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Natural wonders nearby at DeKorte Park

NJMC_web1 black-crowned night heron

Photos courtesy NJMC At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

Photos courtesy NJMC
At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Area residents searching for a way to shed winter’s cabin fever don’t need to search far and wide for an opportunity to surround themselves in nature.

At DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, headquarters of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, nature-lovers from near and far can enjoy the wonders of nature, without having to travel far from their homes.

“DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst is really wonderful,” said NJMC Public Information Officer Brian Aberback. “It’s a true urban ecosystem.”

The NJMC was created in 1969 as an organization that sought to clean the meadowlands and clear the Hackensack River area of orphaned landfills and pollution.

Nearly 45 years later, the NJMC has advanced the cause, with the Hackensack River showing signs of revitalization.

“It wasn’t a pretty place,” said Aberback of the meadowlands in 1969. “This was a time when the Meadows was a wasteland. A regional organization was needed to do the proper cleanup.”

DeKorte Park itself, located at the eastern end of Valley Brook Ave. off Disposal Road, was created in 1982 to give the NJMC a headquarters that would draw “a line in the sand” to save more open wildlife space.

“We saved all this wonderful space from becoming a dumping ground,” said NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright. “This was the line in the sand where you couldn’t build anymore.”

In total, DeKorte Park spans 110 acres of open wetland, filled with the unique mesh of ever-expanding wildlife and the constantly-growing New York City skyline.

“It’s an urban ecosystem,” Aberback explained. “If you’re driving on the Turnpike, you don’t catch the image (of the Meadowlands). It’s really neat because you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can see the Turnpike in the distance but you can never really hear it.”

Over the past few decades as the river has transitioned “from wasteland to economic jewel,” the park has grown, both in design and in wildlife.

“When the landfills got cleaned, the Hackensack River started getting cleaner,” Aberback said. “Over time, that brought back fish, birds and other wildlife back to the area.”

He continued, “You would never see all the animals that are here today, even like 15 years ago. Things just keep getting cleaner. Compared to what it used to be, it’s really incredible.”

According to Aberback, the park is home to over 280 different species of birds, many that have recently returned to the area with the river’s revitalization.

“DeKorte Park – like the entire Meadowlands District – is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of three major routes used by migratory birds in North America,” Aberback explained.

Wright added, “This is a great place to go birding. Recently, we had 20 people out here looking for the Yellowheaded Blackbird.”

Throughout the years, the park has received dozens of awards for its design, including a Merit Award for Communication from the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Jersey (NJASLA) for signage throughout the park and a Merit Award for Design for the World Trade Center Memorial at the park.

Aberback credits the park’s designers on the awards and the park’s consistent beauty.

“The award-winning park was designed by the NJMC’s certified landscape architects, who worked closely with wetlands scientists, wildlife specialists, and solid waste engineers,” Aberback explained. “Six distinct areas have been developed over 20 years using native plants, recycled materials and sustainable techniques to support the agency’s environmental mandate.”

The park features over 3.5 miles of trails, allowing parkgoers to delve deeper into nature, either by themselves or in guided tours.

However, walking through the park isn’t the only way to experience nature at DeKorte.

During the summer, the NJMC runs boat trips out of River Barge Park in Carlstadt that take visitors throughout the Meadowlands including past DeKorte Park.

“It’s a great way to explore the river,” Aberback said. “We mostly do them during sunset on weekdays throughout the summer. It’s just a great way to see the river.”

Even after sunset, the park continues to provide natural entertainment, with the William D. McDowell Observatory.

The observatory allows stargazers to study planets, constellations and other celestial bodies through a research-grade, highpowered telescope and staff explains what the viewer is seeing.

Aberback said that, regardless of the season, he enjoys being in the park.

“It seems like I always discover something new when I’m out in the park,” Aberback explained. “It can be a bird I’ve never seen before or a flower that I may have passed dozens of times but caught my eye.”

Aberback’s not alone in enjoying the park, as he noted that more than 50,000 people – including 15,000 schoolchildren – visit the park on a yearly basis.

Above everything else, Aberback believes it’s the park’s blend of rural and urban visuals that attracts many of the park’s visitors.

“Overall, it’s the beauty and tranquility of the place,” Aberback said. “When you look and see the Turnpike and the Manhattan skyline in the distance, it’s hard to believe you’re so close, yet so far removed from the daily hustle and bustle. It’s a truly amazing place.”

