The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic
The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation returned to Ocean County Music in Point Pleasant Beach on June 9th 2023. They have an amazing program run by Mike Corona, assisted by his multi-talented brother-in-law Vinny and brother Sal. It provides full service for both young and older musicians featuring retail instrument and musical accessory, sales, and rentals as well as musical instruction for individuals or house bands – and offers professional recording services. It was another night of fun, friendship, and music and the event remains coordinated by myself, board member Joseph Vincent Riggio.
First up on the very nicely blacklined stage was the youngest of the student house bands, Unlawful Goose. They opened with Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” and “Reptilia” by The Strokes with Zoe on vocals and then did “Sliver” by Nirvana with drummer Jake on vocals and Mike Conona stepping in on drums so Jake could fully shine up front.
Next, a newcomer to the event named Leo who came to Ocean County form Highlands NJ gave us some smooth Swing. The 17-year-old Junior sang the Frank Sinatra mega hit “The Best is Yet to Come” with a strong tone and delivery. It was his public singing debut and a nice departure from the usual modern singer songwriter and pop or rock typically performed by his generation.
Next up was house band Aurora. They opened with “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes with Sherri on Vocals. She ended the set singing on Taylor Swift’s “Getaway Car.” Bass player Connor sang the Rancid banger “Ruby Soho” in the middle of the set. We had time at the end of the night so they returned to do some more for us before we left. Set two opened with the OZZY classic “Crazy Train” directly into a very energetic version of “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane. Then the entire crowd smiled and cheered away as Connor flipped out on vocals and bass fronting the crew for the surf classic “Surfin’ Bird.”
Breaking up the house bands once again was another newcomer to the event, 17 year old Point Pleasant Beach resident Junior Olivia, who uses the stage name Via. She played acoustic guitar accompanying herself showing off three very well written original songs “Summer By The Shore,” “Synthetic Fee,l” and “P.O.V.” She is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on a fresh collection of songs including the afore mentioned due out in early Fall this year.
Moving right along the most experienced of the house bands, Sound Hogs started setting up but guitar player/singer Ryan realized he left his effects board in his car. In order to keep the crowd engaged one of the adult students of the school who was enjoying the event volunteered to do a few for us. Amy Elizabeth told the crowd (as Vinny found her a guitar to borrow) that she started playing in her middle age and reminded the younger students to never stop doing new things or reaching for new goals. Her playing was a sound as her advice delivering three Folk/Americana songs including ones by Arlo Guthrie and Johnny Cash.
The Sound Hogs were then all ready to rock the house and rock the house they did (with instructor Vinny on some of the vocals since they lost a member to prom season). They opened with “By The Way” by RHCP and ending with a vicious version of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Purple Haze.” They slipped in the lesser known “Alright Aphrodite” by Canadian indie pop band Peach Pit in between the two.
Up next was the newest Ocean County Music House Band consisting of Hayden on guitar, Mia on drums and Joselyn on bass known as H. M J. They did a much more rock oriented version of the Dire Straits hit “Sultans of Swing” followed by an aggressive version of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality”. Vinny once again assisted with some vocals since singer tryouts were ongoing at the time.
The crowd was then treated to a multi generation performance. A few Fathers, one of drum student named Sam, stepped up so he could show us his percussion chops. They played three songs the standout being Sublime’s “Santeria.”
Closing the night, a power trio that debuted at the last MLYOM at Ocean County Music, was Your Dad’s Radio. They opened with two excellent alternative rock style original songs with strong vocals and guitar by front/ax-man Ryan. Liam held down super strong bottom throughout and Makaley at one point hit the skins so hard Mike and myself had to reassemble the kit between songs. They also played a Dinosaur Jr. tune and closed strongly with the one hit that Hum had from the 90’s “Stars”.
The Ocean County Music program is a family much like the MLYOM and it remains a perfect partner for the JSBF, Mike Corona and his family/staff are dedicated to providing quality instruction, musical services and mentoring to young musicians with a focus on adding to the musical community in NJ and beyond. It is no surprise that one of their students received one of our scholarships in 2022 and also this year. I am excited to returning on Sept. 10th.
The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic is presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation the second Friday night a month providing the musical youth community a forum to perform in a fun, supportive, friendly and inviting environment. Next scheduled for July 14th 2023 at Musicians Workshop in Manalapan NJ. Signup sheet available at 6:30 PM. Music happens from 7 PM – 10 PM.
$5 Donation to perform or attend (or $20 for a student membership that gets you in all year). 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 at: @ jsjbf_youth_open_mic