Chris Arena
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Chris Arena

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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July 18, 2010 - Chris Arena believes this could be the year his career as a professional musician breaks. And his 76-year-old grandmother can take some credit.

Arena, who now lives in Philadelphia, will release his self-titled debut record Tuesday to coincide with the recent premiere of “Dark Fall,” a locally filmed surfing documentary that features two of Arena’s tunes.

The album, recorded at Ardent Studio in Memphis, Tenn., where Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top also cut albums, is arranged by Grammy Award-winning producer Craig Street (Nora Jones), and three-time Grammy-winning engineer Tony Maseratti (Jason Mraz).

Throughout the CD, the 25-year-old offers indie rock with pop influences that sounds like a unique mix of Jack Johnson, Coldplay, Bright Eyes and maybe even a little Bob Dylan.

There’s also some power players involved, including pianist Rick Steff (Gin Blossoms) and horn arrangements by the late Willie Mitchell, who is known for his work with Al Green.

But despite Arena’s musical connections, it’s his grandmother, Margate’s Sylvia Luongo — he calls her “Mugga” — that he looks to for honest opinions about his music.

“The album took a long time to make because she is my biggest critic,” said Arena, who released the album independently on iTunes, Amazon and his website (click here for a link). “She is my soundboard. I ask her what she thinks of a song, and if she ignores me and keeps watching TV, I would go back to work. If she turned off the golf and asked me about a lyric, I knew I was onto something.”

Arena, who is hoping the CD attracts enough attention to catch the noticed of a record label, will try out for “American Idol” next month. In the meantime, he will perform throughout the tri-state area, including a weekly Sunday gig at Ventura’s Greenhouse in Margate. - Press of Atlantic City


July 20, 2010 - Chris Arena is based out of New Jersey and is releasing his debut CD on, July 20th. Independently released, the album is set to coincide with the premiere of Dark Fall, a documentary by Jersey filmmaker Alex DePhillipo.

Get the album now on iTunes.

Upcoming Dates:
Thursday,August 5th: 8 PM at the Tuckerton Seaport in Tuckerton, NJ (Jersey shore). opening for the Dark Fall showing again. www.tuckertonseaport.org

Monday,August 16th: 8PM at the National Underground (upstairs) in NYC www.thenationalunderground.com - Eat Sleep Breathe Music


August 4, 2020 - Chris Arena, a Jersey shore product now living in Philly, recently released an eponymous CD of 10 songs he wrote and recorded in Memphis, Tenn. Two of the tracks, “Crazy” and “Wait,” are part of the soundtrack to the recently debuted local surfing documentary film Dark Fall by Alex DiPhillipo. See chrisarena.com for more. - Atlantic City Weekly


August 11, 2010 - Chris Arena is one of our own--a lifelong surfer and a devoted singer/songwriter. New Jersey gives him his breath, virtually all of his inspiration and the depth to his soulful riffs and lyrics that stuff his latest CD. I had the pleasure of seeing Chris do his thing at the premiere of the heralded surf film, "Dark Fall" (2 of his songs are on the soundtrack) and the honor of talking to him afterwards about his music and ascension as a recording artist.

As a 3rd generation guitarist, there's a bit of pre-destiny in Chris' music career. His grandfather, Joe Arena, was an accomplished, NY-based jazz musician, playing clubs "every night for 35 years." "He loved playing in front of people, loved being the entertainer," Chris said. And he ripped on a classic Black 1959 Les Paul (to you guitar aficianados out there--yes THAT one). Chris' dad also played and taught his son absolutely everything he knew, which given grandpa, was an endless trove of sweetness. In addition, Chris enjoyed heaps of support from his mom and his grandmother, whom he affectionately referred to as "Mugga". She was the one who'd tell him like it is and when she didn't like something, he knew he had to keep working. Chris credited Mugga with getting hm to the level that he's at now.

While Chris' family gave him the chops, his environs influenced his style and work ethic more than anything. Born and raised in New Jersey, Chris' family moved to Memphis when he was 12. While a great place for the blues, the place didn't jibe well with Chris' sensibilities and he felt like he was "in another country." He had no friends and was as isolated as a kid could be. So, he turned to his guitar. It was all he had, except for the fleeting days of summer he had each year back in his beloved Longport. Those summer months became the respite for his lonely winter days down south. As soon as he could, he moved back to Margate, NJ. And that's when good things really started to happen.

