August Youth Open Mic

By Joseph Vincent Riggio

On August 12, 2022, the scorching weather broke here in Monmouth County, NJ but once again the areas most talented musical youth brought the heat to The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation. It’s constant influx of new performers and returning regulars truly makes it everyone’s “Favorite Friday Night of the Month.”

Much to everyone’s delight, eleven-year-old powerhouse vocalist/keyboardist (and drummer/bassist) Maddie Freeman returned after a few months’ hiatus. She sang three huge numbers seemingly effortlessly, including one by Oasis. She is growing into a fine musician and it is a joy to see her grow as a performer. Follow her on social media to keep up with her busy musical schedule.

A new comer to the event named Anasia Echavarria came early to “see how it all works.” After some discussion with her and her mother, it was decided that she would share some original poetry with us. Her two poems were lyrical and introspective much like this sweet young lady’s personality. Anasia is a multi-instrumentalist and promises to return and play for us in the near future. She enjoyed the rest of the night with her peers and left with a bunch of new Instagram followers.

Carlotta Schmidt and her family have been part of this event since a few months after it started and it was pure delight to have her return after a several months break from the event. Carlotta spent her time away playing with several top performers in the area, including Sandy Mack and his all-star crew of rotating musicians. Most recently she played for two nights with jazz trumpet legend Jon Faddis! She took a master class with him before he performed at The Two River Theater and he was so taken by her talent he surprised her and asked her to come join the band on a few songs. She started out playing three jazz tunes with her newly found friend/keyboardist Ben Peters. The mini set was highlighted by Nora Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” which showed off both these youngsters soloing ability and Carlotta’s smooth and resonating voice. She returned later solo to close out the evening, playing her sweet 12 sting Guild giving us three more, this time singer songwriter style rock which she continues to impress with. She promises not to stay away too long again.

TJ came a few months ago and played guitar for us with recorded rhythm backing tracks and even sang for the first time in front of a live crowd. He returned this month with two friends, Trevor and Christian on guitar and drums. They played three rock tunes for us and TJ even switched off to bass on the Cheap Trick tune “Surrender.” His vocals showed much improvement from his last outing especially noticed on Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and judging from his smile after the crowd reaction he felt it too.

Next up, The Charming Men who debuted here last month and returned dressed in formal attire as a nod to The Smiths much to my Generation X delight. They played three rock covers for us and ended with a medley of sorts, showing off the fun riffing styles these young gentlemen all possess. They switched off vocals throughout and their exuberant group of friends and family rewarded them with much applause. After the band played, Mike grabbed his acoustic and Nick hung back with him as well and they played two more for us with some very nice vocal harmonies. We will lose most of these guys to their first semester of college but they already asked for what dates the event will be held later in the year so they can return. We all can’t wait!

Before Carlotta closed the night, Luke Russoniello, who always comes to help me set up and break down, played a Papa Roach song for us in between two well-arranged original songs. He continues to tease an EP release by his full band due out early fall. They just changed their name to Three-Way Kiss follow them on Instagram why don’t you @threewaykiss.

This event continues to be an incredible evening of fun, friendship and music. It offers players of all levels a chance to build their performance skills in a supportive environment. Make a point to get to one soon and become part of our ever-growing family.

Next scheduled for September 16th, The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic is presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation one Friday night a month providing the musical youth community a forum to perform in a fun, supportive, friendly and inviting environment at the Red Bank Women’s Club in the Anthony Reckless Estate in Red Bank NJ.

Signup sheet available at 6:30 PM. Music happens from 7 PM – 10 PM.

$5 Donation to perform or attend. Under 21 to perform. All ages welcome to enjoy.

Full backline provided. Musicians bring instruments and pedals. Music not limited to Jazz and Blues. For further information contact Joseph Vincent Riggio at 732-670-2157. 

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