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

If you somehow thought that the season of the top-down, open-air entertainment event ended when the calendar flipped to Fall…if you assumed that the era of sprawling music festivals was a thing of the past here in a bustling, busy, ever-evolving Asbury Park…and if you’re adamant that parents and teens would NEVER share a minivan ride to the same destination concert attraction, then “See here now, buddy” — a certain Music, Art and Surf Festival is primed to prove you wrong on all counts.

Going up this Saturday and Sunday on three outdoor stages (two by the sea; one beneath the watchful gaze of the Founder’s statue in Bradley Park), as well as the northern stretch of Asbury Park’s boardwalk and the September swells of the Atlantic Ocean, the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now Festival aims to summon a level of excitement that evokes the WNEW beach concerts of decades past, or the Warped Tours and the Bamboozles of more recent memory — in a way that’s a lot more in sync with the community, a lick less crazy/crowded, and in the words of co-producer Danny Clinch, “a little more family.”

“Family” in this case is an acknowledgment of the generation that grew up on those legendary festivals, and a nod to the fact that many of these young old-timers are still dedicated concertgoers, even as the next generation stakes out some sonic turf of its own. With an eclectic bill headlined by pro surfer turned soft rocker Jack Johnson, and emo-ey California alt-rockers Incubus, it’s a rain-or-shine affair that spotlights a sampling of some of the Asbury area’s standout performers (including Neptune City-to-Nashville native Nicole Atkins), alongside veterans like Blondie (still a great live act, thanks to the core of Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and super drummer Clem Burke) and Social Distortion — and, as Clinch touts it, such hyper-currently hot bands as Highly Suspect and The Menzingers.

For Clinch — the photographer, artist and blues harpist whose images of Bruce Springsteen, Tupac and other music legends have shown a deeply rooted affinity for the American creative spirit — the ambitious event represents an increased commitment to Asbury Park that exploded in recent seasons with the opening of his Transparent Gallery; the exhibit space (and merch/music shop, and intimate venue for small-room concerts, book signings, lectures, or what-have-you) that beckons from the Kingsley Street side of the Asbury Hotel.

It’s also a major expansion of the Sea.Hear.Now brand for Danny and his local producing partner Tim Donnelly, whose previous presentations in Asbury Park included a smaller-scale surf-centric event in 2011, as well as a 2012 followup that took place a week before an even bigger event named Sandy (the pair also produced a post-Sandy “On the Beach” benefit at the Paramount, headlined by My Morning Jacket). For this weekend’s festivities, Clinch and Donnelly joined forces with C3 Presents, the Texas-based nationwide promoter whose major endeavors have included the Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza.

“We’ve made a lot of friends in the industry, and we got to the point where we thought that we could produce something really special for Asbury Park,” says Clinch. “The city really embraced it, too…we’re coming in with a specifically curated rock and roll event that’s a good manageable size, and we’ve worked very well together with Mayor Moor and his crew.”

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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!


Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 20 2018

Never underestimate the prominence of the PORCH in the evolution of American music. Long before an enraptured young Elvis learned the secrets of the old bluesmen on the wooden steps of Tupelo, MS, the front and back porches of this great land were the laboratory, the rehearsal studio, and the fantasy concert hall where generations of blue-note benders, country pickers and rocking-chair crooners worked out their magic to an audience that often consisted of a sleepy old hound-dog and a couple of chickens.

Even today, there’s something unique about a porch-bound jam; a thing that works at an altogether different pace than a suburban garage rave-up, or a friendly-competition freestyle on a city streetcorner. It’s a two-way form of communication too; one that draws inspiration from the passing parade, even as it draws in an audience of stop-look-and-listeners from all over. With that in mind — and with the additional knowledge that Asbury Park is home to a whole lot of pretty impressive porches — a group of musically minded neighbors have assembled a recent addition to the town’s action-packed cultural calendar; a little thing called PORCHFEST.

