JSJBF Annual Holiday Party

By Tom Baldino

Sunday December 11th was a cold and rainy night, but that did not deter a near-capacity crowd from dressing up in their best outfits of the season and attending our annual holiday party.  With youth sensation, Carlotta Schmidt, doing a superb opening set which included Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” Leon Russell’s “Masquerade” and the holiday classic “The Christmas Song,” we were off to a great start. Carlotta has worked hard over the past year, and both her singing and playing earned her many accolades from the guests, especially the musicians in the house.

After introducing the board of trustees, we awarded the 2022 Volunteer of Year award to Rock On Radio’s Danny Coleman and Claire Henwood for their tireless support during the past year.

Next up was Peter Veteska & Blues Train with special guests Mikey Junior and Jen Barnes. The band, who is working on their seventh CD, played a terrific first set. With Jen sharing vocals and lead guitar with Peter and Mikey’s gritty harp playing, singing, and stage banter, they were all we could have asked for.

During the second break, I reported to those assembled the JSJBF year in review. We then had the drawing for the LTD guitar and custom Marshall amp (which was donated by member Jon Kalfus), which was won by Kathy Rooney of Point Pleasant.

The band came up for a second set which featured Peter’s soulful “Merry Christmas Baby,” as well as some new songs they are working on for the forthcoming CD. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rest of the band. Jeff Levine is as fine a keyboard player as can be found on the Jersey Shore. His fills and solos were outstanding.  Chuck Hearne of the Slidewinder Blues Band was rock solid and was given a memorable spot to solo. Alex D’Agnese is the engine that propels the band, and when given the opportunity, displayed his considerable skills on the skins. At the end of the set Carlotta joined them, and Gary Neuwirth stepped in on harp for a rousing finale which capped off a wonderful night of JSJBF community.

Photos courtesy of John Posada and Patti Martz