Festival: Sea.Hear.Now Festival Day 2 (Hear)
Day 2 Of The Inaugural Sea.Hear.Now Festival
Collaboration by David Zeck and Diane DiMemmo
After an incredible beautiful first day of music, artwork and surfing, the inaugural Sea.Hear.Now Festival took over the beach for a second day. Just like the day 1, music lovers were out in full force for what promised to be not only be another day of fun but it was also the final day for Sea.Hear.Now to leave its mark on the city of Asbury.
If you don’t know Sea.Hear.Now is the collaborative brainchild of world renowned music photographer and filmmaker Danny Clinch and C3 Presents, who are responsible for massively successful music festivals like Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Shaky Knees Music Fest and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience along with many more.
Aside from music, the festival also included surf expression sessions and board shaping demos for surf fans, along with morning Wanderlust Yoga Sessions both day’s featuring Eoin Finn to start the day on a relaxing and healthy note. As for art there was plenty thanks to Danny Clinch’s Transparent Gallery which featured artwork from artists playing the festival.
Day two was action packed and featured surfers from all over the world and for the music portion we were treated to an equally impressive line up as the first night. The second day of the festival brought us music by Jack Johnson, Deal Casino, Milky Chance, The Parlor Mob, The Original Wailers, Nicole Atkins, LangHorne Slim and The Lost At Last Band, Kaleo, G. Love & Special Sauce, Social Distortion and so many more.
Check out all the action from Day 2 below.
THE PARLOR MOB
Asbury Park’s own The Parlor Mob started off our second day of the Sea.Hear.Now Festival and woke us up right away. This band is loud and it hits you like a punch in the chest … in a VERY good way! The alternative rock band often draws comparisons to Led Zeppelin because vocalist Mark Melicia has the chops to rock out in a way that only a few can: vacillating between a nasalization and compression of the vocal cords to create a powerful sound.
Listening to his voice backed up by guitarist/keyboardist David James Rosen, guitarist Paul Ritchie, and drummer Sam Bey … I realized how much freaking talent there is right here in Asbury Park.
Many bands in the festival lineup are local to the area and not yet well-known in other areas of the country. I say “yet” because that’s about to change. The Parlor Mob gives a very spirited and entertaining live performance and has the potential, in my opinion, to go far.
Their songs have been featured on television, on shows such as Entourage, Friday Night Lights, Person of Interest, and more, as well as in several video games. They are currently promoting their newly released single, “Setting With The Sun” which was one of the highlights of their performance today.
THE ORIGINAL WAILERS
The second shining moment of Day 2 came when we set our eyes and ears on the reggae band The Original Wailers. Co-founding members (and former Bob Marley guitarists) Al Anderson and Junior Marvin formed the group in 2008. The band’s lineup has changed throughout the years with the reconfigured lineup including Anderson, Chet Samuel (Lead Vocals / Guitar), Omar Lopez (Bass Guitar), Paapa Nyarkoh (Drums), and Noel Aiken “Ras Klamper” (Keyboards and Organ).
Right before they began playing, they asked the crowd if marijuana was legal in New Jersey yet. When the crowd booed and yelled “NO,” they joked that they’d advertise for it on our behalf. Wait … what was that that I smelled anyway? Never mind… back to the Original Wailers.
The Grammy-nominated group immediately grabbed everyone’s attention by starting their set with “I Shot The Sheriff,” and the party did not slow down until the closer “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” Most of Marley’s greatest hits were played in between. Concertgoers were either laying back on their blankets or swaying to the reggae beat. If you stuck your toes in the sand, sipped your cocktail and closed your eyes, you’d swear you were in Jamaica. It was a perfect choice to have The Original Wailers at Sea.Hear.Now!
Singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins made her homecoming performance a special one and the crowd was very happy to have her back. The three-time Asbury Park Music Award winner (who now resides in Nashville) has a beautifully classic vocal style that’s been compared to Roy Orbison.
All band members wore matching black and white shirts with the word “Goodnight” on front to promote their most recent album Goodnight Rhonda Lee. Atkins told the crowd that she wrote the album “about a really annoying drunk friend … me.”
Its creation was born from a time of physical and emotional transitions in her life and the process was all about discovering the joy in music again. When recording the album, good friend Chris Isaak collaborated with her on the gorgeous rendition of “A Little Crazy.” The entire album was recorded in five days, live to tape.
Atkins’ voice was crystal clear and razor sharp. She does not hold back when performing and the bluesy-jazz sound from her horn section sets her style apart from others in similar genres.
Having the Neptune, NJ native back in Asbury Park for Sea.Hear.Now was proof – again – that a ton of talent was born from this area.
Surfboard shaping is both a science and an art. Sea.Hear.Now invited some of the most talented shapers to show off their skills to surfers and concert-goers alike.
Surf boards were originally made from wood, but today most are pre-formed styrofoam that are then shaped by the artist with a variety of tools. The surfboard is completed by layering fiberglass sheets over the deck and bottom and laminating these with a thermosetting resin such as polyester.
