Colossal Street Jam
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Colossal Street Jam

Red Bank, NJ | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Red Bank, NJ
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Blues




"Review: Colossal Street Jam – ‘Living Free’"

A band’s choice of cover versions can usually be a good indicator of what the rest of an album might sound like. So midway through ‘Living Free’, the new album from New Jersey’s Colossal Street Jam, the familiar strains of Frankie Miller’s ‘Be Good To Yourself’ gave me a ‘eureka’ moment. For twenty or so minutes, I had been chewing over who Colossal Street Jam vocalist Gene Potts reminded me of, and then blam! Frankie who? Frankie f*****g Miller, that’s who… as the album sleeve from his ‘70’s compilation proudly exclaimed. Potts has the same powerful, gritty voice that any self respecting blues-rock vocalist had to have in the heady days of Free, Bad Company, The Small Faces, and of course, Scotland’s finest – Frankie Miller. Four starting points for what you might pick up from ‘Living Free’. Mix in some classic New Jersey rock n’ roll, and there you have Colossal Street Jam.

Start with the guitar. The guitar is key. Sal Marra lays down enough cool licks, and makes enough noise during the opening track ‘Won’t Last This Way’, that you end up doubting that there is only one dude playing. Likewise, the strutting guitar sound on the bluesier ‘Skies Above’ is exemplary. In places, the song has a Free ‘Fire And Water’ vibe going on, something that will always grab anyone’s attention. Instead of playing it safe with a by-the-numbers blues-rock standard, they mix it up by changing tempo throughout, and it develops into a full on jam. The rhythms from bassist Tony Flora and Dave Halpern on the skins are quite subliminal. Nothing overly fussy, just clean and precise as they should be, and certainly make their mark. Potts has a warm, natural voice. I can imagine him sitting at the bar… someone shouts “Dude, you’re up”. He finishes his beer, then makes his way on stage. However, the secret weapon is the luscious keyboards of Eric Safka. Dude, you had me at Hammond. Add a Hammond organ to any track, and instantly it rises a level or three. Safka is all over it. Damn, it’s a fine sound. The highlight of the album is the beautiful ‘Songbird’, a great mix of soft acoustic guitar and dreamy electric solos that soar high when they come in. The vocals from Potts are quiet and understated, but the last few moments see him ramp it up, hinting at what’s to come.

The one-two of ‘Hanging Around’ and the aforementioned ‘Be Good To Yourself’ highlight the importance of pacing on an album. The blues rock of ‘Hanging Around’ features some stunning guitar work from Sal Marra, who continues to impress throughout… and then it’s Miller time. ’Be Good To Yourself’ could have been written with today’s turbulent times in mind, but it wasn’t. In the decades since it was released, I have witnessed some pretty bog standard covers, but Potts totally nails it with the same grit, and the same fire in his voice as Frankie himself. This continues into ‘Monday Morning Mass’, which musically, has a Zeppelin thread running through it. ‘I Can’t Take It’ is more funky, whereas ‘Let It Go’ is a cheeky little number with some honky tonk piano from Safka. The band finish the album with a live number, ‘Sweet Little Lady’, recorded at the famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park. It don’t matter a hill of beans if a band can’t cut it live, and this six minute extended jam is proof indeed that these guys can cut the mustard. That Hammond though… Christ, it’s massive!

‘Living Free’ is perfect for those that have a hankering for some classic blues based rock n’ roll. It’s available now, with more information on Facebook.

Review: Dave Stott - Devil's Gate Media - UK

"Colossal Street Jam’s New Release Is Indeed That….Colossal"

New Jersey has been known for producing some great homegrown talent (e.g., Springsteen, Bon Jovi, etc.) and with their latest release Jersey-homegrown band Colossal Street Jam continues that lineage. The band’s most recent effort is entitled Living Free and on it lead singer Gene Potts and crew show why they are one of the mainstays in a highly competitive East Coast music market.

