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The best kept secret in music


"Makin' Waves Awards"

Courier News' Entertainment Editor Bob Makin has named Spiraling Best
Group in his 17th annual Makin Waves Awards. The Dunellen-based
progressive-pop act also won Best Album for its "Challenging Stage" EP.


Staff Writer

The annual Makin Waves Awards, celebrating New Jersey's best independent
acts, may be 17, but I'm still the one that has to drive around a lot to
keep tabs on the New Jersey music scene. It's an endeavor I thoroughly
enjoy. Here's to makin' waves for many years to come.

Best Group: Spiraling ( The four-piece's progressive
pop never has sounded better on the impressive EP, "Challenging Stage,"
and its live show has become a top-notch mix of art and entertainment.

Best Male Artist: James Wells of Hello, Lovely (
Few folks work as hard or are as entertaining as former CleverHans
co-frontman James Wells, now leading his own group, Hello, Lovely.

Best Female Artist: Jody Joseph ( Not only is Jody
Joseph a good-rockin' mama, kind of like a suburban Janis Joplin, but
she's also a good soul, having raised thousands of dollars for charity
and organized several music mentorship events.

Best New Act: Readymade Breakup ( From the
dust of the great Blakes, comes this similar-sounding power-pop band,
whose mix of energetic keyboards, guitar crunch and vocal harmonies
sounds like a cross between Ben Folds and Jellyfish.

Best Album: Spiraling "Challenging Stage": Only four nuggets long, but
rich in proof that pop can be artistic and art can be accessible,
"Challenging Stage" is a tonic for commercial radio.

Best Song: Kathy Moser, "Windows on the World" ( the
wobbly but passionate Moser has much to say that's worth hearing,
particularly the touching 9/11 tune, "Windows on the World." The
heartbreaking cry for the unity that faded too soon after the tragedy
reasons, "An eye for an eye is going to leave us all in the dark, blind
to the truth ... Where are tad Earth's second disc for the esteemed
roots label Sugar Hill Records, features some of the best songwriting
Sheaffer has done for that group or one-time RCA recording act From Good

Best Live Act: Matt Angus Thing (www.mattangusthing. Com): This allstar
roots-rock outfit, featuring members of Angus, 90 Proof and the Harlem
Gospel Choir, has jammed with the likes of drummer Bernard Purdie,
Citizen Cope keyboardist John Ginty and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
Levon Helm of The Band. But Matt Angus isn't about to rest on those
laurels. Instead, he recently recorded his solo debut CD with members of
Bob Dylan's band.

Best Metal/Hard Rock Act: Dillinger Escape Plan
(www.dillingerescapeplan. Com): In between touring the world, this
Morris County-base Relapse recording act won Best Metal Album for "Miss
Machine" at the Plug Awards, the Grammys of indie rock.

Best Modern Rock: Hero Pattern ( Two years ago,
Thursday won this award and look were it is now. Of course, I could have
had the foresight to name it Best Group. Anyway, with a nod to The
Beatything You Knew," helmed by Hot Rod Circuit's producer.

Best Classic Rock: Glen Burtnik ( Burtnik's
Beatlesque pop continues to please a nation of fans with "Welcome To
Hollywood," a European release that will CD the light of day
domestically if there's any justice in the world.

Best Roots Rock: Railroad Earth: With Todd Sheaffer's strong songs and
the group's draw-jopping chops, Railroad Earth's mix of bluegrass, jazz
and roots rock swings and charms like an angel at the front door of
music heaven.

Best Country: Michael Patrick & the Suburban Hillbillies
(www.michael-patrick. Net): The former World Within jamster has grown up
and formed an outfit that is on a mission to bring back roots, country
and Southern rock. Based on a solid debut CD and tasty live sets, they
seem to be succeeding.

Best Folk: Sharleen Leahey ( Central Jersey's
voice of peace released a strong debut CD. It's a shame that it's not
better promoted.

Best Blues Act: Peter Karp ( Whether picking tasty
licks, blowing bluesy riffs or singing real-life songs, Peter Karp makes
excellent music that deserves its place at John Prine's Oh Boy Records.

Best Jazz: Andrea Brachfeld ( This Central
Jersey-based Latin jazz flutist recently released her second indie CD
and racked up another year of well-deserved success.

Best Jam Band: Jones ( This jam 'n' groove unit
continues a New Brunswick tradition that has included Whole Earth
Ensemble, All God's Children, Mother Sound, Fatty Lumpkin, Barbuda and
Water. Jones' mix of funk, rap, dub, reggae and psychedelic rock
hopefully will blossom beyond its Rutgers following.

Best Producer: Anthony Krizan of Sonic Boom Studios: Krizan served up
impressive releases by the funky roots-rock outfit Primitive Soul and
his own band, Amfibian, featuring Phish lyricist Tom Marshall.