Call it an “anti-festival” if you will; a city-spanning music event that swaps the big outdoor stages and scale of happenings like Bamboozle or All Tomorrow’s Parties — plus Sea.Hear.Now, the inaugural edition of which goes up next weekend here in Asbury Park — for a stay-at-home vibe, and a street-level view of some purely homegrown talent.

That said, the second annual Asbury Park Porchfest stoops to conquer…by connecting the myriad music makers of our own big (front) yard with a passing parade of casual, committed, even delightfully accidental listeners. Going on this Saturday, September 22 from 1 to 5 pm (with an official kickoff set for 12 pm at Booskerdoo, inside the Shops at Sunset on 1321-A Memorial Drive), the event spotlights more than 70 bands and solo performers in a walkable itinerary that showcases 18 of the city’s grandest and most inviting porches — a matchup of venue and vaudeville that, in the words of festival founder Jordan Modell, “fits in perfectly with the spirit of Asbury Park.”

A co-chair of the Asbury Park Homeowners Association, the nonprofit entity that organizes and produces the relatively laid-back late-summer event, Modell was previously involved with the Porchfest project hosted in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain; a successful offering that presented its fifth annual edition this past July.

Like that Beantown brouhaha (and any of the dozens of sister Porchfests that have sprouted up from coast to coast), the local event owes its inspiration to an idea that took root in the collegey community of Ithaca, NY back in 2007. Asbury Park — with its bumper crop of musical talent, its reputation as a magnet for arts-minded endeavors and the artists who create them, and its side streets packed with beautiful old Shore “cottages” — was simply made to order for a happening that Modell calls “a truly amazing mix of music, culture, and history.”

“We’ve got almost double the number of bands this year than we did in 2017,” adds Modell. “We’ve also added porches — and we’ve made a real effort to include a lot more locations on the west side, a part of town that a lot of visitors to Asbury Park have never really been familiar with.”

As the festival founder explains, the organizing committee “got an overwhelming response” from musicians and homeowners who wanted to be part of the 2018 event — and while the roster of participating properties has grown beyond the membership of the Homeowners Association (including two local lodgings — the Hotel Tides and the Asbury Park Inn — among the list of private homes), “we’d love to be able to get up to 20 or 21 different locations on board in the future…that way, everyone who wants to play would be able to play.”

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Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 20 2018

SOUNDS: Birch Hill Reunion at the Stone Pony

BIRCH HILL! The name elicits quivers of reverence from Jersey rock fans of (ahem) “a certain age” — as Art Stock’s old-school Old Bridge nightclub achieved its destiny as a destination venue for major national/international (and lovably localoid) metal, alternative, post-punk, and classic-rock acts around the turn of the new century. On Friday, September 21 — almost 15 years after the legally beleaguered Route 9 rendezvous hosted its “Wrecking Ball” finale — an all-star squad of veterans from such back-in-the-day club favorites as White Tiger, TT Quick, Split Sydney and Faith Healer commandeers the stage of the Stone Pony (where a number of Birch-baptized bands have found a Shoreside harbor in recent seasons), assembling Avengers-style under the name Dark Horse, for a Birch Hill Metal Reunion that promises a raucous retrospective of the sounds that made the Middlesex-Monmouth corridor a regional capital of hell-yeah headbang. Tickets to the 7 pm senior earlybird ($17 advance; $20 d.o.s.) available at

SOUNDS: Talib Kweli at Asbury Lanes

One of the first of the high-profile acts announced for the recent reboot/ ramp-up of Asbury Lanes — and the last of that inaugural slate to arrive on the stage of the reborn rec room — Talib Kweli brings his passionate perspectives on the day’s headlines (while making some headlines of his own in recent months) to a long-awaited Asbury area debut. Coming off a busy 2017 that saw the release of the album Radio Silence, the Brooklyn-based veteran and master-of-much-media has been equally busy in 2018; performing all over the map and finding collaborative common ground with everyone from Black Star colleague Yasiin Bey — to Grateful Dead charter member Phil Lesh, with whom he guested on “Shakedown Street” at a recent Apollo Theatre GOTV benefit. On Friday, September 21, Kweli visits the hometown of the Hip Hop Institute in the company of Brazilian rapper Niko Is, and Jersey City’s own Mazzi, with doors open at 8 pm and tickets ($25) available at Continue reading


Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 13 2018

We’ve said it before in this space, but if there ever was such a thing as a Mount Rushmore of Honorary Shorecats… those “veteran rockers whose wall-of-sound work ethic has allowed them to make themselves entirely at home among the stars and bars of the Jersey Shore, despite being rooted in other states/ other scenes”…then surely the chiseled features of Mr. John Eddie would be right up there alongside the likes of Pittsburgh pirate Joe Grushecky, New England patriot John Cafferty, and New York giant Willie Nile.

Of course, the singer, songwriter, bandleader, ace live entertainer and self-described apostle of “Dad humor” is much too humble to be “taken for granite” as some sort of living-legend local monument — but when John Eddie returns once more with his Dirty Ol’ Band to the stage of the Wonder Bar this Friday, September 14, he’ll be coming up the coast in direct and defiant competition with a front of potentially wild weather; the unspoken challenge being who can best blow the roof off the joint.

“I commute just about every weekend to Jersey, and I’ve got the routine pretty much down,” says the native Virginian who’s made his home base in Nashville for much of the new century — and whose ownership of a house in Highlands keeps him keenly aware of the more delicate points of life on the coastal frontline.

“I have very rarely missed a gig; maybe once or twice with a snowstorm…I pride myself in making sure the show goes on, but when you come up against the power of nature, everything else takes a back seat!”

To say that the Grand Ole Opry-to-Garden State route is a well-trodden one is hardly an exaggeration for the “Front Street Runner” who emerged out of South Jersey in the early 80s; quickly staking a claim to fervent fanbases up and down the NJ Turnpike corridor — and getting himself signed to Bruce Springsteen’s record label in the process. While the 1986 John Eddie album (and its Gary Glitter-ish stomper of a single, “Jungle Boy”) won him some decent airplay, MTV exposure, and prime opening spots for Bob Seger and The Bangles, the follow-up Columbia LP saw a set of potentially strong songs thwarted by 80s-era production values — and a move to Elektra Records yielded little more than an unreleased third album and a lot of litigation; a fate that might have dispatched a less focused musician to a bitter post-stardom career as that “mean old cop in the Burger King lot.”

“The Elektra debacle just hit me at a time that knocked me for a loop,” says Eddie of what would become a prolonged absence from the recording studio — an interval during which the graduate of the music-biz mangler machine hunkered down and honed his room-rocking craft to a diamond-stylus point inside the working-dude clubs, casino lounges, and blues-brews-BBQs bars of an ever-expanding territory.

“I figured out pretty early on…and this was way before things like GoFundMe and Kickstarter…that my entire career could be fan-funded,” he explains. “I found people, fans, musicians who believed in me, and who really gave me the confidence to keep it going.”

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Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 13 2018

STAGES: CARMEN at the Axelrod PAC

It was shocking and scandalous when it premiered in 1875 — and here in the time of #metoo and #timesup, the canonical opera Carmen still has something new to say to contemporary audiences. Energized with instantly familiar music (“The Toreador Song,” “The Flower Song,” “The Habanera”) — plus a passion-filled story of a gypsy woman, a seduced-and-abandoned soldier, and an obsessive love that turns to jealous rage — Georges Bizet’s masterwork comes to the stage of the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in a bold new production from director Andrea DelGuidice, with the action transported to 1970s New York City, and a perspective shift in which “Carmen is no longer the victim;” a concept based in part on the real-life story of “Black Widow” Griselda Blanco. Augusta Caro and Victor Starsky (pictured) star as Carmen and Don José, with Devony Smith and Gustavo Feulien co-starring in the cast under the musical direction of Ocean Grove’s Jason Tramm. Performances (sung in French, with English supertitles) are at 8 pm on September 15 and 3 pm on September 16, and tickets ($35-$42) can be reserved at or at 732-531-9106 ext. 14.