To be clear, Colossal Street Jam is not a newbie to the Jersey rock scene. The band’s origins go back to the early 1990s. Fast forward to Living Free, Potts talked about the writing of the band’s latest album:

The earlier days of CSJ
The earlier days of CSJ

Gene Potts
Gene Potts (photo courtesy of Coucou Photography)
CSJ is comprised of a solid line-up of seasoned Jersey rock veterans. Starting with Potts, he’s simply not your average singer. His voice is distinct. It is edgy. It is also indicative of a singer with some passion….serious passion. As they say in baseball, a lot of guys can throw 90 mph but to get to the major leagues you need more; you have to have movement on your fastball. Potts’ vocals have “movement” and as such, they are major league worthy.

Sal Marra heads up the guitars for CSJ and on Living Free Marra’s style is clear…..crystal, that is. Marra is an intriguing player whose melodic feel is reminiscent of Slash as well as other master shredders. What I liked most about Marra’s playing is that it really fits the music. Coupled with Marra’s mastery of effects which are used oh so appropriately, he really commands the music and on Living Free, he just can’t be missed. The guitar work is outstanding.

Sal Marra (photo courtesy of Coucou photography)
Sal Marra (photo courtesy of Coucou photography)
Rounding out the group is bassist Tony Flora, keyboardist Eric Safka, and rock solid drummer Dave Halpern. CSJ

Flora, though not flashy, works so well in tandem with Halpern that the two become one in an inseparable rhythmic mesh. Together, Flora and Halpern form the critical foundation that allows this band to groove as well as it does. This is the kind of chemistry (sans rhythm guitar) that certain groups like Van Halen–in the Michael Anthony days–could pull off. For CSJ, it’s a very effective style and it works.

Living FreeRounding out the lineup is Jersey’s own Eric Safka, a versatile, well known, and talented keyboardist. Formerly of the Matt O’Ree Band, rather than dazzle with special effects and electronic gimmickry, Safka is pure talent. Safka’s wheelhouse is the live gig and the man is not only a passionate showman but he will also take to a solo as good as anybody.

As a group, CSJ fits like an assembled puzzle. The chemistry of the talent is quite evident on Living Free but, make no mistake about it, in addition to all that, the album contains some really well written songs. (All the songs on the album were written by the band except one). Succinctly, Living Free sports these 11 tracks:

1) Won’t Last This Way (4:40)

2) Skies Above (4:21)

3) Living Free (5:21)

4) Songbird (5:00)

5) Hanging Around (5:24)

6) Be Good To Yourself (3:07)

7) Monday Morning Mass (3:28)

8) I Can’t Take It (3:35)

9) Let It Go (2:55)

10) Runnin’ (4:28), and

11) Sweet Little Lady (live) (5:57).

Won’t Last This Way gets the Living Free party started CSJ style. This track offers a nice rhythm and an excellent use of open space by Halpern and crew. The open space lets Potts’ voice breathe nicely. Here’s a sample of Won’t Last This Way to check out:

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CSJ live (photo courtesy of Jeff Krespi Rocks)
CSJ live (photo courtesy of Jeff Krespi Rocks)
Skies Above follows and here the group shows off their ability to write music. The chorus on this track is very good; in fact, I guess it has the proverbial “hook.” It’s on this tune that you start to realize that this group is more like a national act than a local one. Up next is the title track (Living Free) which features some nice work by both Marra and Safka. Living Free also features some gutsy backing vocals by local crooner Laura Catalina Johnson of Strumberry Pie. Definitely a nice touch.


Songbird follows and the tune is a nice change of pace. This track showpieces a different side of CSJ in terms of dynamics and progressions. I also found this song to be particularly well written. To see what I mean, check out this short clip:

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Hanging Around is next and it shows another side of CSJ with the hint of a blues overtone. Following that is a song which was not written by the band, Be Good To Yourself, but it is a highlight, for sure. The soul on this track is riveting and uplifting. Check out this sample of Be Good To Yourself:

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Monday Morning Mass is next and this was my sleeper pick to be frank. The tune came out of nowhere and my first thought on this track was “man, they sure don’t sound local.” This song is Potts with an edge; here, you can hear the “movement” on the voice. Additionally, Marra’s solo really works well on this track; it is refreshing when a guitarist wins us over with rhythm and melody rather than pure speed and the mastering of rapidly played (and perhaps pointless) mechanical scales. The marriage of Marra’s guitar work on this track with Potts’ vocals is the proverbial “killing it.”

