Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic @ Ocean County Music in Point Pleasant Beach
By Joseph Vincent Riggio
The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation marked a new milestone on March 10th 2023. As reported earlier this year we took it on the road! Our first stop was Ocean County Music in Point Pleasant Beach. They have an amazing program run by Mike Corona and assisted by his brother Sal and multi-talented brother-in-law Vinnie. It is full service for both young and older musicians providing retail instrument and musical accessories sales as well as musical instructions for individuals and house bands as well as recording capabilities. JSJBF President Tom Baldino, Vice President John Fernandez and Board Member Gary Neuwirth were all in attendance and the event is still coordinated by myself board member Joseph Vincent Riggio. As always it was an incredible night of fun, friendship, and music.
This month we were also blessed to have high school artists original works displayed in the room coordinated by Red Bank Woman’s Club Board member Peggy Masse and her student Co-chair Kate. It was a much-appreciated addition to the event and added an even cooler vibe to the already fun atmosphere in the room.
First up on the fully blacklined stage was the youngest of the student house bands, Unlawful Goose. Instructor Vinnie helped out the fourpiece on rhythm guitar. They opened with The Foo Fighters “Hero” with some real hitting from their 7th grade drummer who kept perfect time the entire 3 song set. Next, they switched gears to the Limp Bizkit raucous banger “Break Stuff” and ending the eclectic set with the lesser known 2010 release “Party Poison” by My Chemical Romance.
Next up was house band Aurora. They provided another eclectic set of very well executed songs with Vinnie only helping out on one this time. The crowd smiled away as they jammed on “Roam” by the B-52’s and a Bangles leaning version of the Paul Simon classic “Hazy Shade of Winter.” They had the parents’ attention especially when the slid into their closer the ’90 megahit “Sweet Child of Mine” of G n’ R fame. Connor showed particular prowess on the bass lead in the song intro.
Moving right along the most experienced of the house bands, Sound Hogs started up. All but one of the crew was wearing a Red Hot Chili Peppers T-Shirt hinting at what was to come. They played the RHCP songs “Dani California” and “Suck My Kiss” with Van Halen’s “Beautiful Girls” in between. Ryan showed great skill on the guitar solos of each song, and they switched drummers for the VH tune for a nice mix of sound.
Breaking up the house bands was a newcomer to the event named Zack who was visiting his grandfather from Verona, NJ. He played a sweet electric guitar on the house Boss Katana amp. His 3 songs were all original pieces with provocative lyrics and his left hand showed quite a bit of funk and soul influence. It was a nice addition to the night for sure.
The Ocean County Music program is a family much like the MLYOM. Students grow up, move on but always keep a tie to the programs. With that being said, a fine trio of young men happen to pop in the shop who were recent alum of OCM and they were asked (Mike, Vinnie and I insisted in fact) to come on stage and play a few for us. They call themselves Just Us. They shared 2 original songs with us and they had a very unique sound rooted in alternative rock of several eras. Just as we were all trying to figure out the strongest of their influences they started playing “Boys Don’t Cry” by The Cure to solve the mystery. I was so impressed by them that I offered them a full set on June 17th at JSJBF member venue The Chubby Pickle.
The final act of the night was the debut of a brand new band that was born out of the program. Ryan (of Sound Hogs fame) on guitar/vocals, Liam on Bass and Michaela on drums, all students of the program, but branching out into their own project. They call the band Your Dad’s Radio. They shared a really well constructed original song with the exuberant crowd after a slick version of the Beatles “Come Together.” Before leaving the stage they proudly announced they will be performing their club debut at The Chubby Pickle on May 13th.
Ocean County Music is 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 herein NJ. It is no surprise they attract great youth and families to their store and program. I am excited to continue our partnership with them. The event returns there June 9th and 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 April 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.
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