Carmine Appice Diaries and Gwen Toline
by Danny Coleman
Most of us have heard the expression, “What’s old is new again” and most of us have experienced this in our lifetime; be it in relationships, work or the current 1970’s fashion rebirth which to most of us who lived through it the first time is somewhat mind-boggling.
Well, The Lizzie Rose Music Room, located at 217 East Main Street in Tuckerton, NJ, has re-opened anew with indoor music shows but now, thanks to some “New” ideas and more than willing management; they are adding some entertainment variety to their already fine schedule.
“Storyteller Series” is the brain-child of GHT Communication’s Gwen Toline and it kicks-off on Friday, January 13 with legendary drummer, Carmine Appice. Recently, Gwen and Carmine discussed the upcoming event and the first of what will surely be a well-received series.
“I’ve known Lou Reichart who founded the room and runs the room for, I don’t know, about five or six years,” began Toline as she explained how it all came about. “He called me in September and said that he was thinking about having someone kind of take over some of the bookings and do some publicity and social media things and that they were starting a Go Fund Me campaign because they had been having the shows outside for two years because of COVID. He needed somebody to do the publicity for the Go Fund Me campaign so, that was the first thing and then he started telling me about having someone come in and work on bookings with them because it was just a lot to do now that they were going to move back inside; which is why they had the Go Fund Me campaign so that they could rebuild the stage and put in a new sound system. So, then I said to him, that’s great, we could re-book bands that you’ve had there before and I would like to bring in new bands and try to diversify. I mean, if I’m coming to do that job, I want to bring something new to the table if I can and not just the same old formula which works because a lot of people really love that room but let’s try something new. So, I said to him; why don’t we do this kind of a storytellers thing? I have some other clients in the industry that are either performers or they’re artists or their behind-the-scenes people and I book speaking engagements for them and I thought it would be kind of a cool idea. So, we thought, let’s do it on Saturday afternoons and it’s another stream of income for them and he really loved the idea so I started thinking OK; who are we going to get? Carmine came to mind pretty quickly because I’ve been working with him for a few years. He and his brother Vinny used to have a talk show called “Hangin’ and Bangin” which was an online live stream show and also a podcast. They co-hosted it with Ron Onesti who runs the Arcada and Des Plaines Theatres in Illinois. So, I had worked with him for a while and I knew that he had this presentation where he talked about stories from his book and all kinds of rock’n’roll legends; infamous and famous and all of his experiences. I thought that he would be a good fit. I asked him and he lives in Florida now so we had to work around his schedule and he just happened to be coming up in the middle of January so we booked it. Then I wrote to Eddie Trunk because I also have worked with him a little bit before; I booked him on Carmine and Vinny’s talk show and I said: do you want to do it? You’re from New Jersey, everybody knows you. So, that worked out too and we have him scheduled on March 18 and I’m in the process of looking for others now who can come in and give a talk The cool thing is, I can try to find people who are touring around the area; maybe like in Atlantic City because the room is about a half-hour north of Atlantic City and it won’t interfere with any kind of radius clauses in their performance contracts because it’s not a musical performance it’s a talk.”
“This is a way to have people from musical genres that don’t usually play The Lizzie Rose Music Room come in and do something because, they don’t ever really have Heavy Metal or Hard Rock because they’re in a residential area. So, Blues is sort of the heaviest they get but this is another way to attract a new audience and to open it up to people who haven’t been there before or might not even know that room is there. So, to have a talk like that with somebody like Eddie Trunk who’s from the Hard Rock, Rock, Heavy Metal world; that’s a great way to let people know, hey, there’s a cool room here and maybe they’ll also want to see a Blues show or maybe they’ll want to see some bluegrass or something like that so…”
There is perhaps, no better way to get things up and running than with a talent of Appice’s stature. Carmine has authored books on drumming techniques, his career and more and now he has the opportunity to literally bring them to the audience live and in person. This idea, which has been in the works for a while and only has come to fruition recently, is a perfect fit for the “Little room that could” in Tuckerton. So; how did Appice come up with the concept?
“Believe it or not, Max Weinberg has something like this,” he started. “He goes to a venue and he puts up a whole bunch of songs on a screen and he has the audiences pick them somehow. I don’t know how he does it, whether he has them raise their hand or whatever but somehow, they pick the songs. So, a friend of mine was at one of his shows and he told me about it. He said, “Wow, this is cool. Look at what Max is doing” and I said, I’d like to do something like that but I don’t wanna do it like what Max is doing; I want to do it my own way. What I had been thinking about was doing something like a history of rock show where my wife Leslie Gold, the radio chick, would come with me and she would ask me questions and I thought that if I did something like that she wouldn’t have to come and ask me questions. I wouldn’t have to have questions; I could just put stories up there and have the people pick the stories. I thought, that’s a good idea and then I figured out a way to do it and I put it together with my web guy who does this really great stuff with this company called Dreamer Studios and he goes all wild with this stuff. I said I needed some kind of intro for the Carmine Appice Diaries and he said, “Let me see what I can come up with,” and he came up with this whole intro. Then, my friend’s son who is 15 years old wrote an orchestral piece to go under it and then I put drums to it and so, now I have an orchestral piece under it and then I’ve got Leslie saying, “Please welcome Carmine Appice” and I walk out and get the people clapping. So, it’s like a show; it’s not just like I walk out and start telling stories. I let the people tell the stories so every night it’s different.”