CSJ 4I Can’t Take It is a further exploration in style for the band. Flora really shows on this track how he can hold down a rhythm section with some really nice bass work. Also worthy of mention is Halpern’s ability to punctuate accents with the band. Again, the effectiveness of the CSJ rhythm section cannot be understated; Messrs. Flora and Halpern are the musical table setters that support strong vocals and guitar and for CSJ, that’s a winning combination. I have to admit that Let It Go, the next song on the album, is a real interesting track. Sung by guitarist Sal Marra (who is endorsed by Oriolo Guitars) the track is a nice retreat for CSJ to a different style much like when Led Zeppelin neatly snuck into Hot Dog on In Through The Out Door. Runnin’–the final studio track on the album–is sometimes the spot on an album where quality starts to fade however, that’s not the case on Living Free. Marra’s guitar work is really good on this one. In fact, Marra’s style and feel is so good that he almost could completely dispense with a lead part and the song would still work. CSJ 5

The final track on the record was recorded live at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park which is arguably the unofficial launching site for icons Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Sweet Little Lady pretty much states what must be an almost obvious conclusion to most listeners; that is, that this band is great live.

CSJ at The Stone Pony
CSJ at The Stone Pony
Frankly, Living Free was really a pleasure to review. I have to admit that I don’t know the members of the band but I would like to after hearing this record. These are some very talented musicians who have surrounded themselves with individual and collective styles that go round and round much like a trending carousel. The songs on this record are well written and well executed and again, although they were introduced to me as “local” band, I think they are much more than that.

This is the kind of group that I would like to see more of beyond this record. Their material is that good and if I was in management, I would not lose their number. Momma always said “go big” and Peter Gabriel even sung of the “big time.” Well, these guys did better than that. They went Colossal. Check them out peeps, you won’t be disappointed. - Beato's Blog

"Colossal Street Jam bringing soul back to the rock industry...."

Colossal Street Jam is 70’s blues jamming with a grungy overtone. Living Free brings vocal runs and a good attitude with soulful riffs and groovy beats.

Take “Won’t Last This Way,” where you’ll beg for the sway to stay. Drum-led play-offs with string-climbing chords drop the tempo to the organ’s choir stride in “Skies Above.”

Blues is the essence of this album while a soundtrack-styled “Living Free” dances with a rock-lovin’ organ. Then, “Songbird” drifts in as a master ballad. The wonder of this track is in the unrushed devotion. It holds you in the languished rhythm and settles into the pocket.

“Hanging Around” brings back the beat and drops you off at the high-spirited ace cover of “Be Good to Yourself;” my favorite on the record. From “Monday Morning Mass,” that dwells in a far-out jive, to the sexy desperation of “I Can’t Take It,” Colossal Street Jam are audio-Casanovas. They sing “Let it Go,” but if those keys keep that swing, I’m holding on tightly. Calm down, it’s not the Disney track.

I dig it. “Runnin'” is a roadtrip maker, an adventure peddler, a ‘get moving’ jive. Then, Colossal Street Jam delivers the live sounds of “Sweet Little Lady,” and I immediately understand the hold-on antics of the mysterious woman they name-drop in the track. I feel you, girl. I’m on the edge of crazy in response to those vocals too.

Colossal Street Jam has brought soul to rock industry with Living Free, and they do it better than anyone else. - Shockwave Magazine

"Colossal Street Jam with Keith Roth"

Gene sits down with friend and XM Sirius host Keith Roth to speak about the new Colossal Street Jam release. - Keith Roth's Electric Ballroom

"Colossal Street Jam Find Their Groove with ‘Living Free’"

An Interview With Colossal Street Jam: Colossal Street Jam Find Their Groove with ‘Living Free’
—by Jessica Guica, April 26, 2017