SOUNDS/ SCENES: Indian Summer Festival at Convention Hall

We’ve never been quite certain of just whatever it means — or just whenever it exactly is — but one thing we know for sure is that here in Asbury Park, Indian Summer heralds the annual beach music festival (plus attendant vendor bazaar) of that same name, going on this weekend within Convention Hall’s Grand Arcade and (weathergods permitting) the north-beach stage and sandy dance floor outside the Anchor’s Bend bar. With more than 100 vendors of handcrafted goods open for business at 12 pm on both September 15 and 16, the event also represents one more grand opportunity to enjoy the priceless vibe of the surfside stage, with Saturday’s live band lineup starting at 5 pm and featuring Philly-based headliners Purling Hiss plus Ecstatic Vision, gods (pictured here in silhouette at a previous salt-air soiree), Heaven, Birthwater, latewaves, Brother Andrew and DJ Foggy Notion for a ten-buck ticket. Sunday’s bill of FREE entertainment starts at 1 pm, and offers the reggae/ ska/ rocksteady DJs of the Steady Sound System, plus the eminently intriguing Holdfast Sound (a project of downtown’s own Holdfast Records). There’s MORE to the tune of beach bonfires, beach camping/glamping, and beach yoga, with full details available at

SOUNDS: Bruce Wacker Memorial Tribute at the Stone Pony

When the next class of Asbury Angels inductees is announced, there will surely be room in that rock ‘n roll heaven for Bruce Wacker, the veteran Shore blues-rocker guitarist and Middletown native who passed away at the age of 61 this past June. This Sunday afternoon, September 16, the Stone Pony is the setting for a special memorial concert that brings together an all-Shore lineup of colleagues and contemporaries of “that other Bruce.”

Running between 4 and 9 pm, the tribute show is being organized by Wacker’s family members with Stormin’ Norman Seldin; the piano man making a too-rare Asbury Park return as he joins his Big New Orleans Band on the famous stage. It’s part of a bill that features championship blues guy (and BonJovi tour guitarist) Matt O’Ree and his combo, an organization that further boasts a pair of headliner-in-her-own-right vocalists in Eryn O’Ree and Layonne Holmes. The Bobby Donofrio Band also appears, and Pat Guadagno teams with fellow saloon-singer veteran Rich Oddo, while harpin’ jam-master ringmaster Sandy Mack heads up a cast of jam-ready juggernauts that include Vic Cappetta, Damian Cremisio, Ed Dougherty, Gerry Gironda, Ray Johnson, Neil Perkins, Eric Safka, and Taz. Plenty of additional guest players are also promised, in an evening of heartfelt tribute and “joyful noize” for which tickets (a $15 donation) can be reserved at

SOUNDS: Nils Lofgren Acoustic Duo at the Stone Pony

A 2008 double hip replacement may have curtailed his trademark aerial flips and trampoline tricks, but Nils Lofgren has always been much more than the sum of his onstage “Rockletics” — and when the Honorary ShoreCat returns to the Stone Pony this Tuesday, September 18, it will be in an Acoustic Duo setting that confirms the veteran guitar great as a generator of energy and excitement even when planted on the terra firma of the famous stage. A continuation of a 20-year exploration that began in earnest with the 1997 album Acoustic Live — and extended to The Loner, his 2008 LP of stripped-down Neil Young signatures — the E Streeter’s intimately scaled sets provide a cool counterpoint to the electric pyrotechnics of his bigger-than-life stage work with Bruce and company. It’s also a real-time companion to Face the Music, the 2014 box set that showcased the long career highlights of the man whose standout songs have included “White Lies,” “Keith Don’t Go,’ and “Valentine.” Expect a retrospective re-imagining of all these and more, along with a sample of multi-instrumental mastery, a taste of the improv instincts that power his recent Blind Date Jam Project endeavors, and a feel for the qualities that have allowed this ever-versatile frontman/sideman to forge such productive partnerships with Springsteen, Young, and a gallery of greats that range from Ringo, Rod, Stills, Nash, Willie, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee, to Tim Curry and Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath. Tickets for the 7 pm session ($35) reserved at

