"WHAT A WONDERFUL YEAR" REVEALS THE ABSOLUTE TREASURE
THAT IS THE ASBURY PARK MUSIC COMMUNITY
Telegraph Hill Records recently put on one hell of a kick-ass music event at The Wonder Bar on December 26-27, 2019 which was affectionately called, "What A Wonderful Year." Partnering with the Asbury Park Music Foundation and sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka, MOGO Korean Tacos, Live Music Loyalty and Makin Waves ... "What A Wonderful Year" highlighted many of the local musicians who perform regularly in Asbury Park and make this City the musical mecca it truly is. And I'm sorry to say this, but if you weren't there ... you most definitely missed out.
The event, which is in its third year, was originally founded by Joey Henderson of The Burns. Henderson's intent was to build an annual end-of-year celebration of the music community in Asbury Park. After recently moving to California, Henderson's bandmates and friends wanted to keep the event going because they recognized the importance of supporting and promoting our local music scene which sets this City apart from all others. So, Jim Lenskold from the Asbury Park Music Foundation partnered with Joseph Pomarico and Matthew Fernicola from Telegraph Hill Records to organize the 2019 edition of "What A Wonderful Year."
What made this event so special (in addition to the incredible music of our talented Asbury musicians), was that "VIBE" I'm always talking about that you feel when in Asbury Park. Fellow musicians embraced each other like family, supported other performers, and cheered each other on. Listeners were made to feel like we were all included in the celebration and that very unique sense of community was definitely apparent. It was EXACTLY for this reason that the event was created. It's so important to uplift and support those who make our city extraordinary.
Both evenings contained stellar performances by these musicians and you couldn't help but be swept up in the excitement. We were all exhausted by the end of each night ... but happy, content, and joyful! At the conclusion of the event, it was apparent that many are already looking forward to the celebration next year. What do you think guys?? Three nights in 2020??
Make sure to check out and support the artists (below) that made "What A Wonderful Year" the true success that it was!
Katherine is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, basing her work in the Asbury Park music scene. She draws inspiration from folk, pop, and jazz artists, especially singer-songwriters from the 60’s and 70’s. He voice was bright, clear, and inviting. Katherine's music and great stage presence made us all feel happy that night, and she set an amazing tone for the celebration that was to follow!
Jarod Clemons and The Late Nights took the stage next igniting a firestorm that would continue throughout the night. A very talented guitarist backed by first-rate musicians, Clemons put forth a set filled with searing guitar solos and gut-punching rock and roll! Look for new music coming out in 2020!
Devon, who is the lead vocalist of Fake Pockets band, entertained us all next with her warm, heartfelt vocals and beautifully-played acoustic guitar. She was a very engaging performer, pulling us into her music where we felt to be a part of her performance. Such an entertaining and enjoyable set!!
Wow! I have to say it again ... WOW!!! Natalie commandeered the stage next with an energetic, funky rock beat that got everyone moving and into the groove. Her voice is like crystal and she beautifully phrases and caresses each and every note that she sings, proving that the music living inside of her just has to come out. Thank goodness for that! Her bandmates are just as musically stellar, and you'll be in the dark if you don't download her just-released single "Glowing!"
Switching gears, we all got to listen to the cool hip-hop sounds of Bulletproof Belv's growing catalog, including his recently-released EP, Everything Earned. His positive, uplifting messages are framed within more graphic content making his brand of music very appealing ... and addicting!
Bobby Mahoney (Guitar, Vocals), Andrew Saul (Guitar, Vocals), Jon Chang-Soon (Bass, Vocals), and James McIntosh (Drums) hijacked the stage next with their endearing personalities and the all-out rock show they always give their fans. Their energy is infectious and their unique sound melds old-school rock with more progressive techniques. Make sure to check out their new single, "Nothing For Nothing!"
Rachel is the epitome of why our Asbury Park music community is so special. Insanely talented, classy, hard-working, welcoming, and ready to collaborate. She shares her vibrant, mellifluous vocals with Asbury Park on a regular basis and often branches out to the neighboring musical epicentre of NYC. Check out her outstanding LP - When It Happens To You - as soon as you possibly can!
Electricity. Dynamism. Pure, unfiltered rock-and-roll nirvana. Those are only some of the words I would use to describe the music that emanated from Connor Bracken and his amazing Mother Leeds Band. Connor has this elemental rock star persona that radiates from within; and the band is so dynamic and entertaining that the entire crowd was fully involved in their performance. I cannot wait to see these musicians again in the future. You should want to as well! Just sayin'.
I love the in-your-face lyrics of Beautiful Scumbags and the way they couldn't confine themselves to the stage that evening. Immersing themselves in the crowd and bringing us their unique hip-hop sound was both a fun and moving experience. These guys are the real deal, and their message is too; dealing with heavy topics like idealism and societal ills. Check out their newly-released album, Beautiful Scumbags.
Cranston's one-of-a-kind music draws from a multitude of genres, including Americana, folk, jazz, country, blues and pop. They Cranston Dean Band was the perfect choice to close out Night One of "What A Wonderful Year!" The group's inviting, fast-paced sound is layered with many levels of instrumentals which all combine into one captivating, signature sound! Their album - High Beams - was named one of New Jersey Music's 17 best albums of 2017 by New Jersey Advance Media (NJ.com)! Patty C's smooth-as-glass voice is one you could listen to for hours. And the combination of the two artists made for a pairing of styles and techniques that made the whole group pleasing on so many levels!