In this competitive music scene of ours, certain criteria determine which bands will endure. One element is, of course, exceptional musical ability while another is a bit more nebulous, felt rather than seen or heard. Synergy—that symbiotic relationship between the band and the audience—is difficult to quantify. Some call it a “vibe”. Regardless, it is necessary for a band’s survival. If they don’t feel it, then we don’t feel it. If you’ve been around long enough to see the reappearance of certain bands from “back in the day”, you may have noticed their longevity can be attributed to their combination of these elements. And, they always seem to be having a damn good time. Colossal Street Jam is one of those bands. Currently tearing through the scene with renewed energy, a new sense of purpose, and a band of musicians that, together, have found their groove, Colossal Street Jam is back and better than ever. Their electrified new album embodies its name, Living Free, and offers up a satisfying variety of sounds and styles.

Originally from Philly, Gene Potts, vocalist for CSJ, made his way through many bands and incarnations of CSJ. His father’s musical influence, along with artists such as Grand Funk Railroad and Prince, instilled a love of music and artistry that is infused within his strong vocals. Known for their “melodic” tunes, CSJ achieve what they do with players who are experimental, expressive and stylistically varied. As heard on Living Free and certainly live, the band is musically diverse, each adding their own style to the dynamic—Sal Marra’s precise guitar playing, Tony Flora’s steady and soulful bass lines, Dave Halpern’s versatile percussion and Eric Safka’s relentless experimentation on the Hammond B3 results in jams that are inevitably…colossal.

Here, Potts talks of the band as family and how that cohesiveness translates into their music. Individuals elevate the whole. As the band plays locally and in or around the trifecta of Jersey, New York and Philly, CSJ represent the spirit of the jam by bringing various fellow musicians on stage. Whether it’s the Teak Rooftop or the Oriolo Guitars Showcase at the House Of Independents, a night with CSJ isn’t just a night of funky, rockin’ tunes, it’s an opportunity to witness community. Often, the band will invite local fellow musicians to join them. This is evident even during the production of Living Free when they invited Laura Catalina Johnson from Strumberry Pie to add her beautiful vocal inflections on the title track. CSJ is open to adding variables that will enhance the song, proving how synergistic collaboration is truly the strength of any jam.

Your dad was a musician, and you grew up in Philly, right? How did that inform your music?

Yeah, my dad was a huge influence on me musically either from just listening to the music that he listened to…a lot of the classic rock type stuff like Grand Funk Railroad which was really my biggest influence. Mark Farner, the singer from Grand Funk Railroad, was—I guess you could call it—my idol. My dad used to listen to Grand Funk when I was younger and a lot of Frank Zappa and also a lot of Motown. There’s definitely a side of me that loves R&B and blues and soul music.

And, you’re a Prince fan?

I’m a huge Prince fan. I have pretty much everything he’s ever released. He was just a huge influence on me—vocally you don’t hear it, but that style of music and the musicianship that he surrounded himself with is a big part of what I love musically. It was such a big hit for me when he passed away. I’m still very upset about it. I listen to Prince probably daily. There will be a record I’ll pick out and listen to on YouTube, on my phone or whatever every day.

You guys are multifaceted musicians in that you experiment and each have side projects…

We try to be diverse. That’s our whole thing. We have that running theme of the ’70s classic rock music, but we still try to be very diverse. That’s where the name came from—Colossal Street Jam. We all enjoy different types of music. We’re all influenced by different types of music, but when we all come together, it works.

So there is a story or anecdote behind who suggested the name…

John DiMaggio, who is a voiceover actor—he is the voice of Bender on Futurama, one of the penguins of Madagascar. He’s on every video game…done so many different things. He even had his own movie called I Know That Voice. When we were younger, Sal and John were very close friends, and John was around us a lot. He had heard us for the first time after we had been together a short period of time, and his quote was, “You guys are like one big colossal street jam.” So Sal was like, “That’s it! That’s the name.” And that’s where it came from.

