Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Coolest Dad

Ben and I at Legends Field in Tampa for a Yankee spring training game a few years back.

Ben Appio

My dad taught me a love of baseball. He was a Mets fan since their inception in 1962. He went to games at The Polo Grounds, at Shea, at Citi Field. He was there when Jimmy Piersall ran the bases backwards following his 100th home run. As a teen, my dad rode the subway with one of the Amazin's after a game -- Frank Thomas? Rod Kanehl? I can never remember -- while his Dodger fan friend peppered the guy with questions about who was the toughest pitcher in the National League. "Drysdale? Koufax?"

The first major league game I ever attended was at Shea Stadium. Mets vs Cubs. I think Lee Mazzilli hit a home run. Over the years, we would attend Opening Days at Shea -- including Tom Seaver's 1983 return to the team. My brother and I would get to walk on the field with our homemade placard for Banner Days. We saw Rusty Staub break the MLB record for consecutive pinch hits.

Despite his best efforts, the great failing of my father's life was that I turned out to be a Yankee fan. To his credit, though, I was never one of those dick Yankee fans who harbored a blind hatred for the Mets. I rooted for both teams. I was on the verge of tears in my uncle's basement when it looked like -- of all teams -- the Boston Red Sox were going beat the Mets in the 1986 World Series. When Bill Buckner booted Mookie Wilson's ground ball, I jumped around that basement like a crazy person. I'm sure my dad was doing the same thing at whatever bar he was at with my uncle, my aunt, and my mom. The closest we ever came to blows, though, was when Roger Clemens threw that piece of bat at Mike Piazza during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. "How can you root for this team???" he and my brother were screaming at me with murder in their eyes.

In an area more relevant to this site, my dad taught me a love of music. He introduced me to The Beatles and The Beach Boys. He would play the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar in our Brooklyn apartment. He showed me that wild spaceship take-off effect on The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold as Love; and, as a three- or five-year-old or whatever I was kid, that was just about the coolest thing I'd ever heard. On December 8th, 1980, my father stayed in bed all day after finding out that John Lennon had been murdered.

I introduced him to a bunch of stuff, too. He would call me at home to tell me that he'd just spent hours going down the YouTube rabbit holes of Marissa Paternoster or Sabrina Ellis live performances. He loved Lowlight and Dentist and The RockNRoll Hi-Fives and The Battery Electric and so on and so on. My dad was always willing to try new things, and it made me feel good that he trusted my opinion.

My dad taught me how to be a father and husband. I marvel every day at how devoted he was to those he loved. I don't know if it's possible for me -- or anyone -- to be as absolutely selfless as my dad was when it came to family. And that's what gave him pleasure. It's not like he was some sort of martyr or as if he expected anything for his trouble. It filled him with genuine joy to do whatever it took to make those he loved happy. My dad had a saying that he used to repeat often: "You're only ever as happy as your unhappiest child." As we had our own kids, that expanded to include his grandchildren.

God, he loved my mom. As a couple, they are the epitome of how it's supposed to be. "Who's ever heard of Julie without Ben?" My mother keeps asking. We were bringing my dad home from the hospital one night. It was a chore to get him into the coolvan, and he was barely coherent. Once we got him settled, I drove my mom across the parking lot to her car. She got out; and, as I started to pull away, my dad said through his haze of illness, "Jimmy. Wait. Make sure she gets in the car." I hope every day that CoolMom feels the same love, respect, and support that my mom has felt for the last 50 years.

My father received his diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer on September 13, 2018. That was 366 days after we buried my brother. Without a doubt, the last 12 months of my father's life were the worst he ever experienced. But he saw a lot of beautiful things over the course of that year as well. He was at the swim meet where CoolDaughter #1 and her medley relay team broke the school record. He was with us as CoolDaughter #2 played the cello and sang in her school's holiday and spring concerts. He saw CoolNiece graduate from 8th grade and move on to high school. CoolNephew #1 got to tell him that he'd been made a captain of his college lacrosse team. CoolNephew #2 was elected prom king and senior class president. He watched me traipse through Japan on Facebook Live with The RockNRoll Hi-Fives, and he got to read my first-ever "officially" published article. And none of that even mentions the tiny moments that he got to spend with his grandchildren and the rest of his family.

