By Anthony J. Machcinski
While the heavy snow and frigid temperatures don’t exactly inspire memories of the Jersey Shore in the summer, frostbitten summer-lovers can escape the winter with the help of C.O.A.L.G.
C.O.A.L.G., an acoustic guitar duo who frequently plays at Spicy’s Cantina in Seaside Heights in the summers, will perform a set at North Arlington’s Centanni’s on Feb. 28.
“We play everything from the Beatles up until today’s stuff and everything in between,” said singer/guitarist Wayne Bilotti.
Bilotti started his music career in high school, when he began playing the guitar with friends.
“I had the opportunities to play since high school and it sprung from there,” Bilotti said. “It’s just a passion to play. I was just fortunate enough to make a living doing it.”
Bilotti’s style, with musical influences ranging from Paul Simon to Roger Waters, came from being exposed to varying styles of music.
“I just grew up listening to a lot of different types of music,” Bilotti said. “I was more into song writers than just random artists.”
Bilotti’s guitar career soon took him to many of the notable venues throughout the area, including the now-closed CBGB in Manhattan. However, as time passed, Bilotti found that playing acoustic guitar allowed him more opportunities to work.
“I think it has a lot to do with the scene changing,” Bilotti explained. “A lot of the old rock venues like CBGB are gone. There’s not a real scene out there for original rock music anymore.”
Looking to keep with the times, Bilotti and C.O.A.L.G. bandmate Andre Lahr kept playing acoustic shows.
“The acoustic leaves you more versatile to do different types of music,” Bilotti explained. “It allows you to fit into more venues. It’s the one scene that kind of didn’t go away.”
With over a decade in the music business, Bilotti said that the duo’s success is derived from keeping tabs on their audience and their ability to play several varieties of music.
“What’s good is good,” Bilotti said. “We always had our ear out and we’re kind of out there in the (music) scene ourselves. The Beatles were way before I was even born, but they’re such a great band. There’s always a call for (the modern scene) too.”
C.O.A.L.G.’s wide array of musical styles is evident through performances of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and the famed Beatles track “Don’t Let Me Down,” which have made their way onto YouTube.
C.O.A.L.G.’s rendition of “Hotel California,” taken from a July 2013 performance at the Spicy Cantina, is everything music lovers could hope for out of a cover. Trying to match Don Henley’s vocals on the track is no easy task, yet Bilotti and Lahr maneuver their way through the song, enough to get a crowd full of musiclovers singing along with their rendition.
In another cover, Bilotti’s cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” with guitarist Norm Dodge again provides another singalong anthem for the audience.
While Bilotti has not had optimal success with original songs, just the ability to play music for a living is exhilarating.
“All you can do is love what you do,” Bilotti said. “I’m glad to make a living as I do with (playing music).”
While the summer is several months away, Bilotti said C.O.A.L.G. has already booked many appearances for the warmer months.
“We just booked our summer schedule, we’re just looking forward to that,” Bilotti said of his hopes for the future. “We’re always willing to travel, maybe some nice climate weather stuff.”
One of Bilotti’s main goals is to show the Jersey Shore’s music scene, and disprove stereotypes that the Shore music scene revolves around electronica and dance.
“The shore has a misconception that it’s just like the TV Show (MTV’s Jersey Shore),” Bilotti explained. “We’ve been playing there for 10 years. It’s still the shore. There’s lots of acoustic bands and plenty of rock music going on down there.”
C.O.A.L.G. will perform at Centanni’s at 35 River Rd. in North Arlington on Feb. 28. For more information on the band, visit their website at www.coalg.com.