SOUNDS: Fear at the House of Independents

Reunited around the 1970s-era core trio of founding frontman Lee Ving, guitarist Philo Cramer, and drummer Spit Stix, the SoCal punk institution Fear brings its new 2018 edition to downtown Asbury’s all-purpose auditorium House of Independents, in a Humpday hardcore hootenanny that promises a raucous retrospective of heirloom classics from the seldom-sedate band’s erratic but entertaining career, with maybe just a rocking-chair squeak of the branded mayhem that famously saw the group banned from SNL and many a liability-fearing venue. Veteran NYC punks Murphy’s Law bolster a bi-coastal bill that further features Lower East Side Stitches and Nervous Triggers, with tickets to the September 19 show (ranging from $25 to a truly hardcore $100) available from, or across Cookman Ave at Lola’s Café.

All well and fine, we suppose, but the forecast calls for MORE where that came from, each and every day-night of the week, and you’ll inhale the fine particulars in the printed pages of this week’s COASTER paper (and as far as THIS weekend goes, with the caveat that some potentially wild weather can yet scotch many of these announced events, such as the Jawbreaker set postponed from its originally announced Saturday perch on the Stone Pony SummerStage. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 finds the Shore’s class-act next-generation songbook/saloon singer Chris Pinnella channeling the Chairman at his Vegassy best, in a salute to the classic album “Sinatra at the Sands” that swings upside Tim McLoone’s Supper Club. FRIDAY finds Will Sheff and his long-running indie-rock institution Okkervil River making a rare area appearance behind their 2018 album In the Rainbow Rain at Asbury Lanes, while SATURDAY sees the Saint hosting an all-day This Is Hip Hop showcase showdown that drops its first couplet/gauntlet at 4 pm. SUNDAY offers up Alec Ounsworth (pictured) and his current lineup of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, in a House of Independents show re-scheduled from a couple of months back (and joined for the occasion by Asbury Park faves Dentist)…while MONDAY afternoon brings one more chance for hard-working locals to enjoy an Industry Pool Party at the Asbury Hotel, soundtracked by Dean “DJ Values” BornscheinRand Hubiak highlights a TUESDAY night return to Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center for the ongoing Café Artiste Songwriters Series…while WEDNESDAY sees the Asbury solo debut of lately legendary indie-rock singer, songwriter, and superproducer Butch Walker at the Lanes. Pick yourself up and do it all over again each and every Thursday, when THE COASTER hits the streets and diner counter-tops with your deeply detailed docket of Asbury area arts ‘n entertainment listings!


Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 6 2018

It seems no one got the memo; the one that explains exactly how a Jersey Shore town is expected to conduct itself in the “off” season. Yet even now, as several of our sister Shore communities all but roll up the sidewalks and boardwalks, the city of Asbury Park dials it up to 11 with a September slate that climaxes in the weekend-long music/ art/ surf soiree that is the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now Festival — and that doesn’t even make its first concession to a more autumnal vibe until early October’s Zombie Walk.

In other words, it’s still not a fashion faux pas to wear LIFE after Labor Day — and this weekend, the centerpiece pearl of local life will once again be the Asbury Park Oysterfest, the yearly presentation of the city Chamber of Commerce that pitches its tents for three days (Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9) in Bradley Park, across Ocean Avenue from Convention Hall.

This is the second annual stand beneath the stern and stony gaze of Founder Bradley’s statue, for the event that worked its way northward from its previous berths in the downtown business district and the Carousel parking area. It’s a logical progression as well, for a happening that’s evolved from a food-festival-plus-music-and-other-stuff, to an extended-weekend celebration of cuisine, craft, culture, and the community at large.