Shall you have not been fortunate enough to see any of Appice’s drum sessions or been to any of his book signings; this is a must attend event to get the best of both. Appice describes it as more of a show; one where he doesn’t mind letting the audience dictate his rhythm and thus far the timing has been perfect on the shows he’s done in his current home state of Florida.
“I tell stories about Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Vanilla Fudge; I’m not just telling drum stories or teaching drums. When we did this down here, we had about 100 people but it wasn’t cheap. We charged around 50 or 60 bucks a pop but in relationship to other shows; you know, some are 500 dollars, it’s a good entertaining night where you don’t have to go out and spend 1000 dollars. The show has an intro tape that shows a book, like a diary and all of these pictures start coming through it and at the end of the video it falls down on the table and then the book opens and you see all of these different pictures and then it says, “Let’s talk about it.” There are like 20 stories that come up to the full screen; I have to have a screen like a TV screen, an LED wall is really nice and then I come out and I play a little, I get people clapping, I do a solo on my sticks and then I say OK let’s talk about the story! Here are the stories, you guys pick the stories and then I say; OK who wants to talk? Who wants to pick the first story? Then whoever raises a hand, I pick one of them and whatever story they pick; I tell the story. We do that for like an hour, maybe an hour and 10-minutes, I crack jokes while making fun and then I’ll play a little bit and then sell some merch and all of that takes about an hour-and-a-half to an hour and 40-minutes. I did two here in Florida to test it out and they worked great! Everybody loved it, the audiences love the media. So, it’s multimedia and interactive; the biggest room that I’m doing for a show is around 100 people. So, keeping it there and below that amount keeps it pretty intimate. The one I did in Florida was like 100 people and the first one sold out; the second night ended up being only about a third full but that was because we only had a week to promote it but that’s OK because it was a good rehearsal for the big night. Once I did the first night and I figured out all of the things that I wanted to do with it to make it better and then we did the second night; it went really great. The people loved it; we did some video of people’s reactions on the way out and I’m gonna put together a sizzle reel. I mean, this is something I really want to do in ‘23, it’s something different; I’m always looking for something different to keep myself busy with new ideas; you know?”
“Some of the stories that these performers have are just, you can’t make it up; you know what I mean? Truth is stranger than fiction is a saying for a reason,” added Toline. “Carmine; I don’t want to go into too many because I don’t want to give it away but he has some of the best stories I’ve ever heard. They’re all in his and this book and he tells them like when he had that podcast “Hangin’ and Bangin’” and he was telling those stories and I would just laugh my head off. Some of his stories, I’d just sit with my mouth wide open and Vinny too; his brother. I mean, it was like, oh my God; between the two of them they’ve played with Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart and Ronnie James Dio and just so many of these crazy stories.”
Appice has modest aspirations for this project as he begins to shop it around a bit and there are already a few nibbles.
“I’m doing a convention in New York City that has all of the theater owners and promoters; I’ll do two of the shows in one afternoon and do one the next afternoon and hopefully I’ll come out of that with some little theaters booked and that’d be perfect for us. My manager is gonna be there on the 18th and putting something together so, hopefully we can put some more shows together but in the meanwhile, I do have a commitment from the Iridium; they want to do one and they have the musical framework that will work well. There is another place in Jersey that we’re talking to but I need to get a certain amount of money up front because when I do it, I have to have a roadie with a tech to set up the screen and the stage there and I’ll have drums there and then I’ll do my thing. Then after the show, if I need to drive somewhere he’ll drive to the next gig and I have to rent a car and there are hotels and stuff. So, I need a certain amount of money guaranteed to do that right; you know? I’m not looking to get rich off it but I think it would be a fun way to make some money that is also something different.”
Whenever there is a music event in today’s climate; it seems that the visual aspect is nearly as important as the audio one; does Toline have any plans on creating a YouTube or video series from these events?
“I mean, I think that we’ll try to film them as well so that we have them up there and the presentations themselves will have a video element too. Carmine has got so much from performances that he’s done and he talks about them and then Eddie Trunk has video and photographs of rock stars that he’s interviewed because he’s interviewed absolutely every rock star under the sun. So, there will be video elements to the presentations but I mean, I’d love to yeah, that’s a great idea to make sure there’s a videographer in there to film this and it’s also a good marketing tool to attract other people to come in and do a talk. You asked me about authors; both of them are authors by the way but we did actually talk about seeing if there’s actual people on any book tours that might want to come in and do a talk. I saw that Bono was doing a book tour; if Bono would ever come in there that would be amazing but he’s doing like eight nights at The Beacon Theatre. He wrote this book and it’s a huge best seller and I mean, I’m not shooting for the stars but I’m not afraid to ask; if I don’t ask, I’ll never know what the answer might have been.”
“January 13, Friday the 13th but I know it’s going to be good luck and a lot of fun,” she went on enthusiastically, “There will be photo opportunities so we definitely want people to know that and they will be able to sit up close and personal because it’s a small 75-seat room and every seat is like the best seat in the house. So, they’ll be able to see him that way which is really exciting to me, that you can see someone like that and then you can talk to him and take a photo with him; a meet and greet and all that stuff afterward. He’s very gracious and will stay until the last person; it’s going to be really fun.”