Will you be debuting some new music—not on Living Free—at the House of Independents?
Yes, we’re not sitting on this record. It only came out in November, and we’re already writing and getting ready to go back into the studio. We’re going to try and put something out at the end of the year. If we can pull off a record a year, we’re going to do it. We’re really enjoying playing together, and it’s really clicked now that the five of us are together—really a band—we’re writing together. The first record was written by Sal, Tony and I with Dave coming in later on, and we finished the record with Dave, but now that Eric’s in the band—with the five of us writing together—the stuff we’re coming up with is crazy. I’m beyond excited with what’s going on here. Even last night at rehearsal we decided we’re definitely going to play some of the newer stuff, one or two songs. We’re not sure yet, but we know we will be playing new music that night for sure that no one has ever heard. We’re not letting anybody hear it. Before, we would bounce stuff off people…but we are not playing this until that night.

How is this incarnation of Colossal different from the past?

I think we’re older, smarter…wiser, and we’ve all been through so many different bands. We’ve put our time in…whether it be a cover band or whatever. We’ve all done so many live performances—I’ve done 175 to 200 shows a year every year. In the old days of Colossal, we played maybe once a month, twice a month if we were lucky, and none of us were doing any kind of side projects. Now, through time, we’ve learned to work together better. We’ve been friends forever. With the addition of Dave—Sal and I have known Dave for a long time—and with Eric—Eric has become, quickly just one of us. Eric has been playing with us for a while live maybe a year or so. Now, putting that time in together, doing the shows, rehearsing together, it has just become more cohesive. It’s a family atmosphere. We’re all brothers, and we just work well together. We play well together (laughs). Nobody’s fighting. Nobody’s arguing. If somebody has something that is on their mind, they speak up, and nobody gets upset. We all just listen to what they have to say…and it works.

Are there certain songs you change up live or approach differently?

There are a few songs in the live shows that we leave the solo parts and the ending parts open. We just did the video for the song “I Can’t Take It”. It should be out soon, we’re just waiting for the final edit. That song is a four-minute song, but live it could go anywhere from seven, eight, nine minutes, because Sal will solo, and Eric will take a solo, and it will build. If they are working off one another then we will just roll with it, and we feel it. Everybody knows where we’re going, and the end of that song could go on forever. It’s dynamic. Tony and Dave are working together while those guys are taking their solo parts, everyone is working in unison. So there are one or two songs that we leave open-ended where they play off one another and see what it turns into. None of us are held back…we don’t go off on a wild tangent or anything…we stay inside the song. I think it all works well. We’re all very respectful of one another, and I think in the old days, that was the problem where some guys just felt that their ideas should be in the forefront or maybe they felt they weren’t being listened to. Nowadays, that doesn’t happen. We’re all mature. We’re all seasoned musicians, and I think that helps in every aspect whether it be songwriting or live performances or even me talking to you—the guys have no problems with me doing this, and they’re not involved—nobody really has any issues with it. Sal and I usually go out and do the radio interviews, and the guys don’t care. They know that we have the best interest of the band in mind, and they respect us, and we respect them. We’d never say anything to ever make anyone feel like they’re not a big part of what we do.

There is a lot of trust then…

If we had this when we were younger, who knows what would have happened? We had so many things going on. I just think it was all like a tornado. Everything was coming at us every which way, and everybody handled it a different way. It didn’t mesh, and it just ended. Well, it really didn’t end, it was kinda, “Yeah, we’re not doing this anymore.” One guy wanted to do it, and another guy was like, “Eh, I’m not going to rehearsal.” It kind of just faded away. Now, it’s crazy what’s gone on in the past year and a half, especially since we put this record out. We did this for ourselves. We put this record out for ourselves. Yeah, we wanted people to hear, but we didn’t think that all these local radio stations were going to pick it up. We’re getting emails and calls for shows all over the place whether it be in this state or other states…other radio stations are picking it up out-of-state. Also, internationally we’ve got 10,000 spins right now. It’s amazing. We could never have done that years ago. For one, there wasn’t social media back then, and I think we just didn’t have the right plan in place, and, now, we do. I love the record, of course, I do, but it seems like everybody else does, too.

A lot of these songs have the components of hit singles such as “Won’t Last This Way”…

That is the one that has been picked up the most, that one and “Songbird”. The other ones, “Skies Above” and “I Can’t Take It” are starting to get some legs now, too, which is great.

You have a live track on the CD…How was the decision to do that?

