The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic – April 16, 2021

Friday April 16th, once again had the area’s finest musical youth come out to show their stuff at The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic presented by The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation. Hosted by board member and coordinator Joseph Vincent Riggio, it has been dubbed everyone’s “Favorite Friday Night of the Month,” and it continues to be an incredible night of fun, friendship, and music. The hashtag #toomuchtalentinoneroom was certainly not oversold this evening that had the (50% capacity, COVID distanced) house at capacity with anticipation of the night prompting reservations at The Chubby Pickle, who graciously continues its support as the event’s temporary home until The Women’s Club of Red Bank is ready to host live events again at the Anthony Reckless Estate.

Opening the night was leather-vested, denim-hatted and orange locked, one week shy of 17-year-old, Keyport Junior Eve on guitar. She delighted the crowd with two sardonic originals. The first named “ A Samsung All My Bad Memories Are On There” and the second she has not decided on a title yet. Her musical bridges in both scale down to talk rap that almost ignore timing forcingly engaging the crowd’s attention by design one would suspect.

Much to everyone’s delight, 11-year-old powerhouse vocalist/keyboardist (and drummer) Maddie Freeman returned with her whole family in tow, including her grandparents who were excited to be out and see her perform, even more delighted than her usual open mic fans. She sang four huge numbers seemingly effortlessly including Adele’s “Rolling in The Deep”, Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo, the K-Pop mega-banger “Dynamite” by BTS and Vance Joy’s “Riptide” stating she decided to end with it since it was one of her Mom’s favs.

Then MAST Junior April Lynn was welcomed back to the CP stage fresh off her performance one week prior where she stepped into a last-minute opening set to start off an All-Ages show. Showing her pro chops and mastery of multiple genres, she gave everyone four well delivered tunes on guitar and vocals. Particularly suited to her voice were the Harry Styles hit “Watermelon Sugar High” and her closer “Troublemaker” by Olly Murrs with her almost country take on it, it really stood out. You should catch her regular gigs at Burlew’s in Keyport every other Sunday early evenings.

Reliably, and much to the delight of all in attendance, 16-year-old Mellissa LaRochelle performed as well. Mom and former JSJBF Scholarship Award winner Allison were there to support reliably as well. It has been mentioned before that she chose to spend a lot of her quarantine time building her guitar chops, but this evening she proved she has put in some time on her voice as well. With beautiful tone and easy feeling control, she wowed everyone with “If You Love Her” by Floresf Blakk and the super melodic “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy.

Next JSJSB 2020 Mark LaRochelle Scholarship Award Winner Ruby Riggio performed, accompanying herself with her cool pink ukulele. Her unique strumming and finger picking style always adds an interesting twist to her songs. She began with “Haunting” by Halsey and “When I Was Older by Billie Eilish”. She ended with the upbeat lyrical IDK anthem “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. She is opening the All Ages “Summer Kickoff Show” at The Chubby Pickle Memorial Day Weekend Saturday May 29th opening for the popular local groups Malibu and Flourish by their request. She hits at 6pm.

2019 JSJBF Scholarship Award Winner drummer Andrew Ahlborn showed up with his Sunsets From Jupiter bandmate Tom Hicks and newcomer to the event, Luke Russoniello, on guitar and vocals. They did a four-song tribute set to punk pop legends Green Day including “2000 Light Years Away,” “Brain Stew”, “Basket Case” and “Holiday”

Then Sunsets From Jupiter ax/front man and 2020 JSJBF Scholarship Award Winner Clay Kunego popped in after working at Jack’s Music in Red Bank just in time to close the event with the band (Shy rhythm guitarist Danny). They opened with a reworked original, formally known as “Power Lines,” now a much slicker and better paced tune called “Knocking At The Door”. They threw in two covers: QOTSA “Go With The Flow” and “Poppies” by the ‘90s crew Marcy Playground and ended with track 8 “No TV” off their debut EP “An Alien Feeling”. Clay’s new pedal rig shined through his VOX amp and the crowd cheered loudly as the last cord faded.

Next scheduled for May 14th 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. Usually 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.

Signup 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. 

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