It’s Almost September!

A funny thing happened on the way to this post…I actually found it in the draft pile called “It’s almost July!”  The dates may be in the past, but the links all still work!  Rather than delete it and start over, I’ve left it as is.  Below is the original post as it was saved back in June.  Boy, how time flies!

NSNJ Stuff
It’s hard to believe that June is almost over.  This means that July is here, bringing with it Independence Day, fireworks, parades, and backyard parties.  It’s a great time of year even though it always seems to go by just in a flash.  There are a ton of fun things happening around the state this coming weekend to celebrate the 4th of July.  You can visit our calendar at Notes on the State of New Jersey to see some of the events.

The website is coming along nicely.  We’ve got a few new contributors on board, and everyone is working on some pretty fabulous stuff.  This week, Misty Layne shared her  first experience with the Jersey shore and Cristina Fowler shared her own memories of visiting the shore when she was a kid. There is a new archive page for all the articles published, and the articles now feature pictures – so be sure to check out some of the updates we’ve made.

Also, there’s a form now for anyone interested in advertising information.  If you know of a business or service that wants to advertise to a NJ audience, make sure to have them fill out the form!

Catching Up – new Clash of Influence CD
A while back, I had the pleasure of meeting a New Jersey band, Clash of Influence.  These guys have come a long way since those first shows I saw and my interview with them.  In fact, they recently released a new CD called Clash of Influence.  When I got my copy, the songs went immediately into my iTunes account so I could listen to the recordings that sound so much like the band’s awesome, live performances.

The Jersey Girl

New Jersey Musicians Support the Wildlife of the Gulf Coast

The organizer of the event, Billy Hoffman, and I take a quick break for a picture. (photo courtesy of Billy Hoffman)

Having a good time while you’re supporting a good cause is pretty much the best kind of win-win situation there is.  And that’s exactly what occurred this summer at Buddies Tavern in Sayreville, NJ on August 7th.  Bands from all around New Jersey came out to perform in a special show to benefit the National Wildlife Federation and their efforts in helping the wildlife of the Gulf Coast after the oil spill.  A large and enthusiastic crowd came out to show their support as well.  (And I had the special honor of emceeing the event!)

Chelsea Gohd on her ukulele. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

Chelsea Gohd
Opening the show was South Brunswick, NJ resident and recent high school graduate, Chelsea Gohd.  The only ukulele player of the night (and probably the first I’ve ever seen perform live), Gohd was whimsical and fun and set the tone for the evening.  When asked about why she plays the ukulele, she said, “I’ve been singing all my life, and started guitar at around 12 or 13.  A couple of years ago I asked for a ukulele for the holidays, and picked it up and completely love it!”

Gohd is starting at Rutgers University this fall to major in environmental science and is a vegetarian and animal lover, so the show benefiting the National Wildlife Federation was a good fit for her.  Of the work that the National Wildlife Federation does, and is doing for the animals of the Gulf Coast, she says, “I’m glad they’re there to help!”

Rene Avila and Jay Renda from Clash of Influence. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

Rene Avila
Having played music most of his life and been in many bands through the years, Rene Avila has recently become a solo, acoustic act.  He plays gigs and open mics in New Jersey and New York, and is looking to put a band together for his original, hard rock songs.

“I found out about the benefit through my girlfriend,” Avila says.  When he learned that the show would benefit the National Wildlife Federation, he immediately wanted to do what he could to help out.

Don Guerrazzi and The Greater Kudu
Already booked for another gig earlier in the day, Don Guerrazzi couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the stage with other dedicated musicians helping out the National Wildlife Federation.  Guerrazzi says, “I was really excited we were asked to be a part of the show – we knew it was going to be a long day but what a better way to close out the night than playing music, meeting new people and raising money for a great cause.”

Guerrazzi even added a verse to his cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” to pay special tribute to the night’s cause: “Kudu makes a habit living up to the hype / And every chance we get – We support the Wildlife / ‘Cause it’s a Wild Life / And it’s a Wild World / I see some Wild Girls / I like your Style Girls…”

Don Guerrazzi and The Greater Kudu. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

The Greater Kudu’s collective focus is currently about gaining exposure and growing as musicians and as a band. They are always on the lookout for new venues and this was the first time they performed at Buddies Tavern.  “From that show,” Guerrazzi says, “we have booked two additional shows and have made some great relationships with fellow musicians.”

