Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), January 23, 2020
It’s the kind of matchup of vaudeville and venue that makes perfect sense and fits like a warm winter glove; a cold night’s comfort that still manages to raise a delightfully hellacious noise.
For a run of nearly five years, the Bradley Beach-based music promoter Ben Puglisi’s DAA Entertainment has established bi-monthly base camp, at a like-minded local-scene landmark that’s specialized in the care, feeding, and nurture of homegrown “heavy” music, in all of its metal/ punk/ noise and just generally offbeat manifestations.
The ringmaster for those revels is Don Jamieson, the veteran purveyor of “slobservational” standup and “prank” humor who’s best known on the national/ international as longtime co-host (with Eddie Trunk and Jim Florentine) of the VH-1 series That Metal Show, as well as the SportsNet NY program Beer Money, and enough multi-platform plaudits to have earned standing as a King of Most Media (or at least a recognition as “TV’s Don Jamieson”).
The venue for that brand of vaudeville is none other than the Brighton Bar in the West End section of Long Branch, a place whose proudly proclaimed pedigree as The Home of Original Music on the Jersey Shore saw it sounding its keynote as a neighborhood “frosted mug”/ package goods joint with a postage-stamp hitching post stage, gaining regional cred through various changes of ownership (and the steadfast presence of longtime booker/ bandleader Jacko Monahan) — then, under the stewardship of punk musician turned barkeep (and “cool teacher” at the local HS) Greg Macolino, soldiering on through an era when live music clubs were shuttering by the bucketload, and when even the storied Stone Pony was vacant (or, briefly,“Vinyl”).
Then there’s that Wall of Fame, a groovy grotto of reverent contemplation that attests to the little bar’s ability to attract a generation of acts from the fabled 1970s golden age of punk rock (The Dictators, The Dickies, The Damned, The Vibrators, and members of The Sex Pistols, Ramones, Dead Boys, X, The Stranglers, New York Dolls), as well as the decades beyond (Fountains of Wayne, Nashville Pussy, Ween). It’s been a place that’s welcomed everyone from Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin to that wand’ring-minstrel-in-search-of-a-gig named Bruce Springsteen; a sonic laboratory and spawning ground for stars to be (Monster Magnet, Godspeed) and a happy harbor for a thousand-and-one local/regional acts that flared ever so brightly and all too briefly (Laughing Soupdish, Secret Syde, Dirge…and yes, J’zzing was a thing). The kind of place where you’d find yourself at the next barstool with one of your rock idols from middle school days; an experience that you’d pay VIP Golden Ticket Ambassador Pope levels to attain in a more corporate concert context.
“That’s because there’s nowhere to hide at the Brighton!” laughs Jamieson in a call from his Monmouth County home. “There’s no star dressing room; the bands are right there with the fans, and it’s a loose relaxed vibe all around.”
“It’s a great place, with a great stage, and great sound,” says the man who’s “seen the world” via multiple tours with Armed Forces Entertainment, and enjoyed a gig as regular opening act for Andrew Dice Clay. “if we can use my name to promote bands, give ‘em a place to play, that’s what it’s all about.”
On Friday night, January 24, it’s all about four Jersey-fresh bands who are “all going to be heavy, but different;” a dance card (selected by Jamieson in cahoots with DAA) that spotlights Ocean County combo Wild Chariot (seen previously at the Brighton during last month’s Brothers Union Holiday Show), as well as prog-metal paragons (and fellow OC guys) Throne of Exile, teenaged titans The Age of Ore, and the power trio known as “Apparition. Apparitions. ”All this, plus the highly visible DJ Claude Rains, for a twelve-dollar ticket.
“As a fan myself, I appreciate a club that keeps things on schedule,” says Jamieson of his preferred local haunts. “Get ‘em in, have fun, and get ‘em home at a reasonable time.”
“The Brighton Bar is our CBGB,” adds the emcee in reference to the legendary Bowery club. “I lived in New York around the time that CBs closed, along with Don Hill’s, Roseland, Continental…but places like the Brighton and The Saint have stood the test of time…Jersey really does have a thriving rock scene.”