For more information on DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, or any of the other NJMC parks, visit www.njmeadowlands. gov. The park is open from dawn until dusk every day. The William D. McDowell Observatory is open in the evenings, from 8 to 10 p.m. in April, 8:30 to 10 p.m. in May; from 9 to 10:30 p.m. in June and July; and from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in August.

April can be eye-opener for TV, film

Photos courtesy Google Images TOP: “Game of Thrones”; MIDDLE: “Noah”; BOTTOM: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Photos courtesy Google Images
TOP: “Game of Thrones”; MIDDLE: “Noah”; BOTTOM: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

 

 

By Anthony J . Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

As April arrives, many in the entertainment business are already focused on a stocked summer season of great films and great television. However, with several hit TV shows returning and a couple of anticipated movies about to debut, April can turn out to be the spark that will start the summer’s entertainment firestorm.

With that in mind, let’s review why the entertainment scene in April should command the attention of film and TV fans.

Television

Even with great shows like “The Walking Dead” concluding at the end of March, the small screen scene picks right back up within the first week of April.

The much anticipated return of “Game of Thrones,” now in its fourth season, kicks off April 6. Taken from the series of books of the same name by George R.R. Martin, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has seemingly everything a person could ask for in a television show – action, drama, bits of comedy and fantasy.

Taking place in medieval times, “Game of Thrones” is based on the story of several families who seek to claim their perceived rightful place as the ruler of the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

The following weekend, AMC premieres the final season of its hit show “Mad Men.” In what will be a series of 14 episodes spread over two years, the series showcases Don Draper – a New York City advertising genius – as he copes with a seemingly endless list of trials and tribulations in his life.

While the show is entering its final season, those who haven’t watched the first six seasons can visit Netflix and stream all the previous episodes. Much like the AMC hit “Breaking Bad,” which concluded its final season this fall, “Mad Men” is sure to be worth the watch.

Not to be overshadowed by the established shows this April, AMC’s brand new drama “Turn” will be one of the top new shows of the spring.

Set in the fall of 1778 during the American Revolution, the show documents a group of spies who help turn the tide in the war. The show is based on the book “Washington’s Spies” by Alexander Rose.

April also features the continuation of several contest shows on television, including NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” both of which have begun to amp up the competition recently.

Cinema Although listed as a March opening, the film “Noah” will expose viewers to most of its early story content in April.

“Noah,” a retelling of the biblical story, features an all-star cast including Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson. The film has received good reviews and has achieved a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDB, as rated by over 4,000 users.

However, the first real big-budget film to open in April will be “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

While “Captain America” seems like it would be a sequel to the 2011 movie “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it’s really a follow-up to the most recent “Avengers” movie.

In the film, Captain America, played by Chris Evans, warms to the task of stopping world destruction threatened by a new enemy, The Winter Soldier.

Regardless of what movie it follows, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is another film that won’t disappoint – both in theaters and at the box office.

If superheroes and biblical figures aren’t exactly your thing, fear not. “Oculus,” a terrorfilled suspense thriller, is set to scare theater-goers everywhere.

The film is based on the murder of two parents, believed to have been killed by their young son. After their son, Michael, is released from prison 10 years later, the couple’s daughter, Kaylie, becomes intent on proving Michael’s innocence.

Kaylie’s focus becomes a violent, supernatural force embedded in an antique mirror in her childhood home.

While the film may not be as big budget and high profiled as the previously mentioned two films, “Oculus” will achieve its goal – to scare and excite a crowd of April film watchers.

While April may not get the notoriety of the summer showbiz scene, it certainly is a good warmup for what is expected to be a great summer of

Jazz vocalist Jane Stuart still going strong

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Photos courtesy Jane Stuart Jane Stuart at various gigs.

Photos courtesy Jane Stuart
Jane Stuart at various gigs.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski
Observer Correspondent

Home is where the heart is, especially for Jane Stuart, Nutley’s resident jazz star, who played at the Nutley Public Library on Saturday.

“I love it,” said Stuart about performing in Nutley. “I love having the opportunity to sing for some of the seniors hear in town. This is an opportunity to come and here me and hear some songs that they maybe don’t get to hear very often.”

Stuart, who has lived in Nutley for the past 15 years, got her start at the age of five, when she sang on a New York City TV show, “Moser Starlites.” From an early age, Stuart knew that performing was something that she wanted to do. Read more »

KHS chums are ‘The Cartwheelers’

Photos courtesy Facebook Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.

