Last month, Glen Burtik received the Living Legend award at the Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony. And yesterday, he was back at the Pony with a new band. He’s not exactly resting on his legendary status, is he?
The band is The Weeklings, and they were previewing songs from their debut album, titled First Album, due out March 10. The shorthand description for the group is that they are a Beatles cover band, but that’s not totally accurate, because they also do originals in the style of the early Beatles. They did two at the Pony, “Little Tease” and “Mona Lisa,” and I have to confess I assumed they were really obscure Beatles songs before learning otherwise.
Like The Traveling Wilburys, the Weeklings have created pseudonyms for themselves: Burtnik, aka “Lefty Weekling,” is, basically, the Paul McCartney in the band, while Bob “Zeek Weekling” Burger is the John Lennon, John “Rocky Weekling” Merjave is the George Harrison, and Dave “Ramblin’ Dave Weekling” Anthony is the Ringo Starr. Some of the Beatles songs they did at the Pony are very well known (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “I Am the Walrus”), while some are a little less frequently heard (“Oh! Darling,” “It Won’t Be Long,” “I Want to Tell You”) and one (“Hold Me Tight”) ranks among the Beatles’ most obscure compositions.
There are a lot of Beatles bands out there already; does the world really need another one? I think it does, in the case of The Weeklings. First, obviously, the fact that they also do some original material sets them apart from virtually all the other Beatles bands out there. There are also more obscure Lennon-McCartney songs in their repertoire (“One and One Is Two,” “I’m in Love,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” “That Means a Lot,” “What Goes On”), so that’s a really unusual twist as well.
But perhaps more importantly, the vibe of the group, no matter what they’re doing, is very much in the stripped-down, charged-up mode of the very early Beatles. So even when they’re playing a later Beatles song such as “I Am the Walrus,” they are doing it as if the Beatles were still in Liverpool or Hamburg, playing in a small club. That’s one of The Weeklings’ many … uh, strengths. And the enthusiastic reaction the band got from the packed Pony crowd tells me they really are on to something.
Even though I saw this set at the Pony, I spent most of the night at Asbury Lanes, where Rich Russo, the DJ of the syndicated radio “Anything Anything,” hosted another Light of Day concert. (Full disclosure: I do a weekly minute-long spot on “Anything Anything,” previewing music and other arts events in the week ahead). “Anything Anything” is a free-form program, and the evening was extremely free-form itself. John Easdale — whose band, Dramarama, did the song from whose title “Anything Anything” takes its name — headlined with a set of raw, Stonesy rock ‘n’ roll. Wesley Stace, also known as John Wesley Harding, played his quirkier and more lyric-focused compositions, including the funny “Making Love to Bob Dylan,” a song about not being able to make love when Bob Dylan music is playing (sample line: “It’s partly his voice/It gives me no choice/but to focus on what he is saying”), and also dueted with surprise guest Nicole Atkins on the sublime Hollies ballad, “The Air That I Breathe.” Karen Mansfield played a classy set of country-flavored rock (including an intense cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”), and Lieder offered some explosive power-trio rock. And though I was only able to catch one song by Remember Jones, since I had to leave to go over to the Pony, it was quite a song: a cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ angsty “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” reinterpreted as hyperactive soul-funk.
Light of Day continues today, with its main concert at the Paramount Theatre, a gallery crawl in Asbury Park (with live music throughout the downtown area) and other events. Three “Songwriters by the Sea” show, a day of “Kids Rock” at the Stone Pony and more are on tomorrow’s schedule. For more information, click here.