A Weekend to REMEMBER!
New Jersey’s own “soul sensation,” Remember Jones, was the featured performer at two shore venues this weekend, Jan. 15 & 16, 2016 — Asbury Park’s House of Independents and Toms River’s Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts — each spotlighting his creativity as a vocalist and musician.
As many New Jersey residents know, the Light of Day Foundation recently celebrated their “Sweet Little 16” birthday of concerts, which started at the Jersey Shore and went on to span the globe, raising nearly $4 million for Parkinson’s research. Locally, Remember Jones and special guests Kiirstin Marilyn and Nik Greeley & the Operators did their part for this worthy cause on Friday, Jan. 15, by rocking the shore’s newest and hottest showcase, the House of Independence club, in Asbury Park, NJ.
Opening the sold-out show was the talented Kiirstin Marilyn with her edgy original tunes. Kiirstin commanded the stage, enticing the audience to join her by literally jumping feet first in the crowd. Enveloped in the wall of sound, music lovers throughout the House were glued to each and every note of her heartfelt and energetic performance.
Next up was the dynamic Nik Greeley and the Operators, one of Philly’s top bands. Nik and his 9-piece group captivated the crowd and had them clapping and dancing along to a catchy set of original and classic tunes. A kaleidoscope of lights bounced off the mirror balls and danced on the walls as this powerhouse rock machine generated and grooved to the solid-as-a-rock beat with a tight rhythm section, sparkling horns, and Nik’s commanding lead vocals. At times, Nik and his horn section paraded through the standing-room only congregation, embodying the spirit that is Light of Day.
Headlining the evening at the House was Remember Jones and his 20-piece band, mesmerizing the sold-out gallery with his interpretation of the late Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” album in it’s entirety. Jones not only paid tribute to Winehouse through his soulful vocals but even had “A M Y” emblazoned on the side of his head. Jones’ dedication to his craft shone through on every song with attention to detail as evidenced by everything from his quality musical arrangements to the slight nuances in his facial expressions. Add to that the fact that all of the musicians on the bill donated their time and talents for the Light of Day Foundation and you had one truly special and spectacular Jersey Shore musical performance.
And if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday, Jan. 16, Remember Jones was the headliner yet again — this time at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center of the Arts, a gem of a showplace, located in Toms River, NJ — but in a very different format. This concert, billed as a Latin show, opened with the Reading Samba School drumming and dancing through the audience and onto the stage as a percussive base for Remember Jones.
Accompanied by Mark Masefield on piano, Remember’s vocal talents were featured on every tune. Whereas the Winehouse show featured the interplay between Jones and 20 other musicians including 6 vocalists, this concert showcased Remember’s vocal abilities and nuanced interpretations in a more intimate and personal setting with the call-and-response of the piano, various Latin percussion instruments, and flute. The audience could clearly appreciate the gift of Jones’ exquisitely-crafted vocals as he sang tributes to Joe Cocker, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Winehouse, and the crowd joined in singing and clapping at Remember’s request.
At the end of the show, when the audience demanded an encore, they weren’t disappointed when Remember thrilled them with a stunning version of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” expertly accompanied by Masefield on the piano, revealing his true heart and soul.
A weekend to Remember, it surely was, but the music magic will continue for Jones at the Shore, specifically at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ, where Jones is producing a A Tribute to David Bowie on Jan. 29 and NOW! That’s What I Call Music LIVE!, Vol. 2, on Feb 12, a show that’s sure to be a fabulous follow-up to the original NOW LIVE! Vol. 1 performance by Jones, Kiirstin Marilyn, and a who’s who of Jersey talent, presented at The Strand in November. For info on these shows and more, please visit strand.org, and for more info on upcoming performances at The House of Independents and The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, be sure to go to houseofindepents.com and grunincenter.org.