His music found his way into the hands of sound engineer Tony Maseratti, a 3x Grammy Winner who's worked with the likes of Tupac, Black Eyed Peas, Will Smith, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, R Kelly, Alicia Keys.... Tony liked what he heard, decided to take Chris under his wing and show him the biz. Tony also introduced Chris to Grammy Winning producer Craig Street, who arranged many of the tracks on his latest cd. People like Tony & Craig don't take on projects for kicks and giggles. They take people like Chris on because they see the talent, the jewel amidst the dust and it's their passion to bring out the shine. Chris did what it took to work with them, absorbed all they had to offer and implemented their suggestions. The CD is a smooth, stylish collection as a result.

Though he describes his style as "pop, though a bit left field", there's a deep blues influence throughout the tracks. He's got a soothing, smoky voice (his Johnny Cash is pretty unreal) that washes over solid guitar and a rich back-up of established musicians. I first listened to the cd on a late night drive on a long, lonely highway and that still seems like the best setting. I dug what I heard and was intrigued about what his next project will sound like. He could take his music in a million directions and it'll be fun to watch where he goes.

Chris is playing Friday night at the 2nd showing of the "Dark Fall" movie at the House of Blues in Atlantic City. After that, he's got a bunch of places he's playing. Be sure to catch him and support this local guy who's clearly on the rise.

Upcoming Tour Dates
Aug. 13th- HOUSE OF BLUES, ATLANTIC CITY, NJ 8PM w/ Tsunami rising and JUMPSHIP-Tickets available on Ticketmaster.com
Aug 14th-Milkboy Coffee House, Ardmore, PA 8pm
Aug 15th-The Greenhouse, Margate, NJ 5-9pm
Aug 16th-National Underground, New York, NY 8-10pm
Aug 19th-The Inlet, Somers Point, NJ-6:30-10pm
Aug 22nd-The Greenhouse, Margate, NJ 5-9pm
Aug. 24th-800 club, Somers Point, NJ 8:30-10:30
Aug 29th-The Greenhouse, Margate, NJ 5-9pm
Sept. 5th-The Greenhouse, Margate, NJ 5-9pm
Sept. 11th-Surf for a Cause ( Dean Randazzo) & Beach Fest-Decatur Avenue, 4-6pm - NJ.com


August 6, 2010 - Chris Arena’s debut record may be self-titled, but it’s far from a solo effort. The album, an alternately intimate and anthemic slice of indie rock and neo-folk, features guest spots from top session musicians and was recorded with the help of Grammy-winning producers. But more important than any big-name collaborator is Arena’s own family. “They’re just as much a part of these songs as I am,” says the New Jersey native, “right down to my guitar.”

That instrument, a black 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, was custom-ordered by Arena’s grandfather, a New York jazz musician. It was eventually passed down to Arena’s father, who taught his son how to play it. The guitar turned out to be extremely popular – and astoundingly rare. “Gibson only made around 200, and this is one of the only ones in black,” says Arena proudly. “I’ve read articles saying the model is in the running to be the first guitar worth $1 million.”

That’s the kind of thing you certainly want to keep close to home, and to keep it in pristine condition, like a classic car, you need to keep “driving” it. But this classic shouldn’t fall into just anyone’s hands. Sensing a new family tradition about to be born, Arena’s father told him it could one day be his – but only if Arena promised to pursue music seriously. “My whole family has a passion for music, and they passed it on to me. But the guitar was the leverage I needed to really go for it,” he explains.

The budding songwriter found his muse when his father moved the family to Memphis. Despite its reputation as a musical incubator and its vaulted place among the histories of varied American genres, the teenage Arena found it “completely unforgiving” for a young performer. “I was a kid with a Jersey accent in a place where they still referred to northerners as Yankees,” he recalls. “I didn’t look, talk or act like anyone down there. I felt completely isolated.”

In turning inward, writing music became Arena’s outlet and passion. By the time he graduated from the University of Memphis, he had over 30 songs in his cache. And while he may have felt alone in the “Home of the Blues,” Arena was never without people by his side. “My family has made it a point to mold me into the best musician I can possibly be. It’s like a dad who trains his kid to be a great quarterback,” he says. His father would coach him on the best riffs to play or chords to use; his mother guided him to find his own musical voice and even helped him with the rough mixes of his songs to send to producers.

After returning to the East Coast – splitting his time between Philadelphia and his hometown of Margate, N.J – Arena’s grandmother became his most constructive critic. “Every time I write a song, she’s the first person to hear it. If she doesn’t like it, she’ll yawn or pick up the phone,” he laughs. “But I know it’s a keeper when she starts watching my fingering or asking me to repeat a lyric.”

