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Category: Out and About

Nontraditional bluegrass band comes to Kearny


By Anthony J. Machcinski

As the dog days of summer bring triple-digit heat to the area, a hot day at the zoo might not seem like the most sought after way to spend time. However, the band of the same name should provide an escape from the high temperatures.
Massachusetts is not the area typically associated with bluegrass; however, Hot Day at the Zoo embraces its nontraditional roots and sound.
“I’ve always believed what we’re doing is unique,” said guitarist Michael Dion. “No one is doing what we’re doing.”
Hot Day at the Zoo started eight years ago, but it wasn’t until three years ago when mandolin player JT Lawrence joined the band that Dion felt the group had more of a professional feel.
“When he came into the band, I feel like we upped it into a big outfit,” Dion said.
Although Lawrence thinks that the band had been established before he arrived, the vibe he received from the beginning was powerful.
“When I joined the group, I knew that off the bat the band could be successful,” Lawrence explained. “I saw what was going on and heard the sounds they blended together. When I make a piece of music, I try to think of how many diverse groups of people can understand this music and get as many as possible. (Hot Day at the Zoo) did just that.”
While the band loves being home, its uniqueness is not always embraced in Massachusetts.
“Hot Day at the Zoo is not traditional bluegrass,” Lawrence explained. “In New England, people are so traditional in every aspect of their life, and they want to hear the music that they heard 40 or 50 years ago.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Age has no limits as Jay and the Americans rock Lyndhurst

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski/Jay & the Americans on stage in Lyndhurst last week.

By Anthony J. Machcinski
Despite 49 years since their first hit song, Jay and the Americans still have the ability to rock any large crowd.
Playing a mixture of their hits and covers of songs from artists that inspired them, such as Roy Orbison, Jay and the Americans played last week at Town Hall Park in Lyndhurst as part of the 22nd annual “Music Under the Stars.”
Jay and the Americans started after founding members Sandy Deanne and Kenny Vance decided to end their previous group called the Harborites. The first Jay, Jay Traynor, was found by Harborites manager Jim Gribble.
One of the most significant moments with Jay and the Americans for Deanne, a Queens native, came when the band was able to play one of the biggest stages in America, Madison Square Garden.
“We’re East Coast guys,” Deanne said proudly. “When we played Madison Square Garden, it was a special thrill because all the huge events took place there.”
While much has changed since the group was one of the top bands of the 1960s, Deanne and the band like to return to the area.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

An Under-21 Night Out

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Over the past few months, The Observer has featured several bands such as the UnderGrounds, The Stooges, and I Am Fighting. While the styles of these bands vastly differ from each other, they all have one common ground; they all mostly play in places where there is no admission to minors.
Many in the area, and across the nation, will say that this is a sign of the times, that letting children out late to roam the streets is unsafe. On the other hand, children who have grown and are growing up in the area consider the life inside boring and redundant.
So how does the modern teenager balance the fun they seek with the safety parents search for?
With the latest “Transformers” hitting the theaters, there couldn’t be a better time to get into the air conditioning and head for dinner and a movie.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Stars in the skies

Suzanne Lavigne/ Suzanne is a renowned holistic psychic, life coach, relationship expert. What is unique is that she combines intuitive logic along with holistic clairvoyance. Suzanne is an internationally known clairvoyant, astrologer and and does intuitive readings. She is the 3rd generation of clairvoyant. She has been featured on television shows, radio and on magazines. Email Suzanne any of your questions and read her reply in our next installment of stars in the skies. astrosuzanne@gmail.com


Horoscope for July 2011.
What will happen to you this month? Will you be meeting interesting people or evolve professionally? Both social and sentimental – Suzanne tells you all!

Aries (March 21st – April 21st)
Sentimental: All is well and even better and better from July 1 to 13, and there’s a certain peace of mind from July 14 to 22. But you know, nothing lasts, and things are heating up from the 23rd to the 31st. If Mercury and Jupiter join their energies, it is for better understanding how your life can change by being more flexible and tolerant.  Something to meditate on!
Social: It is moving in the right direction for you, so embrace it. However, it is necessary to bring some changes in your business. The administrative side is weighing on you. It is important to be effective

Taurus (April 22nd – May 22nd)
Sentimental: The Sun moves, not a cloud on the horizon from the 11th to 20th. But, ouch, ouch, ouch, sky cover, storms come to disturb your peace of mind from the 21st to 31st.
Social: If you’re the type to invest your money then know that it is profitable now! Your ideas transform into gold and as your lifestyle increases, it facilitates things. A financial association appears to be an opportunity to grow your portfolio. Have you considered trades online?

