WHAT’S UP FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 19 -25

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 19 2018

Keepers of the punk flame invade the market stalls and mini-malls for an entirely respectful “wreck-a-store-day” weekend…the mayor and friends saddle up the Pony during a Rodeo for Recreation…acapella devotees go LIVE without a net, on the Pollak stage…magical PJs at the Paramount, and a Lenny Centennial at the APAC…Runapalooza pounds the boards for the Special Olympics NJ…trash is treasure is TRUE at an Earth Day After Party…and a wise old Byrd comes back to roost on the MU campus.

It’s WHAT’S UP in and around Asbury town these next seven days and nights…check the printed pages of THE COASTER for the full rundown of music, movies, art, theater and more…and dig if you will the highlights HERE, on the upperWETside!

SCENES: A Weekend of Punk Rocking ‘n Shopping

Here in the place Where Music Lives, old-timers are still talking about the time that Michigan-based proto-punk godfathers The Stooges and the MC5 waged informal band-battle at the old Sunshine In…while over at Convention Hall, fellow Wolverine staters Grand Funk Railroad added to a legendary 1960s/70s roster that famously included Jim Morrison and The Doors. On the unofficial high holy day of 4/20, those concert memories of yore flashback in style, as our still-standing Circuit landmark the Wonder Bar hosts a Tribute Fest that features Black Licorice as Grand Funk; Manzo Rising summoning the Lizard King and company; Future Now kicking out the jams as MC5, and the Street Walking Cheetahs channeling the raw power of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. It’s all-in at 7 pm for Friday’s fest, with tickets ($10 advance, $12 at the door) gettable at wonderbarasburypark.com.

Any vinylphile could tell you that April 21 is Record Store Day at indie institutions like Holdfast and Groovy Graveyard — and on Saturday afternoon, the latter outpost of pop culture (inside the Shoppes at the Arcade, 658 Cookman Ave) celebrates Platterday with another in a series of super-fun live music presentations on the upper level of the engagingly offbeat mini-mall. Returning to the Graveyard shift FREE-for-all at 4 pm are the Brunswick-based cowpunk/psychobilly cats The Junk Rumblers (pictured above), followed at 5 pm by Asbury’s own unique band of pirate-themed punkaneers, The Jolly Daggers (featuring merrily moonlighting members of such upstanding organizations as Battery Electric and The Black Flamingos).

The weekend’s worth of alternative NOWstalgia comes to a climax on Sunday, April 22, when the forces of Groovy join more than 100 other local/regional purveyors of vinyl records, CDs, movies, magazines, books, toys, collectibles, wearables, and MORE for the springtime edition of the Asbury Park Punk Rock Flea Market. Hosted inside Convention Hall, the three-ring flea circus opens its big heart to all, and its doors at 10 am, with admission $5 between 11 am and 5 pm (and an earlybird rate of $10 for savvy scouters). There’s live and DJ music in the air as well, with a full rundown of vendors viewable at asburyparkpunkrockfleamarket.com.

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A SPRINGSTEEN CONFERENCE AT THE EDGE OF TOWN

Clockwise from top left: Gary Cavico and Vini Lopez, Joe Rapolla, and Pat Roddy help Monmouth University mark the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, during a weekend of words, music, and history. (Bruce photo by Michael J. Booth; Rapolla photo by John Posada)

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 12 2018

From the bins of Sam Goody and Record Town — to the win-an-album wheel games where so many life-changing LPs found their forever-homes — Memorial Day 1978 came and went without an official transmission from the Future of Rock and Roll. But from the boardwalk to the bars and the bedroom communities beyond, there was a palpable “Something in the Night” that said the world would soon hear again from Bruce Springsteen, the man whose Born to Run spun the scene off its axis in summer ‘75; shining a sudden spotlight on all things Jersey Shore, and shuttling its author to a realm of national magazine covers and radio rotations.

Of course, the Boss had spent those three years locked in a legal quagmire with his old manager, and unable to release new music; a case of careerus interruptus that would have proven lethal for any less grounded artist. But he had also spent that time in careful burnishing of a growing legend — gigging throughout North America; putting his stamp on those fine early albums by Johnny and the Jukes; hitting the charts through covers (Manfred Mann) and collaborations (Patti Smith); doing cagey cameos on records by Robert Gordon and Lou Reed; watching as a slew of popular bootlegs kept the fanbase energized — and working on a massive trove of songs that would eventually become his fourth long-player, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

When the album dropped on June 2, much of the world got its first look at a new, Schick-shaven Bruce pouting out from the cover of Darkness. Gone was the grinning wolfman in the po’boy cap; replaced by a Thinking Man’s Fonzarelli whose brooding challenge suggested that the truth wasn’t out there on the highway escape routes after all, but somewhere within the papered walls and drawn blinds of a room full of secrets — and that you’d have to go through him to get to it.

