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All posts for the month December, 2013

TUSK: New Hope Winery, New Hope, PA

Published December 29, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_3306New Hope Winery

A long awaited show, as this night was supposed to happen 14 days ago but we had a storm and it was postponed (even though my husband Dennis and I were more than willing to make the effort!) It was our first night ever at New Hope Winery (http://www.newhopewinery.com/) and I fell in love with the place, a rustic 18th century barn with an event room. We sampled a semi-sweet Solebury Red wine, which was absolutely delicious!

We were seated in the front next to another couple who knew a lot about music, so it was awesome. This was my sixth time seeing Tusk (my husband’s fifth). After the last show over the summer (see blog: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/tusk-the-ultimate-fleetwood-mac-tribute-linden-new-jersey/) Tusk guitarist Scott McDonald wrote to me on Face Book thanking me for the blog and we became good friends on the internet. Then I did phone interviews with all the Tusk members, so stay tuned for a future blog which will coincide with their Stockton Bridge CD release party. (Stockton Bridge is Tusk’s original band with all the same members).

Thanks to Scott for comping us this show! It was fantastic, as usual, and there were some extra special surprises like the cover of Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road,” Tom Petty’s “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” and Christmas songs including “River” by Joni Mitchell (which Kathy Philips sang beautifully) and “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” sung by bassist Randy Artiglere. It was also cool seeing Kathy Philips as Stevie Nicks dressed in white instead of black for a change during the second set. I absolutely love white, especially in winter (See photo below, such a pretty outfit!)

Unfortunately the Winery had a “no flash photography” policy, so we couldn’t take photos of the performance. (We tried without the flash, but no luck). But it was super cool meeting the band after the show for a photo op. As a journalist, it’s always surreal meeting people in real life after you meet them on the phone. And it was doubly surreal meeting Scott after conversing and joking around on Face Book for four months! You gotta love the modern world we live in. *smiles*

SAM_3304From left: Tom Nelson (drums), Randy Artiglere (bass), Kim Williams (keyboard/vocal), Kathy Philips (vocal), Me (applause in audience) and Scott McDonald (guitar/vocal)

After the show Dennis and I took a nice drive through New Hope and then Lambertville to look at all the Christmas decorations. We had so much fun!

SAM_3309“Loves Saves the Day” store front

Love Saves the Day was once one of my favorite stores in NYC, right around the corner from St. Mark’s Place. I was devastated when it closed down a few years ago. Thank God the one in New Hope still exists! It has lots of fun vintage toys, clothes, comics, etc.

SAM_3310My fur is faux, I’m an animal lover!

SAM_3311Pretty nativity scene in front of church

SAM_3319Reminded us of Queen’s “Innuendo” cover!

SAM_3324Stunning antique clock

SAM_3326Beatles lamp

Merry Christmas!

Published December 25, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_3255Christmas Eve at Mom’s!

Wishing all fellow bloggers and followers a very Merry Christmas.

We had a most wonderful Christmas Eve! We were thrilled when my husband’s nephew Luke and his wife Tara dropped in! Luckily we caught them before heading out to my Mom’s, what a blessing!

SAM_3248Nephew Luke, Pop (my father-in-law) and niece Tara

We had such a night night at my Mom’s house with her, my sister Kim, my 12-year-old nephew Matthew and their friend Lee.

A great night filled with joy and lots of laughter, good food, reminiscing about old times and fun and games!

It was a super magical moment when the snow started to fall — nice big chunky snowflakes!

SAM_3274Sister Kim

As tradition, we like to go see the nativity scene, with live animals, but it was too cold in New Jersey as temperatures dropped below freezing.

SAM_3272Nephew Matthew

Merry Christmas to all!

Getting excited for the next shift of family, friends and merriment!

Jenkinson’s Sea of Light

Published December 22, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_3140Snow kisses!

Last night my husband and I took a last minute trip down to the Jersey Shore to check out the Sea of Light show at Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant, Jersey Shore. It was a gorgeous night, unseasonably warm at almost 60 degrees! It felt good being in the humidity and walking on the boardwalk!

SAM_3144Underwater World!

SAM_3145Me and a Christmas Elf friend!

SAM_3146Buried Treasure!

SAM_3151Was that fin on your back part of the deal? SHARK!

SAM_3163Pretty!

SAM_3176Magical sea horse

SAM_3188Hawaiian Christmas

SAM_3190Dennis, love of my life!