Gemini (May 22nd – June 21st)
Sentimental: The aspect of Mars and Mercury emphasizes communication. Your body’s energy rebuilds easily during the phases of your sleep, and you are much more dynamic during the day, helping you cope with the difficulties of everyday life.
Social: You have the choice among several activities. Therefore, you opt for a project that combines the useful with the pleasant or a project that does not necessarily require a substantial personal investment. Any project in correspondence with sport is put forward. It may even be that you create your own situation. March/Saturn trigon allows you to take your courage in both hands and bear the weight of the difficulties.

Cancer (June 22nd – July 21st )
Sentimental: A quiet phase until the 15th. But your peace of mind will be troubled the 16th-21st. Your happiness will get back on the rails 22nd to 31st. Take advantage of the Black Moon Lilith & Neptune energies to bring you excellent creative power and help to make your ideas successful. It is to use wisely.
Social: Your career is as its peak potential. This underlies that your ideas are interesting and also attract the attention of those who seek to take advantage of them. Several options appear to be interesting such as trade, offshore development, services and guidance opportunities. For the rest, an internal evolution is quite feasible

Leo (July 22nd – Aug. 21st)
Sentimental: Barometer rising until the 11th, to finally show a sign of turbulence between the 12th and 22nd.  The Sun and Venus by their “cosmic rays” beautify your life by changing some details which have their importance. You probably know what this is in reference to!
Social: Admittedly, this month looks rather like a period without, well, yes, you had better get used to this! Take the opportunity to refine your little projects on your off-peak hours. It is a question about taking things with philosophy. However, if your projects are longterm, then your satisfaction should be perfectly filled. The March-Saturn trigon relays the Sun-Saturn square, relieving it of its negative aspect by making you more active.

Virgo (Aug. 22nd – Sept. 21st)
Sentimental: Things change for the better from the 9th until the 19th and on from 20th to 31st. Jupiter and Mercury through the rays of their magnetic fields give you the opportunity to be a healthy person in a sound body. Would it not be a metamorphosis for you?
Social: New ideas cross your mind, to be associated with someone who knows the business. And especially on the administrative side!  Because even if you’re careful, assistance in this field would be welcome.  Therefore, you take the time to search for a competent person. Probably in your professional relations, a friend can offer you their services

Libra (Sept. 22nd – Oct. 21st )
Sentimental: Life is good for Libra between the 1st-14th. The Sun settles in, not a cloud on the horizon from 15 to 22. But this artificial happiness does not last, and it puts sticks in the wheels from 23 to 31. Saturn and Mars join their energies, so that you feel you have wings.  Make longterm plans for more ambitious projects!
Social: Everything you put in place from the professional point of view is linked to the financial aspect. “Any work merits pay” is a valuable adage to your eyes. Above all, you are looking for success, which is not as negative as it sounds. Because even if you look as if the only reason you are interested is of a business viewpoint, it is not that you do not show your extreme generosity.

Scorpio (Oct. 22nd – Nov. 21st)
Sentimental: Venus and Jupiter by their beneficial aspects help to stimulate your desire to see life transformed as you expect it to get the best benefits. So thinking that you have power over time, Scorpion you can sleep on both ears  until the to 12th . On the other hand, from 13 to 21, your peace of mind will be troubled, but everything is back to normal 22-31.
Social: Sometimes you like to spend your savings, especially during the period of sales. But this is just an epiphenomenon! You do not have the intention to adopt a way of life beyond your means, except that sometimes you admit it’s tempting! Thus, you give without being able to limit your spending. One way to regain self-control: stay at home. The sextile Mercury-Mars pushes you in excess; be extra careful to limit yourself.

Sagittarius ( Nov. 22nd – Dec. 21st )
Sentimental: Sagittarius sees everything through rose-colored glasses until July 13th — a sensation that continues even 14-22 — which doesn’t last since you are going to encounter obstacles in your way from 23 to 31. The Moon, Mars and Mercury with their positive energies ensure you a regular and upward progression. You follow the current as it happens; follow your intuition!
Social: Stop! You live in the fear of failure and it becomes difficult on a daily basis. Why won’t you let yourself go? It doesn’t mean no longer count and manage your expenses, but releasing the pressure and stop worrying as soon as you open your wallet. The month of July will be no more difficult that the others; therefore stop protecting your possessions in this way; it becomes burdensome. Especially for your entourage.