Tara Dente (of Tara Dente and The Blind Pilots) opened up as a soloist on Night Two of "What A Wonderful Year;" and she did so in style. Tara is a folk/ Americana singer-songwriter based in New Jersey. Her beautiful, silvery voice touched everyone in the room and drew us close to her stage so we could feel more a part of it. Keep the January 2020 release of Tara's new single "Hill So Steep" on your radar. It's sure to be amazing!
I have heard so many good things about the Band - The Extensions - and was extremely happy to be able to hear them this first time. In addition to the incredible musicality that explodes from these musicians ... Brian Erickson, Kevin Newcomb, Lisa LoVell, and Pete Stern are just so likable. Their winning personalities really shine on stage and they give a genuine adrenaline-pumping show. Make sure to check out their very new EP - Bellicose - which is sure to make you a fan too! That is, if you're not a huge one already!
Blaise's presence and musical style are synonymous with everything that is extraordinary about Asbury Park. A staple in our local music scene, Blaise has a rich, sultry voice that is as beautiful as it is seductive. Definitely make a point to listen to his 2019 album - Dirrty Pretty Thing - which is sure to please and grab your attention!
I loved, loved, loved everything about Drew the Recluse! Super entertaining and inserting his performance into the crowd, there didn't seem to be a moment during his set where we weren't all enthralled with his music and his persona. He describes his sound as a "blend of stressed yet soulful R&B vocals over sounds ranging from trap, alternative rock, and new wave." However you frame it, it's a sound that's uniquely his and you'd be remiss if you didn't download his 2019 - Suburbia - right away, as well as follow the promising career of this very talented artist!
As Martin describes herself, "One voice, but also many. Proper instruments, haven't any. Music made with mic in hand, and heart in mouth." I just love that! Armed with only a synthesizer and mic, she creates unique blends of her vocals, runs, harmonies, chords, and beats to produce a truly unique brand of music. Her passion seemed to come from an other-worldly place that transcended the room. Check out Martin Howth's EP - The Wayward Warbler - to experience and enjoy her one-of-a-kind sound!
Dan Apy, Luke Mckenna, Ryan Lascelles, Mike Mazza were up next and rocked the crowd with enthusiastic, unadulterated, just plain fun - rock and roll. Their sound is a special blend of blues, R&B, and rock music all brought to the stage with feeling and intensity. It had a deep effect on their audience who all seem dedicated and enamored with the guys. Take the time to check out their music, especially The Mercury Brothers, Vol. 2, released just last year.
Ashley wowed fans that second night with her beautiful, angelic voice and sweet guitar playing. She seems to possess such natural musical talent that her performing seems effortless. Her lyrics are drawn form her real life experiences, making it even easier to feel connected to her. Ashley grew up performing in Asbury Park, and neighboring Philadelphia and NYC. In 2019, she released the stellar single "Break Even" and promises more music is coming soon!
Lowlight literally brought the house down with their powerful, lively set that seemed to rock the foundation at The Wonder Bar. In their own words, Lowlight's sound is "synth-soaked indie-rock that blends psychedelic grooves with sweeping country twang, and subtle echoes of their former prog-rock pasts." It's the perfect description because their music really does encompass so many elements. It makes twists and turns in unexpected directions creating an immensely appealing and unique sound. Lead vocalist, Renee Maskin, has gorgeous, thick, tonal qualities in her voice that make you think Stevie Nicks has finally met her match. Their 2019 album - Endless Bummer - is filled with songs that will hook you, hold you tight, and make you a lifelong fan.
Solo artist 8Dayz literally drew fans into The Wonder Bar off the street, in addition to the crowd that swelled during his performance. Engaging as hell, he mesmerized us all with his genuine, heartfelt lyrics and incredible rap/hip-hop sound. 8Dayz has an impressive fanbase for a newer artist and it seems like the sky's the limit for his success with his ample talent and engaging personality. His social media bio is short, sweet and to the point, making you realize that this is a down-to-earth guy who is willing to do what it takes to be successful: "My whole life has been about adapting, & making due with what i have “8DAYZ-STR8” simply means going the extra mile when your tank is empty 8 represents infinity & balance, wholeness being composed when the world seems to be crumbling." Make sure you follow this promising artist and support him as he continues his journey to the top!
Can you say PARTY?!?!?! Because that's what exploded right on stage in front of our eyes when Matthew "Fern" Fernicola's solo project - The Foes of Fern - closed out the final night of "What A Wonderful Year." Fern (VP at Telegraph Hill Records) is obviously multi-talented in what he brings musically to the stage (lead vocals and guitar), as well as his ability to foster and develop the talents of others. The Foes of Fern have a truly unique sound, presence, and feel to their live performance. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced and it's the type of performance that leaves us all wanting more and anxiously anticipating the next one! Their sound has layers of instrumentation and vocals and can best be described as a combination of the folk, rock, and soul genres. According to the band's bio: "Although the backing band contains frequent party-goers, the V.I.P.S include Owen Flanagan on drums, Phil Marflak on bass, Andrew Ho hitting the congas and timbales, Brandon Steinagle on synth, Joseph Pomarico picking up the acoustic guitar, and Victoria Lawrence blowing the tuba. Less formally, Fern has a rotating door of talent that can morph night to night. It’s not uncommon to have gigs featuring an entirely different band than the show before, adding different instrumental nuances to each show." Make sure you check out music of The Foes of Fern, especially their 2019 single "Out Of Our Heads, Vol. 2!" You will definitely be glad you did!
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