This past Sunday, as he lay in his hospital bed moving between sleep and wakefulness, CoolMom brought the kids to see him. He opened his eyes for a moment, saw them, and said, "Beautiful."

Ben Appio passed away quietly on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018. His wife was with him. He was a great, great man. I can only hope that the rest of my life honors him.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What's Going On: 11/8, 11/9, 11/10 & 11/11, 2018

Night Birds play two nights at Asbury Park Brewery.

Roll Credits

Kind of a big weekend. Night Birds play two nights at Asbury Park Brewery celebrating both the release of their latest album, Roll Credits, and their 10th anniversary. The Moms play their last-ever area shows with latewaves and Lost In Society. Our buds in The Brixton Riot reprise their roles as Lemonheads at FM in Jersey City. Dave Hause plays Crossroads. Label Captured Tracks celebrates 10 years with a show at Baby's All Right. Saves The Day play the Pony. There's lots of other stuff, too.

Have fun. Don't drink and drive.

THURSDAY (11/8)

The Anchor's Bend (Asbury): So You Want To Be A Comedian?, 8pm

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Open Mic, 8pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): The Moms / Lost In Society / latewaves / Beauty, 7pm

Barca City Cafe (New Brunswick): Zoochie / One Time Thing, 8:30pm

BoonTunes (Boonton): Dyne Side / Voices In Vain / Zion / Senseless / Changeorder / Sleeping Village, 6:30pm, $10

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Cliff & Ivy / Disorder (Joy Division Covers) / Gothic Lizard, 7pm, $10

Debonair Music Hall (Teaneck): Nicholas A. Giardina / Wayne Hendricks / Learning, 6pm, $10

FM (Jersey City): Godmaker / Somnuri / Black Wail, 8pm

First Unitarian Church (Philly): Shannon and The Clams / Dirty Fences / The Tough Shits, 8pm, SOLD OUT

John & Peter's (New Hope, PA): Jounce ft. Danny Tamberelli / Sourland, 9pm

Johnny Brenda's (Philly): Broncho / Pinky Pinky / Sixteen Jackies, 9pm, $15

Madison Square Garden (NYC): Elton John, 8pm, A lotta money

Mercury Lounge (NYC): Tor Miller / Riley Pinkerton, 6:30pm

Monmouth University (West Long Branch): The Weeklings plus Horns & Strings, 8pm, $25-$35

New Lanes (Asbury): Hoodie Allen, 7pm

Pianos (NYC): International Pop Overthrow ft. The Shellye Valauskas / The Anderson Council / Bubble / Oberon Rose / Corin Ashley / Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes, 6:30pm, $10

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Dave Fields, 7pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Bird Streets / Cliff Westfall / Tony Tedesco & Gorgo Beach, 7:45pm, $12

Stanhope House (Stanhope): Rhett Miller / Rick Barth / Sean Tobin, 6pm, $20

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Yacht Rock Revue, 7pm

FRIDAY (11/9)

ALPHAVILLE. (Brooklyn): Caged Animals / Brook Pridemore / Sic Tic / Kung Fu Crimewave, 8pm, $8-$10

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): The Mercury Brothers / Roy Orbitron / Bone & Marrow, 9pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Night Birds / Dark Thoughts / Chrome Skulls / Primitive Lips, 7pm, $12

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): DJ Foggy Notion, 9pm

The Barbary (Philly): The Moms / Holy Mountain / latewaves / Lost In Society, 7pm, $12-$15

Bond St. Basement (Asbury): The Barrbarians / Wetbrain / Judo Chop, 9pm

BoonTunes (Boonton): ASHXS / TheeFather / NVR/HERE / Eerf The Breathing Planet / more, 7pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Blowupradio.com Spondylitis Benefit ft. Jon Caspi & The First Gun / Mazeffect / Radiator King / The Extras Inc / Puppy Boy, 7:45pm

Championship Bar (Trenton): 3rd Times A Charm / Minderlithe / Television Skies / Sick / Deviant Youth, 7pm, $10

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Caveart / Deirdre Forrest / Andrew Stoddard, 8pm

Debonair Music Hall (Teaneck): Electric Sensei (Release) / Crust / Jean Pool, 7pm, $12-$20

FM (Jersey City): Brixton Riot playing Lemonheads / JC Resistance Choir playing Fleetwood Mac, 9pm, FREE

The Footlight (Ridgewood, Queens): Swanky Tiger / Nihiloceros / Desert Sharks / Spectral Fangs, 9pm, $10

House Of Independents (Asbury): Red Sun Rising / Spirit Animal / DubĂ© / The Walkarounds, 7pm, $16-$18

Jax Garage (Seaside): Den-Mate / Beauty / Seaside Caves / No Such Animals, 8pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Xol Azul, 9pm

Pet Rescue (Brooklyn): Darkwing / Glass Slipper (Release) / Smock / Fortune Teller, 8pm, $5

Pianos (NYC): International Pop Overthrow ft. The Hell Yeah Babies / The Carvels NYC / The Modulators NJ / Dave Rave & Hailee Rose / Andy Mac / Brother Reverend, 6:30pm, $10

Rent Party (Maplewood): Glenn Morrow's Cry For Help / The Anderson Council / The Lord Calverts, 8pm, $10

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Above The Sun / The Leaden Winter / Cinema Star, 7pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Dave Mooney / Tara Dente / Vendetta Rose / Ellis Wilkenson, 7:30pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Mayday Parade / This Wild Life / William Ryan Key / OH, WEATHERLY, 6pm

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Midland / Desure, 7pm

Warsaw (Brooklyn): Ty Segall (Solo Acoustic), 8pm, $26

White Eagle Hall (Jersey City): Cannibal Corpse / Hate Eternal / Harm's Way / Metalifer, 8pm, $35

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Adam Ezra Group, 8pm, $12

Zone One at Elsewhere (Brooklyn): Broncho / Pinky Pinky, 7pm, $18.80

SATURDAY (11/10)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): The Burns, 9pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Night Birds / Conmen / Wall Breaker / School Drugs, 7pm, $12

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Jet Weston & His Atomic Ranch Hands, 9pm

BoonTunes (Boonton): Goodbye Berlin / Future Reflection / T.GUNN & The Semantics / Haley Flake, 7pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Comedy Show & Chili Cookoff, 3pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): East Coast In Lullaby / Rick Barth & The Line, 8:30pm, $8

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Vendetta Rose / Thelonius Funk / Dress Code, 5pm

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Pepperwine / Hambone Relay / Fungkshui, 7pm

Clash Bar (Clifton): Bad Whoremoans / Splatterhouse / D In The B / Jess O / more, 9pm, $10

Crossroads (Garwood): Dave Hause / Kayleigh Goldsworthy, 8pm, $20

EWEL (Ask): Basic Bitches / Bacchae / Mean Siders / Alexa 666, 8pm, $5

FM (Jersey City): Matinee Music Showcase w/ Eli De La Cruz / Gurl Mob / Rockstar Racecar / Elevator Pitch / DAGE, 3pm, $10

Flemington DIY (Flemington): Davey Muise & The Sons Of Zero / Off Road Minivan / Drive Theory / Generation Underground / The Wellbourne, 6pm, $10-$12

House Of Independents (Asbury): Justin Courtney Pierre, 7:30pm, $23-$25

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Emily Grove & Friends, 9pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Fed Ash / Swollen Organs / Amallang Infection / Hundreds Of AU / more, 8pm

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Trenton Opioid Outreach Concert ft. Meeko Brando / Pissed! / Cheeky / Ray Strife, 8pm

New Lanes (Asbury): St. Lucia / Arkells, 8:30pm

Pianos (NYC): International Pop Overthrow ft. Starry Skies / Overlord / Speed The Plough / Lane Steinberg & David Foster / Wendy Ip / The Cooler Heads, 7pm, $10 

Pino's Gift Basket (Highland Park): Brother JT / RGD / Naughty Clouds, 8:30pm

Randy Now's Man Cave (Bordentown): Tommy Conwell, 7:30pm & 9:30pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): All Era Reunion, 6pm, $10

Small World Coffee (Princeton): Band Of Changes, 8pm, FREE

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Waterparks / I Don't Know How But They Found Me / Nick Gray / Super Whatevr / De'Wayne Jackson, 6pm

Stone Pony (Asbury): Saves The Day / Kevin Devine / An Horse, 7pm, $24-$28

Transparent Clinch (Asbury): Brandon Mills / Conor Quigley / Levy Okun, 4pm, FREE

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Promised Land / Johnny Fish and The Fins, 7pm, $12-$15

SUNDAY (11/11)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Sandy Mack, 4pm

Baby's All Right (Brooklyn): 10 Years of Captured Tracks ft. Wax Chattels / Drahla / HXXS, 8pm, $5

Bowery Electric (NYC): Sleepyhead / Antietam / The Royal Arctic Institute, 7pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Gillian L / Broken Angels / Anthony Campana, 6pm, $10-$12

Gold Sounds (Brooklyn): The Moms / latewaves / Lost In Society / Yawn Mower / The Swaying Daisies, 6pm, $10-$13

House Of Independents (Asbury): Antarctigo Vespucci / Katie Ellen / Sammy Kay, 7pm, $14.99-$15

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Devon Alana / Ben Resnick, 1pm

Little Buddy Hideaway (Asbury): Lost Culture / Tiki Torture / DJ Devil Bat, 9pm

murmrr (Brooklyn): Jeff Tweedy, 8pm, SOLD OUT

New Lanes (Asbury): PJ Morton, 8pm

Randy Now's Man Cave (Bordentown): Parasites / The Fiendz, 6pm, $10

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Terry Reid / Eryn / Tommy Fuller, $20-$25

The Saint (Asbury): Matt Witte, 6:30pm, $10

Scarlet Pub (New Brunswick): Raising Dinosaurs / Dog In A Man Suit / Matt Morgan, 8pm, $5

Monday, November 5, 2018

Mid-Week Fun at The Asbury and House of Independents, 10/31 & 11/1

Titus Andronicus at House of Independents

Old Friends and New

This was a pretty quiet weekend at CDMHQ. CoolMom spent the middle of last week on a business trip to San Francisco, and the rest of us did our usual stuff -- swim practices, shows, trick or treating, that kind of thing. When CoolMom did get home, we decided to have some family time for a change. I did manage to get out to a couple of things while she was away, though.

On Wednesday, I hosted a Halloween show at The Asbury Hotel. That one featured The Rareflowers, Mike Chick, and our old friends Roy Orbitron. It seemed pretty laid back for a Halloween Night in Asbury Park, but I guess that's what happens when the big holiday falls smack dab in the middle of the week.

Mike Chick

We all had a good time. Mike Chick opened solo acoustic with some covers (including some Yawn Mower) and his original Halloween classic, "Ding Dong (Fill My Plastic Pumpkin)." The Rareflowers blew everyone away with their chimey dream pop. I encourage all of you to check out their self-titled EP on Good Eye Records. Finally, Roy Orbitron made a return to Asbury Park riding the high of the fantastic new 8 Million To One.

The Rareflowers
Roy Orbitron

Like I said, it was a weirdly quiet Halloween; but this was a fun show with some of my favorite people.

On Thursday night, Titus Andronicus played House of Independents for their first Asbury Park headlining date since, I think, their 2014 show at Asbury Lanes. This leg of their tour featured label mates Spider Bags; and, on Thursday, locals The Double Negatives started things.

The Double Negatives

The Double Negatives are difficult to classify. It's soulful and emotional rock. Lead singer, Rob Connolly, gives it his all; and the band put on a damn high-energy show.

This was my third or fourth time seeing Spider Bags; and their rambling, punk-tinged garage rock was on full display once again. Songs that start out as barroom-style, rootsy, punk veer off into extended jams and back again. My date for the evening, intrepid interviewer Matt Chrystal, remarked, "These guys rule."

Spider Bags

Patrick Stickles took the stage at about 10:20. After his usual instructions about keeping things peaceful and respecting one another's personal space, he did a solo rendition of The Monitor's "To Old Friends and New." From there, the rest of the band joined him for "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ;" and we were off.

