Your source for NJ's underground music


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I created the NJ Avant-Garde for my Online Journalism class at Rowan University. Even though this semester has come to a close and I no longer need to keep this blog going, I love what it has become and will definitely continue work on it.

Check out a few of my “greatest hits” so far:

Hey Market Riot plays in Glassboro: Jesse Riddle rocks a Tom Morello cover

Pour Soul acoustic performance on Radio NJ/AG: Aaron Smith plays live and talks real

AK47Million on Radio NJ/AG: Alex Kiedaisch talks about the style of his electronic music

Waiting at the Bus Stop: The Bus Stop Cafe in Pitman, NJ – Great coffee, great music, great people.

Sweet Dee is No Deadbeat!: DeAnna Munger talks promotion in todays music scene


The Barrington Coffee House Rocks

The Barrington Coffee House ©JLIII

Every Thurday night, Scott ‘Trif’ Trifeletti runs the Wide Open Mic at the Barrington Coffee House.  This open mic is always packed every week. Their website even says that the open mic runs from, “8pm until it’s over.”

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Barrington. The artists are always diverse and the coffee is always brewed right.

At the end of every open mic, usually around 12:15 or so, Trif gets a few artists to play together and have a jam session. I’ve joined in on a few end of night jams before.  It’s one of the most unique open mic experience because it is always different artists from an array of genres.

This weeks artists did a fantastic job! Check out the  slideshow below!

Rick McGuire & Michelle Biehl, ‘Color of Skies’ w/Gerry Thompson & Arthur Herrmann followed by Tyler Zlatkus (from WA!)

************  Known for the Best in Great LIVE Music!  ************

Scheduled Friday and Saturday night shows @ The Barrington Coffeehouse

Reservations @ 856.573.7800 For Any Show Taken Anytime!

Contacts & Bookings 

Live on Radio NJ/AG: Hey Market Riot covers Tom Morello

Hey Market Riot plays for pennies in Glassboro ©JLIII

Red Sea Affair on Radio NJ/AG (Video)

Red Sea Affair’s Myspace  Red Sea Affair’s Facebook

Check out a few of their influences like Emery, Brand New, and The Mars Volta!

Jersey Makes Good Musicians

As I wandered through the web today, I did a little research on the New Jersey music scene. I had no idea so many talented artists had come from this beautiful state. Here are just a few I found. Disregard the obvious ones and see which ones you didn’t know.


Like Bullets from an AK: AK47Million on Radio NJ/AG

Alex Kiedaisch of AK47Million talks about his music and explains what music means to him.

Now playing on Radio NJ/AG:

All music ©AK47Million

* “Sounds Fun” featuring Matt Keane AKA Matty Bones

AK grabs the mic in his recording studio ©JLIII

Hopscotch Is A Dangerous Game: Interview-promptu

Hopscotch Injury plays a Battle of the Bands ©HI myspace

All hallows eve is approaching rapidly and that only means one thing: ridiculous Halloween parties with ridiculous costumes. This evening I had the pleasure of attending one of these types of social gatherings and I had, what I like to call, an “interview-promptu” with Paul Giacalone.

This impromptu interview took place in, what I’d like to call, an “opium den”. Of course there was no opium being smoked, only a hookah, but this room was nestled in the back corner of the basement and only lit by black lights.

I got invited by a close friend but soon realized upon arrival that I knew no one at this party. So naturally I gravitated to the hookah where I met my acquaintance and his bassist, Rommel Ventocilla, dressed like the Hulk.

©Hopscotch Injury's myspace

©Hopscotch Injury's myspace

Giacalone is the drummer for Hopscotch Injury of Bridgeton, NJ. “I would never consider us Indie Rock, [it’s] similar to The Red Hot Chili Peppers but groovier and heavier,” Paul explained. “A fan favorite we play is called Land Before Time.. it has nothing to do with the movies,” he said, laughing.

I learned that all of the members come from very different musical backgrounds. “I think that’s what makes Hopscotch what they are,” said Paul. A mixture of jazz guitars and hardcore drumming fuses with an indie feel from Chad, the vocalist.

John, one of their oldest fans sat on the other side of me and kept talking up the band, “They’re like The Strokes on crack!”

Courtesy of Hopscotch Injury's myspace

©Hopscotch Injury's myspace (text has been added)

Leads Point, as it was known back in 2005, has come along way with only minor line-up changes. Today, Hopscotch Injury perseveres on, playing shows all over NJ and Philadelphia. They’ve also released a four-track EP called Beyoncé’s Child. “…and this is before she was pregnant!” said Paul.

Stop by their myspace and check them out!

Rug Doctor (From the EPP) – “Rug Doctor” off the Beyonce’s Child EP

Minus the Bear Celebrates 10 Years


To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of their album Highly Refined Pirates, Minus the Bear is touring right now and playing the album in its entirety. I’ve been a fan of their most recent string of releases, but Highly Refined Pirates will always have a special place in my CD collection. I was fortunate enough to catch their show in Philadelphia at the Electric Factory last weekend.

Waiting in line @ the Electric factory

Their performance was unbelievable! They played straight through their first album and hit each note with ease. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an artist play live and sound so much like they do on album.

After playing through Highly Refined Pirates, Minus the bear left the stage and it seemed as if the show was over. The lights dimmed and the crowd cheered for an encore. Suddenly, shadowy figures appeared back on stage as the whole place lit up in excitement.