Technical stuff aside, it was pretty cool watching these guys perform their craft in Bradley Park, across from Convention Hall. Their creations were both beautiful and unique.
LANGHORNE SLIM AND THE LOST AT LAST BAND
Next up was Langhorne Slim, a singer-songwriter originally from Langhorne, PA who currently resides in Nashville. His style has been described as a combination of folk rock, Americana, and soul music.
When listening to the songs he played today, such as “Never Break,” “Ocean City,” “Changes,” and “Life Is Confusing,”, it became apparent that the common thread in his music is love, gratefulness, religion, and family. The crowd really related to “Ocean City” as it was about spending some of his childhood with Grandpa Jack and Grandma May in that NJ city. It was the perfect song choice for this festival.
Slim is backed up by The Lost At Last Band which consists of Malachi DeLorenzo (drums), Jeff Ratner (bass), and Casey McAllister (keyboard, accordion), recently putting out the album Lost At Last, Vol. 1. It’s somewhat different in that he crafted it to be more “personal and raw,” wanting its message to challenge the attitude that you have to fit in some sort of mold to be successful.
Festival organizer Danny Clinch came on stage for a song jamming on his harmonica with the band in kick-ass fashion.
Slim spoke to the fans of his friendship with Clinch and said, “We have this wonderful man to thank for such a beautiful festival.” He then ended with the sentiment, “Thank you beautiful people!”
Next it was back to the Surf stage for the band Kaleo. Since 2012, this Icelandic band has racked up quite a few accomplishments. In 2013 they released the studio album Kaleo and the EP Glasshouse. In 2016 they released A/B which has sold over 910,000 albums worldwide and has a platinum-certified single “Way Down we Go.” They also received a Grammy nomination in 2017 for Best Rock Performance for the song “No Good.”
After listening to Kaleo at Sea.Hear.Now, I am NOT surprised at all for the accolades. Only one word came to my mind as I listened with goose bumps up and down my arms. The word was “WOW.” Multi-layered sounds of rock and blues emanated from the quartet which includes bandleader JJ Julius Son, drummer David Antonsson, bassist Daniel Kristjansson, and guitarist Rubin Pollock. They chose the band name Kaleo because it means “the sound” in Hawaiian.
Some of the songs they shared with us were “No Good,” “Way Down We Go,” “I Can’t Go On Without You,” and “Vor i Vaglaskogi.” Their songs ring true because the band clearly defines their intention for their albums. Specifically the A/B album came from Julius Son’s love of vinyl records’ two sides. He explains, “I write very different songs that many would like to label into different genres. The idea of A/B is to show the diversity and the two sides of the band.”
What I heard when I listened to their live performance was many sides. They really have an eclectic sound. Yes, I did hear the rock and the blues components. But I also heard country influence in their song “Automobile” as well as soul music in “No Good.” Other songs were interlaced with musical whistling (which if you weren’t aware is pretty hard to do). Julius Son’s voice is deep and raspy, soulful and rich… yet he quickly switches to higher vocal ranges with ease.
The band has also embraced the altruistic goal of assisting the World Wildlife Fund on a video series featuring their song “I Can’t Go On Without You,” The intention is to raise awareness for WWF’s global conservation efforts to safeguard wildlife and wild places.
When Kaleo’s performance came to an end, the first thing I thought was, “I HAVE to see this band again!” So I went online to check out tour dates. Guys? Please? Can you come back to New Jersey soon?????
G LOVE AND SPECIAL SAUCE
I was very excited to see Philadelphia’s own hip-hop blues band, G Love and Special Sauce. Formed in 1993 by vocalist Garrett Dutton (aka G Love) and percussionist Jeffrey Clemens (aka Houseman), the band is completed by bassist Jim Prescott (aka Jimi Jazz).
The group drew an especially large crowd to the Park stage; it was evident that they had a dedicated fan base come to the festival to see them specifically. G Love and Special Sauce calls their sound “down and dirty trash can blues.” They record live with very few edits so they can “capture the immediacy of their music.” I have to say that it works, because they sound just as good live as they do on their album.
Having watched the crowd’s reactions to bands throughout the two days of the festival, I have to say that G Love had the largest number of dancing fans. Hardly anyone was sitting; there were all styles of dancing going on in the very diverse crowd. I can understand why. G Love is probably the happiest performer I’ve ever seen. His love of what he does flows through him and right into his music. It’s absolutely contagious.
His song “Love” seemed to be a crowd favorite, as well as his rendition of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” There are ten full-length studio albums for G Love and Special Sauce with their debut self-titled album was almost certified gold. They call their most recent album Love Saves The Day their “fullest realization of the hip-hop blues” as well as their “most rock and roll album to date.” Prominent guest performers on the album include Los Lobos guitarist David Hidalgo, Lucinda Williams, Citizen Cope, Ozomatli, DJ Logic, Money Mark, Zach Gill and Adam Topol.