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus

In the middle of the set, the band played several "covers" from a mysterious 1980 compilation album called Working Class Blokes that Stickles and guitarist Liam Betson had supposedly come across during their tour of the UK. Not only did they discover a treasure trove of second-wave Bristol punk rock; but they also made a killing on the record, having purchased it for a single pound only to discover later on Discogs that the comp was fetching 1,000 pounds.

Funny. But I haven't been able to find any trace of this record myself. Oh, well. That "TMLT Around the World" song -- from a later charity comp and written by the same folks who wrote the other songs -- is one I'd like to get my hands on eventually.

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus

The crowd was a bit smaller than I expected, but that's the uncertainty of Asbury Park in the cooler months for you. It gave the show a loose, interesting feel; and there was definitely a lot less of the bro-y nonsense that can happen at the more tightly-packed shows. Also, the "Cool! Dad! Cool! Dad!" chant started by Patrick Stickles from the stage was pretty awesome.

After Wednesday and Thursday, I was a little physically and psychologically spent; so, as I said, the rest of the weekend was relatively quiet. CoolMom and I even got to go out to dinner together which was a rare and welcome development.

I posted the pictures from both nights over at the Facebook page. Flickr is going through some changes that leave me wondering if they'll be a reliable picture host down the road, so I've stopped uploading there for the time being. If any bands want a non-squished version of anything, feel free to get in touch.

Bird Streets, Bird Streets, 2018

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

For his new album, Bird Streets, the New York-based songwriter and musician, John Brodeur, reached out to his friend, the producer and multi-instrumentalist, Jason Falkner. The result is indie-pop gold with guitars, melodies, and vocals that, as the album's Bandcamp page says: "draws liberally on the music of decades past without being bluntly nostalgic."

For nearly 20 years Brodeur has released several solo albums, fronted the rock trios The Suggestions  and Maggie Mayday, and worked as a touring and studio musician. Faulkner, of course, was a founding member of power-pop legends Jellyfish and is the one-man band behind such solo records as 1996's Author Unknown. He produced the Bird Streets album and co-wrote most of the songs with Brodeur.

Two of my favorite songs on Bird Streets are about breakups. There's the break-up-happening-right-now of "Thanks For Calling." It's an upbeat tune with echoes of the Mersey Beat sound, and there's also a late-period solo Alex Chilton guitar riff in the mix. "So the next time you hook up / With an old friend / Keep it a secret, keep me in the dark," sings Brodeur in a warm, friendly voice that sounds not unlike Matthew Caws of Nada Surf. "So you're kind of a thing now? / Thanks for calling / I would have been better off never knowing / But you had to tell me everything."

The post-breakup song is "Stop To Breathe" which has the fantastic dueling guitar sound that was so much a part of Falkner's post-Jellyfish band, the indie supergroup, The Grays (which also included Jon Brion, Buddy Judge, and Dan McCarroll) and their great 1994 one-shot Ro Sham Bo album. 

In "Stop To Breathe" an old girlfriend keeps coming back into his life in unexpected ways: "You  must be alive / 'cause you cashed the check" and "Seven months before I heard a thing / Then I see the ring I gave you / In a Third Street pawn-shop window." Then there's a big chorus "Drop your weapons and retreat, Carrie / I'm not the enemy / And you're a question mark / When an answer's what I need, Carrie." With Luther Russell brought on board, an awesome three-guitar face-off takes off that might just remind you of the end of Abbey Road.

"Betting On The Sun" is a terrific pop song with jangling guitars that could have found a place on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend. Miranda Lee Richards and Maesa Pullman provide a heavenly chorus on the lovely "Spaceship." And the ballad "Heal" compares love to a drug: "I came to you looking for relief / Hollow-eyed and shaking like a leaf / You were safe and warm, that's why I stayed / Praying that the rush would never fade / Anesthetized /And hypnotized."  

"Direction," with its swell lead bass line and a crunchy guitar solo, tells the story of a sort-of girlfriend who's never quite around when she's supposed to be: "Three in the afternoon on a Monday / You're in the bathroom again, with a friend / And everyone can hear you / You fix yourself up  / And make your way back to the table / Everyone shuts up / And pretends nothing happened."