Minus the Bear plays “Menos El Oso” ©Noah Hammond


They played for another hour selecting songs off their more recent albums. The photo above was taken by my friend Noah while they played one of my favorite songs, “Menos El Oso”.

Minus the Bear has transcended the indie scene through the years and will continue to do so. I just hope they put out another album soon. Stop by their myspace and give them a listen!

Waiting at the Bus Stop

I stopped by the Bus Stop Cafe in Pitman, NJ to see what others had talked about. What I found was an old-fashioned music store infused with an amazing café and a vibrant music scene that I didn’t even know existed in Pitman. As You walk in the door, instantly you feel the need to order a cappuccino and stay awhile.

This message was taken from The Bus Stop’s myspace page:

“Make The Bus Stop YOUR stop for great food and great music! Since 2005, The Bus Stop Music Café has been working hard to bring you the things you love. Enjoy our award winning food and coffee menu, our HUGE selection of new and used Vinyl, CD’s and Cassettes, our affordable music lessons for all ages (voted best in Gloucester County two years running) and music equipment. Come on out to the Bus Stop for a fun night out at a reasonable price. Eat in or take out, call-ins welcome.”

Victor Martinson, the owner, allowed me take some pictures of his record store/café. He also informed me that they hold an open mic every Tuesday night. Looks like I have another weekly stop on my open mic circuit!

When I was there I happened to catch a performance by String Theory, a local alternative blues band. They played a two-hour set that covered the entire spectrum of blues. Unfortunately, they told me that they didn’t have any music posted online so I thought I’d record a bit.

Below is a slide show of some pictures I took. The background music was produced by me but at the end of the video there’s a short clip of String Theory playing their original song “Any Major Dude”. Enjoy!

Coffee-Works: The Open Mic Steps into the New Age

While we zip in and out of each lane on our way to an open mic at Coffee-Works in Voorhees, New Jersey, Jesse Riddle sucks down his hand rolled cigarette.

“I’m going to bring back the ancient art of guitar solos,” he says in between drags. “Not me, myself, obviously. But, who ever I get to play in [Hey Market Riot].”Jesse has been writing music for years and I have had the pleasure of playing two shows with him as a lead guitarist. But tonight is just a solo act.

We pull up to Coffee Works as a swarm of hipster kids flood the street. It turns out that the Pop-Punk band, Man Overboard is playing a show inside Tunes. This has caused Tunes to become so packed that there is a river of scenesters spilling out into the street and screaming along to their favorite song.

Ignoring the kids, we head inside to sign up for the open mic. If you get there even 5 minutes late, you end up being one of the last performers for the night. I put our names on the list as well as Angela Weeks. She’s on her way and I don’t want her to be stuck playing too late.

After 13 other artists, I finally get called to the stage to introduce myself. Because it was my first time playing this open mic, I was ridiculed by Bob, the host for the night. I chose to cover a song by Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s for tonight’s show because I felt that at least one hip chick in the crowd would know it. No one did.

Me Covering Margot - Taken from Coffee-Works live stream

As I softly sing each somber note, I realized that thousands of people across the world are watching me play. Right next to Bob’s soundboard sits a little webcam. The entire open mic is streamed live on the internet every week. This tiny little web cam had just blown my mind in the midst of preforming. In the year 2011, even a little coffee shop can broadcast to the entire world.

While I was on stage playing, Jesse and Angela are outside chain-smoking cigarettes and talking with the regulars. Jesse has befriended a 15-year-old saxophone prodigy, Payton, and asks him and my friend Trent, to play with him tonight as he covers “Walking on the Sun” by Smash Mouth. “I bet you’ve never heard this song played this way before,” he exclaims as he steps on stage.

Jesse doesn’t know how to play lightly on an acoustic guitar. Every time I’ve seen him play a show he always breaks at least one string. Tonight is no exception. During his song, he breaks 2 strings and rips open 2 of his fingers on his right hand. Throughout his set his hand is bleeding all over his guitar but that doesn’t slow him down. Jesse was right, no one has ever heard Smash Mouth like this before and the crowd is digging it.

Jesse(left) plays with Trent(center) and Payton(right) - Taken from Coffee-Works live stream

After a few more artists play their tunes, Angela steps into the spotlight. As she began to play, I can only think of the conversation we had just had out front. I asked her where she gets her style from.

“When I was 8 years old, I saw Jewel’s music video for “Who Will Save Your Soul” on MTV. I had never heard of her and the video was the most confusing and bizarre thing I had ever seen; yet, for some reason I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. I loved the mystery in her lyrics and the sincerity in her voice. Immediately after watching it, I knew I HAD to become the next Jewel,” said Weeks.

Angela Weeks plays her original songs - Taken from Coffee-Works live stream

Her voice is reminiscent of Jewel but with more of an alternative style than a country twang. Weeks finishes her set as an eruption of audience applause ensues. After she steps off stage I asked her about her upcoming album but all she could say is that, “I am in negotiations for an album with the record label, AudioFilms Recording and Mic Inc Management. That’s all I am allowed to say publicly!”

After sticking around for a few more artists, Coffee Works Cafe in Voorhees seems more like a musicians haven than an open mic. So many talented artists, so little time. Stop by every Tuesday night for their vibrant open mic or, if you can’t make it, watch it online here!