Capricorn (Dec. 22nd – Jan. 21st)
Sentimental: Capricorn may relax until the 12th; nothing should bother you. And this feeling of well-being will last from the 13th  to 21st . Be sure to protect yourself from 22 to 31, as the situation will intensify.
Social: Sometimes, you feel alone in the face of adversity. Fortunately, Saturn in the sign of Libra changes your negative moods and allows you to find the peace and quiet inside of you. After July 11, the insurance of a better bank account makes it easier. You can even design projects for the six months to come.

Aquarius ( Jan. 22nd – Feb. 21st)
Sentimental: It is like in a fairy tale! Your wishes and hers are a match. Everything is therefore the best of both worlds, and “they lived happily and had many children…” But that’s not counting the powers of Uranus casting here and there, thus the negative aspects to the surrounding planets in its path. You must therefore protect youself.
Social: Normally, your ways are largely sufficient. If this is not yet the case, it’s going to become so. Don’t ask yourself too many questions, because by listening to your intuition, you are not likely to mislead yourself. The Uranus-Saturn opposition in your case is synonymous with difficulties to find harmony in your life. Thus, you are subject to changes or important imbalances then.

Pisces : (Feb. 22nd – March 21st)
Sentimental: You have a sense of déjà vu, a dream come true premonition… It fits perfectly in the field of the possible because Lilith (Black moon) in Pisces takes possession of your soul and infuses your spirit with mystical thoughts. And if you would tell your beloved what prompts you to go further with him? Because it is clear there is enough magic between you two. And the desire to do well takes over. As if you were transported one and the other in spheres that no one can achieve on this earth. Have you discovered the secret of Eden? You will fly to a dream destination. As of July 15, your decision is made, because you are conquered. If you push the discussion a little further, you see in him the purity of his feelings.
Social: A desire to buy, a need to own real property. The need to keep your children safe is your main concern. Indeed, your financial means are most of the time used for the well-being of your entourage. Your legendary generosity does not detract at this time. You always plan for the pleasure which will light up the eyes of your loved ones.

Harry Potter and the Magic of the World

By Louis Sullivan

On July 15, moviegoers across the nation will rush to see the final installment of the Harry Potter series, as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” hits theaters.
The release of this film and the culmination of the series, an event 10 years in the making, mark an important milestone for many cinema enthusiasts and Potter fans alike. It brings to a conclusion a legacy of books and movies that began with the publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” back in 1999 and has proved a strong tie to the magic of childhood and the trials of getting older, particularly for those of us who grew up alongside Harry and faced the ever-quickening dawn of adulthood and responsibility as he did.
Never has this been clearer to me than it is now. I was 8 when the book series began, and I read along with each novel as it hit the shelves. I’d compulsively attend the midnight release parties at Barnes and Noble and devour the books, reading along as page after page of Harry’s adventures unfolded before my eyes and whisked me away to a world where magic was as real as the book that I read to behold it.
When I began reading “Sorcerer’s Stone,” though, magic was everywhere in my world, too. I wholeheartedly believed that, when I turned 11, I too could find an acceptance letter from Hogwarts delivered by owl to my home. Barring that, I had other far-flung dreams for the future: Someday I would be a paleontologist and make a major dinosaur discovery; an astronaut who would explore planets and systems that no one had yet visited; or an Egyptologist examining the pyramids and the tombs and artifacts of the pharaohs.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Garden State Concert Band continues long tradition in Kearny

By Anthony J. Machcinski

For the last 13 years, the Garden State Concert Band has performed at Veterans Park on Belgrove Ave. in Kearny for the annual Fourth of July celebration.     The band was formed 31 years ago, giving its first concert at Nutley High School in April of 1980 and has since played such venues as NJPAC and the Lincoln Center in New York.
The band started several founders, including Dominick Ferrara, the conductor, who got his start after becoming the bandmaster for the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey Army National Guard.
Ferrara, now 72, has been conducting since he was 21. He was part of the Bloomfield Civic Band before helping form the Garden State Concert Band.
Ferrara wanted to start the band after he retired from the National Guard and returned home.
“I actually got bored,” said Ferrara. “I wanted to establish something. This is the only professional playing band gathered in the state. The others are community bands or college bands, and they’re all good, but I don’t think they pay the musicians for their services.”