Tsunami Award: Gordon Brown, Barry Dorsey and Erin Maura Wells of All
Hour Entertainment ( for such wonderful productions as
Writers in the Raw ( and Artist Is a Verb
(, and Starland Ballroom (www. for promoting and presenting New Jersey music acts
so well, particularly its sold-out series of homecoming shows during
winter break from high school and college that featured Senses Fail,
Midtown, Thursday, Dillinger Escape Plan, Catch 22, Socratic, The Early
November and My Chemical Romance, and its many tsunami aid benefits,
which raised more than $175,000.

From the Courier News website
- Courier News (NJ)

"Tsunami Benefit Show"

Music scene rocks for good causes
Central Jersey acts appear at tsunami and other benefits this weekend

Staff Writer

The New Jersey music scene is indicative of how good things come to good people. With nearly three dozen acts flourishing on major or large independent labels, the scene has much to be proud about. But that's nothing compared to how it can beam because of its continual response to good causes, particularly disaster relief.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised with benefit concerts organized in reaction to 9/11. It appears that even more will be raised for tsunami relief aid.
Adding to the $175,000 that Starland Ballroom has raised with the help of such Jersey acts as Columbia recording act Midtown and Warner Bros. recording act My Chemical Romance, nearly a dozen tsunami benefits will take place this weekend, plus many more in coming weeks (see sidebar).
"It seems a good idea to do as much as we can to help those who are struggling in the aftermath of the tsunami," says Rev. David Ruisard, pastor at Rockaway Reformed Church in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington.
Ruisard has organized a tsunami benefit Sunday at his church with his band, Ed and the Revs, and several other acts.
"Approximately 24,000 people die every day from hunger-related causes," Ruisard continues. "That's 720,000 since the tsunami. It's almost always a good idea to keep the needs of the world's hurting peoples before our eyes. Our building seems like a good place for musical events. Good acoustics. Good location. Good coffee."
The popular New Brunswick-based jam 'n' groove unit Jones has organized a benefit in what should be a good spot: its home away from home, Harvest Moon. The hot spot will be rocking for tsunami relief on Saturday.
"We wanted to play a benefit show simply because those people need as much help as they can get," Jones guitarist Harry Morris says. "Small events within communities around the world allow people to take action if they feel inspired or motivated. This includes the underground New Brunswick music scene. The more people that help out, the bigger the relief for south Asian communities."
Other tsunami benefits will include the talents of beloved children's entertainer Mr. Ray and the classic rock bands Wiser Time and Los Padres.
More good causes
Tsunami relief aid isn't the only good cause the New Jersey music scene is getting behind this weekend.
Several modern rock bands will come to the aid of Matheny Medical and Education Center, Peapack, Friday at Hamilton Street Stage & Cafe in Bound Brook. Matheny is a facility for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
The show was organized by Susanne Collins, whose son performs in Lost in Line, a young Central Jersey band that has made waves recently at the Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park.
Speaking of Asbury Park, the legendary Stone Pony will present "L.I.V.E.: Rock for Life Concert" to benefit teen suicide prevention. "L.I.V.E." stands for "Live, Inspire, Vibe, Energy," which is what young students of headliners Jody Joseph and Matt O'Ree will convey when opening for their teachers at Saturday's all-ages show.
"The main goal of the concert is to increase awareness about teenage suicide, which has become an epidemic," says Caryl Bixon-Gordon, spokeswoman for the beneficiary, the Yellow Ribbon International Teenage Suicide Prevention Program.
For more about this show, see Saturday's Gig of the Week column.
What you can do
Support tsunami relief efforts and other good causes with the following benefit concerts this weekend in and around Central Jersey:
HOBOKEN BANDING TOGETHER FOR TSUNAMI RELIEF, 8 p.m. to midnight tonight, Willie McBrides, 616 Grand St., Hoboken. Artists will include Bill McGarvey, The Cucumbers, The Demolition String Band, AJ Azzarto & the New Hoboken Four, Jim Testa, Boxcar Nancy, The Nissen Brothers, Sputnik, Ice Wagon Flu, The Stray Dogs and Carla Murry. $10, benefits American Red Cross International Response Fund. (201) 420-2207 or www.
MATHENY BENEFIT, 6 p.m. Friday, Hamilton Street Cafe & Stage, 22 Hamilton St., Bound Brook. With Bedlight for BlueEyes, Of Fate and Chance, Still Frames for Stars, Moraine, Lost in Line and Dreading the Seasons. $10, benefits Matheny School and Hospital, a Peapack facility for children and adults with developmental disabilities. (908) 470-0403, www.
"HEALING THE HEART OF THE WORLD: MONTCLAIR RESPONDS' TSUNAMI RELIEF EFFORT," 7 p.m. Friday, Luna Stage, 695 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair. An evening of live music, food and massage hosted by award-winning actor Frankie Faison to benefit the American Red Cross International Response Fund. $20-$50, a 100 percent tax deductible donation. (973) 744-3309,
KANGAROO KIDS FAMILY FUN FAIR, 1-3 p.m. Saturday, 1047 Route 28, North Branch. Includes petting zoo, hands-on activities and appearance by Sparky, mascot of the Somerset Patriots. $5, benefits Branchburg Rotary, which will donate the funds to tsunami relief. (908) 231-7800.
BENEFIT CONCERT, 8 p.m. Saturday, Fraternal Order of Eagles, 350 Woodside Lane, Bridgewater. Featuring Wiser Time and Los Padres. Doors open at 7 p.m. $10, benefits American Red Cross International Response Fund. (908) 268-4311.
MICHAEL PATRICK & THE SUBURBAN HILLBILLIES, 8 p.m. Saturday, Starland Ballroom, 570 Jernee Mill Road, Sayreville. Roots rocker Patrick will donate his band's pay from opening for Marshall Tucker Band to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. $15. (732) 834-9781,
- Courier News (NJ)

