By, Joseph Vincent Riggio
I, once again had the immense pleasure of hosting The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation on a beautiful night on Friday June 10th, 2022. As always, it was an incredible night of fun, friendship, and music. This evening was particularly exciting in that many new comers to the event performed and were in the audience including our newest board member Tina LoBosco. The attendees were brought on a journey through the most diverse number of genres the event has ever had to offer.
In keeping with recent tradition, opening the night was Mellissa LaRochelle accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. The crowd cheered loudly when I announced that she will be attending NYU and that on June 24th 2022 she will be a JSJBF Scholarship awardee. She started with “Something Stupid” by Frank Sinatra, “Stupid” by Cate Canning then broke the “theme” with “Make a Move” by Lawrence. Her singer songwriter presentation, along with her vocal tone and playing, proved she was well deserving of the forthcoming accolade.
Next up was last month’s new comer to the event, MAST Senior Conall Spaur who came back with his nylon string guitar to play a classical arrangement for us, a piece called “Passacaille” by Silvius Leopold Weiss. The room was silent as he strummed and plucked the rhythm and melodies together in the style’s tradition.
Next, a newcomer to the event named Marek Hidalgo showed up with a beautiful hybrid nylon/metal stringed Takemine guitar. He showed off a high level of skill on the instrument playing three exciting flamenco style songs. With just a tiny bit of urging he promised to return and apparently plays several other stringed instruments he is looking forward to perform with.
Up next was a familiar group of players calling themselves this night – Jessie and The Rippers. Consisting of the very musically talented friends, 2019 JSJBF Scholarship awardee Jessie Roberts on vocals, Sam Ferrara on guitar, and Collin McTernan on acoustic bass. They played “Cherry Wine” by Hozier, the Tom Petty mega-hit “Free Fallin’” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. Jessie is (as is Collin) a multi-instrumentalist but chose to only sing this evening and it gave her a chance to really shine vocally. You can catch her at member venue The Chubby Pickle on October 13th at 6pm; she said she is bringing friends to back her up (I bet I know who they will be). Sam was not seen at the event since the pandemic and was welcomed back with wide open arms after that way too long hiatus. After Jessie and Collin left the stage, he absolutely slayed an acoustic instrumental song by John Mayer that truly soared at times. Jessie and Collin led the raucous applause from the “side stage” area of the Anthony Reckless Estate, our home for the event graciously provided to us by the Woman’s Club of Red Bank.
Then, 2019 JSJBF Scholarship award recipient Andrew Ahlborn showed up with an acoustic guitar and he brought Luke Russoniello with him. They are 50% of the local rock group Just For Show, so they billed themselves Half Show. They shared lead vocal duties on “Helena” by My Chemical Romance, “The Scientist” by Coldplay, “Check Yes Juliet” by We The Kings and “Pool House” by Backseat Lovers.” Andrew is an accomplished drummer but he obviously used his time away from us at the University of Delaware shedding on guitar and vocals. The two then “shyly” asked if they could debut an original song – as if I would ever deny that request. It was a nicely arranged alt-rock tune called “Bullet in the Brain.” They used the applause time to promo their upcoming set at The Chubby Pickle on July 16th,the full band hits at 6:30pm.
The next performers showed up a tad late, as I was announcing the second act. The crowd was eager to hear them from their instrumentation alone since they had horns in tow. A familiar face, Nicolas Coppola Jr. was amongst them; after asking if we had a keyboard as part of the backline (we always do) and borrowing a pair of drumsticks, Nicolas introduced the crew as a jazz band from the shore called Mongo Boonkey. They played “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr.,
“I Want to Talk About You” by Coltrane and closed with an instrumental version of the much lesser known “Raid” by MF Doom (Featuring MED). They all switched instruments on each song, impressing the crowd.
Following that, another electric guitar playing newcomer named TJ performed, backing himself up with drums and bass tracks from him laptop. He confidently sang and played “Mama Kin” by Aerosmith and the Jimi Hendrix classic “Purple Haze” complete with the behind the back guitar solo. He apologized for never singing in front of anyone before but we would not have known if he had not mentioned it. While helping break down the equipment (a MLYOM tradition) he and his mother said how much fun they had and assured me they would come back.
Closing the night was a newly formed group fronted by event frequenter and soon to be Hofstra U attendee, April Lynn on electric guitar. The group was so new in fact they had no name until they chose it on stage while I was setting them up (I became their first non-band member follower on their Instagram account). Forever we can all say B’BAM was debuted at the MLYOM! I had the pleasure of announcing that she too will be a 2022 JSJBF Scholarship awardee this year much to the delight of her many fans in the crowd. The other members include Brendan on bass, drummer Brianne and Marcus on guitar. They added a “beachy groove” to three radio pop songs that was so fun to hear. You can catch them at The Meatlocker in Montclair on Saturday June 25th and at member venue The Chubby Pickle on October 13th at 6:30pm to catch the vibe yourself.
Next scheduled for July 8th, 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 Woman’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.
Like us on Facebook at: And follow us on Instagram at: https://instagram.com/jsjbf_youth_open_mic?igshid=12eeptkjxlvs9