The Mark La Rochelle Youth Open Mic Night on Sept 10th

Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic Night
Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic Night

This past September 10th, 2021, the area’s musical youth came out once again to entertain and share their talent at this monthly event. The MLYOM is presented monthly by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation at The Women’s Club of Red Bank in the Anthony Reckless Estate (164 Broad St).

As always, this open mic night for local youth is coordinated and hosted by me, JSJBF board member Joseph Vincent Riggio, to further promote our local musical heritage at the Jersey Shore. September always has a smaller than usual attendance due to the start of the school year and the loss of those who graduated high school, off to their first semester in college. This year was no exception, but those circumstances led to a more intimate setting and a quiet intensity that was embraced and enjoyed by all.

Opening the night was Maddie Freeman, a just turned 13 year-old. Despite her tender age, she is a powerhouse vocalist always delivering a memorable performance. She is a multi-instrumentalist, playing bass and drums as well as her main instrument, the keyboard. Her voice and playing complement each other so well that, from note one, the crowd was hooked. She began with the Rod Stewart classic “Maggie May,” rolling next into the lesser known “Never Forget You” by the Noisettes. The diversely arranged set ended with big vocals on the Sammie Haggar fronted Van Halen banger “Why Can’t This Be Love”. Two of our newest Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation board members were in attendance, Wayne Kessler and John Dammacco from the powerhouse blues band Jump Back, and they lead the loud cheering as the last notes from Maddie’s performance rang out.

The best part of this ongoing event is the constant infusion of new performers who grace our stage. This month was no exception. Two sisters, Annabel and Andie Sparano, who I had the pleasure of meeting at JSJBF venue member, The Chubby Pickle, this summer accepted our invitation to come and perform. Another joy of

this event is hearing different styles and types of performances. From its inception, the performers at MLYOM have been encouraged to never limit their art to any genre of music. These girls brought something completely new to the table, something they described as “a jazz-inspired classical piano duet.” The piece is called “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla. It started mellow and heavy on bass cords, exploding in melodic synchrony in phrasing that excited the crowd. Although unfamiliar to most in the room, it was obvious these two youngsters put a lot of their own interpretation into the piece. Andie then took a seat while her sister, Annabel, showered the crowd with an adorable smile and two original songs. They included the very well thought out and lyrically interesting ”Utopia” and “In Your Arms.” The crowd showed their enthusiasm for the newcomers and I made a point of welcoming the girls and their lovely parents to the open mic family and asking them to return. Graciously, they agreed and we’ll be hearing from them again soon.

Carlotta Schmidt has been a fixture at the open mic for the past 4 years plus. She brings genuine enthusiasm each month and works hard to repeatedly bring a diverse performance. This night she performed on her Guild electric guitar with which she has developed a true bond. She was asked do a closing set since this month was light on performers. She brilliantly presented “Glistening” by Flipturn, followed “Water Shed” by The Indigo Girls, one of her favorite tunes by her favorite band and most inspirational muse. She then blessed the crowd with her first original composition called “I’ve had it.” Before closing with the upbeat and aggressively strummed and vocalized “Pain lies on the Riverside” from the album “Mental Jewelry” by the band, Live, Carlotta teased about her upcoming gig with her jazz band, The 10 O’clock Jazz Trio. This venue took place on September 18th at the Chubby Pickle. That show was promoted by J v Archer ENTERTAINMENT and billed as a “Generations” showcase including young artists and a veteran crew with the purpose to inspire all ages involved. I thanked Carlotta for helping to spark the idea and she graciously nodding her gratitude. She then provided a glimpse of what could be expected from that showcase by doing an outstanding rendition of “Masquerade” by George Benson with scat soloing along with her guitar. Carlotta’s talent reveals a tone and voice control well beyond her young age. New JSJBF board member, John Demmacco, was the first to rise after the song was complete exclaiming “Outstanding!”

Photos from the open mic night

click on photo to enlarge

As the crowd assisted after the performances in clearing the room and putting away the equipment (both a bonding experience and a tradition at the Women’s club), the new performers chatted and made fast friends exchanging social media info.

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.

Music is not limited to Jazz and Blues. All are welcome to listen! We ask for a $5 donation to perform or attend. Only youth under 21 are invited to attend.

For further information contact Joseph Vincent Riggio at 732-670-2157 

Follow Mark La Rochelle Youth Open Mic on Facebook and Instagram.

Next YOUTH OPEN MIC NIGHT is scheduled for Friday, October. 15th.

The next Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic night is scheduled for October 15th. It will begin at 7:00pm (Sign-up sheet available at 6:30 PM). Presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation one Friday night a month, this venue is designed with the purpose of providing the musical youth community along the Jersey Shore and beyond with a forum to perform in a fun, supportive, friendly and inviting environment. Please join us for our next gathering at the Red Bank Women’s Club in the Anthony Reckless Estate, 164 Broad Street, Red Bank NJ.