Photos courtesy Facebook
Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Looking to follow in the success of other two-piece bands such as The White Stripes, Kearny’s own duo The Cartwheelers is looking to take on the local music scene by storm.

Comprised of fellow Kearny High School classmates Kevin McSorley on guitar and Stephan Dias on the drums, The Cartwheelers formed two years ago, hoping to create a larger band.

“We were looking for a bassist, but it was hard to get people to come in,” McSorley said. “It just didn’t work out.”

More than up for the challenge, McSorley and Dias formed The Cartwheelers and began working on the band’s first LP, “Hot Socks! It’s The Cartwheelers.”

McSorley said that the lack of a bassist made writing songs for the LP tough, with many original cuts of the song not deep enough.

“We were going for a raw sound,” McSorley said. “You have to try a little harder to make it sound fuller. Without a bass, it’s tough writing songs.”

McSorley said the band made up for it with a clearer sound with “a lot of reverb and delay.”

Friends told Mc- Sorley that the band sounded like, “surfing through dirty water,” explained later as being clean, but with a rough edge to it.

The duo’s closest popular comparison would be the once-married husband and wife duo of Jack and Megan White of the White Stripes.

While none of The Cartwheeler’s songs on the “Hot Socks” album is as hard hitting as The White Stripes hit “Seven Nation Army,” several of the Stripes’ songs, including “Fell in Love With a Girl,” are similar to The Cartwheelers.

On “I’ll Never Never Never Never See You Again,” McSorley’s guitar playing makes up for a lack of a bass guitarist. With a quick tempo and a clear, but crunchy guitar rhythm, the song provides an adrenaline rush from start to finish.

In other songs, such as “Latina Bus” and “Birds,” the band reverts to a more “California” style, with a relaxed rhythm similar to that found in a Sublime song. Dias’s drum play and McSorley’s simple guitar rhythm combine to make a track that is impossible not to bob your head to.

McSorley said that while performing without a bass player is certainly a challenge, it also creates its own set of advantages.

“It’s definitely a lot easier because we don’t have to worry about what the bass player is doing,” Mc- Sorley said. “I can just show (the songs) to Stephan and we can perform it.”

McSorley started playing guitar after he received the instrument for Christmas. After a short period, McSorley picked the instrument back up and self-taught himself.

“I was just kind of fiddling with it,” McSorley said. “I kind of taught myself, just only some brief lessons. No real formal schooling, just reading books and searching online.”

While the band has only played local smaller venues such as Donegal Saloon in Kearny and the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, they have taken crowds by surprise.

“People are shocked to see us two little guys up there,” McSorley said. “It’s nice to know that people like our music.”

The duo’s next goal is to work on a fulllength album, all the while having loftier goals in mind.

“We’re shooting to perform in Madison Square Garden, but that’ll probably take a while,” McSorley quipped. “Right now we have six unrecorded songs, but we’re shooting for like 10 to 12. It’d be cool to be playing festivals and stuff too.”

To listen to The Cartwheelers, visit their website at thecartwheelers.bandcamp. com. For more information, including future show dates, visit facebook.com/ TheCartwheelers.

Tuning in to Cicada Radio

Photos courtesy Mike Keefe CENTER: Cicada Radio during a performance last summer.

Photos courtesy Mike Keefe
CENTER: Cicada Radio during a performance last summer.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

With alternative and indie rock roots, Kearny’s own Cicada Radio took Donegal Saloon by storm this weekend.

Composed of brothers Pat and Mike Keefe on guitar, Josh Bartsch on drums and Chris D’Ambrosio on bass, Cicada Radio is one of the area’s up and coming bands.

The band got together in 2009 when the brothers were students at Kean University.

“We had a garage at our house and we just started playing in there,” Mike Keefe said. “We were a trio at first, then (our old drummer) stepped in and we became a foursome.”

After a year of playing together, the band got its big break when Kearny recording label Killing Horse Records picked up its four-track LP “Imposter.”

“It helped us out a lot,” said Keefe of signing with Killing Horse. “We started to get a lot more shows and finding friends in the scene. ‘Imposter’ was where it started.”

In December 2012, the band released its first full-length album “No Fate But What We Make,” an eight-track compilation with quality from the opening track to the final song.

Shortly after the release of “No Fate But What We Make,” Cicada Radio’s drummer left the band and was replaced by Bartsch, which forced the band to rebuild its chemistry.

