Live in JC: Rocking Around JC Fridays
I’m quite sold on the fact that the only reason weather exists is to screw up festival events and picnics. It’s definitely peak monsoon season here in Jersey City, and last Friday was no exception.
So as I crossed Grove Street in the rain to start my evening of rocking through JC Fridays, I made sure to submerse my right Chuck Taylor All-Stars (not known for their ability to shrug off water) completely to the ankle. I’m not one to worry about having a wet foot if I’m on my way home from work or in transit, but when you come out for an event that promises to last 6 or 7 hours it’s not exactly ideal. But, hey, I’m a professional — so I tried to make the best of it.
I reached the stage at Grove Street PATH plaza as optimal sock wetness kicked in. Normally, I wouldn’t be at Groove on Grove on a Friday, but the masterminds behind the free weekly music series moved this week’s show from Wednesday to Friday to coincide with the quarterly arts extravaganza known as JC Fridays.
The Black Hollies were sound testing as I settled in under a tent erected just for the show. These Jersey City cats have a throwback sound and style that’s comparable to the late ’60s mod wave, back when record players reigned supreme and computers took up the size of buildings. There’s something about well executed rock ‘n’ roll with an anachronistic feel that really grips at my heart. They finished their set with a seriously kick-ass closer, (see the video) after which I took a minute to congratulate the band and received their new 7 inch — I’ll be sure to let you know what I think soon.
The rain lightened to a sprinkle as the One & Nines began playing. I’ve seen them now something like 6 or 7 times, and I get a little excited each time. Vera’s peerless voice coupled with the rest of the band’s one-of-a-kind style proves that Jersey City’s local music scene is much more than a one trick pony. Will Hansen’s keyboard tactics (yes, the man is a keyboard tactician) betrayed this showman’s calm demeanor. Jeff Marino rocks the guitar and acts as a foil to Vera’s lyrical musings. Alex Tyshkov brings a taste of funk with his bass to this Motown-inspired band. Barami Waspe tones in with some solid sax action, while Ken Walz reigns down a little fire and brimstone on the drums in conjunction with both the band and the storm. Giving the crowd a quick glance, it seems that the music beat out the rain as the area underneath the tent soon reached capacity.
Looking back, I don’t think I would have had the weather turn out any other way. There was a sense of community underneath that tent — not to mention the fact that a huge white tent acts as a softbox for picture-taking.
The Milwaukees crashed the party after the One & Nines were through. They had a classic adventuring party rock setup. Jeff Nordstedt the rogue on guitar, Donovan Cain, the wizard, on bass, Patrick Fusco, warpath barbarian of the drums, and leading the way on vocals and guitar, a veritable multiclassing paladin, Dylan St. Clark. Geek references aside, these fellas bring the rock. They bring it solidly and simply. Most importantly its good, clean and fun (not just two of those three, like burritos or church). You can tell by the brimming smiles and the energy they project on stage that the Milwaukees are having a really good time making music together. Note to self: I have to get an album.
After their set I headed over to Grand Banks over on Montgomery Street to see what all the For the Love of Music hubbub was about. First impression: Good-sized place with a huge stage … huge for Jersey City, anyway. Drinks are just above reasonable at $4 for a bottle of Bud. There’s a full bar just left of the stage, a sizable dance floor right in front of the stage as well as plenty of standing room all over the place. Bathrooms fit like four or five people, so there weren’t lines. The $10 cover was a bit pricey, but I support charging a cover to pay the bands, and there were three very good bands playing that night.
The Fringe Dwellers were just breaking down as I walked in, and Any Day Parade was just setting up. The Jersey City quintet played a no holds barred set, winning the crowd over easily with their on-stage antics and country-rock style.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around Grand Banks to see the Black Hollies play again — I had to see what else was going on around town. Any Day Parade was still rocking out as I stepped down the block to IM Automata Chino to see how they were celebrating JC Fridays.
At IMAC, the Jeff Humphrey Trio was finishing up as I entered, so I took a few shots of the band. But that was around the time the wet socks — and the constant drinking — started to catch up with me. I’d have to miss The Flaming Fire at 58, and the rest of the IMAC bands, and whoever was left playing at Grand Banks. It was time to turn it in.
All in all, though, not a bad day. I got out for some great bands, took some pics and even some video, and a good amount of booze was imbibed. I could consider this JC Fridays a complete success … minus the soggy feet.
The Black Hollies:
The One & Nines: