Jesse Malin and His Adoring Fanbase 

By Diane DiMemmo

February 25, 2020

I was walking the boardwalk tonight and the music sounded so good, I just had to come in!”

-Asbury Park resident about why he walked into the Jesse Malin show after 11pm

THAT is the type of show Jesse Malin put on for his fans this past Saturday at The Stone Pony. Throngs of adoring (and I mean it when I say adoring) fans stayed for the 3+ hour set which brought us happily into Sunday morning with tunes still singing on our lips as we went home. I venture to guess that not a single fan left The Pony early that night, as Jesse and his incredibly talented band rocked the night long and hard.

You’d think that a performer who tours so extensively while playing kick-ass shows night after night might take it easy once in a while during his set. But Jesse played each and every song as if it were his favorite one and like he was aiming for his absolute best performance. It’s very evident that talent oozes out of Malin’s pores, as his musical accomplishments and live shows can prove. But I was blown away by the fan’s reactions to him. The looks in their faces showed devotion, admiration, and elation. Their singing along to every word showed their love for his music. And the dancing and fist pumping! Oh the dancing!! The crowd was INTO it and the energy was off the charts.

Fresh off the release of Sunset Kids, Malin continues his storied career with this masterful album which was produced by Lucinda Williams, and includes tracks with Billie Joe Armstrong, Joseph Arthur, and Lucinda. Equally talented with singing and song-writing, Malin weaves heartfelt, meaningful lyrics throughout folk/rock/Americana tunes that get you moving, singing and feeling the emotions. Jesse Malin has created (8) studio albums, (4) EPs, (1) live album, (15) solo singles, and (5) noteworthy collaborations. Listening to his albums is a moving experience, yet his live performance brings it to a higher plane.

He began the evening’s set with the new song, “Shining Down” which was inspired by Tom Petty’s final performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017, where Malin was in attendance. The touching lyrics, “I act like nothing hurts/The bar becomes a church/A limousine or hearse and you don’t look back,” were sung over Heartbreaker-reminiscent guitars. The three-hour set was filled with more songs from his extensive catalog as well as tributes to artists like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

Throughout the show, Malin conversed with the crowd about a variety of topics including politics, his admiration of Lucinda Williams’ work, his pride in Sunset Kids, the support he’s always felt from Asbury Park fans, and more. Never content to remain in one place for long, Malin made several trips through the crowd (carefully tethered to the stage via his mic cord) and hopped up on the bar to sing from a better vantage point. Fans ate it up.

It’s so evident that this touring life is what fuels Malin’s soul. Of performing he’s said, “Playing music is something I need to do. Singing under those hot lights every night is a great exorcism. We get to put together this pirate ship of characters and go around the world making trouble and singing our guts out.” Some of the "characters" he included during his encore Bob Dylan cover included musicians from all the opening bands, and Asbury Park regulars Bobby Mahoney and Rachel Ana Dobken.

His dedicated fans were raving about the performance as they left that night, hoping that they will be able to catch him in action again soon!


Shining Down/Chemical Heart/Fall/Room 13/Death Star/She Don’t Love Me Now/Turn Up The Mains/Black Hair Girl/Shane/Wendy/Dead On/Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio? (Ramones cover)/You Know It’s Dark When Atheists Start To Pray/Meet Me At The End Of The World Again

Encore: You Ain’t Going Nowhere (Bob Dylan cover)


What is it that makes a band really stand out? Talent? Work Ethic? Personality? Yes, but there are a boatload of bands who possess all of those ingredients. It’s some intangible element that you just can’t put your finger on. That “It Factor” makes a good band great ... a great band extraordinary. And Hollis Brown has that special extraordinary quality in spades.

Hollis Brown (yes, named after the Bob Dylan song) is that band that you hear once and then instantly fall in love. Their sound is rooted in classic rock but expands to include funk, jazz, and R&B elements, making their brand of rock and roll truly unique, and relevant. The Queens, NY group was formed by singer-guitarist Mike Montali and lead guitarist Jonathan Bonilla in 2013. Rounding out the rest of the band are Andrew Zehnal (drums), Adam Bock (keys), and Chris Urriola (bass). In addition to their recently released album Ozone Park the group has also produced the albums 3 Shots (2015), Gets Loaded (2014), and Ride on The Train (2013).

My first introduction to Hollis Brown was seeing them perform live last November at The House of Independents where I was blown away by their set, thus becoming an instant fan. As I watched the crowd at The Stone Pony Saturday night, I noticed the same reaction where the audience visibly became invested in their music. There are so many moving parts that weave together to form their incredible sound. You could get lost in Montali’s rich, velvety vocals and catchy sing-a-long choruses. Or you may find yourself toe-tapping to the funky, multi-faceted bass-drum beats. You might even find yourself dancing to the gorgeous guitar and keyboard melodies and solos. It’s music that involves the listener. Crowd favorites that night at The Pony were “Go For It,” “Oh Sweet Nuthin’,” and “Rain Dance.”

Hollis Brown has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe, both on their own and supporting the likes of Citizen Cope, Counting Crows, Jackie Greene, Jesse Malin, the Zombies, and many more. And you’ve heard their music in films such as "Bad Country”; and on TV series such as Showtime's “Shameless.” DirecTV’s “Kingdom”; and MTV’s "Real World.” Also, their music has been featured in the worldwide trailer for “The Founder” starring Michael Keaton, along with the Winter 2018 John Varvatos runway show and online campaign. Now, they can add another accomplishment to their list … a band that is 100% Asbury Park approved!


Cold City/ Stubborn Man/The Way She Does It/Oh Sweet Nuthin’/Do Me Right/ Faith & Love/ Run Right To You/Go For It/Rain Dance/Wait For Me Virginia


The Eck's Men were a super fun band that had the crowd fist-pumping, dancing, and singing along!


Matty Carlock filled the venue with energy, passion and powerful rock and roll! 

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Asbury Park Vibes

Asbury Park Vibes is a media outlet dedicated to shining a light on the music scene at the Jersey Shore and throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S.! We strive to provide show reviews and photographs that capture the true essence and fan experience of each concert.

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