The Beat Goes On — Examining the Current State of the Hoboken Live Music Scene
But Calamoneri soon realized there were still pockets of musicians all over town—from Abbe Rivers to Gene D. Plumber to the born-and-raised Jaime Della Fave of the band the Fave. (And the list could go on: Kate Jacobs, Dave Schramm, Julio Fernandez, etc. etc.) Recently, Calamoneri’s spirits really started to lift.
“I’ve had the black shawl on for over a year,” he says, “and I figure mourning is over.”
Calamoneri mentions a tribute to The Band’s famed “Last Waltz” concert, held at the popular First Street bar Northern Soul in late November. The evening, spearheaded by Jaime DeJesus and Casey Solomon, had local musicians recreating the concert song-for-song. “I like how it came from a very sincere, genuine kind of place,” Calamoneri says. “It wasn’t us trying to prove something; it was all feel-good.”
He also credits the Guitar Bar music shops’ massive guitar play-a-long events in Sinatra Park for evoking a similar spirit of togetherness. He explains, “It’s like us saying, ‘We’re still here.’”
Ask Calamoneri about the current upswing in Hoboken’s musical happenings, and he’s quick to single out the aforementioned Mr. Entwistle. In addition to hosting open-mics and playing guitar in both the Fave and Liam Brown & the Pounds, Entwistle has been the talent booker and sound engineer for Northern Soul for the past five years. Calamoneri says, “That bar went from playing on the floor by the window, to a stage and a decent sound system. It was Entwistle’s persistence and encouragement that really turned it into a venue.” In addition to Wednesday night open-mics, live local bands play at Northern Soul on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Entwistle is hopeful that the recently renovated back room at the rebranded “Maxwell’s Tavern” will also help rebuild the local music scene. When the new owners decided to bring back music, Entwistle was one of the people consulted about a new stage, sound system, and lighting. In late January, it was announced that Entwistle would be the new booker at Maxwell’s Tavern, with Jaime DeJesus taking his place at Northern Soul. He says, “In my opinion, the need for a quality music venue in Hoboken is to attract national touring acts. That gives local bands a chance to open for them and get some much-needed publicity and exposure.”
Still, scaled-down performances will always have a place in Entwistle’s heart. “There is something to be said about intimate, underground-type shows,” he states. “There is an energy and vibe that can’t always be recreated in a bigger venue.”
Sometimes at those smaller shows, you can get a breakfast burrito too.
At least, that’s the case at D’s Soul Full Café* on Willow Street, featuring live music every Sunday at noon. The cozy front-window stage, complete with piano, was a key factor when Stephen Bailey became a co-owner (with Dwight Thompson) in 2011. “I didn’t want to own a place that didn’t have music,” Bailey says.
Acts range from prominent local veterans (Tammy Faye Starlite, Chris Butler, Debby Schwartz, Karyn Kuhl, etc.) to young up-and-comers, who Bailey is always on the lookout for. “I’m just realizing how much music there is up at Stevens,” he says.
Along with Entwistle and Chris “Gibby” Gibson, Bailey was also tapped as a consultant for bringing live music to Maxwell’s Tavern. Bailey’s résumé includes 20+ years playing and booking shows in town, blogging, and co-running the Hoboken Music Awards, started by Entwistle in 2009.