By Michael Murphy
April’s Youth Open Mic featured a special guest of sorts turn out in the form of music students from Ocean County Music in Point Pleasant Beach. They brought four 3 piece bands of youth musicians and one 5 piece band of adult students to entertain and enliven us, along with our regulars, and to enjoy for themselves Red Bank’s historic Anthony Reckless house.
Regular participant, Melissa La Rochelle, kicked off the evening’s music on acoustic guitar with Lawrence’s 2018 hit Make A Move. Melissa’s voice has a unique sound when she transitions into falsetto and this piece highlighted that distinct trait. She then covered Abba’s Dancing Queen in slow tempo which on acoustic guitar gave it a dreamy quality.
The Ocean County Music students came next. Those bands did two sets in two separate sections of the show divided by one of our regulars, Eve Riggio, in the middle.
First of the group from Ocean County Music was the adult Rock band CMV. They opened their set with Otis Rush’s Tore Up from 1976. Played in slower tempo than the recording, it’s a good selection to start off their debut at a Jazz & Blues Foundation-sponsored event. Their other notables were Blue Bayou, where vocalist Claudia attained a nice high pitch to approximate Roy Orbison’s uniquely high range male vocal. From there they broke into White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane. It was done so nicely both in melody and vocally where Maryann matched Grace Slick’s vocals spot on. Janis Joplin’s Me And Bobby McGee was the stand out in which Maryann took lead vocals again and affected Janis’ style both in her emphatic expression and the southern accent. She really channeled Janis.
Next came the youth student bands, starting with SOUP. Of their set, note worthies were their cover of Safari Song by contemporary hard rock band Greta Van Fleet where Mercedes did justice to Josh Kiszka’s vocals, which few can do. They too borrowed from Jefferson Airplane, rendering Somebody To Love loud and rocking, with gusto and force in which Monica banged a vehement drum. They also did Shocking Blue’s 1969 breakout hit, Venus. On that Mercedes played bass and loudly belted the lead vocals making it sound more like Bananarama’s 1986 version of the song.
Second youth band from Ocean County Music called themselves Just A Front. They popped off with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication and Ryan impressed with great vocal delivery, singing lyrics with surprisingly clear enunciation. The bridge guitar riff sounded to my ear exactly as it does in the studio recording. While covering Learn To Fly by Foo Fighters these kids gave me goosebumps. Sam kept a perfect rhythm on drums. If Taylor Hawkins saw it from the great Jam Session In The Sky, he must’ve been pleased and proud. Their best performance of the night, for me, was a cover of Cream’s 1966 version of Crossroads. Again Ryan delivered lyrics loudly and clearly, this time with a lil’ rasp in his voice, presumably to simulate Clapton. Friend and fellow student Luca sat in on bass keeping up the quick tempo adequately. Ryan, also on lead guitar, gave us a magnificent riff in the bridge. No more to say but they just killed it!
Third Ocean County Music youth band who took the stage call themselves Toadz. Like most of the Ocean County Music students, the lineup of Toadz is multi-instrumental and during their two sets they switched instruments several times. In Nirvana’s Come As You Are, Hayden on lead vocals imitated Cobain’s obstreperous grating vocal style quite well, a difficult task indeed. He displayed guitar prowess by executing the riff in the bridge near perfectly. For Bowie’s classic Rebel, Rebel, Hayden took the bass from Mia so she could get behind the drum kit. She sang the vocal too which seemed to me a tall order. Song 2 by power pop/rock band Blur, known to many simply as “Woohoo” is a song which always gets dance floors jumping. For that one, instruments again changed hands and friend Makaley sitting in on drums, handled them well. Toadz ended their evening with a rousing, wholehearted rendition of Stevie Nicks’ and Tom Petty’s duet Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.
Fourth of the Ocean County Music youth bands was Reflectshun. In covering Cheap Trick’s Surrender, Boden seemed to match precisely Bun Carlos’ drumming but in singing the lead he affected a slight drone, making a bit of a departure from Robin Zander’s vocal manner. On The Troggs’ classic Wild Thing, Boden reprised as vocalist, delivering lyrics at a consistently steady beat sounding singular from that of Reg Presley, while bassist Jacqueline performed the ocarina bridge on standard flute.
Eve Riggio, our other regular attendee had an interesting set which she played in between the two sections of Ocean County Music bands. I was impressed by her cover of Mac DeMarco’s 2012 release Cooking Up Something Good where she conjured mellifluous tones from her acoustic guitar as she belted the lyrics with good emotional expression. Also memorable- Eve’s variation of Britney Spears’ biggest hit … Baby One More Time because she played it in a melancholic melody with slow, woeful, almost pained vocal delivery. I enjoyed the comedy of it whether or not she intended it to be a comical satire.
Big thanks to Board member Gary Neuwirth for helping with the audio system and instrument setup and to all the performers who came. Additionally, we are so very grateful to Board member John Dammacco for bringing the Ocean County Music students program to our attention as well to their director Mike Corona and assistant instructor Vincent Evans for bringing their students to Y.O.M. all the way from the Point Pleasant/Brick area! With them came their covey of supporters to fill our audience. It was a fruitful night for the JSJBF. We hope they return whenever they can, especially with any side bands they have.
Youth Open Mic is coordinated by Board member Joseph Vincent Riggio. The next one is scheduled for May 13, 2022 at the Woman’s Club of Red Bank where any of the local musical youth will find a friendly, supportive and fun forum in which to perform.
Signup sheet available at 6:30 pm.
Music starts 7 pm.
$5 donation to perform or attend.
Under 21 to perform, all ages may enjoy.
Music is not limited to Jazz and Blues.
Full backline provided, musicians bring instruments and pedals.
For further info contact Joseph Vincent Riggio @ 732-670-2157.