds, and the seriously fun cosplay can be found.

CONCERTS

On the Asbury boards, the major concert event in the season of the witch is Convention Hell — and in this year’s edition of the Hall-rocking happening, the venerable venue welcomes the jam-circuit juggernaut Pink Talking Fish, a band that — as the name implies — triangulates a tribute to the collected works of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Phish. On Saturday night, the four-piece group and friends will be saluting Floyd’s epic album Dark Side of the Moon in sound and light — and joining in the spirit of dress-up fun are three local favorites portraying acts who appeared at Convention Hall in summers past: Wild Adriatic (as Led Zeppelin), Waiting For Mongo (as James Brown and his Famous Flames), and The Burns (as Jim Morrison and The Doors). Doors open at 7 pm, with tickets ($20 advance; $25 d.o.s.)  at the box office or via apboardwalk.com.

While the Convention Hell show is open only to concertgoers age 21 and up, fans of all ages can take it over to the headquarters of the Asbury Park Music Foundation (in the Lakehouse complex on Lake Avenue) on Saturday night, where from 7 to 11 pm the annual Diamond Concerts Halloween Show presents a bill headlined by the up-and-coming Brick Township-based band The Ones You Forgot. Continue reading

THE DOUGHBOYS COME HOME FROM ‘OVER THERE’

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, October 18 2018

“The Rolling Stones were representative of the angst of the culture in the 1960s…but as far as I’m concerned, Eric Burdon from the Animals is the greatest lead singer of all time.”

The speaker is Myke Scavone, Eatontown resident and lifelong music fan, and the opinion carries a great deal of weight, since the veteran vocalist has spent more than fifty years experiencing the rock life — hearing his records on the radio, traveling the world as a modern member of an iconic blues-rock institution, and having several of his recordings proclaimed “Coolest Song in the World” by no less an authority than Steven Van Zandt.

It’s a journey that begins and comes back around full circle with the Doughboys, the combo that the singer co-founded in his hometown of Plainfield, NJ, with his teenaged peers Mike Caruso (bass), Richie Heyman (drums), and Willy Kirchofer (guitar). The band that makes a welcome return to Asbury Park this Saturday night with an encore appearance at Langosta Lounge is a seasoned and super-confident unit whose riff-driven rockers are propelled by Scavone’s classic garage-punk snarl — but they’re also in essence the same bunch of earnest kids who first convened under the name the Ascots.

“We’d learn whole albums by the Stones, the Kinks, the Animals,” says Scavone of those early days, when the latest wave of British Invasion bands would inspire scores of American teens to pick up guitars and drumsticks. Live shows would range from the old Hullabaloo Club in Asbury Park (and its many teen-club counterparts throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), as well as the roof of the Funhouse on the Seaside Heights boardwalk — and at some point in 1966, the Ascots would become the Doughboys.

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STREET LEVEL UNDERGROUND, DURING 12th ART & MUSIC CRAWL

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, October 11 2018

With the townies, the tourists, and the Twitterverse still buzzing about Sea.Hear.Now — the manageably major music/ art/ surf event that attracted gorgeous weather, well-behaved crowds, and high-profile jam-mates to a very late-season Asbury Park waterfront a couple of weekends back — one could be forgiven for feeling “all festival’d out” for the time being. But if you’re among those still searching for the heart of the scene — here at a time when boardwalk concessions start to close (and parking spots start opening up) — believe what those guys in that band said, when they proclaimed that “it’s just gone underground.”

This Saturday afternoon, October 13, marks the 12th edition of the twice-yearly Asbury Underground Art and Music Crawl, and if you’re only just learning about it now, that’s because this celebration of the energy and spirit of the city’s creative community is often encountered in the most delightfully unexpected of places — places like the retail shops, eateries, salons, bakeries, gyms, repurposed lots, and even office spaces of Asbury Park’s Cookman Avenue corridor and business blocks beyond.

Founded by Patrick Schiavino — artist, gallery owner, curator, promoter, entrepreneur, vanguard Asbury Park developer, and unabashed lifelong fan of sight and sound and spoken word — the event seems a fair alternative, and a far cry, from the grand scale, sprawling ambitions and headline-making headliners of the big festivals. It’s strictly-storefront downtown instead of high-profile waterfront; hyper-local instead of bi-coastally national; as compact in both space and time as it is expansive in its vision of community and culture. And, rather than inviting celeb surfers to ride the Atlantic waves, the Crawl offers sidewalk-surfers a smorgasbord that encompasses more venues — and many more purveyors of music, poetry, prose, visual art and standup comedy — than in years previous.

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