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.



The UnderGrounds provide blast from the past

Photo by Steven Crowley Anthony Arena (l.), and Chris Imparo seek to continue the work of the rock legends looking over them.

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival became building blocks for the modern rock bands of today. While new bands have drifted away from the style of those juggernauts of rock and roll, The UnderGrounds have dipped back into the well.
The UnderGrounds, with Chris Imparo on guitar and vocals and Anthony Arena on drums and backing vocals, simply cannot be classified by genre.
“Over the past two years, we’ve played with everybody,” Arena said. “We played with a bunch of different bands and found that we don’t fit in.”
This inability to find a classification is one of the things that make The UnderGrounds truly unique. While many bands simply find themselves lumped into soft rock, alternative, heavy metal and other highly focused genres, the best that anyone has been able to muster about this band is “psychedelic rock.” However, not having a category is accepted by the band and seen as a point to inspire others.
“Maybe we can inspire other people to start making music like us,” Arena said.
Although the band formed six years ago, Arena and Imparo have been friends since the two were in third grade in Nutley. Arena started to get into music while hanging out with Imparo and eventually started to learn the drums in order to make a band with Imparo, who had started playing guitar years earlier.

To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

New Orleans Street Kings Rock Donegal Saloon

Photo by Anthony J. Machcinski

With a groove and jive that only Bourbon Street can provide, The Stooges Brass Band brought some southern comfort to North Jersey.
The Stooges Brass Band, named the 2010-2011 Best Contemporary Brass Band by the Big Easy Music Awards, played the Donegal Saloon on June 10 and impressed the large crowd at the venue. The trip to the New York metro area was one of the few times the band has performed in the area and marked its first appearance in Kearny.
The band came together almost 15 years ago when members of two rival high school marching bands, John F. Kennedy High School and St. Augustine, both in New Orleans, combined their efforts. Now the band has risen to great heights, becoming the Red Bull “Street Kings” for New Orleans, with the Big Easy achievement giving them bragging rights to being the best brass band in the city.


To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.

Stars in the Skies

Suzanne Lavigne Suzanne is a renowned holistic psychic, life coach, relationship expert. What is unique is that she combines intuitive logic along with holistic clairvoyance. Suzanne is an internationally known clairvoyant, astrologer and and does intuitive readings. She is the 3rd generation of clairvoyant. She has been featured on television shows, radio and on magazines. Email Suzanne any of your questions and read her reply in our next installment of stars in the skies. astrosuzanne@gmail.com

Horoscope for  June 2011
What will happen to you this month? Will you be meeting interesting people, or evolve professionally? Both social and sentimental – Suzanne tells you all…!

Aries (March 21st – April 21st)
Sentimental: Aries born before April 4th…Open your eyes to  a surprise encounter uncovering new horizons. During the second half of the month there is a need to communicate your feelings. Don’t keep anything inside, express your true feelings and smile warmly. Show sincerity through your desires to please your partner.
Social: Jupiter is on your side and will be spoiling Aries.  Money and finance will not pose any problem for you. Don’t rush anything. Time will tick in your favour.

Taurus (April 22nd – May 22nd)
Sentimental: Love will embrace you! Your relationships will fall into place with beautiful emotional encounters heading your way. In fact you are getting used to enjoying the beautiful side of life.

Social: A round of applause for Taurus born between April 20 & 27! As early as June 4, Jupiter will return to spoil Taurus after 12 years! Angelic protection for a full twelve months allied with Neptune is a means for success. Chance with a capital “C”. Glory for some with benefits in all sectors.

Read more »

Bloomfield gets a taste of Broadway

Photo by Anthony Machcinski Luschar belts out a high note at Bloomfield Public Library.

By Anthony J. Machcinski

A bit of Broadway came to Bloomfield on Sunday as Broadway performer Karen Luschar took the stage at the Bloomfield Public Library before an appreciative audience.
Luschar, a Bloomfield resident since moving from Texas in 1979, is currently touring with pianist Richard Danley performing “Let’s Get Away From It All,” a musical tour of the world. Those performances have led to her debut CD with the same title.
“This CD just kind of happened,” said Luschar. “I had this show and I loved the idea of it. Then we put all these instruments with it and it was a fun CD to make.”
Luschar’s career started at the early age of 2, and it was from childhood that she knew her ultimate goal would be performing on Broadway.


To read the full story, see this week’s issue of The Observer.