“Right now, we’re playing a few shows here and there to get chemistry with Josh,” Keefe said.

While the new chemistry will take time to jell, Keefe feels that Bartsch has already helped out the band.

“(Bartsch) plays every instrument,” Keefe said. “We all have the perspective to contribute and provide what you think will sound the best.”

Keefe said that all members in the band can play multiple instruments, and that helps provide inspiration.

“It gives you better perspective as a songwriter,” Keefe said. “You know what you want to go for.”

Keefe also credits the band’s early success to a selfless attitude held by all of the band’s members.

“We all think, ‘What could I add to make the song better,’” Keefe said. “You have to know what you would want to hear in a song and just play it.”

Despite changing drummers shortly after the release of “No Fate But What We Make,” the band’s chemistry and selfless attitude shine through their performance.

Right from the first few moments of the lead track “Insecticide,” Bartsch’s drumming along with Keefe’s guitar sets the tone. Sounding similar to fellow Jersey-rockers Thursday, Pat Keefe’s echoing voice combines with the guitar play almost seamlessly.

True to Keefe’s word, no one instrument stands out above the others. While the guitar sounds are complex, and the drum beats difficult, there are no solos, and the band members complement one another – a trait not many bands today can claim.

Since Bartsch came into the band, Cicada Radio has been out on the road, trying to play as many shows as possible to work on their chemistry and get their name out in the music scene.

“We used to play Maxwell’s (in Hoboken) a lot before it closed and a few places in Jersey City,” Keefe said. “We play all over. A lot of places around Hudson County.”

For Keefe, the best place to play has been the Court Tavern in New Brunswick.

“I feel like it’s been a good music scene for New Jersey,” Keefe explained. “To have a venue that treats its bands well and has lots of people that show up for the shows.”

Keefe said that while there are certain great places to play, the audience is what really matters.

“It’s more about the show (then the venue),” Keefe said. “You could play (your music at any bar) and it’ll be great as long as the people are great.” Looking ahead, Keefe said the band is hoping to escape the cold weather and continue to play more shows.

“We just want to try and get out there more,” Keefe said. “A lot of people feel cooped up with this winter and people are anxious to get out there and play more shows.”

For more information on Cicada Radio, visit cicada-radio. bandcamp.com or visit the band’s Facebook page. Their CDs, including “No Fate But What We Make,” can be found on their website.

Lots of ‘Love’ from Bloomfield singer

Photos courtesy Karen Luschar Karen Luschar’s new album, “It’s Love” features 14 tracks from a recent performance at Lincoln Center.

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar
Karen Luschar’s new album, “It’s Love” features 14 tracks from a recent performance at Lincoln Center.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Using a lifetime of passion and love for performing as her inspiration, Bloomfield resident Karen Luschar has released her much-anticipated third CD “It’s Love.”

“I just realized that a lot of the songs that I sing revolve around love,” said Luschar, explaining how the CD began. “I just wanted to look at (love) from many different ways.”

Recorded live at Lincoln Center, the new CD brings 14 of Luschar’s best live performances to listeners at home.

Narrowing down to just 14 songs was no easy task for the Bloomfield resident.

“When I started to do this show, I started typing out names of love songs I could think of,” Luschar explained. “I came up with 450 and that was just a drop in the bucket. There are thousands of songs written about love. It’s just a theme people love to sing about.”

Luschar’s CD explores a wide spectrum of the experience of love.

“Whether you’re in the midst of falling in love or losing love, it’s still the subject of love,” Luschar explained. “It’s looking at love from all the different angles because songwriters have written about love more than any other subject.”

She continued, “This is a show that can look at love from enduring the years, hopefulness, frustration. It encompasses many feelings.”

Luschar’s career in music started at the tender age of 2 and developed with aspirations of performing on Broadway. Over the course of her career, Karen has been able to achieve her dream, performing on the Great White Way and global venues spanning from Canada to Japan.

“I have been fortunate to follow that dream and get to Broadway,” Luschar said. “When you plant a dream in your heart and in your mind, it’s so great – that feeling — when it comes to fruition.”

Luschar credits her mother – a dancer and a violinist – for pushing her toward her dream.

“She was nice enough to start me singing and dancing when I was very small,” Luschar said. “I knew (performing was) what I wanted to do. I wanted to dance and I wanted to sing.”

Luschar’s experience from a lifetime of performing certainly shows in her latest work on “It’s Love.”

