Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

By Jim Testa

Bamboozle came and went. The Wave Gathering Festival in Asbury Park hasn’t gathered for years. The Skate & Surf Fest returned but proved to be mostly for skate punk and emo kids. New Jersey needs its own music festival, and the first Jersey Shore Music & Arts Festival promises to fill that gap, with an all-day cultural cornupcopia of local music, vendors, craftspeople, artists, top area restauranteurs, and more.

The Festival will take place at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood on Saturday, July 20. Gates open at noon, and the live music starts at 1 p.m., with at least 84 different acts playing indie, metal, country, folk, and other genres represented on a half dozen stages. The talent ranges from some of the Garden State’s top touring acts (River City Extension, the Front Bottoms) to up-and-coming shore bands like Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why, the Antics, and Julian Fulton & The Zombie Gospel. There’s also a strong emphasis on funk and groove acts like Aer, Sophistafunk, Turtle Soup, Papadosio, and Jimkata. Lineup information, tickets and directions are available at, but if you know any of the bands, contact them directly and they can sell you tickets at a discount.

“It truly is an indie music festival in every sense of the word, in terms of funding, bands, production, promotion, even down to the beer, which is coming out of an indie distribution plant in Ocean County,” stated Chris Rotolo of Speak Into My Good, one of the festival’s sponsors.

“It’s awesome that we have a festival like this again, after the fall of Bamboozle,” enthused Julian Fulton, who will be playing the Skyland stage with his band the Zombie Gospel. “There’s definitely an opening for something like this in New Jersey, something to coordinate the scene.”

“I like that there are a lot of different genres playing too,” Fulton added. “For a band like us, that doesn’t really fit into any specific style, we feel less like a band out of place at a festival like this.” Fulton noted that his band – which hopes to release a full length in the next year – has matured from its earlier radio-friendly pop sound to more ethereal, psychedelic, post-punk excursions, as evidenced by the band’s latest single, “Two Little Thieves.”

Alan Smith of Montclair’s Porchistas also expressed his excitement to be playing. “What I like most about this festival is that it is a nice layer of New Jersey bands doing well on multiple levels, combined with some great national acts that we get to play with right here in New Jersey,” he said. “And I especially like that we can spend the day and play with a lot of our good friends, like Thomas Wesley Stern, Mad Feather group, and Elevator Art.”

“We share a lot of the same fans, so it’s a great opportunity for us to play together in their backyard (those bands all live in Jackson, right near Blue Claw Stadium), hang out with our fans, and also catch a lot of bands that we haven’t seen before,” Smith added. “And I haven’t seen the Front Bottoms live since before they toured, so I’m lookin forward to seeing what they’re up to now. As New Jersey festivals go, it feels different in that it seems like the organizers really tried to create a balance of local, regional and national acts. It should be fun.”

Asbury’s Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why have become a festival staple over the last few summers, and Mumford’s clearly excited that something like this has returned to the Garden State. “I’ve gotten to play many festivals where I got to share the same stage with artists that I worship and admire, like Toots & The Maytals or the Tedeschi Trucks Band,” he said. “Just getting to be in the same backstage area as some of your heroes can be a huge, humbling experience for a young band, but it really is an important part of a band’s development. I also really like the fact that we’ll be playing and getting to hang out with so many bands we know and play with from home, like River City Experience and Echo Movement.”

Here are our Top Eleven Must-See Bands at the

Jersey Shore Music & Arts Fest:

