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New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States

New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
Band Rock Jam


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...Water... @ Cambridge Inn

Spotswood, New Jersey, USA

Spotswood, New Jersey, USA

...Water... @ Bulfinch Yacht Club

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

...Water... @ Sky Bar

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



Upon hearing a name like "Water," one can't help but think of rivers flowing, raindrops falling and waves breaking. Themes of movement permeate the band's lyrics, melodies, grooves and history. If you haven't given them a good listen yet, you are among the fast-shrinking minority of Central Jerseyans. In fact, they've been growing and diving right in to venues such as the House of Blues in Boston, The Elbow Room in NYC and NJPAC in Newark. Recent engagements have had them playing with Carl Dietel from the Samples and opening for the likes of Jimmy Cliff (at the Stone Pony), Levon Helm and Dickie Betts. These guys come straight out of the Hub City (a.k.a. New Brunswick), and here's why you should catch them at a small venue while you still can.

I recently had a chance to talk to Mike Montrey (lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter) and just had to find out, "what makes Water flow?" I should have known that the secret to this band's distinctive sound was a lot more complex than it seemed at the surface. A quick sampling of their latest release, "Dig," calls to mind jam band heavies String Cheese Incident and the recently departed Phish. Dig landed on #4 out of the Top Ten NJ independent releases for 2003 and is available at CDBaby.com (along with their first release, "The Grass Sun"). Like any good JamBand, though, their LP provides a mere hint at the energy available at their live performances. Unlike other jam bands, the grooves are usually the last element to make it into a Water song. In this band, the melodies usually come first, and it shows (Just listen to "Time Spent," the first track on their album, to see how the layering of male and female vocals stresses the melodic beauty within an otherwise rocking song). Mike refers back to Garcia on Dylan for this one: Though Dylan was widely regarded as the poet of his generation, according to Jerry Garcia, Bob's melodies are what made his songs so memorable.

Call that an acknowledgement of inspiration if you will. When asked about their influences, while acknowledging the JamBand liaison, Mike stressed the fact that Water has created its own identity through the way its members' musical backgrounds interact. In an effort to oversimplify this delicately woven web of musical genres, let's just say that Mike digs Trey Anastasio a whole bunch, as well as jazz legends Herbie and Miles. He traces Water's melodic lineage to the jazz tradition (which almost surely borrowed from Beethoven), in which a song is built upon creating and developing a melodic theme.

The rhythmic backbone is laid down by Vance Vann, the alliterative comic-book character of the group. His prog-rock schooling (Rush, YES) provides him a mastery of polyrhythms that allows him to wade through straight-ahead rock and country tunes. On more ambitious pieces, he provides a distinctive coloring and makes full use of his hodge-podge, homemade kit.

Filling the void between rhythm and melody are Matt Tevald on keys and "The Duke"on bass. The Duke brings a slice of Americana to the band by strolling through the low-end with the type of bass lines that provided the strong but gentle drive behind country and blues heroes like Albert King and Willie Nelson. Tevald's musicianship is the most traditional you'll find in the band. His finesse is such that he blends-in easily even when performing unfamiliar tunes. Such delicate underpinnings have the unlikely effect of being even more prominent in their absence than when sounded.

Newcomer Stephanie Guida (vocals), a card-carrying dead-head, might be called the Donna Gene Godchaux of the group. She's only been with the band for the past six months, so look for her increasing presence at future Water events. If I were to look for one direction in which Water could grow, it would be to see their vocal lines approach the forefront of the sound more regularly. Stephanie's beautiful and soulful tone could be just what Water needs to promote such development.

Now, Water is certainly not the first band to bridge a wide array of genres, but their unique recombination is certainly a key to their distinctive sound. Another element that separates the boy bands from true musical innovators is lyrical prowess. Montrey takes pride in the fact that his lyrics cannot be pinned-down to a definitive interpretation, but rather force the listener to take part in the creative process by breathing their own meaning into the piece. Many songs read like a series of ethereal images whose aesthetics and connotations both reinforce the idea of movement. Consider the first lines of three Water tunes:

"Well I went runnin' for the desert from the hills of California"(The Ballad of Otis Carmichael)

"Not for one moment can I stop from pushing on"(Who's Jose?)

"As more and more the days just pass"(Magic Wand)

This third tune, Magic Wand, is my personal pick for the most energetic number on the "Dig"album. In addition to its sonic qualities, "Magic Wand" is also one of Water's more meaningful offerings. Though the mass of its words deliberately wander through tense bursts of confusion, the last two lines subdue such seemingly intractable angst with an elusive metaphor: "It has occurred to me that in order to salvage them, I'll have to wave my magic wand." The function of this "wand" is clear, but true to form, it's hard to tell exactly what the wand might be: a guitar? a baseball bat? Or perhaps something a bit more personal...