None of which is to suggest that we’ve forgotten all about the oyster, the briny bivalve that’s a fabled food-of-love aphrodisiac to many (and maybe a must-to-avoid mollusk for some). But whether you shuck ‘em or shun ‘em, the oyster and its fellow shellfish will be represented within the festival grounds by an array of food trucks and tented stands purveying a strolling smorgasbord of “festival fare” and edible eclecticism. Indeed, the festival could very well be themed around some very interesting things that one could do with a potato, or the always-fascinating frontiers of Things That Taste Amazing When You Deep-Fry Them.

Festivalgoers who are of legal drinking age can select from a menu of hyper-local hoppy brews by Asbury Park Brewery, inside the Asbury Park Beer Tent. Bluepoint Brewing Company will return as well to the event, which also boasts a vendor’s alley spotlighting locally made goods, fun activities for the kids, and informational booths operated by a variety of city-based nonprofits.

With the move to Bradley Park, the musical menu has assumed an even greater role in the three-day weekend — and with so many of the scene’s stylistic flavors represented on the open-air festival stage, the 2018 event doesn’t skimp on the music-city recipe. Friday evening keynotes with a 5 pm performance by the students of the Lakehouse Academy, followed at 7:15 by SOAP stalwart (and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, as the Springsteen band’s foundational drummer) Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, and an 8:45 nitecap by the darkly psychedelic alterna-pop  of Asbury’s own The Cold Seas.

Friday, by the way, is an “Asbury Park Open House” night featuring free admission to the festival grounds for all — while Saturday and Sunday find a portion of the modest $3 entry fee dedicated to the social services programs of the Community Affairs and Resource Center ( Saturday’s eight hour slate of programming includes a 5 pm set by PRIDE: Misfit Johnny Plays the music of U2, as well as an 8 pm turn by the seven-piece, full-tilt funksoul showband Waiting On Mongo. Sunday’s wrap-day schedule is bookended with an 11 am performance by AP High School faculty member and jazz flautist Karen Lee, and a 4:30 pm closer starring the fantastic funk/soul unit Des and the Swagmatics. Take it to The Coaster’s Live Music listings for a full day-by-day schedule breakdown — and take it to the nearby Wonder Bar at the close of the Saturday’s Oysterfestivities, where an After Party commences under the bespectacled eyes of those most pocket-protected of party-starting institutions, The Nerds.

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Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, September 6 2018

SOUNDS: David Byrne at Monmouth University

In a late-summer special event — one that’s serendipitously bookended by Asbury Park shows featuring Talking Heads tribute band Start Making Sense — original Heads honcho David Byrne visits the Monmouth University campus for the first time, as a stop on his nationwide American Utopia Tour. Hosted at Monmouth’s OceanFirst Bank Center sports/entertainment arena, the Friday night concert teams Byrne with a big grey-suited ensemble of stage-traveling musicians and dancers, for a choreographed (and maybe just a tad comfort-zone-pushing) retrospective of past signatures and new stuff from the recent American Utopia album. It’s a presentation of Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts (where Byrne’s numerous appearances have included the filming of his 1994 feature Between the Teeth), and tickets — ranging from $92 to $228 and beyond — can be reserved at

SOUNDS: Black Suburbia series at AP Music Foundation

For someone who brands himself Drew the Recluse, Asbury Park hip-hop artist Drew Christian Barkley has been maintaining a high profile in recent seasons; staking out a Saint-side sanctum via his Black Suburbia Music Show presentations, taking it top-down to Springwood Park’s Music Monday series, and now joining forces with the Asbury Park Music Foundation (coordinators of the Hip Hop Institute program at the local Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County) for the first in an ambitious new monthly series of Suburbia Friday Nights presentations at the org’s Lakehouse Complex HQ. The September 7 inaugural finds Drew joined by Miles NxBxDy and Momo Da Gawd? for a 7:30 pm session (and a $10 ticket at the door) that promises to kick the Suburbia group’s well-earned momentum into overdrive, and allow the homegrown hip-hop scene to assume its rightful place alongside the myriad sounds of this music-mad city. Continue reading