THE TANGIERS BLUES BAND DAZZLES
AT THE STONE PONY
By Diane DiMemmo
April 27, 2019
The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival (APMFF) is a very special four-day event in Asbury Park, New Jersey whose mission is to shine a spotlight on the important role and presence of music in film. The days and evenings of April 25-28, 2019 were filled with music performances, film premieres and viewings, inspirational speakers, and more. So, it was very appropriate that Danny Clinch (photographer/filmmaker/musician) and his Tangiers Blues Band were the headliners at the Stone Pony Saturday night.
Sunshine Spazz was first to blast on stage with a fresh, energetic rock sound that was the perfect opener for the night. The self-dubbed “surfy, garage rock trio from Ocean County, NJ” is comprised of Ryan Rutter (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Michael Rutter (Bass), and Jamie Lawler (Percussion/Vocals). Their music is fast-paced and has a real happy vibe to it, which immediately hooked the crowd. I saw many concert-goers quickly move from the bar to the stage as if they all realized that they liked the sound and wanted to be closer to the action.
The guys produce an impressively full sound for only three musicians and every song sounds like they’re having an absolute blast. Ryan’s vocals are gritty, clear-cut, and powerful. His unique tone gives the band a very distinctive, likable sound. The guitar riffs and bass lines intertwine beautifully and often move forward at lightning speed. Lawler’s skillful drum techniques often incorporate unexpected tempo changes which further enhances the overall sound. Jazzy, soulful elements also make their way into several of the band’s songs; one of my favorites being “All My Troubles” which can be viewed here (compliments of Sharky's Nite).
Sunshine Spazz is definitely a band to keep on your radar and I highly recommend you listen to their 2018 album Naked Reaper. Give a listen to their tunes on Spotify and check out their Facebook account. Follow the band on Instagram to learn about upcoming tour dates and absolutely make the effort to see this band live. You will be very glad that you did!
Give It a Rest/Yacht Club Blues/Heavy Hands/All My Troubles/Quick Cash/Gun Without A Bullet/By Surprise/For A Lifetime/Way To Go
PHOTOS OF SUNSHINE SPAZZ
THE MERCURY BROTHERS
Asbury Park band – The Mercury Brothers – were next to take the stage and wasted no time entertaining the swelling crowd. It was obvious that they had a large group of supporters by the increased volume of screams, yelling, and applause. Formed in 2015, The Mercury Brothers consist of Dan Apy (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Luke Mckenna (Percussion), Ryan Lascelles (Bass Guitar/Effects), and Mike Mazza (Lead/Rhythm Guitar).
“Inventive, edgy, and impassioned” are the words that came to mind as I listened to The Mercury Brothers’ set that night. The band characterizes their sound as experimental “bluesy rock” but I dare say that there are even a lot more components to their sound. In an interview with Community Magazine, Dan Apy spoke about the band’s songwriting process. “We all contribute different tones and unique musical phrasing to our writing. It allows us to create music that we all feel very personally connected to, while also incorporating an eclectic mix of styles.” Those various styles definitely blend well during their process which explains why their music has such a unique sound.
The Mercury Brothers released the EP Retrograde in 2017, and more recently, the album The Mercury Brothers, Vol. 2 in 2018. Their setlist consisted of songs from each, and their intensity and excitement seemed to increase as they worked their way through the set. Apy’s vocals have a raw, raspy quality that almost makes you feel the emotions he must feel while singing. He had a very comfortable stage presence regularly conversing with the crowd, jumping from the drum risers, and singing passionately. Mazza, Lascelles, and Mckenna were locked in and tight providing a rock-solid sound that consisted of ambitious guitar licks, bass runs and percussive beats. I felt that their song “Safe” was a highlight and the band really seemed to come alive even more while performing it.
Check out The Mercury Brothers’ upcoming tour dates here and do everything you can to attend one of their shows. This band is on the rise and I look forward to seeing them achieve much success in the future!
View a video of their performance of "Little Bridges" that night, compliments of Sharkys Nite. Follow the band on Instagram and Facebook for a look into their life on the road.