Clash of influence
Headlining the benefit show was Clash of Influence.   Guitarist, Billy Hoffman, felt that, “This is one of the worst environmental disaster our country has ever seen, and it seems that nobody from our government, corporate America, or our sports & entertainment superstars are doing anything to help.  We are the first nation to rush to the aid of other countries, yet we basically ignore the needs of our own, I wanted to show that it is the common man and woman who can really make a difference in this world.”

The oil spill devastation is vast, but Hoffman and Clash of Influence wanted to specifically help the wildlife of the area.  “I think we all felt that The National Wildlife Federation was the best choice to receive the donation because we wanted to be sure the money was used to help benefit the animals and environment, and they are a very reputable organization. We all feel bad for the people that have been affected by the oil spill, but ultimately it is the animals and environment that have suffered the worst from this disaster.”

Clash of Influence rocking out at Buddies Tavern. (photo by Christina Rudczynksi)

Clash of Influence has performed at Buddies Tavern in the past and felt that it was a logical venue for the benefit.  Buddies owner, Mike Grau supported the event wholeheartedly and donated 10% of sales that night to the National Wildlife Federation.

Perfect Crime and Slightly Used also performed and entertained the crowd.  The successful show was the result of a lot of hard work and the collaboration of donors and supporters including:  Mike Grau, Amanda Theurich, Lisa Sciblia, Michelle Cutler, Alicia Van Sant & Brian Ostering – from The Wag, The Village Barber Shop, Nick Borzone and Lola’s Latin Bistro, Andrea Di Meglio and Luca’s Ristorante (Somerset), Kristen Lafrank, Amanda Donnelly, Colby Krolak, Joe Butler, Liz Balogh, and Maria Cavalari and The Racing Form.

Hoffman says, “I am thankful to everyone who help make this a success…the performers, the donors, the volunteers who helped with the preparation and running of the show and the people who came out to support us and gave at the door. It was a true group effort and I think we all really accomplished something amazing.”

The benefit raised over $1,000 dollars for the National Wildlife Federation.  If you weren’t able to attend the benefit show, you can still support the National Wildlife Federation by clicking this link and making a donation!

Me, surrounded by the handsome guys of The Greater Kudu. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

The Jersey Girl

Find out more about these bands here:
Rene Avila on MySpace

Don Guerrazzi (Official Website)

Don Guerrazzi (facebook Page)

Clash of Influence (Official Website)

Clash of Influence (facebook Page)

Perfect Crime (facebook Page)

Slightly Used (facebook Page)

National Wildlife Federation

Benefit Show for the National Wildlife Federation at Buddies Tavern, Sayreville, NJ

this photo of a pelican being released is from

Saturday, August 7th, from 6:00pm to 12:00am bands from around New Jersey will be coming together to put on a special benefit show to support the efforts of the National Wildlife Federation as they help animals that have been affected by the oil spill in the Gulf.

The event is being organized by the members of the band, Clash of Influence.  Clash of Influence wanted to give people of New Jersey an opportunity to help alleviate some of the destruction and devastation that has occurred in the Gulf due to the oil spill.  They extended the opportunity to other bands from New Jersey and the response has been remarkable.

cover art from Clash of Influence's first album

Many well-known, local bands are donating their time to perform.  There will be performances by Clash Of Influence, Perfect Crime, Rene Avila, Don Guerrazzi and The Greater Kudu, Slightly Used, Those Mockingbirds, and other special guests.

singer-songwriter, Don Guerrazzi

In addition to great music, there will be many donated items up for auction.  Some of the items include apparel from The Racing Form and artwork from Kristen Lanfrank, Amanda Donnelly, and Colby Krolak.

Live music will begin at 6:00pm.  A suggested donation of $5 will be collected at the door. 100% of the evening’s proceeds will go to The National Wildlife Federation, to help their efforts with the animals affected by the oil spill disaster in the Gulf.

Those Mockingbirds

I am really looking forward to this show and hope to see you there.  For anyone who can’t make the show, please know you can still help the National Wildlife Federation by making a donation on their website through this link.

