Local Indie Musicians Starting New Music Series in PAD

Blues singer Eliza Neals has had enough of the Jersey City music scene–or rather, of its malnourishment. Now, she’s starting the Naked Blues Loft Music Series, what she hopes will be a bimonthly event that will bring together local musicians, artist spaces and venues.

“I am not impressed by the scene here because the community and venues as a whole do not back us very much,” says the Powerhouse Arts District resident. “For so many people you would think there would be a venue to support live music…I believe that good music is a cure and Jersey City is trying to get well.”

Neals, whose raw, sultry style has won her accolades including two Detroit Music Awards this year for Best Blues Recording and Best Rock Songwriter, has been a lifelong blues girl.

“I grew up in the Motor City from a musical family so it drives my soul,” she says, adding that collaborating with other musicians gives variety and life to her music. “Bootsy Collins anointed me with his funky balloon at a record store. Then I met Motown legend Barrett Strong and started songwriting and singing with him.

“I’m a kamikaze-style frontwoman. I can find a ‘good’ musician in a bowl of rice and boom–we’re performing together,” she says.

Neals hopes to bring the same electric spontaneity to the Naked Blues series, which will be the latest local effort to give JC musicians a place to regularly perform. She’s running the series from 150 Bay Street, a condominium which is also home to many local artists.

“Being a musician, I feel like that live music is always a sideshow in Jersey City, not the main act,” says Neals. “Many artists open their doors for art sales, etc., so being in the Jersey City Artist Studio Tours, I figured why not open the doors and showcase music?”

For the kickoff concert, Neals herself will perform. The show will also feature Debra Devi, a rock musician and author of The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu. The Downtown Jersey City resident is best known as the frontwoman of rock band Devi.

“Debra will perform naked–yes, naked, stripped down, so you can listen to her words and hear her perform. Just her guitar and one other musician, similar to how I will perform,” says Neals. “Debra is also a cutting-edge female artist, and indie females need to support each other in this male-dominated biz.”

Overall, she says musicians need to band together and take control of their destiny.

“Independent musicians need to get together and not wait for a venue just go for it,” she says. “If you don’t try something, you got nothing.”

The Naked Blues Loft Music Series launches on Saturday, May 25, 7 pm to 10 pm at 150 Bay Street. Drinks and dessert will be served. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. Doors open at 6 pm. A doorman in the lobby will direct guests to the appropriate loft. For more information visit, elizaneals.com.

Photo courtesy of Eliza Neals

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.