MLYOM Sept 16, 2022

Youth Open Mic Night


September’s Mark Larochelle Youth Open Mic featured a special guest in the form of music students from Musician’s Workshop in Manalapan, NJ who came with their Rock Shop students in tow. They brought bands of very talented youth musicians to entertain along with our regulars, and to enjoy for themselves. Red Bank’s historic Anthony Reckless house was enlivened with the largest crowd we have ever seen to date! The room was to capacity from sign up to one hour past its scheduled 10 pm stop time. James Striffolino has run the program for many years and he is beloved by his students and their families alike. The program stayed active, and even grew during the pandemic, which is a testament to his commitment to the musical community. JSJBF is proud to partner with this amazing group of people.

Regular participant, Carlotta Schmidt, kicked off the evening’s music on electric guitar with her new collaborators, Ben on keys and Matt on drums. They had one practice but you would not have known it by the stellar performance. They wowed the new comers and regulars with a three-song jazz set opening with the well-known standard “Satin Doll” and closing with “Caravan.” All three soloed like pros and delivered a cool smooth vibe to set the stage for the rest of the night. Carlotta then stayed on to play three singer songwriter tunes solo on her acoustic including one by her favorite group, The indigo Girls.

The first of the Rock Shop student bands came next taking on some big songs. Simply dubbed Rock Shop 01 for this event, Nick fronted the band with slick aviator shades on.They opened with the G n’ R classic “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and ended with Livin’ On A Prayer” by NJ’s Bon Jovi. The latter was really helped by backing harmonies by leather skirt cladded Madison. Their second tune was “Cochise” by Audio Slave, kudos to the band for choosing these songs and really delivering, they took on big rock anthems and the crowd showed their appreciation cheering on each guitar solo and melodic opening riff along the way.

Second of the Rock Shop crew was the youngest group of performers (all between 8 and 10 years old) of the night a quartet called The Rockin’ Bananas. They opened their set with the Nirvana mega hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” met with smiles and cheers from beginning to end. Next for them was “Creep” by Radio Head where 8-year-old drummer Elias was rocking so hard he fell off the drum seat and knocked over the snare drum. They closed with a really fine version of “7 Nation Army” by The White Stripes. It was their best with a standout performance by bassist Annalise keeping the tempo all on her own during the famous opening and driving riff.

Regular participant and JSJBF 2022 scholarship awardee, Melissa LaRochelle was next displaying her ever improving acoustic guitar skills for the standing room only crowd. She hit them with “Boy X” by Tate McRae and Lawrence’s 2018 hit “Make A Move.” Both songs highlighted her vocal falsetto transitions that she seems to do effortlessly.  

Next came Rock Shop students third youth band dubbed Rock Shop 02. They were a rotating front person quintet of multi-instrumentalists changing instruments throughout their 6-song set. They got the crowd roaring to AC/DCs’ “For Those About To Rock” and kept the energy going with Creeds’ “My Sacrifice.” They slipped into a near perfect rendition of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac that had the crowd singing along. They closed with the 4 Non Blondes ‘90s banger “What’s Up?”