For Show/Dom Perignon/Safe/Wanna Dance/Clean Sheets/East vs West/Bandoliers/Little Bridges/Till I End
PHOTOS OF THE MERCURY BROTHERS
The Mercury Brothers
The Tangiers Blues Band
Let me say just one thing. A deep love of blues music is alive and kicking in Asbury Park. A very large contingent of fans packed the Stone Pony front to back and side to side Saturday night. The mood was jovial and the people were some of the nicest I’ve ever met. Asbury Park concert-goers know their music well and made sure to arrive early and get a close spot so they could be a part of the Tangiers Blues party that was about to ensue.
Just a little background for those who don’t know … The Tangiers Blues Band [TBB] formed in 1998 after guitarist Chris Scianni and drummer Dave Borla met photographer/harmonica player Danny Clinch and discovered their mutual passion for blues music. Although the group members vary from show to show, their standard lineup includes: King (vocals, guitar), Chris Scianni (Lead Guitar), Danny Clinch (Harmonica, vocals), “Lonesome” Dave Sellar (Bass), Peter Levin (Guitar) and Diego Voglino (percussion). Filling in for Levin that night was Christopher Thorn from Blind Melon.
The TBB sound can best be described as an amalgamation of blues, rock, and punk components. The guys are known for taking current hits, as well as music from various genres, and creatively reworking the tunes by applying their unique blues perspective. This innovative approach appeals to blues fanatics, as well as those who are unfamiliar with the genre; a fact that was visibly apparent with the crowd consisting of all ages. Their set began with a rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” and Prince’s “Kiss,” setting us up for two hours of pure entertainment.
King is the perfect front man with his rich, gritty, soulful vocals and his ability to keep the crowd engaged. Dressed in a full-length fur coat and joking with the audience in that laid-back intoxicating voice, he oozes coolness. I saw heads nodding in agreement to his statement that “all music is blues music” and loved watching him dance and move all over the stage. At one point, he laid down on the drum risers giving Clinch a photo opportunity mid-song, and then he even joined me later by sitting down in the photo pit while playing. He is fascinating to watch and his voice just kind of grabs you and pulls you in.
Most blues fans will tell you that their favorite characteristics of this music are the instrumental improvisations and the interaction between musicians on stage. Clinch, Scianni, Sellar, Thorn, and Voglino each played as if they were an extension of their instruments. Expressive harmonica melodies laced through the groove of the walking-bass line, sweet singing guitar solos, and percussive beats. I’ve never seen so many smiles and so much laughter on stage. A Tangiers Blues Band show is one of celebration. There was a special moment where Scianni was playing a searing guitar solo and Thorn and Clinch stood side-by-side watching him play. You could see Thorn exclaim, “Damn, he’s good!” A little later, Scianni and Thorn alternated guitar solos in a call-and-response pattern that we all would’ve listened to for hours if we could!
The other extremely unique aspect of the Tangiers Blues Band is that they rotate a large number of accomplished musicians in and out of the lineup, as well as invite special guests to join them at select performances. You will never see or hear the same show when you go to a TBB concert. Their shows are always filled with surprises, and Saturday was no exception. Asbury Park native Rachel Ana Dobken joined Danny Clinch in singing Neil Young’s “Motorcycle Mama” in a fantastic rendition. The indie-rock artist has a rich, sultry voice and has performed a number of times at Danny Clinch’s Transparent Gallery.
As stated earlier, Christopher Thorn (Blind Melon) played with the band throughout the set and they were later joined by Nico Hoon, daughter of the late Shannon Hoon (vocalist for Blind Melon). On Friday, April 26th, Clinch’s documentary “All I Can Say” (a documentary about Shannon Hoon) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film was crafted from years of video footage taken by Hoon himself. It was obvious that they all had a very special bond by the way they played together on stage.
The crowd didn’t seem to want the night to end, so even as the clock neared 1:00AM, the TBB came back out on stage to play several songs for an encore. Fans were as fired up for the last song as they were for the first. Dare I say that Asbury Park should consider adding a blues/jazz club to round out the amazing selection of venues in our city? One can only hope!!!
Check out these amazing videos from that night, compliments of Sharkys Nite. Follow the band on Instagram and Facebook for upcoming show information.
PHOTOS OF TANGIERS BLUES BAND
Tangiers Blues Band