In an effort to put the "movement" thread to rest, I'll leave you with two more ways in which Water moves. One is structure. While most groups are aided in constructing songs by the tried and true Verse-Chorus-Bridge method, a Water tune is more likely to constantly reinvent itself from beginning to end. Such anti-formulaic songwriting may seem like self-handicapping if you're trying to compete with incessantly repeated two-second hooks, but this is one band that's more likely to impress you with the depth of their creativity than to force their way into your mind during a two-week stay on the charts. Mike's method of choice for songwriting is to simply harness inspiration whenever and wherever it comes. Though he has constructed songs from the chords up at times, he is much more likely to sing ideas into his answering machine when a phone is the only available recording tool.

To find out the final way that water moves, try to find someone in the audience keeping still at one of their upcoming shows. You can catch them on September 11th at the Old Bay or on the 18th at Harvest Moon. (The New Brunswick homes of Cajun Cuisine and MicroBrews, respectively).
- Upstage Magazine

Water, without a doubt, takes the prize for the New Jersey music scene's most improved band. The New Brunswick-based jam outfit produced its debut CD, The Grass Sun, a couple of years back, recorded in the able hands of Atomic Productions' Matt Angus. While brimming with potential, it fell victim to the band's inexperience and self-indulgence.

With the followup, Dig, that potential has been surpassed far more than I thought it would be. And to boot, Water has evolved into one of New Jersey's best live bands, a fun, funky, far-out experience. On the new disc, it's a nice mix of Dead-like roots music ("Fixin To Flow," "Bob Perry," "6 Long Days," "Mean Old Nathaniel"), funk-adelic fun ("Slippery Rock"), beautiful ballads ("Stimulate My Mind") and "strange noises" ("Magic Wand," "Crystal Masks," "Who's Jose"). No matter which approach it takes, Water is richly entertaining on one of the most rewarding indie releases to come out of Central Jersey this year.

The 15 original tracks flesh out the capacity of a CD, but unlike the overlong, spotty debut, Dig flies by, empowered by an engine of fun and chops. Main songwriter-vocalist Mike Montrey has grown into one of the fiercely fertile New Jersey music scene's most commanding frontmen and inventive guitarists. After seeing Water many times during the past two years, I figured Montrey couldn't get any better, but Dig is his shining moment.

The yummy psychedelics of "Magic Wand" are at the centerpiece of the disc with fantastic harmony vocals, clever wordplay, tasteful layers of rhythm and hysterical sounds that scream from of Montrey's rack of effects. On the other end of Water's genre-crossing repertoire is "Mean Old Nathaniel," a rootsy nugget about a New Brunswick street character.

The acoustic, horn-driven "Fixin' To Flow" also is a standout, one of several tracks featuring New Blood Revival's horn section. Unfortunately, the NBR cats couldn't breath enough life into the Latin/hip-hop-tinged "Who's Jose?" to match its intoxicating live energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness.

Another able guest is fiddler Dan O'Dea of the awesome instrumental unit Beyond. He appears on the rootsy, Dead-like material, such as "Bob Perry," "6 Long Days" and bassist Anthony Duca's uplifting romp "The Ballad of Otis Carmichael."

Duca also gets props for being the main tech man beind the band's effort to engineer and produce this disc mainly by themselves with a bit of help from Angus. It's amazing and wonderful what a little talent and ingenuity can accomplish in a home studio these days. Dig is a shining example.

What's also interesting is how much more effective uptight drummer Vance Vann and vocalist Jenny Duca are in the studio, where their lack of stage presence doesn't mar their performance. Both are fantastic studio musicians who should rest assured in their onstage talent.

If you dig classic and roots rock that isn't afraid to go off even if it crashes and burns, you'll dig Water. Equal parts Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Parliament-Funkadelic wrapped in a fresh but familiar sound, this band could represent rock's past, present and future if the music industry took a chance. I believe the band is ready for the opportunity.

Bob Makin is a contributing editor to Upstage magazine. A New Jersey music writer for 23 years, Makin's work also has appeared in the Asbury Park Press, Courier News, Bergen Record, Home News Tribune, Daily Record, Courier Post, The Aquarian Weekly, East Coast Rocker, Relix, JamBands.com, Backstreets, Downbeat and Details. He also is co-founding volunteer director of Jersey Jams Fund (www.jerseyjamsfund.org), a United Way music education program for New Jersey children.
- Aquarian Weekly, Upstage Magazine, Home News Tribune, Courier News

...Water's studio debut...'The Grass Sun'...is impressive,
particularly lyrically and harmonically. Jennifer Duca's sweet backing
vocals are the band's greatest strength, particularly on the original
hymn, 'My Faith will Lead me Home'...Well crafted and executed tunes like
the opening 'From the Desk of Ely Chait' and 'Waves in Motion'
should prove to be exceptional live.
- Bob Makin (Aquarian Weekly)

