By Diane DiMemmo

June 21, 2019

Holmdel hometown boy Matt O’Ree - and his amazingly talented band – shook the walls of the Stone Pony on Friday, June 21st until the wee hours of the morning for a large contingent of devoted rock fans. As soon as I entered the venue, I knew it was going to be a great show when I saw the posted set times with Matt’s reading “10:15-12:15?” The question mark always means the show can go longer, and that it did!! Matt created a show filled with special moments that not only showed off his superb guitar techniques but also revealed the kind, genuine guy that he truly is.

The Matt O’Ree Band is comprised of Matt (Guitar, Vocals), Lex Lehman (Bass), John Hummel (Drums), Eryn Shewell (Backup Vocals), and Layonne Holmes (Backup Vocals). Formed in 1997, the group has produced a substantial catalog that includes two live CDs and four albums titled 88 Miles, Chalk It Up, Shelf Life, and their most recent release, Brotherhood. Their special, unique blend of blues and rock has garnered local and national attention including a feature in Guitar World Magazine, national airplay, and four Asbury Park Music Awards (Best Blues Band, Best Guitarist, Best Local Release & Best Song of the Year for "Saints & Sinners"). Matt has achieved master-level status as a guitarist by winning a national guitar contest hosted by B.B. King and John Mayer through Guitar Center and Guitar World Magazine. Those are a lot of accolades … right? But there’s more! The band's local fan base includes Bruce Springsteen, David Bryan, and Steve Cropper, ALL of whom volunteered to perform on Brotherhood. And Matt also joined Bon Jovi as their guitarist/backing vocalist on their 2015 stadium tour of Asia and the Middle East!

Their performance at The Stone Pony felt like a personal show and you could tell it was hand-tailored to the fans, many who danced and sang with every song. The setlist consisted of a wide variety of tunes from their catalog but the song that seemed to resonate and touch the audience the most was their poignant song, “Life.” It’s gem of a song that’s a beautiful example of Matt’s progressive songwriting skills and textured vocals, as well as the gorgeous harmonies that are created between Eryn and Layonne. Enjoy the video below of “Life” and I bet you’ll add it to your playlist!

The band continued to personalize the show throughout the night by playing cover requests, dedicating special songs to some front-row “super fans,” revealing two brand-new (unreleased) songs featuring Eryn’s vocals, and even doing a shot of Jameson on stage in conjunction with some of the audience! Debra Devi came on stage to play several searing guitar duos with Matt, which added a great musical dimension to the band. And Matt’s sweet and soulful guitar solos – along with his impressive speed and technique – wowed concertgoers and was a shining example of why this band is so successful and loved.

In a recent interview with The Asbury Park Press, Matt said, “It makes me happy when people have a good time because we’re there to have a good time, too. And to rock out, for sure.” Well, that is EXACTLY what they did for the crowd at The Stone Pony that night. It was an incredible night of rock where everyone had a great time … and it will be a show that we’ll all remember for a long time to come! Keep your eye on their tour calendar for your next chance to see Matt O’Ree live and follow the band on Instagram! 

Matt O'Ree Band Photo Gallery


Ok, so this is the THIRD time I’ve photographed and written about my Oceanport, NJ boys – VENDETTA ROSE – and I don’t think I’ll ever run out of great things to say about them. If you want to get to know the band, check out my articles about their Album Release Party for the 2019 release of Tilted Directions, as well as their recent headlining performance in support of Emmer and Lauren Gill at Asbury Lanes.

In those articles I talk all about the skill, musicianship, maturity, and likeability of these guys as a band. Alec Demello (Lead Vocals, Keyboards), John Matlosz (Percussion), Nick Marrotta (Guitar), Kyle Crowley (Bass) and Ryan Graci (Guitar) are definitely the REAL DEAL. They have all of the necessary ingredients to become a rock sensation and it seems like such a natural expression for all of them. I could continue to talk about their proclivity to their instruments or their advanced abilities but since I’ve already done that, I want to talk about the effect this band has on their audience.

The best way for me to describe the atmosphere of a venue where Vendetta Rose is performing is that it’s one of complete and total adoration. Their fans, friends, family members, and fellow musicians absolutely adore these guys. First off, I don’t generally need earplugs at most Asbury venues, but I now know to put them in for Vendetta Rose because of the screaming fans. Yup … it’s THAT loud. Stone Pony concertgoers were screaming out, “I love you,” cameras and phones were held high to take pictures and videos throughout their entire set, and when you look at the faces in the audience you see these intense expressions of love and admiration. People were giddy with excitement and did what they could to engage a look or grab a high five from one of the guys as they played. It’s an incredible scene and a testament to the fact that Vendetta Rose is successfully building a dedicated fan base that is going to stick with them as they grow into the rock band they are destined to become. Check out the cool video below (compliments of Sharky's Nite) of the band in action at The Stone Pony that night!


Silent Letter/Ghost of Me/ Evil Genius/King & Army/ Blend/Cupid’s Arrow/Shallow (Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper cover) with Mackenna McLaughlin/Bass Solo by Kyle Crowley/Over and Under

Make sure to check out Vendetta Rose at their next show and listen to their music on Spotify! Follow them on Instagram and Twitter for updates, photos, and new releases!



I have a new addiction. And it’s the voice of Jacob Evan Smith. His alternative blues trio from South Jersey did an amazing job wooing the crowd with Jacob’s passionate, rich vocals and the band’s soulful bluesy-rock tunes. Definitely a group to keep on your radar and check out. Watch and listen to the  video below to hear his amazing voice!

Video Courtesy of Sharky's Nite



I love Anaconda Plan’s description of themselves on Facebook: “We are punk, nerdy, open minded, and can’t skate!” This cool, young band played some kick-ass hard rock jams of which I only caught part of due to a press pass hold-up. But what I heard I thoroughly enjoyed and I look forward to hopefully covering them again some time in the future! Thanks again to Sharky’s Nite for the video from that night! 

Video Courtesy of Sharky's Nite


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