When you hear the words music scene, you instantly think about major US cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles. However, when it comes to the musical landscape of America, it’s impossible not to mention New Jersey. We were hard pressed to think of one city within this diverse state that stands out the most. So, we decided the Garden State’s chapter of Scene & Heard, would cover the whole state since it has so many important cities, venues and bands.
Back in the day Newark, NJ was a huge jazz hotspot, producing names like Count Basie, Wayne Shorter and Dizzy Gillespie. And who could forget the most famous music figures of all time, Mr. Frank Sinatra, who began his music career in NJ and NYC. The 1980s claimed its place in the state’s music timeline thanks to Jersey heavyweights Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston. The hip hop realm also finds its roots here courtsey of Rapper’s Delight (widely considered the first recorded rap song) and artists such as Redman, Salt ‘n’ Pepa and Naughty By Nature. Jersey is even home to punk rock legends The Misfits, The Bouncing Souls and The Casualties as well as newcomers My Chemical Romance and The Gaslight Anthem.
While the major players and huge venues are obvious focal points of any major city in New Jersey, we’ll mention some of the smaller places known for housing up-and-coming talent and even giving some of these big names their start. First off, the name The Stone Pony probably rings a bell. Bon Jovi and Springsteen both played early shows at this small venue in Asbury Park. Yet despite it’s notoriety, it still remains a somewhat intimate setting. Over in Hoboken, Maxwell’s hosts acts like Greg Laswell and Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers. The venue also features art shows and other non-musical events.
As for musical acts, Elizabeth, NJ’s Reality Addiction is a powerful alt/rock band with a great live set. They’ve perfected this show at venues in Jersey like Mexicali Live and the previously mentioned Stone Pony. [These venues] both have a lot of good music going on throughout the week, comments the band who declare both places as their favorite Jersey venues to play as well as a reliable place for a visitor to stop by. The band also talked about how the dominance of the emo, screamo, metal and classic rock genres. It seems that our particular sound has given us a kind of edge and originality at the venues here.
When speaking with the band, one fact was reinforced over and over” being based in the New Jersey music scene gives a band the opportunity to be part of two other scenes as well, NYC and Philadelphia. Being so close to major music cities like [that gives] us a wider local fan base from NJ, PA and NYC.
Obviously, New Jersey’s proximity to major markets like NYC and PA gives artists the opportunity to cultivate their careers in those cities. Through such opportunities, the band has been able to share the stage with Max Bemis of Say Anything and Ben Kenney of Incubus. They said,Being a part of shows with national acts has given us a reputation of credibility with other bookers and event planners. The band was also a part of the Bamboozle festival in 2009 and had their music featured in the indie film Prime Of Your Life. Reality Addiction’s music can even be heard on Delta Airlines Flights this summer as part of an elite lineup that includes only 11 other artists.
Check out Reality Addiction’s OurStage profile and stay updated on the band’s future shows. They will be getting airplay and giving in-studio performances for 105.5 WDHA The Rock of New Jersey as part of a Jersey-based rock radio show. Whether it’s your destination or you’re just passing through, Jersey has the sound and reputation to satisfy any concert-goer.
OurStage artist Andrew Belle is slowly but surely becoming the next big thing. First, OurStage and MTV selected the singer-songwriter as the local VMA Best Breakout Artist in Chicago. Then Belle’s music went on to be featured in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, 90210, MTV’s The Real World, The Ghost Whisperer and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. After releasing his debut LP under the direction of GRAMMYaward-winning mixing engineer Vance Powell (The Raconteurs) in February, Belle snagged the Number 1 spot on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Channel. If that wasn’t enough, Belle was hand-picked by MTV Music as OurStage’s Needle in the Haystack in June.
To solidify his continuing climb, Belle debuted his music video for “Static Waves” on Paste last month. Check out the lovely, if not heart-wrenching, video for his duet with GRAMMYnominated Katie Herzig below, and stay tuned as this OurStage star continues to rise.
In the vast sea of singer/songwriters, it’s hard to make a name for yourself. It’s even harder to discover new artists that hit the mark. This week, we’ll make it a little easier for you by directing your attention to the piano-driven, hook-laden music of Andrew Varner.
Hailing from the Columbus, OH area, Varner’s music packs an upbeat punch. He takes a refreshing step away from the acoustic guitars so stereotypical of male pop artists. Rather, you’ll find his music utilizing bouncy piano phrasing, heavily process guitar sounds and even the occasional organ. His voice remains the focal point as he presents playfully sarcastic lyrics and uniquely memorable lines. In his own words, he wants to paint a picture without giving too much away.
Varner frequents venues across Ohio and Tennessee, dividing his time between the Columbus and Nashville areas. His most recent release, the Make Believe EP has put this pop artist on the map. He’s a powerful artist with strong stage presence that has participated in benefit concerts (most recently to help raise money for a local cancer victim), festivals and local fairs. He was even featured as OurStage’s Ernie Ball: Singer/Songwriter prize winner in July. Check out his OurStage profile and pick up his EP. You can also head over to his web site for a few free downloads.