The sound inside the spiral scratch was at once instantly familiar but also transitional; the word-high poetic epics and one-act playlets beginning to give way to muscular mini-manifestos, in which those working-dude hopes and dreams were sparked with the seeds (and stems) of doubt— and extinguished within the somber ballads that smoldered each side of the record to a close.

That was forty years ago; several lifetimes removed in the roller-coaster ride of Asbury Park history, and an alien place defined more than anything by all that we didn’t see coming — not the least of which was The Promise, the 2010 box set of remasterings, recollections and revisited outtakes that served to illuminate and complicate a work that had become a part of so many listeners’ lives.

Beginning today, April 12, and continuing through the weekend, Monmouth University shines new light into the heart of Darkness, during a fan-friendly International Symposium of words, music, and history that commandeers some hallowed haunts around Asbury, as well as the MU campus on the edge of town.

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WHAT’S UP FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 12-18

That’s right, it’s our weekly roundup of highlighted happenings in and around Asbury Park! Check this selfsame space for our feature on this weekend’s DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN Springsteen Symposium…and check the printed pages of THE COASTER for the most comprehensive listings of music, movies, theater, art and special events in town!

Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 12 2018

SOUNDS: Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony

“As crazy as it gets, I’m committed to these awards…and a lot of people look forward to them,” said Scott Stamper, ringmaster of rock’s downtown boxcar berthplace The Saint, and the patron producer behind the peer-reviewed promenade that is The Asbury Music Awards. Back for its 26th annual edition, the “gala night of celebration for our music community” returns to the Stone Pony stage (having long since outgrown the Main Street musicbox and its original home at the long-gone T-Birds Café) for a glittering tribute to “the men and women who put their self-respect, their solvency and their sanity on the line for our entertainment, day and night.” Returning host and Asbury Award-winning comedian Taylor Allen (pictured up top) emcees the affair that features mini-sets by Waiting On Mongo, Dentist, Black Suburbia, The Double Negatives, Billy Walton and the proverbial many more. It’s all ages admitted for $20; 21 to drink, with nominees (of which there are many, in some 50 separate award categories) admitted free. Check thesaintnj.com/asbury-music-awards.php for a full list of nominees — and catch Allen on the bill with Derek D and Friends Who Are Funny, Friday at House of Independents. April 12, doors at 6:45 pm; $20

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IT’s THEATER NOTES FOR APRIL! WAIT, IT’S APRIL?

Poet, playwright, producer and powerhouse performer Rock Wilk returns to Asbury Park on April 13, for a one-night engagement of his Off Broadway solo piece BROOKLYN QUARTET at Palette Artspace. (photo courtesy Rock Wilk)

Published in the Asbury Park Press on April 6, 2018

The potentially taxing month of April spells many happy returns for theater fans, suddenly faced with a springtime smorgasbord of choices. We’ve got your roundup right here — and it begins with a couple of intriguingly original oddities on display in and around Asbury Park.

One of the area’s best-kept-secret showcases for new original stage works is happening within the halls of a high school — the old Neptune High School, that is; alma mater of Tony winning lyricist Lynn Ahrens, and a place rebranded in recent years as Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center. It’s there that La Strada Ensemble Theater has made a home for itself, with the collective of Shore-based playwrights and performers having workshopped and debuted dozens of full-length and short works for the stage. On Friday, April 6, it’s Brick Township playwright Darren Debari’s turn in the spotlight, as the troupe presents its premiere production of the drama “Destruction of the American Male.” La Strada artistic director A.J. Ciccotelli stars as a hard-drinking actor turned stockbroker who’s had (and lost) it all more times than once, with Lite-FM radio personality Christine Nagy co-starring in the play that takes an unflinching look at the relationships, personal demons and identity crises that define men in 2018 America. Evan Black (who also appears in the supporting cast) co-directs with Donna Ault Jacobson, and “Male” call is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with an additional 7 p.m. show on Sunday, April 8. Tickets ($25; senior and student discounts) can be reserved by visiting http://www.lastradaensemble.org or calling 732-455-2748.

