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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


Tyler Zlatkus on Radio NJ/AG

Tyler out front of the Barrington Coffee House ©JLIII

I ran into Tyler Zlatkus at the Barrington Coffee House. He had been in town for the past week and was finishing up his stay by playing one last open mic. Just the night before he had played (and even hosted because Mike Romano didn’t show up) the open mic at The Treehouse Coffee Shop.

Tyler’s music is reminiscent a of classic rock singer/songwriter. He lists some of his biggest influences as: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd.

He just recently recorded his six song EP, Pendulum, featuring songs such as, “Puppet Man”, “Forget You” and the title track, “Pendulum” which can be found throughout the audio interview below.

Zlatkus started really getting into music during high school where he formed a band with a good friend of his called The Dimensions which he called, “more of a trippy, psychedelic band.” His friend, “looked just like Jimi Hendrix and played just like him so he couldn’t stand not playing any Hendrix covers.”

At the age of 17, straight out of high school, Zlatkus moved out to live on his own. “I’ve always been very independent,” he said. Living on his own wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be so he produced local bands in Washington to afford rent for a while.

He was living with Josh Jones at the time. They lived together for a year and created a few bands over that time period. Zlatkus became heavily influenced by the Beatles at this time and soon earned their entire catalogue.

Naturally, they started a Beatles cover band called British Export, which has gone on to be a three-time winner of the Liver Pool Beatles Fest in Europe. They played for the remainder of Zlatkus’s stay at their apartment. Ultimately, the two had a falling out and Zlatkus not only moved out but also left the band.

“I really enjoy playing music for people and letting them take the spotlight as well but my solo stuff is always just me,” he explained. “I wrote a lot of my older music when I was happy. My first album can be condensed down to one girl, just about,” he said while laughing.

Tyler plays the Barrington Coffee House ©JLIII

“About five days before I came here to Jersey I played an open mic called the Mandolin Cafe. I met this producer named Anthony who needed studio musicians. So, I layed down some bass on a few tracks he already had and he offered to record my album [Pendulum] for free!”

Because of Zlatkus’s background with recording and producing, as well as his many instrumental talents, he basically created his entire album by himself. “He checked in on me in the studio here and there, but It was really all just me.”

He recorded his EP in only 5 days so that he would have something to sell when he came to New Jersey. Unfortunately, he did not prove to be a good salesman.

“I tried selling them here but no one will buy them so I’ve given about 30 away so far.”

He was asking only five dollars for the CD so I decided to buy one. After purchasing it I asked him how much it actually cost him to make the CD.

“It didn’t cost me anything [to record the album]. It was just five days of hard work. Plus, the whole, lifetime of learning an instrument and that’s a lot of work too.”

I guess he’s right in that regard, musicians do need to master their art in order to make money, and Tyler has certainly done that!
Check out my interview with him!

Tyler plays “Pendulum” out front of the Barrington Coffee House ©JLII

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 

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!

Pour Soul acoustic performance on Radio NJ/AG

I had the pleasure of sitting down for an acoustic session with Aaron Smith of Pour Soul. He explains to me what Pour Soul’s motivation is and his lyrical style. He played for me two tracks that he plays with the band and also played a few of his original tracks.

Photo © Derek J

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.


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!

Back in the “Studio”

I’ve recorded many different genres and in many different situations throughout my musical career. I’ve moved from some guy’s basement to a fully staffed recording studio, but I’ve always found that I have the most freedom recording myself at my own home. Unfortunately, it has the most limitations.

I recently wrote a whole list of new songs that I’m pretty proud of. I’m just a broke college kid, so the quality of the recordings are poor.  Here is a link to my old EP called BreaktheCycle.

Below is a new song I just finished recording. Let me know what you think!

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!