On a cold, rainy, moonless night in the middle of January (15th to be exact) The Jersey shore areas musical youth Stars shined warm and bright at The Chubby Pickle in Highlands NJ.
It was everyone’s “Favorite Friday Night of the Month,” as it has come to be called. The event is the Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation and hosted by board member and coordinator Joseph Vincent Riggio. He did his usual good job of warmly greeting and talking up the performers and guests while setting the stage and lights to create the mood for the full (25% capacity, COVID distanced) house. The Chubby Pickle staff did a wonderful job as always attending to everyone’s needs to add to the welcoming vibe.
First up was Conor, a Rockin’ Music Program Alumni (one of many who frequent the event.) He stopped in to get his last shot at playing live for awhile since he is on his way back to his Spring Semester at The University of New Haven. He is a veteran of the open mic and always volunteers to play first to break the ice for the less experienced players. His guitar sung and his voice charmingly growled through four tunes highlighted by his opener, “My Name is Human,” by Highly Suspect (a Brooklyn by way of Cape Cod trio) and his closer ’90’s super hit “ Hey Jealously” by The Gin Blossoms.
Next up was, Eve, a homeschooled Junior whose fashion sense leaves her always looking ready to do a fashion shoot for a teen alternative website. She played guitar this night (self- taught and performing in the past first on ukulele and piano) that the regular attendees of the event have noticed she has gained quite a lot of skill on of late. She started with a unique take on “Never Met v2” by Cmten, Glitch Gum, Lucas Lex and Sam Eliot, alternating between singing and “rapping” seemingly effortlessly and did the same on “Gone Gone Thank you” by Tyler the Creator. She then delighted everyone with her sardonic original “Same Old Thing”.
Then came a newcomer to the event family, April Lynn. Although only 17, it was immediately obvious she’s had much stage performance time when she enthralled the crowd with her two songs, Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” that the crowd couldn’t help singing along to, and Harry Styles’ tune “Falling”. After her set, it turns out the stage confidence comes via a regular gig she has at Burlew’s in Keyport every other Thursday and Sunday early evenings.
Thomas W. Hagan showed up, after coming for the first time last month, wowing the crowd with two covers and two originals highlighted by his recent release the ukulele tongue and cheek bop “Big Guy”. His voice and guitar (and uke) are well-suited for a wide array of singer-songwriter style pop, and he is working on more music in that vein presently.
Finally, the crowd was charmed by Vicky, a tween who has been a spectator at the open mic often. She bought her ukulele this night and closed the evening with a fun tune while wearing her sunglasses. The crowd enthusiastically roared with applause as she shyly left the stage giggling.
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. It is usually held at the Red Bank Women’s Club in the Anthony Reckless Estate in Red Bank NJ, but due to current restrictions, our new temporary home is graciously provided by venue member, The Chubby Pickle, at 23 Bay Ave., Highlands New Jersey.
Sign up 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
Next YOUTH OPEN MIC NIGHT scheduled for Friday Feb. 12th.
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