We had another tune we were thinking about putting on there, and what ended up happening was Brett Smith from The Stone Pony had recorded us when we played with Gov’t Mule and Blackberry Smoke on the Summerstage. He said, “You’ve got to listen to this live recording. It’s crystal clear. It’s amazing. I did several mixes from the board—one from the stage, and one from the house.” When I heard it, I was like, “I’ve got to bring this to the guys.” And I brought it to the guys and said, “What about putting this on the record?” Sal is always big on live…if we could put a live song on every record, I think he would. He heard it and said, “We’ve got to put this on the record.” We all agreed. We brought it to our engineer/producer, Tony Tee Lewis. He took it, brought the levels up here and there, and we used. It’s had a good response. That’s really one of the first times Eric played with us, on that track. His playing is crazy on that. I wish we had a video. That show was insane.

Tell me about this show at the House Of Independents on the 28th…

I am so thrilled to have Kenny Dubman debuting his band that night. His record is amazing. Ken Dubman was the guitar player for Prophet and for Edgar Cayce. His new record, Reckless Abandon, is ridiculous. It’s so good. He put a record out a year ago and finally decided to get a band together to play it out live. This is the first show that they’re doing. And Frankenstein 3000. Keith Roth and I have been friends forever. I am so glad they’ll be playing with us that night, too, and Pete Marshall from Iggy Pop’s band. And Bitter Crush—Lou Vito was with the Whirling Dervishes. That’s his new band, and he also works for Oriolo Guitars. He’s the one who saw Sal play and said, “I’ve got to have this guy on our roster.” And that’s how we became friends with him and asked if they wanted to open the show.

Sal’s original guitar teacher is going to do a song with us at the end of the night. We’ve got some special guests coming on…we’re still working on that. It’s going to be a great night. And it’s hosted by Ryan Maher who is on SiriusXM, MTV, Artie Lange… He’s an awesome comedian and a good friend of mine. He’s going to emcee the night, so he’ll maybe start off with some stand-up and then, in between each band, he’ll chat with the crowd and get everybody fired up…that should be great, too.

Seems you guys are constantly collaborating, keeping it fresh, and the fans appreciate that …

It’s fun. A lot of the local musicians we get to come out and play with us. And it’s exciting for us because we’re learning songs for them. Kenny played at Teak with us, and he played one of his originals. We learned it for him. It’s a family atmosphere, even with other bands, musicians, and that’s the way it used to be when we first started. All the bands were friends. We were all playing shows together. There was no competition, just friendly competition. I think it’s coming back now…bands are uniting a bit more, but there was a brief time during the early 2000s when there wasn’t that…family. I think the resurgence of Asbury Park has helped. So I’m happy to be in the scene and back out playing no matter how old we are, we’re just going to keep going.

Can you tell me how you came up with the lyrics for “Skies Above”?

Yeah, the guys had written the music for “Skies Above”, and I was struggling with the lyrics. When Sal writes his guitar parts, he always has a melody in mind. He had come to rehearsal and said, “Here’s the riff.” That’s how it started. So he and the guys built a song. I was humming along…didn’t have anything set. He had a chorus in mind, no words—he just sang the melody to me. So these guys had the song pretty tight over a two- or three-week period. I was still struggling. I don’t know what was going on. It was like a mental block. I was having a hard time writing the lyrics for this song.

So I was at work—I’m a network engineer—and I see a guy, a friend of mine, at lunch looking upset. I go over and start talking to him. He tells me about how his marriage is falling apart. I’m listening to him, and he’s saying, “Every night it’s like I’m kicking, screaming, crying, fighting to just get this woman to listen to me, you know?” So that’s how the song begins, “Kicking, screaming, crying…why should anyone live this way?” and my lyrics for this song are almost a carbon copy of the conversation that we had. While I find out his wife is doing all these things, by the end of the conversation he tells me how he’s cheating on his wife. So, it was just this idea of here are these people, they’re supposed to be in love, and it’s dark. It’s like a dark love song. In my mind it was…first verse, this is what he’s going through, second verse, this is what she’s going through, and the chorus is, “They shed a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears…their love is darker than the skies above”, and that’s where the song came from. I went back to my desk, and in five minutes that song was done.