Unlike some artists who can over-perform a song, Luschar’s experience allows her to put her creative take on a song while maintaining the song’s true meaning and style.

Luschar’s adaptation of “My Sunny Valentine” showcases that exact trait.

While the song has been covered by many A-list stars including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Michael Buble, Luschar’s version ranks among them.

While Luschar takes a more Broadway approach to the song – as opposed to Buble’s crooning version – the singer still brings out the meaning to the song and conveys the love created by the song.

Luschar also performs a brilliant version of the Barbra Streisand hit “My Man,” which is featured on the “It’s Love” CD.

Luschar stays true to the Streisand version of the song, standing toe-to-toe with the hit singer’s full-bodied sound while not over-singing the body of the song.

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar

 

With her third album now in the books, Luschar continues to perform across the nation, but always is looking towards the future.

“I want to perform more overseas,” Luschar said. “There’s one company that has been talking about the idea of bringing me over and I hope that happens. I’d really love to do that.”

Luschar said that above all, she’d love to take her shows to France and England, especially her World War II-themed show “Singing for Victory.”

“I was there a year ago and I feel very drawn to that show and I feel it’s very viable there,” Luschar said. “When I traveled through France, I told people about the show and the war is still very imprinted in those people’s lives. I’d love to perform that there.”

For more information on Bloomfield’s resident Broadway singer Karen Luschar, visit her website at www.KarenLuschar.com. Her newest CD, “It’s Love,” can be found on her website, and can be found on Amazon and CD Baby later this month.

C.O.A.L.G. coming to Centanni’s

Photo courtesy Wayne Bilotti Andre Lahr (l.) and Wayne Bilotti at a recent C.O.A.L.G. gig. The duo’s stage name is a shorthand combination of previous band names.

Photo courtesy Wayne Bilotti
Andre Lahr (l.) and Wayne Bilotti at a recent C.O.A.L.G. gig. The duo’s stage name is a shorthand combination of previous band names.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

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.

Out of the East comes … Country!

 

Photos courtesy JD Klossek Bob Rogal (top) and JD Klossek team in Brick City Cowboys gig.

Photos courtesy
JD Klossek Bob Rogal (top) and JD Klossek team in Brick City Cowboys gig.

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By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

About a year and a half ago, JD Klossek started the band Brick City Cowboys, with hopes of creating a complete CD and beginning a career as a country singer.

Midway through that first year, however, other priorities emerged, making Klossek change his thoughts about the first CD.

“We had plans to finish the other three songs and do a complete CD, but before you know it, a friend of mine and I started hearing about people being evicted in Jersey City,” Klossek said.

Looking to help out those people, Klossek hoped to release an LP – – a seven-song album – with most of the profits going to charity.

“I got in touch with other band members and explained it to them, asked them if we could just release an LP now,” Klossek recalled.

“They thought it was a good idea.” With the LP’s release, Klossek created the Bands Against Tragedy charity, an organization he hopes will grow with time.

“We’re hoping to raise $5,000 for a particular family with two children family in order to get them into a new apartment,” Klossek said, adding that the family has ben staying in multiple shelters for the homeless.

Klossek, a lifelong fan of country music, started the Brick City Cowboys to follow a childhood passion.

“I wrote some songs, sent some demos to Nashville and the folks over there were pretty helpful,” Klossek said. They set me up with some musicians and we got together and we clicked right away.”

Klossek, a Newark native who lived in both Kearny and North Arlington before settling in Jersey City, said that he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t listening to country music.

“It was always around, it was always surrounding me,” Klossek said. “I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there.”

Klossek said it was his family that inspired his career choice.

“It was a natural progression for me,” Klossek said. “There were a few musicians in my family. I never knew a time when I wasn’t interested in trying to write or play music. It’s something that I love.”

Klossek’s music choice comes from inspirations of older country legends such as Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Eddie Rabbit and Johnny Cash, and folk singers such as Bob Dylan.

However, Klossek acknowledges that his style differs markedly from many of today’s than that of many modern country artists, such as Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

That difference is shown all throughout the Brick City Cowboy’s LP “A Cold Hard Winter.”

On the title track, “It’s Been a Long Cold Hard Winter,” the band’s slow tempo goes well with Klossek’s southern draw, a trait not commonly found with Newark natives.

The Cowboys also feature the song “She Don’t Want to Be Found,” which tells the tale of the singer’s lost love and how she “don’t want to be found.”

