Around 8:30 p.m. on June 16, the band supporting Remember Jones (Anthony D’Amato) began to take the stage at House of Independents in Asbury Park, amid an air of excitement. The five musicians took their positions, making sure beers were strategically placed near music stands for the night ahead. They were quickly followed by the smiling backing singers, murmuring happily about what they knew was to come. And then the ringmaster himself, in a bright red jacket and red Converse shoes, strode across the stage and greeted us with an unexpected burst of passionate harmonica that was the fuse that lit the crowd on fire
And so began a show, “Asbury Park Celebrates Alanis Morissette,” that not only took us through Morissette’s 1995 Jagged Little Pill album in the order that we know, but also grabbed us and did not let us go.
First, Remember Jones (RJ) treated us to his rendition of “All I Really Want,” to thunderous applause. Then, suddenly, the stage appeared to be overflowing with women: I counted 12, including the two backing singers from earlier. They were everywhere, and they all launched into a powerful version of “You Oughta Know” – one of the most exciting performances of the evening for the capacity crowd of all ages.
As the women left the stage, RJ described them as some of “the most authentic individuals I know,” singling out in particular Ashley Markowitz and Kayla Dillon — who contributed all of the backing vocals for the evening as well as solo performances.
Following a nice rendition of “Perfect” by Bri LoBue, RJ returned to the stage (accompanied by Lindsey DeSena on harmonica) with a rousing version of “Hand in My Pocket,” one of the biggest highlights of the night.
Bre Cade of the Remember Jones Band brought a country/roots feel to her performance of “Right Through You” that really resonated with the crowd, followed by a full-on version of “Forgiven” performed by DeSena, accompanied by the amazing Taylor Hope on violin.
Jamie Coppa did a great version of “You Learn” with the crowd singing every word back to her, while Tara Elliott (with DeSena on harmonica) absolutely nailed her version of my favorite Alanis song, “Head Over Feet.” Simply unforgettable!
Then the tornado that is Reagan Richards (of Williams Honor) took the stage for “Mary Jane,” which had the crowd chanting along with her all the way. At this point, RJ introduced us to the musical director for the show — and as he said, ‘’the chill to my stress” — Roshane Karunaratne, who took a well-deserved bow from his position overseeing all at center stage.
Next up, “Ironic” was delivered with a one-two (and maybe a three-four) punch by the talented Brielle Von Hugel, also a member of the Remember Jones band. Then Markowitz stepped out of the background and into the spotlight to bring her beautiful voice to a superb rendition of “Not the Doctor.”
The band gave rousing support to one of the most popular performers of the night with the crowd, Jennifer Lampert, as she launched into “Wake Up.” Another highlight was a tender performance of “Your House” by Dillon. This would have been an exceptional experience if not for the group of screaming fans beside us yelling out the words off key. But even with one ear blocked, she sounded fantastic!
Then we were told that a couple of other Alanis songs, beyond those from Jagged Little Pill, had been added to the show. “That I Would Be Good” was performed by Cat London with Hope returning on violin followed by “Hands Clean” by Tara Dente. Before enthralling the crowd yet again with a great singalong version of “Thank U” (his favorite Alanis song), RJ explained to us what may have been the driving force behind his work for this show. “Alanis changed my life!” he said, before complimenting “her musicality and intuition in her voice and her songwriting.”
At the end of a riveting 90 minutes, the show closed with a menacing take on “Uninvited” by Richards, featuring Hope on violin as well as an outstanding performance by the entire band – especially the drummer, Juice, who left everything on the floor at the close of the show!
Overall, I thought it was a great event — the right venue, the right length, the right songs and the right performers — with some unforgettable moments throughout the night. The profound connection that RJ had with the crowd, as well as with each of the artists who took the stage — he praised them all, hugged them all — was particularly admirable and he made all of us feel a little better as the night went on.
It was heartening to see this young talented performer create a showcase for the wealth of local female local talent that is not often seen on many of the showcase events in our area. This type of show also allows us to discover artists we may not previously have known — an added benefit to this format for those of us who are always in pursuit of new music.
My only criticism may be a function of standing too close to the stage: It was often difficult to hear the women’s vocals over the band, especially during the louder songs. However, for those devoted Alanis fans in the audience, this was probably a non-issue, since they sang along to almost every song.
I was really impressed at the end, when RJ told the crowd to hang around so he and the other performers could come out and chat with us. And chat he did, with all those who wanted to talk, for however long they wanted to talk. Even later, as we drove away into the night, he was still outside the venue, smiling, chatting and taking pictures — a true class act!
The word on the street is that this show was the first in a series of Asbury Park showcases conceived by Remember Jones and The House of Independents. And I really can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
In the meantime, Remember Jones’ EP Release Show (for Tranquilizer!) at the Asbury Hotel rooftop on July 4 is sold out, but they have now added another show on July 3. Visit theasburyhotel.com.
The Remember Jones Band is: Remember Jones (lead vocals, harmonica), Gen. Roshane Karunaratne (music director, keyboards, bass), Matthew Thomas Hess (guitar), Zac Silva (guitar), Juice (drums), Mark Masefield (keyboards, guitar).
Here is the show’s setlist:
“All I Really Want,” Remember Jones
“You Oughta Know,” Ensemble
“Perfect,” Bri LoBue
“Hand in My Pocket,” Remember Jones (*)
“Right Through You,” Bre Cade
“Forgiven,” Lindsey DeSena (**)
“You Learn,” Jamie Coppa
“Head Over Feet,” Tara Elliott (*)
“Mary Jane,” Reagan Richards
“Ironic,” Brielle Von Hugel
“Not the Doctor,” Ashley Markowitz
“Wake Up,” Jennifer Lampert
“Your House,” Kayla Dillon
“That I Would Be Good,” Cat London (**)
“Hands Clean,” Tara Dente
“Thank U,” Remember Jones
“Uninvited,” Reagan Richards (**)
* Lindsey DeSena on Harmonica
** Taylor Hope on Violin