SAM_3197Jelly fish!

SAM_3202Penguin

SAM_3207White penguin

SAM_3223I won a snow man!

SAM_3224Fun House

SAM_3225Sandy devastation

SAM_3233Rudolph in restaurant

We topped off the evening with a snack. I had a few Blue Moon beers and oysters — yum!

SAM_3234Beautiful water view at the Wharf Side restaurant

SAM_3240Cool tree house with Christmas decorations

Frank Secich (Musician/Songwriter/Producer)

Published December 18, 2013 by Maryanne

Frank SeicheFrank Secich (photo by John Koury)

Not too long ago on Face Book, WDVR DJ Deirdre Gilmartin recommended Frank Secich as a friend. Then I was thrilled to find out Frank not only played on a Stiv Bators albums (including “Disconnected” which is one of my favorite albums of all time!) but he also wrote quite a few songs I absolutely loved since I was 18-years-old and STILL LOVE: “A Million Miles Away” and “Evil Boy.” In fact, I played “Evil Boy” when I deejayed John Holmstrom’s 50th Birthday Bash back in 2001!

I quickly learned Frank is a super great guy and I loved his song, “Johnny Sincere” from his newest band, Deadbeat Poets (around since 2006). The first time I heard “Johnny Sincere” I loved it so much I played it three times in a row. Frank and I became Face Book friends and he was cool enough to read my upcoming book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” and endorse it.

In return, I thought it would awesome to interview Frank for this blog. We had a great chat on the phone and I look forward to seeing Deadbeat Poets perform when they come back to New Jersey!

Like many other musicians growing up in the 1960s, Frank Secich got into playing music after seeing the Beatles perform on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” His first instrument was the harmonica. Frank grew up in Pennsylvania and had a grandfather who was a bassist and uncles who were musicians. He picked up the guitar when he was 14 after seeing Bob Dylan in 1965.

During his teenage years he played in local bands at parties and record hops. “I was in a cover band, the Mother Goose Band,” Frank said, “played all Rascals, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Cream …”

When Frank was ready to move on to an original band, it was his childhood friend Stiv Bators (who lived right across the Pennsylvania border in Ohio) who took his place in the Mother Goose Band. Stiv Bators is a punk rock legend known for his work with The Dead Boys, The Wanderers, Lords of the New Church and his solo albums. Frank knew Stiv since they were teenagers. “We became friends … met at teen dances in sixty-six, sixty-seven … he was two years older” he said.

After leaving the Mother Goose Band, Frank started Blue Ash and followed his dream of writing original material. After playing together three years, they were signed to Mercury Records by Paul Nelson, who also signed The New York Dolls. (And as a side note, the Mother Goose Band often warmed up for Blue Ash).

Frank Seiche - earlyFrank Secich, 1974 (photo by Geoff Jones, colorized by Tom Sailor)

When the Dead Boys were breaking up in 1978, Stiv contacted Frank to work on some solo stuff and he worked with Stiv until 1981. He played with another Dead Boys member Jimmy Zero in a band called Club Wow from 1982 to 1985. Then Frank produced the Ohio band the Infidels from 1985 to 1990.

Since the late Stiv Bators is one of my favorite musical artists of all time, I asked Frank to share some Stiv stories. Frank just couldn’t stop laughing when he told me this gem:

“We were living in Los Angeles. Stiv was a big fan of Morey Amsterdam from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ We took our suit coats to get dry cleaned. There was a Chinese kid waiting for us, he has a real funny look on his face. He looked star struck … it was Dick Van Dyke. We met so many people [throughout music career] we were never really starstruck.

“Stiv says to the kid, ‘Give me a pencil and paper.’ He [Stiv] said, ‘Mr. Van Dyke, can I get your autograph? Mr. Van Dyke, I gotta tell ya, this is really special to me. I grew up in Ohio in an orphanage’ … getting teary-eyed … ‘the only show they let us watch was The Dick Van Dyke Show.'”

“He [Dick] said, ‘That’s nice.’

“Stiv starts crying. ‘You were like the dad I never had! As a matter of fact, you inspired me to do what I do today.’

“‘What do you do?'”

“‘I’m a singer in a punk band.'”