River City Extension:
One of the most popular acts to come out of Asbury Park’s burgeoning Americana scene, River City Extension blend Joe Michelini’s poignant vocals with the rousing bar-band wallop of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and banjo, along with horns, piano, and drums. There are always a lot of people onstage at an RCE show and they’ve proven time and time again that they can transform festival stages into sweaty, intimate, communal celebrations. Expect to smile, dance, and sing along.
The Front Bottoms:
Talon Of The Hawk, the Front Bottoms’ sophomore album, shot up Billboard’s Heatseeker chart on its release this Spring, as the quirky, post-emo team of Brian Sella and Matt Uychich – now expanded to a quintet for touring – continues to win over legions of fans with their catchy but heart-wrenching singalong anthems.
The Porchistas
The pride of Montclair’s hippie folk scene, the Porchistas like to spin traditional story songs into goofy novelty tracks and then follow with their witty, homespun originals. Chris Rotolo of Speak Into My Good opined, “"At its most basic, this band is in the business of bringing smiles to the masses, and though the group's artistic complexities allow The Porchistas to work in various musical mediums, the accessibility remains and the enjoyment of seeing it performed live is undeniable."
Julian Fulton & The Zombie Gospel
I first encountered Hazlet native Julian Fulton and his ever-shifting backup ensemble at Bamboozle 2011, so the young singer/songwriter is certainly no stranger to festival stages. The Aquarian Weekly described Fulton’s debut EP “Heart & Arms” as “an auspicious introduction to Fulton’s passionate delivery, grandiose songwriting, and energetic backing band.”
Thomas Wesley Stern
TWS is a band, not a person, a group of four gifted musicians whose heartfelt interpretation of American folk , bluegrass, and blues glides along on the strength of J.T. Makoviecki’s rustic vocals and the seamless harmonies of his bandmates. Chris Rotolo raved that the band’s latest single “Shake It Out” “follows the rustic blueprint that’s endeared the string-driven collective to a mass of Garden State enthusiast .”
Brandon Asraf (vocals, guitar, bass) and John Tacon (drums, samples, vocals) comprise Brick+Mortar, one of the many rock duos who have emerged in the wake of the White Stripes and Black Keys’ mainstream success. B+M mix up the standard blues-rock formula by incorporating intriguing samples and pounding out aggressively catchy melodies that inevitably turn shows into mass singalongs. Imagine a stripped-down Bouncing Souls jamming with Nine Inch Nails in a sweaty New Jersey basement and you can begin to appreciate the power and charisma of these very unique individuals.
Darrin Bradbury
This burly troubadour has been a mainstay in the Jersey post-folk scene – both as a solo artist and as the frontman of Bergen County’s Big Wilson River - for years, Bradbury will bring songs from his latest solo effort, “Tur-Lyfe: A Live Recording of Unfortunate Events,” one of his strongest sets to date, chock full of witty, melodic, and memorable tunes that channel Steve Goodman, John Prine, and Dylan.
Elevator Art
Toms River sextet Elevator Art combine multiple vocalists with a rotating array of instrumentation to create music that’s brash, exciting, seductive, and entertaining. Ben Oliver of Music Emissions wrote, “The fact that this band is breaking the mold by including four lead vocalists is irrelevant here because Elevator Art offers so much more in return. Their style can best be described as all-over-the-place rock with no set boundaries in place… ”
Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why
Five years ago, Quincy Mumford was a gangly kid in board shorts who looked like he just left the beach. Today, he and his excellent backing band are multiple Asbury Music Award winners, about to release their fifth album, “It’s Only Change,” on July 30. Self-described as “soul meets funk meets rock and R&B,” Mumford & The Reason Why perform confidently to both jam-band groovers and indie rock snobs.
The Antics
Barely out of high school, the Antics are one of New Jersey’s younger self-described “post-pop-punk” bands. Imagine Joy Division stuck in a New Jersey mall being forcefed a steady diet of Hot Topic and Jersey Shore, and rebelling against that. Hellhound wrote, “The New Jersey-based band cooks up a cohesive rock genre toss-up featuring fuzzy guitar riffs and raw emotion that is quickly making these guys hometown heroes."
Black Jesuses
Like Brick+Mortar (and originally, the Front Bottoms,) Asbury Park’s Black Jesuses consist of only two members: Singer, guitarist, and pianist David James Rosen and drummer Sam Bey. The duo’s sound is difficult to describe but hard to forget, a mishmash of classic blues, rock ‘n’ roll, noise-rock, and jazz. Corey Pedalino of SIMGE wrote, “Sam Bey and David James Rosen’s two-piece sound is like nothing you’ll find anywhere. The stylistic approach that they take on their instrumentation is mind boggling… " is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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