Dean Friedman is yet another example of the depth of New Jersey’s talent pool. This native son of Paramus has eight albums, more than four decades of experience, multiple hits (most notably “Ariel,” in 1977) and a zest for making music that many of today’s artists lack.
March 29, Friedman will return to the state, performing at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park. Although for many others the allure of the Jersey Shore is strong, Friedman has not made the area a mainstay of his tours.
“This will be my second time there,” he said. “I had done a Light of Day concert a few years back for Bob Benjamin, who I’ve known since his Crazy Eddie days, and I shared the stage with Pat Guadagno. Pat suggested that we book in Asbury Park again because he knew that I have a loyal New Jersey following. I mostly tour in the U.K., not so much in my own country, so I jumped at the invitation and we did a gig last year together and it went really well. He’ll be out of town for this gig but I’m going to be doing it solo, and I’m looking forward to it.”
A current New York State resident, Friedman has bumped around between northern New Jersey and parts of New York City before settling down, “Deep in the heart of suburbia.”
“I grew up in Paramus, N.J., and when I was 15 I moved to the Bronx and started going to City College, and from the Bronx I lived in Manhattan for about six years, and then right before our kids were born I moved up here, about 33 years ago.”
He rarely performs in the United States, not necessarily by choice but because he feels his strength lies in the overseas markets.
“Most of my touring happens in the United Kingdom and Ireland,” he said, sounding somewhat perplexed himself. “So in a way, these are kind of warm-up dates, but they’re close to my heart because they’re in my own backyard. I’ve sold as many records in the United States as I have in the U.K. and Ireland, but for whatever reason I have a higher media profile across the pond, so the bulk of my touring is overseas.”
Why does he think some artists have more success overseas?
“Well, there are a lot of theories about it,” he said. “I think part of it is cost of entry, based on scale. If I want to take out a national ad to promote a tour, as I’m doing this and every year, it costs me about a thousand pounds to take out an ad in the U.K. and I can reach a national audience with that one ad. To do the same thing in The United States, it’ll cost me 10 times that much money. To take out a national ad in The New York Times or USA Today or a magazine is 10 times the amount to advertise.
“Another factor is the cost and logistics of touring. I can hire a car for eight weeks and pretty much tour every major and most of the medium-sized cities in the United Kingdom and Ireland in a car, by myself, without stepping on a plane except to cross the Atlantic Ocean. To do a similar kind of tour in The United States and to just hit major cities, you have to spend a lot of time in airports. So there again, the expense of touring in the States … even though some things are higher in London … the logistics of promoting and executing a national tour are exponentially more difficult in The United States.
“I can’t say why that is exactly, but that’s a factor for someone in my situation. Unless you have ready access to the national media, which can absorb a lot of those costs. Also for me, the difference is that I have more hit records in England and Ireland. I’m just better known there: more name recognition, more access to national media, press, print, radio and TV.”
Friedman also feels that his strength as a lyricist helps his cause, especially on the Emerald Isle.
“On one hand, audiences are the same anywhere. They’re appreciative of a performer working hard trying to entertain them. I would say that Ireland, in particular, is a country that really values writing. You walk into any pub in Ireland and there’s not so much sports memorabilia on the walls but there are quotes from famous poets and novelists. They have a real heartfelt appreciation for lyrics and to turn a phrase, and so I always feel especially embraced when I go to their country. Plus they’re just a bunch of friendly folks.”
Other than March 23 in Peekskill, N.Y., the Asbury Park show is it before he heads overseas to start the first part of his tour.
At the shows, he said, “I plan on doing a mix of old and new and familiar radio hits, a lot of which people don’t even realize that they know until they hear it and say, ‘Oh hey, I know that tune (laughs),’ and some fan favorites from over four decades of performing and recording from my eight studio albums. I’ll do new stuff from my most recent album, 12 Songs, and stuff from when I started out as an innocent naive teenager writing songs and playing coffee houses in Paramus, N.J.”
Yes, you heard that right, a new album — his first in seven years. As always with new releases, there is a degree of uncertainty. Friedman says that he’s quite happy with the way things are progressing with his latest effort.
“It’s been really well received. It’s satisfying because, typically, fans will always lean towards your early work, but I’ve had a lot of folks say that this is one of my best albums. So that’s gratifying to hear, because every time you go out and do a new project like that … over 40 years, you establish some kind of watermark in terms of what you’re trying to achieve, creatively. You try to equal your previous efforts if not surpass them. But yeah, there’s a lot of stuff on this new album that I’m real proud of.”
And that’s not all.
“I’m slowly gearing up to put together the pieces to work on a new album next year, or at least get started on one,” he said. “But as you know, that will be a massive effort, to find the time, space and means to do it.”
For more about Friedman, visit deanfriedman.com.