He’s a poet, a playwright, a record producer, a spoken word artist, a vocalist and musician — and on the evening of Friday the 13th, Rock Wilk is a panorama of vividly realized characters, as the multi-talented, multi-tasking performer brings his one man show “Brooklyn Quartet” back to Asbury Park for a one night stand. It’s a return to his onetime “stomping grounds” for the artist who previously workshopped the full-length piece at such area venues as the historic Stephen Crane House — and whose Off Broadway and touring engagements of “Quartet” built on the momentum of his acclaimed (and autobiographical) solo piece “Broke Wide Open.” A fast paced, passionately performed script that’s been honed to razor-edged precision by its author, “Brooklyn Quartet” sketches a group of urban neighborhood friends as they make an uneasy, sometimes tragic, and cautiously hopeful transition from youth to adulthood. It’s a bracingly adult work for audiences in search of something different —and it’s on exhibit at Palette Artspace, the “arts block” gallery located at 716 Cookman Avenue. Admission is just $5, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. sharp. Continue reading

POLAR VORTEX: WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF ICE?

Paul D. Miller — aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid — joins Monmouth University faculty members on March 21, for a free performance of music, words and images inspired by his travels to the Antarctic continent. (courtesy sozo artists)

(Expanded from an article published in The Coaster newspaper, Asbury Park NJ, March 15, 2018)

“I think of Antarctica as a place of meditation and deep time,” says Paul D. Miller, the multimedia master who explores an array of creative frontiers under the name DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid. “Everyone who has been there is humbled by the scenario — it really is the most un-Earth like place on this planet.”

Even for a multi-platform artist who’s traveled the world — delivering his  work to audiences at universities, museums and concert halls in cities on several continents — it might seem just a step or two out of accepted bounds to take one’s act to the place that he calls “a kind of Utopia at the end of the world…the only place with no government.”

But then, accepted bounds (or any other creative protocols and pigeonholes) mean pretty close to nothing, to a  man who describes himself as “an ‘interdisciplinary’ artist…and that means all boundaries are blurred.”

In the space of some two decades in the public eye, the native of Washington, DC has compelled attention as a trip-hop/ “illbient” recording artist; a turntable DJ of expansively experimental vision; a software designer; a composer for ballet troupes, orchestras and filmmakers; an exhibited media artist at major galleries; an artist in residence at NYC’s Met museum; an author (of the MIT-published The Imaginary App); an educator, a magazine editor (ORIGIN), and a performer who’s mixed and matched with everyone from avant garde composer Iannis Xennakis and Yoko Ono, to members of Public Enemy, Sonic Youth, and Slayer.

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JACOB LANDAU: A FINE ARTIST’S CAP (AND KIRBY) CONNECTION

Sniper

The forgotten Quality Comics hero THE SNIPER stands as a Golden Age feather in the cap of Jacob “Jay” Landau, in the decades before he became a noted educator, illustrator and fine art printmaker. A retrospective of Landau’s war-themed work is on display at NJ’s Monmouth University, April 10 through 24.

Originally published on 13th Dimension, April 6, 2014

It rushes at you like a chaos of riderless horses. Lunges for your gut with fixed bayonet.  Flails a desperately groping hand that causes you to shrink back a step, even as you wonder if there’s anything you can do to ease the epic anguish of the twisted figures before you.  

When encountered for the first time, the lithographs, woodcuts and drawings of the late artist Jacob Landau can be a jarring thing to behold — a stark and elegant/ugly plane of Holocaust tableaux; visions of Dante’s circles of Hell and the insomniac fables of E.T.A. Hoffmann. Scenes of displacement and despair that nonetheless pulse with the faint heartbeat of a stoic humanism — turning proud General Lee to a somber shadow, and Mark Twain to Edgar Allan Poe.

The artist’s passionately held, lifelong anti-war beliefs course through A Judgment of War: Selected Works by Jacob Landau, a retrospective exhibit of works hosted in the seminar room of the Monmouth University library, and opening with a 4:30 pm reception on Thursday, April 10. Curated by MU’s Scott Knauer and Susan Douglass, the installation covers several of the works that Landau (1917-2001), a longtime resident of the Monmouth County, NJ artist community in Roosevelt, is noted for among fine art experts. It also folds in some previously little-explored corners of the artist’s early career — from his stint as art director and editor of wartime military magazines, to the Hitler-punching exploits of America’s most super of soldiers, Captain America.

