JAMIESON’S SELECT: A JERSEY JESTER HOLDS COURT AT THE BRIGHTON BAR

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.”   

Continue reading

REG IS MAKIN A GLORIOUS NOISE, AT 4-DAY MUSIC FEST

REG SATANA of Defiance Engine and 19DRT (photo by Judi Hull)

Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), May 16, 2019

Although there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a traditionally recommended gift for a 31st anniversary — most sources have it as somewhere between pearl and coral — that’s hardly any excuse for music fans to skip the momentous milestone occasion unfolding on the famous stage of a landmark rock bar this weekend. In fact, the official designation of the first annual Makin Waves Fest can be regarded as a Year One celebration that merits a gift of paper — namely, the legal-tender currency that allows access to one of the must-see events of the season.

The occasion is the latest birthday for the beloved baby of entertainment journalist Bob Makin — which is to say Makin Waves, the long-running, award-winning music column that appears in The Aquarian Weekly, New Jersey Stage and other Jersey-based outlets. The veteran news reporter has staked out a ringside seat for every significant development on the Shore scene throughout the past few decades; interviewing scores of music makers, promoting live shows, and in the process helping to raise many thousands of dollars for children’s charities, arts education, community food banks, and other non-profit entities.

This time out, the designated beneficiary is one that’s unabashedly close to home, as the inaugural Makin Waves Fest is a “Save the Wave” endeavor designed to help the multi-media venture “sustain itself due to a lack of revenue and funds.” To that end, Makin has partnered with a panorama of co-sponsors (including Wave Resort, BlowUpRadio.com, and Tito’s Vodka, facilitator of featured drink specials for the four-day fest) — in addition to primary host venue The Brighton Bar, the Long Branch-based outpost of the innovative and fiercely indie that carried the torch of original music, when other stages had gone dark, or surrendered to the demands of the cover-band dinosaurs and the disco ball. Under the stewardship of co-owner, public schoolteacher and seasoned punk rocker Greg Macolino, the West End wonder at 121 Brighton Avenue soldiers on into our strange new century; staying connected to its own wall-of-fame legacy, even as it nurtures another new generation of bands, off-beat comics, and other vanguard vaudevillians.

Look closer at Makin’s list of event partners and you’ll notice the banner of “Reg Satana Presents,” a name that denotes the (more or less) official entry into the band booking biz for a figure who is herself no stranger to the Brighton stage: thunderdome drummer, record label exec, pop culture authority and supermom Reg “Satana” Hogan.

“Bob suggested that I help him line up bands for the Saturday show,” explains the scene stalwart whose extensive resume includes stints with fondly recalled bands like Dimebag, Solarized, Freak Theater, and the nationally renowned Daisycutter. “I was happy to do it, since I’ve done some occasional shows at The Saint, and I’m glad to be playing it…twice!”

Reg (whose stage name pays tribute to the late great Tura Satana, one-of-a-kind star of the 1960s cinema classic Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) appears as a member of two distinct power trios, during the May 18 multi-band blitz that kicks off at 3 pm. The surgically jagged noise-rock incursions of Defiance Engine find the drummer teaming with her husband, bassist-vocalist Jim “Rex” Hogan (with whom she co-founded the now-legendary 1980s/90s label Heat Blast Records), as well as with guitarist Rich Walter. It should be noted that, in addition, to their string-throttling skills, the two guys in the band are ace administrators of a pair of must-view Facebook groups for likeminded fans: Rich as curator of NJ Hardcore Reunion, and Rex as all-seeing watcher over the ever-growing online community known as Noise Rock Now!

The drumminatrix returns to the driver’s seat with the more recently minted 19DRT (a semiprivate-joke reference to a person or thing being so old, that they date back to the year “19-dirt”), in which “I play ‘Sammy’ to my fellow Rat Packers, Frank (Burdynski) and Dean (Monjoy).” Flexing her promoter muscles — and tying in to the day’s theme of bands who boast a connection to the fabled history of the Brighton — Reg also brings aboard the five-piece Full On Empty (featuring Keith Ackerman of The Atomic Bitchwax) and Solace (featuring Tommy Southard and Rob Hultz of the high-profile national recording act Godspeed).

Continue reading

ARCHIVE: Sick Again, and Loving It

Chronic+Sick+chronicsick

The way they were: Arnie Baars, JoJo Albano, Greg Macolino and Bobby the K — The Chronic Sick — take their major reunion world tour back to the Brighton Bar this Saturday.

By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit August 4, 2009)

The story, reproduced faithfully in press releases to this day, goes something like this: it’s 1982; Reagan’s in the White House, the Falklands War and the Tylenol Killer are in the news, and the first compact discs are starting to edge vinyl off the store racks.