Every month, Ernie Ball selects one artist from one OurStage music channel to be the recipient of a years supply of free strings. In July, they focused on the artists in the Singer Songwriter (Male) Channel. Now that the judging is over and the ranks are in, Ernie Ball has chosen Andrew Varner as the winner of 52 sets of guitar strings and 12 sets of bass strings. Andrew won’t have to fret about buying strings for his axe for an entire year! Just think of how many open-mic nights and clubs one could play with all those strings. Stay tuned to the OurStage blog to find out the selected channel for August.
To cap off this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we’ve got a great interview with the band Philadelphia Slick. Check out the video below and download the free track from earlier in the week if you haven’t already. It’s definitely worth checking out and sharing with friends. As always, another great artist will be featured in next week’s Needle in the Haystack, so stay tuned!
Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only VIBE.com. Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.
Diamond on Female Rappers: ‘It’s Important For Us to Have Variety’
Diamond is one of the few female rappers with a major label deal and she’s currently riding high from her recent cameo on Ludacris’ My Chick Bad. Now preparing to reintroduce the world to her grown-up self, Diamond chats with VIBE about her solo career and why women need to check their emotions when it comes to business. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
Ochocinco and Bernard Berrian’s 5 Mrs. Right Must Haves
At the present moment there are no bachelors on television more in-demand than NFL Cincinnati Bengal Ochocinco (formerly known as Chad Williams) and Minnesota Viking Bernard Berrian. The star and co-star of VH1’s Ultimate Catch have successfully combined dating and sport competition to the tune of 1.5 million viewers weekly. We’re guessing most of these eyes come with longer lashes and would love an opportunity to bag a chocolate receiver (no pun). So VIBE has decided to help the ladies out by asking Mr. ˜Cinco and Sir Berrian for 5 Must-Have’s for their Ms Right. Pay attention and you too could be ballin’. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
Malcolm Jamal Warner on ‘Life After’ The Cosby Show
Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 20 years since The Cosby Show finished its groundbreaking, eight-year successful run on television. And Malcolm Jamal Warner has definitely been one of the more visible former Cosby Show kids as an actor and director. Most recently he turned in guest star appearances on such critically acclaimed shows as, Dexter, The Cleaner and HawthoRNe. Plus, Warner also starred in the Post-Cosby sitcoms Malcolm and Eddie and the short-lived Sherri and Listen Up. And in addition to his work behind the scenes on The Cosby Show, he also served as a director on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Keenan and Kel. While he and his TV siblings qualify as perfect poster adults for former child stars, the 40-year old New Jersey native admits there are still challenges to navigating a successful career after starring on one of the most iconic shows in television history. Malcolm Jamal Warner comes clean on TV One’s biography series Life After, which airs throughout the month of August (check your local listings.) But he also spoke to VIBE.com about his music career, why sometimes you don’t see him on TV and of course, The Cosby Show. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
Kanye provides pithy content for New Yorker cartoons
We’ve entered the New Yorker cartoon caption contest just under a bazillion times, and have never won. Then Kanye West joins Twitter, says something trite, and all of a sudden his inane observations are New Yorker captions. Rage! OK, in all of our defenses, it’s not real. Comedy writers Paul Sabourin and Josh Cagen have taken West’s tweets and turned them into ersatz New Yorker cartoons. It’s funny stuff. Follow @KanyeWest for fresh tweets, check out BuzzFeed to see them put to art, and chat about them with the hashtag #kanyenewyorkertweets.
Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz get married
This is good news for everyone, except maybe Swizz Beatz’s ex wife Mashonda? Dunno, seems like it might bum her out a little, seeing as how the couple had a two-year affair on the sly while he was still married to her. OK, now we’re starting to sound judgmental. We’re happy for them, really, but mostly because of the whole “Keys and Beatz” thing. Make beautiful music together, guys! We’ll stop now.
will.i.am not thrilled about Michael Jackson’s new album
When Michael Jackson’s posthumous album of unreleased material drops by the end of 2010, there will be one person who doesn’t immediately go stand in line at Best Buy or start downloading”Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. The producer/MC collaborated with Jackson on the 2008 rerelease of Thriller, and discovered that the King of Pop was very particular about his music. I don’t think that should ever come out. That’s bad,” he said, “He was a perfectionist and he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. How you gonna release Michael Jackson when Michael Jackson ain’t here to bless it?” The Black Eyed Pea went on to call the album project disrespectful and Jackson’s avid fans parasites. He seems displeased.
Aretha Franklin breaks two ribs
The iconic soul singer was scheduled to perform two concerts in Brooklyn, but had to cancel after falling at her home and breaking two ribs. This is the part where we don’t make a joke about that.
Nicki Minaj announces debut album
M.I.A.’s “XXXO” video preview = WTF
Katy Perry gets uncovered for the cover of Rolling Stone
Nominees announced for VMAs
J-Lo and Steven Tyler to host American Idol?
Weird Al Yankovic to co-headline Fun Fun Fun Fest with Dirty Projectors and Devo
Kings of Leon announce fifth album, Come Sundown
Cursive’s Tim Kasher releases The Game of Monogamy