The last two songs that were recorded were “Skies Above” and “Let It Go” which is the song that Sal sings. You can listen to that song and understand who he is. It’s great. He wanted to sing it. And some of the newer stuff, Sal and I do co-vocals on. Sal and I have always harmonized so well together that it’s like we breathe together when we sing. Now, we’re starting to incorporate some of that not just in the choruses but in the verses. You’ll see in a lot of the newer tunes that there is going to be some co-vocals. There is going to be maybe I sing a verse, he sings a verse.

Sounds like the next album will be quite a bit different from this one…

Well, we’re influenced by Grand Funk… Grand Funk did that. We’re not doing it purposely, it’s just what is coming out. We’ve got this new one that we’re definitely going to play at the House Of Independents…the musicianship on this…the runs these guys are doing in between the vocals is just crazy. I’m really excited to record it. I’m also excited to play it, but I’m psyched that we have this plan in place where we’re going to try to put something out by November. We put this one out November 12th, and, hopefully, by next November 12th we’ll have something out.

At the end of the day, no matter what is going on, we did this for us. In the old days, we did this to be famous, to make money, and to be rockstars. Now, we’re doing this for us, and I think that’s why it’s working. - Aquarian Weekly

"Colossal Street Jam Takin’ it to the Roof With Their first CD in 20 Years!"

Gene Potts was a talented 13-year old when I met him. I could see he had the makings of a fine singer. Gene was dedicated to his lessons, grew confident, and by age 19 he was lead singer in a band we know today as Colossal Street Jam.

I hadn’t seen Gene for 20 or so years, when in 2015, another student of mine told me she sometimes sat in with his band. That was the beginning of our re-connection. When I finally got to see the band live in 2016, I was blown away. The band was a cut above so many others, and Gene had become the exceptional singer whose promise I saw at age 13. I believe his achievement was due more to his musical genes (his dad is a gospel singer) and his own dedication than to anything I did.

CSJ’s bio describes the five-piece band’s sound as infectious and melodic rock n roll. What I heard was performances by real artists who communicate with each other so well, that it’s at a level I call “oneness.” And, by the way, I make no distinction between singers and other instrumentalists as musicians.

Here are just some of the originals on the 11-track CD Living Free and what I like about them:

“Won’t Last This Way” is the opening stunner, and sets the tone for a powerhouse experience. Gene introduces an attractive vocal attitude with just enough grittiness. I like that he has such a command of his instrument that allows him to be a versatile singer---should he choose to be. In this song, the tight unison and harmony in the recurring riffs by guitarist Sal Marra and bassist Tony Flora become the distinctive sound of a “dynamic duo.” Marra uses a fat effect here and on several of the tracks that feels to me like a big, warm blanket wrapping around me. And with the solid punctuation by drummer Dave Halpern, this track becomes hypnotic.

The title track “Living Free” is a beautifully crafted song, with a catchy hook, and vocal harmonies that grow even more lush in a closing vamp with Laura Catalina Johnson’s voice soaring in face belt asides. How do you end a song that has built to such an emotional pitch? You don’t. You just sustain the feeling for a moment or two as it marches past you in gentle fade.

“Songbird,” a love song, has a gentle acoustic guitar intro that is repeated by Marra before each verse. Here, is a more intimate vocal by Gene that reveals his versatility. His emotional vocal climax is executed perfectly.

“Hanging Around” features a few bars of one of the several guitar textures Marra delivers on this disc. I wanted to hear more of it…but then, it’s not a good idea to overdo a good thing, and the seasoned Marra knows that. It’s that sense of good taste one hears from grown-up players that makes a band so good and so interesting to hear. Tasteful performance is the final stage of an artist’s development. There’s a challenge for the listener in this song…like…am I feeling some time changes here…or are they just suggesting or pretending? These are accomplished players capable of raising the bar for listeners.

