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"Local bands showcased at OceanFirst Theater"

A new concert series will be
presented starting this Saturday at
the Stafford Township Arts Center’s
OceanFirst Theater, featuring up
and coming area bands and solo
performers. While the theater holds
other events and concert series
throughout the year, this new
endeavor is intended to diversify
experiences there and draw in
younger audiences, in addition to
promoting the showcased bands.
“When you’re just getting
started, you have to try to build
the audience,” Stafford Township
Education Foundation Executive
Director Thomas Stephens said, “and
it ultimately comes down to finding a
venue.” A former musician himself,
Stephens knows that a band is limited
by the size of its audience, and he
wishes to encourage people to come
out and support their local music
scene, “reminding the community that
they play a role.”
The new series is a joint effort
between the Foundation, the nonprofit
group that programs and manages the
STAC, and MK Productions, a local
sound business that works with the
theater as well as with local bands.
Mark Keeler of MK Productions and
Stephens share a common dedication
to answering the question, “what can
this community do to help (bands)
achieve their dreams?”
Their partnership in working to
put those answers into practice has
worked out well. The first event of the
local music concert series, dubbed The
Band Jam Series — Putting Music in
the Air, features two original area
bands — The Following and For the
Foxes — and two solo artists — Chris
Fritz and Brian Parnagian. The idea,
Ryan Bott of The Following said, was
to have the show feature both acoustic
and electric sounds, with both bands
performing songs in both methods,
and the solo musicians being purely
Headlining Saturday night is The
Following, a band of diverse styles,
including roots, reggae, rock, rap
and funk. The band is made up ofRyan Bott and Jake D’Arcangelo on
vocals, Dan Sansig and Dan Brown
on guitars, Nick Miller on drums and
Taylor “Sometimes” Stokes on bass.
They have found success locally and
have expanded into surrounding cities
like Philadelphia and Asbury Park,
and played this year’s Bamboozle
Festival. The first group asked to play
the show, they helped good friend
Keller find others to come on board,
through friends and connections.
For more information on The
Following, visit
For the Foxes, a pop rock band from
Barnegat, has found success following
its first EP release, Six Ways to Love,
and has been featured on MTV. They
will be recording a second EP next
month. The band is made up of Nick
Dungo on vocals and piano, Tim
Wright and Jimmy Brindley on guitar,
Mike Favara on bass and Danny
Vassallo on drums.
For more information on For the
Foxes, visit
Chris Fritz, also a police officer
in Stafford Township, performs
each week at local venues like
T.G.I, Friday’s in Manahawkin, the
Engleside Inn in Beach Haven and
the Captain’s Inn in Forked River. His
music involves all types of rock, from
’80s and metal to blues and country.
Brian Parnagian is a self-taught
acoustic indie folk musician who
has been playing guitar for nearly 14
years. He has just recently started
sharing his work, after being well
received in New Zealand.
For more information on Brian
Parnagian, visit
So far, there has been an excellent
response, Stephens said. “I’m very
optimistic.” Depending on attendance
and total response, Stephens hopes
to hold concerts four times a year to
start, and have the series grow as
popularity does.
“There’s certainly enough
extraordinary talent out there,” he
said. “There are so many of these
talented young people.”
The concert event begins at 6
p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1. General
admission tickets are available for
$10 and can be obtained through
the performing bands, at the STAC/
OceanFirst Theater Box Office
from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday
through Friday or two hours prior
to performance time. They may also
be purchased by calling 609-489-
8600 or online at
stac_box_office.htm. The theater is
located at 1000 McKinley Avenue in
Manahawkin.Y - Laura Gooley--The Islander

"Chase the Stoke, Even in Off-Season Climes,"

