After 2 months of impressive and memorable shows at the new BandsonaBudget/Cowerks space, we were witness to something really unique this past Saturday. Usually bustling with people both inside and out, Asbury as a whole seemed to slow down on Saturday night. Maybe it was the obstacle course construction sights that make the entire city look closed for business, or maybe everyone had a little too much fun on Friday night. Walking across the abnormally quiet Cookman Avenue and onto Mattison, I approached the glow of the office windows. At first glance, the open room spotted with a few faces seemed like a disappointment. They were really enthusiastic looking faces though. Sitting crossed-legged on the floor, leaning against walls and lounging in the strewn office chair, the small crowd watched with great focus and excitement as Brook Pridemore set the levels on his guitar. What from the outside looked like a slow turn-out, instantly turned into an exclusive listening party for some of the most talented musicians to come through, or out of New Jersey. It was a gem in Asbury Park that night.
Brook took me by surprise. I have a special place in my heart for these singer/songwriters standing up there with an acoustic guitar, belting out and playing with the fiery passion of a raging punk band. It's amazing to watch the electricity of his own songs move through his body and spew out into the room. There was an unspoken sense of the room collectively being blown away. One could tell the excitement of the fans who quietly sang along to his songs at their own private viewing. Something else that I love about these punk-encrusted country singers is what happens in between songs. The dialogue is as entertaining as the music they're sharing. Hilarious stories were rattled off about being randomly told off by a stranger on the train down here, going through a phase where he believed in leprechauns; I mean, you can't make this stuff up. I often wonder how people can be such great speakers, impromptu comedians, and witty story-tellers while delivering so well as musicians. Perhaps it's the 200-300 shows he plays each year. Brook made each of us in the crowd feel like he was talking and singing right to us, which in this case, there was a 1 in 10 chance he was. After the show, he shared with BandsonaBudget/Cowerks founder Bret Morgan that this show reminded him why he's doing this. Us too, Brook.
Following Brook was the beloved Joe Michelini of New Jersey's River City Extension, joined by his talented drummer Mike Costaney. Tapering down from 8 members to 2 for this intimate performance, I was surprised by how little the energy and dynamics changed with just the bare bones of drums and guitar or bass. The lucky few in attendance shared in the rare opportunity to hear new songs before they are considered for the band's more permanent set list. Being stripped of so many layers of their normal sound, we got a chance to focus on the raw song structure, rhythm, and vocals that structure these often anthemic tunes. After listening endlessly to their record “The Unmistakable Man”, it was an amazing and unique experience to match that familiar voice with new songs in such an intimate environment. When the day comes that River City introduces these new songs to a crowded room, those of us who shared this night will think back to our own personal introduction: Joe and Mike, in their socks, in a store in Asbury Park. It was a night to remember.
For more memorable nights at the BandsonaBudget/Cowerks space, check out our upcoming events:
Thursday 10/21 7PM Free
Modern User Interface/User Experience Patterns in Web Design
Speaker: Joe Lifrieri
Sunday 10/24 1:30PM $5 All Ages
(Paper & Plastick Records, on tour from Lancing, MI)
Laura Stevenson & The Cans
Carpenter (on tour from Canada)
Saturday 11/6 7PM Free
McRad (featuring Chuck Treece of Underdog, Bad Brains)
Changes (featuring members of Charge & Overstand)
All events will be held at:
630 Mattison Ave
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
nina [at] bandsonabudget [dot] com
866 471 3868