“‘Oh, that’s nice … take it easy guys.’ Stiv was gonna ask him if he wanted to go out to get a drink. At the time Dyke was in Alcoholics Anonymous. He [Stiv] was just a natural comedian.”

stivFrank Secich and Stiv Bators (photo by Mick Rock)

“A Million Miles Away” was one of the songs Frank wrote which Stiv Bators recorded on the Disconnected album (which when I told Frank was one of my favorite albums, he said he gets emails every day from fans who say that.) Michael Monroe, of Hanoi Rocks fame, recorded the song (not to be confused with the Hanoi Rocks song of the same name). Frank said that was his favorite cover recording of someone doing his song and is quick to note that The Records recorded one of his Blue Ash songs, “Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her).”

“Stiv would always pull my leg,” Frank said. “He said, ‘Mike Monroe recorded A Million Miles Away.'”

“I said, ‘Aw, Stiv, you’re crazy.'”

So when Frank went to see Mike Monroe perform at show, he saw outside the dressing room at least 40 girls, “dressed to the hilt, waiting to meet Mike.”

A guy Frank knew from Polygram told Mike that Frank was waiting outside and wanted to talk to him. “There I was, the forty-year-old. He comes running out, ‘I love you!’ The looks on these girls’ faces. Their jaws all dropped.”

Moving forward to 1990 Frank said he was fed up with the music business and walked away for 15 years. “Didn’t even touch the guitar,” he said.

Frank spent that time working for an insurance company and spending time with his young son. But then, “They dragged me back in!” Frank said, and laughed. And so, he began Deadbeat Poets in 2006.

In addition to Frank, members for the Deadbeat Poets are: Pete Drivere, John Koury and Terry Hartman.

Terry is an old friend of Frank’s and Frank said they laugh about everything. “It’s the most fun band I was ever in,” he said. “I really have a good time. We’re old men and we have fun at what we’re doing.”

When asked who he’s inspired by, Frank said, “My heroes are Ray Davies, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, of course the Stones.”

Other than music, Frank said he doesn’t have too many hobbies. “I like to write, play guitar … I love going in the studio. Twelve hours in a studio seems like twelve minutes. It’s the opposite of being in school and looking at the clock. Other than that we’re just having a good time. We never argue.”

The Deadbeat Poets just finished recording for their new album which will be out in February or March 2014. “Then we’ll start touring,” Frank said.

“Johnny Sincere,” a super cool song by The Deadbeat Poets is nominated for “Coolest Song in the World” by Little Steven’s Underground Garage Station.

The competition is stiff with other great artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Joan Jett! If you like the song — and I’m sure you will — you can vote for it here once a day until Dec. 27: http://undergroundgarage.com/the-coolest-songs-in-the-world-2013.html

Lectures for Seniors

Published December 11, 2013 by Maryanne

Brandywine in WatchungBrandywine Senior Living in Watchung, New Jersey

For the past three months I’ve been giving lectures to seniors at senior homes and assisted living facilities.

Why I haven’t started doing this years ago is beyond me because this work is extremely rewarding!

As an award-winning writer who has been published world-wide since 1995 and a dabbler in spoken word and performance art, getting up and speaking in front of people lecturing on topics I’ve well researched is a piece of cake.

Some of the topics include: “Here’s to Your Health: Health Tips at No Cost!”; “Benefits of Walking,” “History of the Newspaper Industry,” “History of Santa Claus” and upcoming, “History of Valentine’s Day.”

What makes my lectures extra special is that I get the residents to participate. By the end of my lectures they feel they know me and don’t want me to leave. Every place I’ve lectured at so far went over very well, but I must say I’ve had three most memorable experiences over the past three months that I’d love to share:

1. At Mount Arlington Senior Living, in Mount Arlington, NJ, one of the female residents said to me, “You’re really making us like you!” I was blessed to be invited back a second time to lecture.

2. At Phoebe Terrace in Allentown, PA, when I lectured on “The History of Santa Claus” (my personal favorite lecture), afterwards one of the residents invited me up to her apartment to see her collection of Santa Claus statues!

3. Yesterday, I lectured on “History of the Newspaper Industry.” After the lecture a 102-year-old man approached me and shared that he was an entertainer back in the day and entertained troops in WWII, adding, “Nice to meet you, sweetheart!” It was absolutely adorable!

Sometimes the seniors don’t want me to leave and I do stay as long as I could, sometimes having tea with them. It’s such a blessing to be able to do this for a living, along with my many other creative endeavors.

If you’re an activities director at an assisted living facility and would like to book one of my lectures, please contact me at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

In addition to the above mentioned lectures, I can research and write any topic you feel your residents would be interested in — at no additional cost.