Young Landau’s involvement, in the creator-run shop overseen by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for the first ten issues of Cap’s title, is among the topics that will be discussed (along with The Sniper, a rifle-toting Robin Hood appearing in Military Comics, the Quality title that introduced Blackhawk to the world) by Steven Brower, the award winning designer, author and former creative director of PRINT magazine. Brower — who wrote this vanguard study of Landau’s comix connection, and whose other writings on the topic have included this illuminating piece on Kirby’s photocollage background experiments, and this fond farewell interview with the great Joe Kubert — comes to Monmouth’s West Long Branch, NJ campus on April 17 for a first-ever talk about Jacob Landau’s mystery-shrouded career as a superhero comic book artist.

Your upperWETside Control Voice spoke to Steven Brower on Landau’s brief but fondly recalled romance with the comics business, and the ways in which sequential storytelling continued to impact the artist’s later work (and perhaps, vice versa).

CRENSHAW BY THE ‘SHAW,’ AS SONGWRITERS RETURNS TO MU

MarshallCrenshawMarshall Crenshaw joins a couple of Jersey Joes, a David Jo’ and MO’ in a new edition of Songwriters by the Sea, March 29 at Monmouth University.

Originally published on Speak Into My Good Eye, 3/24/14

With a pro music career that goes back more than 30 years — a career keynoted by a stint as John Lennon in the touring company of Beatlemania, and further bookmarked by his portrayal of Buddy Holly in the movie La Bamba — Marshall Crenshaw has assembled the kind of catalog that most singer-songwriters would give the right side of their brain for (“Someday Someway,” “Whenever You’re On My Mind,” “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time”); attracting interpreters that range from Ronnie Spector to Bette Midler, and writing or co-writing standout stuff for the Gin Blossoms (“Til I Hear It From You”) and the one and only John C. Reilly (“Walk Hard”). The Detroit native has done it all with a relaxed and unpretentious delivery, an understated (and underrated) rock guitar style, a self-effacing sense of humor and a fairly awesome passion for pop music — a set of skills that he’ll be bringing to the stage of the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University this Saturday, March 29.

The latest in a series of Songwriters by the Sea events hosted by Jersey scene veterans Joe D’Urso and Joe Rapolla, the 8 p.m. concert marks another Shore encore for the guy who recorded a live DVD at The Stone Pony in 2003, who played a memorably intimate show at a neighborhood church in Atlantic Highlands a few years back, and who chose to record his contribution to the La Bamba soundtrack at a downtown Long Branch studio. It’s a natural forum for an artist whose spontaneous ear for a fun cover song (MC5! Jo Stafford! Left Banke! ABBA!), ability to rethink a familiar catalog favorite, and seemingly effortless flair for new and perfect pop songs are very much in evidence on a new series of subscription-only vinyl EPs, merched from his official website.

Crenshaw’s also found another outlet for his encyclopaedic mastery of popular music in The Bottomless Pit, the radio program he’s hosted on WFUV out of New York — a sideline gig that he shares in common with his contemporary and co-star in the March 29 Songwriters session: David Johansen, curator and caretaker of The Mansion of Fun on Sirius XM Radio. From his supercharged takes on Sonny Boy Williamson and Archie Bell during his Doll’d-up days as a proto-punk godfather, to his folk-blues field excursions into Memphis Minnie and more with The Harry Smiths, and his retro-rocketing career trajectory as alter ego Buster Poindexter (an act that he’s returned to with some highly regarded small-combo sets at NYC’s Cafe Carlyle), David Jo has always been the man with the song for every occasion. His 1980s sets at such long-gone Central Jersey joints as the Fast Lane, Royal Manor and Fountain Casino reinforced his acumen as a natural entertainer, and cut his anthemic guitar-driven originals like “Funky But Chic” and “Personality Crisis” with raucous and exhilarating whirls with oldies from The Animals, The Foundations and The Four Tops. A frequent “Evening With” attraction at the Brighton Bar and other regional rooms, the Staten Island stalwart makes an encore trip to the Songwriters circle in the company of his longtime guitarist Brian Koonin.

