Recent Posts

TV documentary explores arts’ role in Trenton redevelopment

“You want to change things, you have to support the arts,” says Will Kasso in tonight’s installment of the PBS series, “Driving Jersey.” “You have to infuse that. You have to give people a basis of culture. Without that, you have nothing.” Kasso is the creative director of Trenton’s Sage Coalition, devoted to inner-city beautification projects, and he’s interviewed under a mural of Mahatma Gandhi that he painted himself. In “Driving Jersey,” now in its fourth season, director Steve Rogers drives around the state, exploring various topics, and in this episode, subtitled “I See A Blank Canvas,” he looks the redevelopment efforts in Old Trenton neighborhood of state capital, and spends a fair amount of time focusing on the way arts are being used to make the city better. Continue Reading →

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‘Welcome to Paradise,’ Green Day at City Gardens

In honor of Green Day, which was named today as a 2015 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’m taking today’s installment of the 350 Jersey Songs project from the band’s March 1994 concert at City Gardens in Trenton — an important stop for many punk and indie bands, both from Jersey and beyond, in the 1980s and early 1990s. Check out a clip of them performing “Welcome to Paradise,” sometimes obscured by crowd-surfers, below. The year 1994 was the turning point for Green Day. They released their breakthrough album, Dookie (which contains “Welcome to Paradise”), got lots of airplay on MTV, and performed on the Lollapalooza tour and at the Woodstock ’94 concert. With their riotous stage show, short, catchy punk-rock songs and overall air of youthful insolence, they didn’t really seem built to last; few would have predicted at the time that they would one day be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Continue Reading →

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‘Ballet Mecanique, Part 1,’ George Antheil

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed “McKonkey’s Ferry,” by Trenton native George Antheil, at its season-opening concerts this weekend. Antheil’s masterpiece, though, was his 1924 composition, “Ballet Mécanique.” It’s not really a song, but I still think it deserves to be included in the 350 Jersey Songs series, since it’s such a remarkable work, looking forward to the hypnotic repetitions work of Philip Glass, the harsh complexities of Frank Zappa, the manic surges of Raymond Scott, and even the machine-like effects of industrial rock. Antheil wrote it for 16 player pianos, accompanied by two grand pianos (played by actual musicians), three xylophones, four bass drums, a gong, three airplane propellers, seven electric bells and a siren. “All efficiency. No LOVE,” he once wrote. Continue Reading →

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Authors keep memories of the great Trenton nightclub City Gardens alive

It was grungy before grungy was fashionable. City Garden was a no-frills, no-nonsense, decidedly non-glamorous Trenton nightclub of the ’80s and early ’90s. Decorations were few, and fights were frequent. Over the years, the clubs hosted countless alt-rock and punk-rock shows — bands such as Nirvana, the Ramones, Green Day, Yo La Tengo, R.E.M., Black Flag and Jane’s Addiction all made stops there, in many cases before they began to attract mainstream attention — and Jon Stewart has often talked about his days as a City Gardens bartender. Defunct nightclubs tend to be forgotten, but Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steve DiLodovico are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. Continue Reading →

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