May 13th, 2022 once again had the area’s finest musical youth come out to show their stuff at The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation. Hosted by board member and coordinator, Joseph Vincent Riggio, it continues to be an incredible night of fun, friendship, and music. The weather was humid, drizzly and very foggy but the mood inside was bright and the performers ran the gamut of styles, genres and eras.
Opening the night was self-proclaimed MLYOM professional performer Mellissa LaRochelle accompanying herself on a borrowed acoustic guitar since the weather had hers not staying in tune (thank you Eve). She opened with “Stupid” by Cate Canning followed by “Someone Will Love You Better” by Johnny Orlando (she is a superfan of this young performer). She closed with her favorite, the 70’s mega hit “Dancing Queen” by Abba proclaiming she will not be able to play that one anymore since she is almost 18, (referring to the “only 17” lyric) that will be a shame since it is a fan favorite at the event that suits her playing and voice very well.
Next, a newcomer to the event, a MAST Senior named Conall, came with his nylon string guitar to play for us. The event is open to any genre of music, and this was a first for the room, he played three classical compositions with quite a high skill level. They were “Sueno En la Floresta” and “Una Limosna Por El Amor Del Dios” both by Agustin Barrios. He also had the crowd clapping along with his fun version of “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, leaning heavily on the arrangement by Richard Smith. We hope to see him back often!
Then MAST Senior, April Lynn, was welcomed back to the event after a bit of a hiatus. As always, she showed her pro chops and mastery of multiple genres. She delivered the crowd pleasers “Bobby McGee,” “Valerie” and “Toxic” by Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Brittany Spears respectively. Although she is off to Hofstra University this Fall (minoring in Music BTW), she will commute back for her regular gigs at Burlew’s in Keyport every other Sunday early evenings, catch her there!
Next, JSJBF 2020 Mark LaRochelle Scholarship Award Winner, Ruby Riggio, performed accompanying herself with her cool pink ukulele. She added her signature strumming and finger picking style to three modern pop songs with a lot of power behind them vocally.
Then 18-year-old, Keyport Senior Eve Riggio supported herself on guitar. She wowed the crowd with three eclectic choices consisting of “Cowboy Like Me” by Taylor Swift, “Light My Love” by Greta Van Fleet and “Superstar” by The Carpenters. The latter was executed with a sad tone, but the overall performance ended with cheers and smiles from the audience.
Next up was Alexander Rausch who was away for the event for way too long! He is known to play Jazz on his electric guitar, and he did just that but this time he added backing tracks from his laptop that really added to his performance. He hit us with the classic tunes “Cedar’s Blues,” “Party Time” and “Strollin’” in familiar arrangements. He obviously used his time away from us woodshedding, he showed an elevated looseness and comfort on his ax that was notable.
Closing the night was a four-piece group of multi-instrumentalists know as Disturb The Quiet. They played last month in separate projects when Ocean County Music bands were featured at the event. They switched instruments and lead vocal duties on each song impressing the crowd. They played “In Bloom” by Nirvana, the Tom Petty version of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and “Geek Stink Breath” by Green Day to yells and cheers from the crowd. When offered an encore they pulled “Higher Ground” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers ending the night an a funky note (much to my pleasure).
Next scheduled for June 10th, 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.
Follow us on Instagram: @jsjbf_youth_open_mic