POP-UP ART GALLERY
The third component of the Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival was the inclusion of works of art. A pop-up gallery (which mimics Danny Clinch’s Transparent Gallery in Asbury Park) was set up near the Park stage. It featured Clinch’s photography as well as the artwork of other festival musicians, including work by Brandon Boyd, Jack Johnson, Ian O’Neill from Deer Tick, Blondie’s Chris Stein and Nicole Atkins. At different times throughout the festival some of the artists, including Johnson, came to discuss their art and play music in the intimate gallery.
Danny Clinch’s Transparent Gallery (located in the Asbury Hotel) is a glass-encompassed structure that is a beautiful a piece of architecture showcasing Clinch’s iconic photographs of the most famous musicians. In addition to his photos, the gallery has interactive seating areas accented with artful mid-century furniture to complete the ambience. The gallery regularly hosts music and spoken word events throughout the year.
Orange County, CA rockers Social Distortion hijacked the Sand stage later in the evening to a crowd that was packed in so tight, we could barely move. Mike Ness (Vocals, Guitar), Jonny Wickersham (Guitar), Brent Harding (Bass), Dave Hidalgo Jr. (Drums) proved that the band’s signature punk rock sound (made famous in the 1990’s) is still just as popular with fans today.
Ness punched out dominating vocals over the band’s fast-paced songs inspiring many crowd surfers to ride their way to the front of the stage. A mosh pit formed in the center of the crowd that was more carefree than it was violent. Fans – young and old – fed off the band’s energy especially when Ness announced they were working on a new album. “I don’t want you to think we’ve all been just sitting on our asses in California,” he joked. When the crowd went wild at the news, Ness added, “Now wait a minute … it isn’t finished just yet. But it’s coming.”
With more than three million albums sold worldwide and a massive adoring fan base, Social Distortion doesn’t need to pull any rabbits out of a hat to put on a great show. But they did so anyway to the delight of us all. Mike Ness piqued our interest by saying that a guest would join the group to “sing a song or two.”
“Do you know who I’m talking about?” he asked the crowd, who immediately started to chant “Bruuuuuuuce.” And just like that we were all in the presence of greatness. Social Distortion and Bruce Springsteen joined their heavenly forces playing “Misery Loves Company,” “Bad Luck,” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The crowd went ballistic and the energy throughout was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
Social Distortion is most definitely still a force to be reckoned with and I cannot wait to see what their next album is like.
The most perfect way to end the Sea.Hear.Now Music festival was by having American singer-songwriter, actor, record producer, filmmaker, and professional surfer Jack Johnson close out the weekend. Born in Oahu, Hawaii, Johnson grew up surfing and was the youngest invitee to the Pipeline Masters at age 17. After a surfing accident, he changed gears and went to college to study filmmaking. He made two films titled “Thicker Than Water” and “September Sessions” of which he also wrote and sang the soundtracks. His songwriting skills garnered attention from that soundtrack and from the song “Rodeo Clowns” which was featured on G Love’s 1999 album Philadelphonic.
Johnson’s mellow and melodic voice enraptured the crowd to the backdrop of his soft acoustic guitar-driven songs. Fans everywhere were swaying to the music, many with arms wrapped around each other, unified in their love of his music and message. He has produced seven studio albums: Brushfire Fairytales (2001), On and On (2003), In Between Dreams (2005), Sleep Through the Static (2008), To the Sea (2010), From Here To Now To You (2013), and All The Light Above It Too (2017), as well as five EPs and soundtrack albums. He has nine No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart.
Johnson seems to attract exemplary musicians into his fold as his bandmates are some of the very best in the business. Percussionist Adam Topol, pianist Zach Gill, and guitarist Merlo add yet another rich layer of musicianship atop Johnson’s natural, rootsy, effortless performances.
The setlist was a very satisfying selection of his best work:
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing / Breakdown / Hope / Banana Pancakes / Better Together / Badfish/Boss DJ (sublime cover) / Mudfootball / Radiate / Bubble Toes/The Joker (Steve Miller Band cover) / Taylor / Inaudible Melodies / Brushfire Fairytales / Flake / Do You Remember / Good People / Rodeo Clowns / Sunsets for Somebody Else / If I Had Eyes / You and Your Heart
Jack Johnson believes very strongly in protecting the Earth’s natural resources, specifically our oceans. He became frustrated when he saw all of the trash in and around the water, so he started the Kokua Hawaii Foundation which supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaiʻi. He believes that if we teach children how to care properly for the environment at a young age, then they will continue the practice into adulthood.
Throughout the weekend, I saw many concert-goers walking around the festival wearing T-shirts that said, “Music Saved Asbury Park.” From a personal perspective I’ve seen the growth here these last few years and it’s very true that the live music scene is what has set this town apart. As more people started to come to Asbury Park for live music … the restaurants, stores, and housing has followed.
The town has also recently been ranked as one of the best beaches to visit and the best shore town for entrepreneurs. There has been a true rebirth here in this hip town and Danny Clinch’s creation of the Sea.Hear.Now Music Festival has now solidified Asbury Park’s position as a true musical mecca. Here’s hoping this festival continue for many years to come. Well done!!!