This is good song-writing and good production. All the songs on Living Free feel different. The varied “feel” and tempos had me looking forward to what I would hear in each subsequent track. I was so into the bluesy “Be Good to Yourself” that it seemed a short performance by guys long on blues chops. You know---how when you’re enjoying yourself, time seems to race by.

“I Can’t Take It” treated me to the Hammond B3 sound I love, and played by Eric Safka. Here, too, is that driving, interesting bass line with novel, rhythmic vocal and instrumental action. I love the musical surprises here and the jazzy chord changes.

“Let It Go” begins with a spoofy Wolfman Jack, then Marra’s vocal on a fun country two-step with tickling guitar and piano interplay. Really, really fun. I didn’t want it to end!

“Sweet Little Lady” the final track, was recorded live at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony. You’ll hear killer solos from all the players. This is the strong, mutual climax a band and it’s live audience wants to feel when the evening wraps up.

You can see Colossal Street Jam on March 22, as they open the new Teak Roof Top, the addition to the Teak Restaurant, at 64 Monmouth St., Red Bank. And upcoming, they’ll be at 10th Avenue Live, Kenilworth, April 1st; House of Independents, Asbury Park, April 28th; and the Jersey Shore Music Festival 2017, Seaside Heights on May 21st. They’re a busy crew, so check out the rest of their schedule at

The CD is available at their gigs; at ; on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music and Google Music and can be ordered from the website. - New Jersey Stage Magazine

"Colossal Street Jam wins Australian Internet Radio Album of the Year!"

EP of the Year

​​Album of the Year:
LIVING FREE by Colossal Street Jam

Group of the Year
BABELONIA by Sonar Lights

​PRODUCER of the Year
Producers: COAX, Nathen Cross, Gordon Mills, James Birt & Neil Elliott
Type: Contemporary - Country: UK

​VIDEO of the Year
Artist: Superturtle - Video: - The Industry
Type: PUNK - Country: New Zealand

BACKSEAT LOVER by Black Bone Nation

​SINGLE(s) of the Year per Category
Blues: Motor City Women by Shawn Adam Williams

Country: JIMMY by Manitoba Rock n Rolla

Contemporary: Where Do You Go Now? by The Groovebirds
Link: - USA

Electronica: Cross & Tattoo by Smoke from all The Friction
Link: - USA

Metal: THE LAST TIME by Wild Mighty Freaks
Link: - France

Punk: HARLOT by The Maxwells
Link: - Canada

Rock / Hardrock: BACKSEAT LOVER by Black Bone Nation
​ - Banks Radio


Living Free
Released November 12th, 2016



Mix the church-honed vocals of Gene Potts with the guitar fire of Sal Marra, the pulsing bass of Anthony Flora, the war-hammer drums of Dave Halpern and the one man festival that is Eric Safka on keys, and you get Colossal Street Jam. Colossal Street Jam is a 5 piece band from Red Bank, NJ that plays a 70’s style brand of infectious, melodic and soulful rock and roll. Colossal Street Jam is a huge draw in the legendary Asbury Park music scene and has a loyal fan base that follows the band everywhere!
Colossal Street Jam’s November 2016 release “Living Free’ has garnered critical acclaim and has been featured in many music magazines worldwide and continues to get extensive radio play both locally and globally.
In January , “Living Free” won the 2017 Australian Indie Album of the Year award for internet radio and is currently on the charts in Australia with their new single “Just Take Hold”. In May of 2018 there will be a new release by Colossal Street Jam but until that time they will continue to put out one single a month to keep the buzz on this band at a fevered pitch. To learn all things Colossal visit their social media sites and also

CSJ has shared the stage with many great artists throughout their career including: Robbie Krieger, Kings XThe Drive-by TruckersThe Hold SteadyGov’t MuleJohnny WinterSebastian BachBruce DickinsonScreamin Cheetah WheeliesRitchie BlackmoreSteve MorseZebraDeep PurpleClarence Clemons and many more!

Colossal Street Jam is:
Gene Potts – Vocals
Sal Marra – Guitar, Vocals & Fender Rhodes
Tony Flora – Bass
Dave Halpern – Drums & All Percussion
Eric Safka – Hammond B3, Piano, Fender Rhodes

Band Members