With Arena’s familial influences and his singular experiences in the South shaping his work, the result is a deeply personal album with far-reaching appeal. After a show last month at Puck, his set met with rave reviews. Already, two of his songs have been licensed by filmmaker Alex DiPhillipo for his documentary “Dark Fall,” which chronicles the lives and culture of New Jersey surfers. “It took a long time to get everything just right, but I have such a strong connection to each song,” Arena says. “And knowing they’ve touched someone else to the point where they want to use it to complement their own art is just an amazing feeling.”
- dtown Magazine


June 23, 2010 -- Singer-songwriter and New Jersey native Chris Arena is releasing his self-titled debut record on Tuesday, July 20. The date is set to coincide with the Friday, July 16 première of the film Dark Fall by director Alex DePhillipo, to which Arena contributed two songs.

The album, simply titled Chris Arena, was recorded at Ardent Studio in Memphis, TN (Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top), arranged by Grammy-wining producer Craig Street (Nora Jones) and mixed by three time Grammy-winning sound engineer Tony Maseratti (WILL.I.AM. Jason Mraz, John Legend). The album also features the piano work of Rick Steff (Cat Power, Gin Blossoms, George Thorogood) and horn arrangements by the late Willie Mitchell (Al Green).

Arena’s debut fuses the intimacy of Nick Drake with the semi-sprawling sensibilities of Alexi Murdoch and Cassadega-era Bright Eyes to create an album of atmospheric soundscapes and beautifully vulnerable melodies.

“The songs have a strong emotional core. There’s so much of myself and my family throughout record,” comments Arena. On each track, he plays a rare 1959 Les Paul Standard. The guitar was passed down from his grandfather, a jazz musician from New York, to his father, a pilot who would spend his few moments at home teaching Arena how to play on it.

Two of the songs have been chosen by filmmaker Alex DePhillipo for his documentary Dark Fall, which examines the lives of underground professional surfers. The film has already been hailed as “Rare and unique” by Surfer Magazine, and “The best Jersey film ever!” by Transworld Magazine, and has been covered in numerous publications throughout New Jersey.

Arena will be performing at multiple Dark Fall premieres this summer and is invited to perform at the Tribeca Surf Film Festival in the fall (dates TBD). Solo dates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York are being planned. - Arena Music, LLC


Discography

Self-Titled - to be released this summer

Single-"All In Your Head"

Photos

Bio

Chris Arena delivers what the music lover in all of us is looking for: the haunt of lyrics that dig deeper than the bones, and melodies that hum louder than your own thoughts.

Arena has played to thousands of people from Memphis TN, to Atlantic City, NJ and Manhattan, NY. He quickly began making waves in the Philadelphia music scene since relocating there in 2009, sharing the stage with scene heavyweights like the Pawn Shop Roses and Bess Rogers.

His self-titled debut album, arranged by Grammy-wining producer Craig Street (Nora Jones) and mixed by three time Grammy-winning sound engineer Tony Maseratti (WILL.I.AM. Jason Mraz, John Legend) at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN (Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top), combines intuitive melodies with left field pop.

The album, which also features the piano work of Rick Steff (Cat Power, Gin Blossoms, George Thorogood), fuses the intimacy of Nick Drake and the semi-sprawling sensibilities of Bright Eyes and Alexi Murdoch with atmospheric soundscapes and beautifully vulnerable melodies.

Released in July 2010, the album quickly garnered positive press coverage. The single Crazy was Song of the Day on www.eatsleepbreathemusic.com and the disc was named Album of the Week by Atlantic City Weekly.

dtown Magazine hailed Arena’s music as “an alternately intimate and anthemic slice of indie rock and neo-folk” and NJ.com observed, “[Arena] could take his music in a million directions and it'll be fun to watch where he goes.”

Three songs from the album were featured in the director Alex DePhillipo’s documentary Dark Fall. Arena toured in support of the film from July through September, including performances at two sold-out screenings at the Atlantic City House of Blues.

Growing up on the New Jersey shore, Arena’s family nurtured his passion for music. His mother weaned him on a steady diet of Van Morrison and Cream and his father taught him to play guitar. He inherited an amazingly rare 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar from his grandfather, a jazz musician, and still reveres his grandmother as his most trusted critic.

Arena began writing his own songs in high school, inspired by recent upheavals in his life. His family moved from the east coast to Memphis, TN as his father struggled and nearly died of cancer. Though Memphis is regarded a music town, Arena feeling alienated from his peers as a northerner far from home, and spent countless nights alone with his guitar writing music.

His songs caught the attention of sound engineer Tony Masserati while Arena was attended the University of Memphis. He graduated two years ago and immediately began work on his first release.

With strong regional success behind him, Arena has national recognition in his sights for 2011.