Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), November 14, 2019

 LOYALTY! It’s a concept that only truly functions as a two-way street — mind you don’t get thrown ‘neath one of those passing buses — and one that arguably attains its highest calling in that special relationship between singer/ band and audience. And, as Jeff Warshauer puts it, “in a time where 40,000 tracks get uploaded to Spotify every day and music is being relegated to the background, it is very important that we facilitate a deeper connection between artist and fan, and elevate the local music scene.”

Here along the Monmouth County Shore, that epicenter of the NJ music community (where sounds are a cash crop and principal export), the emergence and influx of new musical acts in recent years (added to an already substantial scene’s worth of veteran acts) fairly cries out for a reliable guide — and with that in mind, Warshauer developed Asbury Park-based Live Music Loyalty as a mobile app that focuses on “helping musicians connect with their fans and grow their audience” — a mission accomplished via comprehensive live music listings, detailed artist profiles, and an option that encourages fans “to check in to events so artists know who come see them play” (there’s also a recommended playlist each week, spotlighting tacts who are locally based, or who’ve paid a recent visit).

Having made its mark, with remarkable momentum, upon the scene’s screens, Live Music Loyalty takes its next quantum leap into the brick and mortar meatworld, with a pair of (concurrent but connected) multi-band “takeover” events this Saturday night, November 16. Beginning at 9:30 pm, the hallway between a pair of sister saloons on the Asbury boardwalk (Marilyn Schlossbach’s Langosta Lounge, and Asbury Park Yacht Club) is the two-way street that allows access to two stages worth of “Scene by the Sea” sounds, with Langosta serving up ace showband Secret Sound, plus the Mike Montrey Band and Matt Cook — while APYC sets sail with The Shoobies, Natalie Farrell, and The Foes of Fern. There’s no cover charge, and proceeds from purchases of products from drink special sponsors Last Wave Brewery and Shipwreck Rum go directly to the youth music education programs of the Asbury Park Music Foundation.

As Warshauer explains it, “Asbury Park is such an unbelievable community, and we need to make sure our artists don’t get drowned out by the noise” — but if ever a scene kicked up a glorious noise of its own, it’s this one; a year-round bash that spans the genres and the generations, and that anymore refuses to abide by the tired old concept of the “off season.”

Embedded within the evolution of the present-day scene is the phenomenon of the musician turned impresario/ promoter/ ringmaster of their own branded events — and the coming nights offer two exciting examples at live music venues in Long Branch. Tonight, November 14, the Freehold-based folks behind the fast-growing surf/ tiki label Hi-Tide Recordings (that’s Magdalena O’Connell and her husband, Black Flamingos drummer Vincent Minervino) return to Whitechapel Projects, as they welcome Rochester, NY’s retro pop trio The Hi-Risers (with some set-up spins by the ever-enigmatic DJ Hi-Tide). Then on Friday, the forever Home of Original Music on the Jersey Shore — that’s Greg Macolino’s Brighton Bar in wild West End — gives the floor to pioneer punk/crunch/skronk drummer Reg “Satana” Hogan, as the veteran pacesetter and recently minted promoter showcases a bill toplined by the buzzed-about band Shut Up, and featuring Reg’s own recent project, the trio 19DRT.

Another homegrown performer whose skills in both nightclub/concert and theatrical settings have served him well as a showman — the ever-industrious Anthony “Remember Jones” D’Amato — takes the Stone Pony stage on Saturday night, as frontman for the latest feather in his career cap; a little combo known as Everyone Orchestra. Under the baton of Matt Butler, it’s “a blissful, masterfully conducted, fully spontaneous explosion of live music created by a rotating cast of world renowned musicians” — in this case including such awesome instrumentalists as pedal-steel paragon Robert Randolph and sought-after session guitarist Vernon (Living Colour) Reid. Check our music listings on page 31 for particulars — and check in around town that night for no-cover sets by local lights Quincy Mumford (Robinson Ale House) and Alex English (Soundbooth Lounge at The Asbury Hotel).

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Published in The Coaster (Asbury Park, NJ) and The Link (Long Branch, NJ), September 26, 2019

See, here’s the thing now: just in case you think we’ve closed the books on the big outdoor events of Summer (and Local Summer, Indian Summer, etc.), here comes still another multi-stage music festival promising to make a joyous noise in the weekend ahead. That said, think of Porchfest Asbury Park as the answer, the alternative, maybe even the antidote, to the street-closing sprawl, corporate branding, tightly regulated checkpoints, (traffic) jams and (wrist) bands of last week’s mega-extravaganza — a homegrown, street-level staycation that’s “for the Shore, played by the Shore,” in the words of Jordan Modell.

A co-chair of the Asbury Park Homeowners Association — the organizers and producers of Porchfest AP — Modell and his all-volunteer team are putting the finishing touches on this year’s third annual event; one that commandeers the front-facing spaces of nearly two dozen private residences and commercial properties around the city, for a strolling/rolling sonic smorgasbord that goes up this Saturday afternoon, September 28. Inspired by the original Porchfest project in Ithaca, NY — and supercharged by Modell’s past involvement with the successful yearly event in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain — the Asbury edition showcases more than 100 local/regional bands and solo performers, working in a mad myriad of styles, even as it shows off some of the grandest and most inviting porch-architecture in this celebrated seaside city.

Best of all, it represents an opportunity for multiple generations of creative people to connect with an audience of casual, committed, or even delightfully accidental listeners — in a format that offers attendees freedom of choice, freedom of movement, and absolutely free admission.

“The key word here is diversity, all around,” says Modell. “A really diverse range of sounds, in a diverse selection of settings — this year, we’re pleased to welcome our first host house in the southwest corner of town, and we hope to have more on board in the years to come.”

Continuing a recently minted tradition, Porchfest AP sounds the keynote at noon with an official kickoff inside Booskerdoo (1321-A Memorial Drive at Sunset Avenue), spotlighting singer-songwriter Ashley Delima. One of the coffee house’s neighbors at the Shops at Sunset Point strip — City by the Sea Veterinary Clinic — is among the newly added venues for 2019, with Modell explaining that “Dr. Tom has been very enthusiastic about the event…he’s sponsored one of our other porches,” an endorsement that allows each sponsor VIP porchside seating and a banner logo display.

Despite the participation of two commercial addresses (the other being frequent festival forum Hotel Tides on Seventh Avenue), the focus remains on the residential properties that transform into concert venues but once each year, with Modell emphasizing that “we like the fact that it’s private homes for the most part…it helps keep things More Asbury, For Asbury.”

With five more host properties in the mix for this year (and about 30 more acts taking part), Porchfest presents a walkable itinerary that the festival founder has praised as “a truly amazing mix of music, culture, and history,” and a perfect fit with the spirit of 21st century Asbury.

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