On the track, the band mixes Klossek’s southern twang with an uptempo – almost happy – style, not something often found in country music.

As for the future of his band, Klossek hopes to continue to grow and record more songs.

In addition, he would also like to be able to do more for Bands Against Tragedy.

“There just really is a huge need,” Klossek said. “Whether it’s a few concerts or helping out with rent or food drives. (The charity) can really go in so many directions.”

For more information on the Brick City Cowboys, visit their website at www.brickcitycowboys.com. Their first EP, “A Cold Hard Winter” can be found on iTunes or on Amazon for $7.99.

Klossek said that after a percentage of the profits goes to iTunes and Amazon, about $5 goes to the Bands Against Tragedy charity.

Look for ‘Creepoid’ to break out soon

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By Anthony J. Machcinski
Observer Correspondent

When many people think of music coming out of West Philadelphia, the first song that comes to mind most likely will be Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”; the rock band Creepoid looks to change that.

Creepoid was formed during a snowstorm in 2009, when Sean Miller, Pete Urban IV, and Patrick and Anna Troxell had a jam session to fight off boredom and cabin fever.

“During one of the snowstorms (in 2009), we all got together and ended up jamming,” Patrick Troxell said. “Now we’re at the point that we’re about to put out our second LP.” Read more »

Wax Darts, always changing, to fit mood

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook Wax Darts at a recent performance.

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook
Wax Darts at a recent performance.

 

By Anthony Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Sometimes in the music industry, keeping it simple is the easiest way towards having success. Larry Brinkman and the Wax Darts are hoping that approach leads to their own success.

“When we started the band, we said, ‘Let’s be a band that if you showed up at a bar, I’d be really psyched to hear,” Brinkman said. “That was the goal from the beginning. We don’t need to change everybody’s life, but let’s just be a really fun and dynamic band.”

The Wax Darts was founded in 2012 with Brinkman and drummer Jahna Rain performing with several bass guitarists before Courtney Thornbird joined the band in 2013.

Brinkman founded the band hoping to return to the music industry following a divorce.

“I just wanted to start a band that sounded like whatever the hell I wanted it to sound like,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman said that his divorce affected the earlier songs written by the band.

“The songwriting from some of those early songs its pretty obvious,” Brinkman said about the divorce. “Some of those songs still are really good.”

With influences tied to country, blues, funk, 70s pop and the early punk scene, Brinkman and the band had the unique challenge of combining all those different styles into one, a marriage not so easily made.

“We started talking about the bands we liked and they were just so weird within themselves that it was impossible to cover them,” Brinkman explained.

To try and rectify that problem, the band followed the same mantra, keep it simple.

“I don’t write stuff that’s four bars (in tempo),” Brinkman said. “So we try to do things different. Sometimes it’s three bars, sometimes it’s seven. We just try to work more with feeling (than structure).”

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook  From l., Larry Brinkman, Jahna Rain and Courtney Thornbird.

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook
From l., Larry Brinkman, Jahna Rain and Courtney Thornbird.

 

The approach has worked out for the band and can be heard from the first seconds of any of their songs.

On the song “Different,” the elements of the early punk movement can be heard moving along with a hard, crunching notes played from Brinkman’s guitar.

Adding to the song’s uniqueness is the harmonizing of Brinkman, Rain and Thornbird, a simple quality that the trio has perfected, creating a controlled craziness for the song.

The band’s simplicity has been well received by both fans and by local music outlets.

“It’s been going great,” Brinkman said. “We did a live recording on WFMU (radio) a few months back and it’s been really fun.”

Part of the band’s approach to playing live music has been to just play what they like, as opposed to guessing the crowd’s favorite style.

“We play exactly what we want and not what we think is going to please a crowd,” Brinkman said. “In the long run, that usually pleases a crowd because we’re not trying to please anybody but ourselves.”

“We have a thing we say, ‘If it’s gonna be weird, just make it weird.’ ”

As for the future of the band, Brinkman said that he hopes for the band to continue to play more live shows and to further expand their horizons.

“The biggest question is what can we get out of what we have and how can we move forward,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman hopes that the band will get a chance to travel more as well.

“I love getting out of town,” said Brinkman, a Jersey City native. “We’ve played Brooklyn once. When you’re a local person, I’d love to go out of town and surprise a crowd (with our performance).”

The Wax Darts will play Donegal Saloon in Kearny on Friday, along with The Everymen and Creepoid. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $5.