According to Jake D’Arcangelo, bandleader
of the local original band The
Following, the best way to combat the
winter doldrums is to get a bunch of people
together in a room with the shared objectives
of feeling good and getting happy.
The time and place to do just that is
this Friday night at Buckalew’s Tavern in
Beach Haven, where The Following intends
on “keeping it warm for the winter folk,”
D’Arcangelo said, by dishing out its unique
reggae-infused, infectious jam band style.
The Following debuted last summer at
Rick’s American Café in Barnegat Light,
where the six-member band played alternate
Thursday nights to a receptive crowd
of footloose and fancy-free types. Some
months later, the lineup of musicians and
style of music are the same, but the overall
dynamic has improved, in D’Arcangelo’s
In general, things seem to be “moving
along real sweetly,” he said.
Musically, he explained, “we are tighter
… (and) more aligned, as far as where we
want to go and what we want to do.” Currently
the band, with the help of a local
producer, is working toward recording a
new demo album.
D’Arcangelo shares the role of lead
vocalist with Ryan Bott; backing the two
are lead guitarist Dan Brown, rhythm guitarist
Dan Sansig, bassist Taylor Stokes and
drummer Nick Miller. All the men hail from
the Island or neighboring mainland towns,
which D’Arcangelo feels is to the band’s
credit. Call it hometown pride or strength in
numbers, but people really seem to like the
idea of “something we can all call our own”
in terms of their live entertainment this time
of year, he said.
The Following hopes its music, in conjunction
with Buckalew’s warm and lively atmosphere,
serves as a much-needed pick-meup and a comforting reminder that summer will
eventually come again. The way D’Arcangelo
sees it, “chasing the stoke” may require more
effort in the colder, darker months, but the
payoff is more than worthwhile.
While original music fi gures prominently
in The Following’s sets, the band also likes to
pay homage to its heaviest-hitting infl uences,
ranging from Bob Marley and the Wailers to
Sublime. But even tunes that are identifi able
as covers are delivered with the band’s own
experimental vibe.
As the musicians’ comfort level with
each other increase and their improvisational
bonds strengthen, he said, they continue to
cultivate an overall sound that blends genres
and branches out into previously unexplored,
freestyle territories.
The band’s unique style of live performance
goes beyond improvisation to something
more along the lines of extemporaneous
songwriting. The band creates new music
on the fl y, in front of – and inspired by – its
audience. Such methodology, D’Arcangelo
explained, results in songs that truly capture
the energy present in the room at the time.
Whereas many bands “read” a room and
choose songs from their repertoires accordingly,
The Following’s songs are actually
born of a given environment, which lends
them a more organic feel.
“People are looking for something to be
a part of … and something to experience,”
D’Arcangelo said of the Island’s wintertime
social climate. “Freshness is the emotion du
— Victoria Ford - The SandPaper

"The Following Gets Bamboozled"

Two years ago, the locally based
jam band The Following, an
original six-piece reggae-rootsrock-
fusion project, was a brand new
act debuting at Rick’s American Café
in Barnegat Light. This weekend, The
Following is headed to East Rutherford
to play The Bamboozle 2009 festival,
before a crowd of tens of thousands. The
band’s set time is 1 p.m. Sunday.
How did they do it? By winning
a Live Nation contest called “The
Break,” as rhythm guitarist Dan Sansig
explained. Out of 800-some bands that
fi lled out online applications, about
160 were allowed to audition at one
of two audition sessions held at the
Stone Pony in Asbury Park. From
that group, 40 fi nalists were selected;
and, two weekends ago, just six of
those 40 were determined to be the
winners – The Following being one of
those six, their prize being the chance
to play at this weekend’s festival at the
Meadowlands Sports Complex.
It’s an opportunity some musicians
spend their entire lives dreaming
The contest winners were chosen,
by a 12-person panel of judges, based
on a set of four criteria, according to
Sansig: talent, performance, audience
reaction and voters’ ballots.
“It was wild,” he said, when the
announcement was made that night
at the Pony and the guys learned they
were among the chosen six.
The band members, as proud of
their Southern Ocean County roots as
they are of their accomplishment, are
both humbled and honored – not only
to have bested the other contestants,
but also to be representing their home
turf at the festival.
“We want all of Long Beach Island
to take pride in it, too,” Sansig said. “I
feel like everybody in the community
can really get behind it.”Sansig said that in the two years
since the band formed, he feels he and
his band mates – lead guitarist Dan
Brown, vocalists Jacob D’Arcangelo
and Ryan Bott, bassist Taylor Stokes and
drummer Nick Miller – have evolved
and become “tighter as musicians, tighter
as songwriters and tighter as friends.
… And that’s what it’s all about.”
Last year’s attendance at Bamboozle
during the three days was recorded as
86,000, Sansig said. This year, the headlining
acts include No Doubt and Fallout
Boy, with more than 160 other bands and
half a dozen standup comedians also on
the roster.
“It’s just such a different experience,”
Sansig said. Up until now, the largest audience
the band has ever played for was
almost 3,000, at the sold-out Stone Pony
show where The Following opened for
State Radio, last spring. And as exciting
as it is to have now landed such a major
gig, Sansig said the band is playing it
cool, keeping it level, trying not to get
too star-struck or carried away.
When they get onstage this Sunday,
the musicians’ plan is, simply, to play
their set with the same amount of passion,
talent and enthusiasm they would
at Rick’s, or the Marlin, or any other
venue full of loyal fans back home.
“If what we’ve been doing all
along has gotten us this degree of
success, it would be foolish to try and
change it now,” he reasoned.
To fi nd out where The Following
will be playing locally this summer,
and to hear song samples, visit the
band online at
— Victoria Lassonde - The SandPaper


The Following EP.....check it!!
Full Length album to drop!...Spring 2010!



Sharing the stage with such bands as State Radio, The Beautiful Girls, and Braddigan, The Following began with Jake, Dan S and Nick Miller. Together they formed a very organic wooden sound which focused more on acoustics. Eventually adding the other three, things got more loud and plugged in and a reggae/hip hop sound was incorporated, while still holding the organic feel. The band is a melodic melding of reggae, folk, funk, hip hop, and rock that focuses on dancing, good vibes, and fun. Very Positive! Good People music. The Following has spread this vibe around the area from NY City to Philadelphia and up and down the shore points including The Stone Pony. The Following also played Bamboozle 2009 and got some awesome response from some true music lovers there! Enjoy life.