The Jersey Girl

Saturday, August 7th from 6:00pm to 12:00am
Buddies Tavern
277 Johnsons Lane, Sayreville, NJ 08859

Clash of Influence ~ Fresh, Organic Garden State Talent

New Jersey based, Clash of Influence (photo by George McBride)

“Organic” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you encounter Clash of Influence, but after seeing them perform live at the Stone Pony, watching a rehearsal session, and talking closely with some of the band members, I realized that it is the best word to describe them.

The Beginning
When the summer of 2004 began, two guys from Milltown, NJ sat by a backyard pool and played their guitars. With a shared love for music (and quite frankly, nothing better to do on a lazy summer day), Jay Renda and Pete Brucato embarked upon a musical endeavor that would lead to what we now know as Clash of Influence.

Renda, who had always dreamed of starting a band, was encouraged by the positive responses he and Brucato received from friends and family for playing cover songs.  The two long-time friends quickly got more serious about their music; they practiced, wrote their own songs, and through mutual friends, found Chris Dundon to sing with them.  Once Dundon and a fourth member were on board, they started to write more original music and book shows.  Renda’s dream of being in a band was becoming a reality.

Jay Renda, of Clash of Influence, warming up before headlining at the Stone Pony (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

At this time they were called The Other Path, and their sound was primarily acoustic.  Renda and Dundon found that they were a good songwriting team; Renda wrote the music and Dundon wrote the lyrics.  Things were starting to fall into place, and though Brucato made a decision to leave the band in 2006, Renda and Dundon were still interested in seeing where the music would take them.  They found new members and with each addition, the band’s acoustic sound gave way to punk, metal, and classic rock influences.  Renda felt that the group’s “melting pot” of interests and styles was at the essence of who they had become and decided to rename the band Clash of Influence.

On stage at the Stone Pony with Clash of Influence (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

The Present
Today, Clash of Influence is: Chris Dundon – vocals, Jay Renda – guitars, Billy Hoffman – guitars, Aaron Fried – bass, and Jeff Trenholm – drums.  They have daytime gigs that include bartending, landscaping, and being a stay-at-home dad, but it’s their love for music that connects them.  “We get together on the weekends so we can have some fun,”  Renda explains.  “We all love doing this.  Being in the band gives us a chance to do what we love.”

During a rehearsal session at Frankensound Recording and Rehearsal Studio in North Brunswick, NJ, it was clear how much the guys in Clash of Influence love what they do.  They energetically played new material, challenged each other to remember how to play old TV theme songs, and sang covers of some of their own personal favorite songs.  The veteran members supported drummer, and newest addition, Jeff Trenholm, as he became more familiar with the songs in the band’s catalog.  Laughter filled the rehearsal space just as much as music did, and when their four hours of rehearsal time was up, it was evident that the band would have been happy to stay there to rehearse together for at least another four hours.

Clash of Influence, rehearsing at Frankensound

The Future
Currently working on a dozen new songs and preparing to record a new album, Clash of Influence is still gaining momentum.  Some of the new songs they’re testing out will take the band back to their acoustic roots and they may eventually try to incorporate more acoustic moments into their live shows.  They recently headlined at the musically historic Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ and have been invited to play there again this summer on July 6th.  On playing at the Stone Pony, Dundon said, “It’s kind of the pinnacle when you’re playing in Jersey.  I felt humbled because Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi played there.”  The Stone Pony show and other summer dates are posted on the Clash of Influence website.

With Clash of Influence, a genuine love for music and performing supersedes the idea of stardom.  Dundon explains that with the way the music industry is changing, there are many ways for an unsigned band to share their music these days.  This grassroots method of sharing music gives the band the freedom to stay true to who they are musically while, as Dundon puts it, ” We get out there and hustle.”  Even though no one in the band is pushing for it to become full-time, they are, however, sincerely open to the idea.  With a big grin on his face and a bright gleam in his eye, Renda says, “We’re willing to see what happens, and go along for the ride.”

Clash of Influence is the real deal, the genuine result of five talented musicians getting together, believing in what they do and doing what they love, or in another word: organic.

The Jersey Girl

Related links:
Visit the Clash of Influence website for links to iTunes, their facebook page, and other ways to listen to their music and keep informed of upcoming shows.
For booking information, email