- Courier News

Ten Central Jersey music acts to look for this summer (2002)
8. ...Water... - This funky, trippy band has a following that's
growing like a fungus. New Brunswick based ...Water's... debut, 'The Grass
Sun' is an anticlimax compared to it's live show, where reggae, funk,
country and improvisational rock make for a mellow but mighty groove.
- Bob Makin (Aquarian Weekly)

- Aquarian Weekly

Water [waterismusic.com] played at Double D's on Friday. They sounded as good as ever, especially the song with the smoke that got trippy, segued into the other song and then came back to the first song. Wanna know what song it was? Pick up their new album, Dig. Who's ass is that on the back of Dig, anyway? And what happened to the chick backup singer?

"We just hired a promoter," says guitarist/singer Mike. "He's going to get us out to some colleges."

- Steppin' Out Magazine

The new album, “The Spectacular Elevator”, has received some extremely rewarding press, for press on the previous albums follow the press link:

“…there are moments that are as entertaining and artistic as any CD released by an indie New Jersey band. Musically, there isn't a wrong note. From the long psychedelic intro of the opening ``3 Behind Fate,'' which sounds like Jimmy Smith sitting in with Phish, to the closing upbeat fun of ``Simon & Deliah.''

-Upstage Magazine (New Brunswick, NJ)

“Obviously believers in letting their music speak for itself…guitarist/songwriter/singer Mike Montrey – a vocal cross between Bob Weir, Donovan and Dave Matthews – guides this talented 5-piece through well constructed songs that embrace country, stoner-jazz, folk, fusion, funk, world beat, rock, reggae, metal, mariachi, samba and soul in a quest for the perfect groove”

-Aquarian Weekly (NJ weekly magazine)

“Highlights include Mike Montrey's meaty guitar trip on ``Maureen Uszenski,'' also featuring a rare lead vocal by Stephanie Guida; the hip-hoppin' be-bop of ``Coop,'' the cute, carnival-like ``The Mystic Hero'' and the country-fried soul-jazz of ``Jerome.'' The latter two tunes are showcases for keyboardist Matt Tevald's eclectic talent. While Montrey and Tevald cross musical boundaries, bassist Anthony Duca and new drummer Edgar Diaz hold down the fort nicely.”

-Home News Tribune (Piscataway, NJ)

“Several special guests throughout ``The Spectacular Elevator'' shine alongside Water. They include Otters’ fiddler Dan O'Dea and mandolinist Mikey Hoffman on the layered hoe-down ``Skeleton Key'', and Hub City jazz cat Tyler Smith on sax on the pretty, piano-driven ``Legally Blind,'' as well as several other tracks. Throughout, Montrey has arranged the horns to blend well with his tasty solos. The disc's loose, fresh take on tradition will translate well live”

-The Courier News (Bridgewater, NJ)
- Aquarian Weekly and Upstage Magazine


"...The Grass Sun..." - 1/02
"...Dig..." - 10/03
"The Spectacular Elevator" - 4/05

All albums stream on cdbaby.com, mp3s are on our website: www.waterismusic.com and songs can be heard/pruchased on all major online music distributors from itunes to pure volume. We have also received extended airplay nation wide as a result of radio promotion.



…water… originated in 2001. Based out of Central NJ, the band has released 3 studio albums, The Grass Sun (2002), Dig (2003) and The Spectacular Elevator (2005). They blend an eclectic mix of song-based melodies that feature moments of alt-country, progressive rock, funky jazz and much more. They have performed at such esteemed venues/festivals as:

The NJPAC, The House of Blues (Boston), Crossroad Theater (NJ), Black Potatoe Music Fest, Nectar’s (Burlington, VT.), The Stone Pony, The Lion’s Den and more.

They have shared the stage with numerous touring acts, such as:

Jimmy Cliff, Levon Helm, Dickey Betts, The Campbell Brothers, .moe, G Love & Special Sauce, Particle, Bienevento Russo Duo and more.

”This band could represent rock’s past present and future” – Upstage Magazine

“Obviously believers in letting their music speak for itself…guitarist/songwriter/singer Mike Montrey – a vocal cross between Bob Weir, Donovan and Dave Matthews – guides this talented 5-piece through well constructed songs that embrace country, stoner-jazz, folk, fusion, funk, world beat, rock, reggae, metal, mariachi, samba and soul in a quest for the perfect groove” – Aquarian Weekly

“Main songwriter-vocalist Mike Montrey has grown into one of the fiercely fertile New Jersey music scene's most commanding frontmen and inventive guitarists.” – Courier News