"An Evening with Jones"

An evening with Jones was an evening well spent because this New Brunswick band offers something for everyone. They manage to blend together rock, hip-hop, jam, and reggae in a harmony you still want to dance to. They really have succeeded in combining all these styles together in an original way that doesn’t make you wish they would just stick to one genre. Each element is crucial to what makes their sound so good and this talent is what sets them apart from most every other band in town.

There is no denying that Jones is a large band and their collective energy really keeps the show going. They are fronted by rock/reggae vocalist Zack Galler and hip-hop vocalist Greg Gonzalez both of whom have great stage presence and can keep the audience tuned in. Aaron Freeman on lead guitar and Harry Morris on rhythm guitar are both solid musicians with diversified training that gives Jones a lot of it edge. Pete Burt on bass along with Brian Calhoun on drums drives the part of the band that makes you dance. They put down beats that actually make it hard to sit still. Dave Wyrtzen plays keys and does a damn fine job of it; he is absolutely integral in the richness and completion of their sound. But that’s not to say that their occasional saxophone and percussion guests aren’t welcome. They add accents to Jones that augments the band’s versatility and style.

No matter how many people they put on stage they always hold the music together and hold the audience’s regard as well. The can go from hip-hop to a Nine Inch Nails cover to jam without forgetting exactly who they are. They are one of the few bands around that can’t be mistaken for a dozen other bands all trying to do the same thing. They are doing their own thing and doing it well. And you can most likely to find them doing just that at Harvest Moon on George Street, especially if you look there Saturday August 31st. For more information you can check them and their sound out at, you’ll be glad you did.

-Katherine Furman


The Pears in Heavy Syrup EP (2004)
Electron Star
The Line
Pears in Heavy Syrup
-played on and Air America

Multi-band compilations:
Jam Packed Vol. 1 (2004)
Jerry James, Jerry Cares (2005)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Jones was formed in 1999 by drummer Brian Calhoun, bassist Pete Burt, and singer Zack Galler in Montgomery with an emphasis on group song writing. From the beginning, Jones has had a love affair with rock and reggae and has toyed with blending the two styles. For a few years, the collaboration of MC Greg Gonzalez led to hip-hop being thrown into the mix. In the spring of 2003, the addition of guitarists Harry Morris and Aaron Freeman lead to an interest in Latin music and the composition of two salsa influenced tunes that are staples of Jones live shows today. At the same time, keyboardist Dave Wyrtzen joined the group, expanding the group’s ability to cover all ends of the sonic spectrum.
The eclectic sound Jones built in this period was captured on the 2004 release The Pears in Heavy Syrup EP. Pears featured a Latin song (Pears in Heavy Syrup), a dance hall/reggae tune (Red Light), hip-hop based songs (The Line, Trajectory Silence), as well as more straight ahead rock songs. Because of the group's wide reaching sound, Jones began to achieve recognition in the New Jersey reggae, Caribbean, and jam band scenes. The band played to packed crowds at Asbury Park's famed Stone Pony, opening for The Wailers and then returning to be a part of The Great Bamboozle, headlined by Jam Band heavy hitters Medeski, Martin, and Wood and Carl Denson’s Tiny Universe, followed by a supporting show with Blues Traveler. Jones was also featured on Media 51’s double disc and DVD release – Jam Packed Vol. 1.
Shortly after the release of Pears, the group set up a home base in New Brunswick, NJ – home of Rutgers University and hometown of many successful bands such as the Bouncing Souls. Every other weekend, it became the norm for Jones to play to over capacity crowds at the Harvest Moon in downtown New Brunswick and earned the title of New Jersey's Best Jam Band by the Star Ledger. As the group built a strong New Brunswick following, Jones also began frequenting new Jersey venues like Mexicali Blues, in support of reggae giants Eek-A-Mouse and Jimmy Cliff. In the summer of 2005, Jones’s version of “Ramble on Rose” will appear on Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares, an album of Jersey artists covering classic Grateful Dead tunes. The album brings together Jersey artists, such as David Grisman and Amfibian, to raise money for children’s music and arts programs.
Jones is currently at work on their second studio work. The new tracks will represent a slim-downed (one guitar), more unified sound, which, rather than jumping from genres, has incorporated all influences into something completely unique. While the main templates for the new songs remain reggae and rock, the new sound represents the latest evolution of Jones that strays from the group’s jammy roots and is much more forward looking. The group has hit its stride, continuing to play high energy shows and pushing itself with songwriting.