How committed is Remember Jones to his art? Well, he had his hair shaved so that it showed the word “Amy” on both the right and the left side of his head for his Friday night concert at House of Independents in Asbury Park, where he performed the late Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album in its entirety.
The show, which was part of the Light of Day Festival, drew a capacity crowd, and Remember Jones (the stage name of Anthony D’Amato) performed with the fierce passion that is his trademark.
He was backed by a 20-piece band, including horns, strings, flute, vibes and six backing vocalists. Its versatility came in handy not only because Back to Black is a sonically diverse album, ranging from the punchy R&B of “Rehab” to the dreamy pop of “Just Friends,” but also because the show included Winehouse B-sides such as the Sam Cooke ballad “Cupid” and the Toots & the Maytals ska raveup “Monkey Man,” as well as Lauryn Hill’s neo-soul/hip-hop hit “Doo-Wop (That Thing),” which Winehouse used to perform live. Backing vocalist Brielle Von Hugel took over for “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” and Emily Grove and Bre Cade shared lead vocals with Jones on “Hey, Little Rich Girl.”
The show ended with a left-field cover that happens to be in Remember Jones’ repertoire but doesn’t really have anything to do with Winehouse, Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet With Butterfly Wings.”
Remember Jones has carved out a niche for himself as New Jersey’s most ambitious song interpreter. In addition to this Back to Black show, which he has presented before, he mounted a show devoted to Joe Cocker & Friends’ classic Mad Dogs and Englishmen double album this summer. And he announced from the stage on Friday that he will be back at House of Independents July 1 and 2, to perform Jeff Buckley’s Grace in its entirety.
He also said he is putting together a tour for the Back to Black show, mentioned the samba show he is presenting Saturday night at Ocean County College in Toms River, and said he’s planning to record a live album at the Strand Theater in Lakewood, where he is the producing artistic director.
He’s clearly a busy guy, and it was good of him to donate his services to the Light of Day Festival (which raises money for Parkinson’s disease research). The festival has always been dominated by classic-rock and earnest singer-songwriters, but the hard-driving theatricality of Remember Jones adds a different and refreshing quality to it.
For information about other Light of Day shows, visit lightofday.org.
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