For this writer, stepping into Club Revolution in Amityville on a recent Wednesday night was like stepping back in time. It had been a full decade since checking out what was happening on Long Island's original music scene. Back in the mid-'90s, Long Island was home to a thriving original music scene, virtually bursting at the seams with talent whose depth and scope resulted in a rare achievement: A top-rated radio show (The Island Zone) focused on those very artists and bands whose music drew in listeners from across the New York Metropolitan area. This, in turn, generated enough public interest to spur the venerable record store chain, Sam Goody, to initiate a weekly Saturday afternoon live in-store concert series at its Roosevelt Field location. Store manager Fred Conforti -- a self-confessed wannabe club promoter -- was an integral force in making the concert series a reality, and also championed local artists by devoting an impressive amount of store space to independent CD releases. I vividly remember receiving a phone call from Fred informing me that the aggregate weekly sales from Long Island's original artists had ranked Number Two among its overall report -- which included Billboard's Hot 100 artists. Not only were local independent artists receiving the respect and credibility they deserved through commercial radio and record retail support, there were many live venues where original music was welcomed with open arms. However, despite all the signs of an emerging scene bubbling to the surface, some of the area's largest venues routinely shut their doors to original artists, citing the success of cover bands who were regular performers at their establishments as a reason to maintain the status quo.
One young artist had become a keen student of the support structure that had been built around local independent artists and refused to take "no" for an answer from the owners and managers of those larger venues. Rick Eberle, vocalist/guitarist/songwriter for the band Iridesense, formed a coalition with two other area bands -- This Island Earth and Early Edison -- and approached the management of Mulcahy's in Wantagh with a simple yet brilliant concept: Book a show featuring full sets from all three bands, promoted heavily by all three bands utilizing all available outlets, and produce a major turnout. The triumvirate, called Pop Conspiracy Productions, achieved spectacular success with the concert. Several hundred fans turned out for what proved to be an amazing night of live original music which I will never forget. It was a triumphant achievement for Rick Eberle, whose refusal to take "no" for an answer served as both a role model for others to follow and his personal pathway to a future career.
I initially met Rick while he was still in his teens, performing with Iridesense at the legendary under-the-radar indie hangout, The Raven, back in 1994. Fast forward to 2012: Today, Rick Eberle is an established success in his own right as an artist, businessman and champion of local independent artists. He is hoping that Club Revolution (formerly Ollie's Point) will emerge as a hub of Long Island's original music scene. With Rick's involvement, I have no doubt that Club Revolution may become just that.
On Wednesday, June 27, I had the pleasure of attending an evening of live music dubbed "Rick Eberle's Rising Stars" which featured four local original bands of varying ages and genres. While I give hearty kudos to both The Royal Guard and Two Cent Sam for their solid performances, I was most impressed by the first band on the bill, Jumpstart Tomorrow. This North Babylon-based group consists of Tyler Winn (lead vocals, bass), Brandon Winn (lead guitar), Mike Falsetta (rhythm guitar), and Danny Roller (drums, backing vocals). A particularly impressive aspect of this band lies in its collective youth: The members' ages range from 16 to 18. Citing influences ranging from The Maine, Blink-182, All Time Low, 3rd Eye Blind, and Green Day, Jumpstart Tomorrow's songs are decidedly radio-friendly, and their live performance showcased just how tight these four young musicians are as a band. Drummer Danny Roller struck me as almost Keith Moon-like in his intensity, providing a bedrock of rhythm that was both metronome-perfect and brimming with exuberant energy. Mike Falsetta and Brandon Winn's guitars worked seamlessly together, with Tyler Winn's bass playing serving as the glue to the mix. Speaking with Tyler after the set, I learned that the band's close friendship was viewed by all four members as the core of their existence. My own experience has taught me that this is not only an essential element of being in a band; it is also the key component that allows a band to remain intact.
My personal pick from their live set was "Found You Out" from the band's EP, Can't Get Enough. I checked out several of the songs online and I can safely say that Jumpstart Tomorrow has a great deal of potential for success. They can write hook-laden material which beg for radio airplay, and given where they are today as songwriters, I can only expect greater things to come in the future. In my opinion, "Done With It" is the strongest track on the EP and an obvious choice for a single. The song is a winner both lyrically and musically, and Tyler's vocals -- free from the auto-tune found elsewhere on the EP -- bring the track home. Three suggestions I would make to the band are (1) avoid using auto-tune in the studio -- it's an overused effect and robs the vocals of their character; (2) practice the vocals until you get them where they need to be; and (3) focus on ensuring that the vocal performance is on the same level of consistency as their instrumental performance in a live setting. While the recording studio allows for near-unlimited flexibility in laying down a vocal track, on stage, you only get one shot.
I believe that with more time, practice, and live performance experience, Jumpstart Tomorrow will emerge as a powerful new voice of original music from Long Island. For anyone interested in checking out a promising new band, I highly recommend this one. You can find out more about Jumpstart Tomorrow (and hear some of their songs) at: http://www.reverbnation.com/jumpstarttomorrow.
Long Island, New York