Meanwhile, in a drab Jersey recording studio specializing in cheap ‘n nasty local-dude records, a Long Branch-based bunch of punks called The Chronic Sick are attempting to wax a full-length followup to their first 12-inch EP for the legendary Mutha Records imprint; an effort (Cutest Band In Hardcore) that was branded the “Best Record Release of 1981″ by the formidable Jello Biafra, that hit Number One on every important college radio station in the state, and would go on to become a “Holy Grail” that reportedly continues to fetch selling prices approaching $1500.

Midway through the sessions, guitarist Bobby the K — “frustrated with the lack of grit in the singing voice of frontman Greg “Gory” Macolino, punched the lead vocalist in the throat, thinking it would add just the right quality.” It didn’t. In fact, the incident, coupled with the admitted lack of discipline and maturity on the part of the teenaged bandmates, spelled the early demise of the zitfaced, pockmarked, swastika-scribbling cuties.

Part of a small but respected scene of proto-hardcore punk and psychedelic bands that burned briefly and brightly in the early 1980s, in places like Long Branch, Red Bank, Asbury and Belmar, The Chronic Sick  (Gory, Bobby, bassist Arnie Baars and drummer JoJo Albano) would join their contemporaries — Fatal RageSecret Syde,The WorstThe BeastLaughing SoupdishMODE/IQ and Public Disturbance — in a largely doomed stand against what were then the crushing forces of the coverband dinosaurs, then in their pumped-up prime at clubs up and down the highways of Central Jersey. By contrast, the Shorecore bands, like their Brunswick and Bloomfield-based brethren to the north, homesteaded their own scene at places like the dying Fast Lane, the infamous Hot Dog House in Asbury, a couple of random neighborhood bars and rec centers — and most significantly at a recovering package-goods pukestop called the Brighton Bar.

Flash forward a couple of largely forgettable decades and you’ll find a significantly less cruddy (but still creddy) Brighton Bar still standing as the hallowed Home of Original Music on the Jersey Shore — with Macolino, now a high school teacher and a veteran of another seminal Jersey Shore band (The X-Men), one of the owners of the West End landmark for the past ten years.

History, no stranger to the little stage that helped spawn the likes of Monster Magnet and Godspeed, happened again a few months back, when the classic configuration of the Chronic Sick reunited after more than 25 years to play a special vintage hardcore show — an event that led at least indirectly to the rebirth of the celebrated Syde, and directly to such Sick happenings as their first-ever formal tour; an excursion that returns them to the Brighton boards this Saturday night, August 8.

The bandmates, who played Maxwells in Hoboken this past weekend, and are scheduled to appear tonight at The Red and the Black in Washington, DC, will be continuing their world-domination tour with stops in NYC (August 9), Cambridge, MA (August 12) and New Haven, CT (August 13). And, with the help of Adam Hamilton from LA Guns, they’re “polishing off and putting the finishing touches” on the album that was to be their second release, entitled 1982 — a set of songs that, considering when the tunes were written, has literally been in the making since that fateful year.

Red Bank oRBit talked to three of the four Sickies as they prepped for their invasion of our nation’s capital, and no going for the jugular this time. Read on.

Continue reading

ARCHIVE: Brighton Bar Rewrites the Memoir

DownloadedFile-1The Brighton Bar, our CBGB and a landmark where alt-culture art meets package-goods populism.

By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit February 4, 2009)

The Brighton Bar! For more than a generation, it’s been our own local Shoreguy version of CBGB; a nexus of nurture and nutty nature for the sorts of things that occur well below the scan of cultural radar. Better than CBGB, in fact, since the unassuming velveeta-box in Long Branch’s West End continues to throb with life and industry.

The Brighton was the area’s sole consistent source of original rock music and other offbeat entertainments, back in the age when cover-band dinosaurs ruled the earth. It’s one of the few neighborhood joints on the planet that successfully transitioned to hepster-hangout status, without compromising its “working” class, package-goods bonafides. And its rep as a spawning ground of scenes and sounds puts the reality-check hammer to all others, up to and including the preciously revered Upstage.

None of which is to suggest that the “b-RIGHT-on” is ready to be relegated to some waxworks Hall of Fame. Rumors of its demise, which for a while there seemed to kick up every few years, were as exaggerated as the historical hoohah surrounding the Stone Pony. The place has survived, with occasional refurbishing and near-constant experimentation, long beyond the lifespans of such Jersey monuments as Bloomfield’s Dirt Club, the Pipeline in Newark, Asbury’s Fast Lane and Trenton’s City Gardens — about which more in a moment.

Few would argue against the assertion that the Brighton Bar’s consistency and staying power, even throughout several changes in ownership since the early 1980s, has been the province of one larger-than-life character — Jack Monahan; fateful frontman, postpunk poet, band bookie and the man whose look was copped wholesale by record-industry guru Rick Rubin.

Continue reading