Annabella Lwin at 10th St. Live, Kenilworth, NJ

Published December 8, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_2994Annabella Lwin (Photo by Dennis Mistretta)

It was such an honor to have Annabella Lwin perform!

I went with my husband Dennis, meeting our friends Paul and Mary Anne there. The show was fantastic! Very high energy. Spectacular band. We got right in the front too.

I only had one record of Bow Wow Wow back in the day, a single: “Work” b-side “C30, C60, C90 Go!” I should have had more! Every song she did last night was great. My favorites included: “C39, C60, C90, Go!”;  “Baby Oh No!”; “You Don’t Even Know Me”; “Golly! Golly! Go Buddy!” and “Do You Wanna Hold Me.” During one song, Annabella came to me and we danced together. That was so cool. She totally acknowledged all her fans and it was so sweet that a girl kept taking photographs and Annabella told her to put down the camera and just enjoy herself. Annabella touched the girl’s cheek gently and sincerely. It was super cool.

I’m on such a high from the show! Afterwards we got to meet Annabella, got photos and autographs. It was so nice, I asked the guitarist to get me the set list and he did.

I hope she comes back to New Jersey next year, it’s an act not to be missed!

SAM_2980Me, taking a breather outside before the show. It was packed and hot!

SAM_3008Annabella Lwin (photo by Dennis Mistretta)

SAM_3039Annabella Lwin and band

SAM_3049Getting Annabella’s autograph

SAM_3051I’m ecstatic!

SAM_3052Annabella and Dennis

SAM_3053Set List!

Oliver! At Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ (Now to Dec. 29, 2013)

Published December 5, 2013 by Maryanne

Oliver_HomepageScroll_940X432(Photo courtesy of Paper Mill Playhouse)

Consider yourself … incredibly lucky if you get the chance to check out this amazing production of “Oliver!”

Based on the Charles Dickens story, “Oliver Twist,” the musical by Lionel Bart, follows the life of an orphan boy’s struggles and  adventures. Tyler Moran is charming and adorable as Oliver. David Garrison puts on a genius performance as Fagin. (Garrison is best known for his role as Steve Rhoades on “Married with Children”).

In a cast of almost 50, other major performers include: Betsy Morgan as Nancy (who has an incredible voice, excelling during a solo performance of  “As Long As He Needs Me”) John Treacy Egan as Mr. Bumble, Jose Llana as Bill Sikes, David Hess as Mr. Brownlow, and Ethan Haberfield as Artful Dodger who gives a dynamic performance leading “Consider Yourself.” Though, the most endearing performance is Artful Doger, Nancy, Oliver, Bet, Fagin and the cast singing the sweet love song, “I’d Do Anything” to each other.

The sets are incredible, making the audience feel as if they are right there in dark and dreary old Victorian London. When you go “inside” the characters’ homes, the rooms are like larger than life doll houses, very realistically done with paintings, beds and dressers. The stage also rotates with every scene.  An orchestra is situated near the front of the stage.

The choreography is unbelievable. The singing and dancing is absolutely delightful and the entire cast is just perfect — not once missing a beat or stepping out of character.. As an added bonus special effects create snow which not only flutters over the actors, but on to the first several rows of the audience as well! It’s a joyous heart-warming play that the entire family can enjoy this holiday season. And in the spirit of Christmas, there’s a surprise ending that you’ll just have to see when you get there!

“Oliver!” was directed by Paper Mill Playhouse producing artistic director, Mark S. Hoebee with original choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter.

“Oliver!” celebrates the 75th Anniversary Season of Paper Mill Playhouse.

For tickets and information go to: http://www.papermill.org/

Best 13 of 2013

Published December 4, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_1283Me earlier this year, at Arirang

It’s the end of 2013, and also the end of my second year as a blogger.

For those who follow me have picked up that “fun” and “positivity” are my middle names.

While this has been a trying year, as I’ve lost three very special loved ones — all in a row, I count my blessings that it’s been such a positive year as well with many new friends and amazing things happening in my career. It’s always so hard to pick “the best” but that’s the fun of it and of life itself, trying to figure it all out!

Love and blessings to all and thanks so much for your support!

1. Best Accomplishment: Definitely finishing my book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist.” It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and it will be published Spring 2014. I’m thrilled that so many people I highly admire are supportive of my endeavor and that I’ve received super cool endorsements from WMFU DJ Glen Jones, author/columnist Judy McGuire, and original Plasmatics drummer Stu Deutsch.