The two Joes and their two 60-something guests will be joined by a third singer-songwriter who’s been known to play very well with others: Allison Moorer, the NY-based alt-country vocalist whose classic voice is fortified by her covertune acumen (Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” among others), collaborations (everyone from Buddy Miller to Kid Rock), credentials (both an Oscar and a Grammy nom), and familial connections (she’s the wife of Steve Earle, and the sister of Shelby Lynne). The 8 p.m. program is rounded out by three homegrown talents from Monmouth U — Bryan Haring, Erin Holmes and Natalie Zeller. Your upperWETside Control Voice rang up Marshall Crenshaw to talk about casual concerts, covertune conundrums, and corporate cubbyholes.

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TIMONEY GOES ‘ALL THE WAY’ WITH HIS BIG SCARY FRIEND

BillTimoneyCOLORMiddletown man Bill Timoney — actor, producer, writer, stuntguy, cartoon voice and friend to the scary-famous — is making his Broadway debut in ALL THE WAY, the LBJ bio-drama that also marks the Great White Way bow for his longtime friend and best man, Bryan Cranston.

He’s right there, in the closing split-seconds of the TV commercials for All The Way, the play by Pulitzer-winner Robert Schenkkan that dramatizes the early days of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tense time in the White House.

Don’t bat an eyelash or you’ll miss…wait, go back…pause it…there! Lower left hand corner of the screen: Bill Timoney. All around Upper Wet Side kind of guy. Man of mind-bogglingly many talents. Broadway actor!

Bergen County-bred Bill is “thrilled beyond words” to make that belated bow on the Broadway boards “after ‘only’ 34 years in the profession;” a busy interval in which the son of 1950s quiz show hostess Mary Gardiner racked up numerous appearances on regional professional stages (including New Jersey Repertory Company and Monmouth University); had a popular role on the venerable soap All My Children; lent his strong tenor to dozens of voice-acting gigs on Pokemon and countless other Anime imports, and has worked for everyone from Woody Allen and The Onion to a Turkish cable news channel.

Along the way, Bill the master storyteller picked up scads of showbiz anecdotes on such not-yet-forgotten figures as regal stage dame Ruth Warrick (who was in the first Broadway show he ever saw as a youngster, and who he got to work with on TV) and suave but aging Euro-leading man Francis Lederer. For All the Way (which begins previews this very week), Timoney joins a cast of 20 actors, including Michael (Spinal Tap) McKean as J. Edgar Hoover, Brandon J. Dirden (Two River Theater’s Jitney and Topdog/Underdog) as Martin Luther King Jr., and Hall of Fame stage legend John McMartin, in a highly anticipated project that also finds him working alongside one of his oldest and dearest friends — fellow Broadway rookie Bryan Cranston.

Yeah, that Bryan Cranston. The actor, director and producer whose recently wrapped run on the epic cable fable Breaking Bad  completely tilted the dramatic playing field in favor of the man who previously ruled the comedy roost as Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. Really, with his monumental, almost Shakespearean shake on suburban drug kingpin Walter “Heisenberg” White (followed fast by his participation in the Best Picture drama Argo), the multiple Emmy winner took his rightful place among the true greats of our time…he Wins Show Business, and with All the Way he takes on a towering titan of 20th century American life with the flesh-pressing, space-invading perseverance of LBJ himself.

Timoney has worked numerous times with his “big scary friend” Bryan — who actually served as best man at the wedding of Bill and his wife, actor-producer Georgette Reilly — including as a producer and cast member on Last Chance, the 1999 desert-set indie drama that marked Cranston’s first foray into writer-director territory. And a little more than six years ago, Bill and Georgette (who make their home these days in the Locust section of Middletown Township) welcomed Bryan and his wife Robin Dearden to the Jersey Shore, to work together in a summer-stage production of Neil Simon’s Chapter Two at Monmouth U (take it here for our archived chat with the star from 2007).

The Cranstons, who rented a house in Avon for the occasion, could be seen strolling the boardwalk, dining at local restaurants — and even attending a Bill-hosted film screening at The Stephen Crane House, the historic haunt where we now make our home and blog our blog. Your upperWETside control voice, working from our lonely garret inside Crane’s crib, spoke to the multi-faceted Mr. Bill Timoney (who credits having seen the legendary team of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore onstage in 1972 with having “opened a whole world to me….and changed my life”) on the eve of his first-ever performance on the Great (Walter) White Way…

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