2. Most Amusing Accomplishment: I was sold! Back in Oct. 2010, I modeled a series of photographs for Darlene Foster (www.darlenefoster.com). In the past some of the postcards with my photo on them sold, but I was thrilled when a big one — “Deliverance” sold!

Darlene pic of maryanne“Deliverance” by Darlene Foster

3. My Favorite Headline: One of the hardest parts of being a journalist is writing a good headline. Most of my life during my writing career, I left that up to an editor. But I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself when I came up with “When Harry Met Sandy” for my blog about Prince Harry coming to the Jersey shore after Hurricane Sandy! (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/when-harry-met-sandy/)

4. Interview of the Year: This year I’ve interviewed quite a few legends including comic David Brenner, NFL Star Eric Downing and Janis Ian. But my favorite interview was with Billy Childs of Britny Fox and Get the Led Out. That guy talked to me like he was my best friend for two hours straight! It was definitely a phone call to remember!

Billy ChildsWith Billy Childs, June 2013

5. Best Make-Up:Gabriel Cosmetics ZuZu Luxe. I love their products. You can’t beat hypoallergenic, cruelty free and a true quality product. I blogged about the goods back in May: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/love-for-gabriel-cosmetics-inc-zuzu-luxe-all-natural-no-animal-testing/

6. Best Healthy Treat: Chia Pod. Over the summer I discovered a simple, vegan, all natural treat called Chia Pod. Again, I was so excited, I just had to blog about it: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/ch-ch-ch-chia-pod/

7. Cutest Commercial: “Guess What Day It Is?” When my friend Darlene first sent me the link to the GEICO Hump Day Camel commercial I was thrilled! It was so funny I had to watch it over and over. I still get a kick out of it.

8. Best Drink: Moonstone Coconut Lemon Grass Sake, unfiltered. (By SakeOne).

9. Best Concert: I don’t know why I do this to myself, making myself pick a “best concert” every year. My husband and I must go to at least two or three concerts per month which brings us to … too many to choose! This year some of them included: The Dick Fox Doo Wop Extravaganza, Gary Numan, The Fab Faux (not once, but TWICE in one year!), The Smithereens and Gary Numan. But I have to say, Michael Nesmith at Union County Performing Arts Center tops them all. You can read all about my extraordinary experience here: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/michael-nesmith-at-union-county-performing-arts-center-rahway-nj/

10. Best Tribute Band: Again, I don’t know why I do this to myself, making myself pick ONE favorite tribute band. With all the concerts I saw this year, some of the best tributes included: Abba Mania, The Fab Faux, One Night With Queen and Get the Led Out (to name a few). But I have to say, with no disrespect to the others, Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute trumps them all. Check out my blog here: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/tusk-the-ultimate-fleetwood-mac-tribute-linden-new-jersey/ – and check back in a week or so, as I’ll be posting a review of their upcoming show in New Hope and an interview I did with the band a few months ago.

11. Best New Original Band: Stockton Bridge is my favorite new band this year. They are actually all the members of Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute. I was blown away when I received the CD in the mail. Every song was just super. You can go to their Face Book page and click on “Music Store” to hear them: https://www.facebook.com/stocktonbridgeband?ref=stream&filter=2

12. Best Song and Video: “Johnny Sincere” by The Deadbeat Poets. Wow, just wow! It’s that kind of song you can’t listen to just once. And it’s done so well too. I love everything about it.

13. Best Event: “Resintopia” I had the best time at plastic model kit and expo “Resintopia” this year, I’ve already penned in the date for next year! Check out my interview with founder/CEO Vincent Bordogna: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/interview-vincent-bordogna-ceofounder-of-resintopia/

HONORABLE MENTION: Charlie Askew for giving it his best shot on “American Idol.” I loved Charlie and really wanted him to win.

RIP

Way too many losses this year, the public said good-bye to: Chrissie Amphlett, Ray Manzarek, Lou Reed and Senator Frank Lautenberg to name a few of my personal favorites.

And my personal losses were way too much to bear: My beloved Billy Cat, Joan Finn (my mentor and Montclair Times entertainment editor), my spiritual mentor Bayani Mendoza DeLeon (also famous musician in Philippines ), Uncle Bert and Uncle Tony.

Billy in the SkyBilly Cat, RIP