December 30, 2010 ~ free music from Vesta!

A little while ago I mentioned that I learned about a fun new band, Vesta, but didn’t tell you

The guys from Vesta

much else about them.  Well, I apologize for keeping you hanging!  They’re from the Pittsburg, PA area and are: Joshua Fiedler (Guitars, Pianos, Synths), Joshua Kosker (Guitars, Vocals), Chad Monticue (Bass, Vocals), and  Justin Niedzwecki (Drums, Percussion, Synths). Their music is moody – sometimes upbeat, and sometimes soothing, and sometimes laced with a gentle melancholy.  The diversity of the music makes listening to their entire album, 0.1 Daylights Coming, an extremely fun journey to take.

Though the band is not from Jersey, they do love playing shows here (of course!) and had a few things they wanted to share about their New Jersey experiences:

We can say there are a few things that we love about New Jersey.

We always thought it was cool, for one, that gas station attendants pump your gas for you. This comes in handy when you don’t want to get out of the van during cold days on tour. You also have Bruce Springsteen, but that’s just a no brainer.

We’ll forgive you guys for the Jersey Shore because The Sopranos is our all time favorite television series ever.  We always thought it would be cool to spend a day checking out all the locations that were used and showcased in the series. (I’ve already got my Bada Bing tour story that I tell like an old man to anyone that will listen, but it would be fun to be the geek super fan and take the tour.)

One of my all time favorite vacations a few years back was to Atlantic City. The private beaches were actually quite beautiful, the people were extremely cool and friendly and I never had more fun with my friends than I did that trip to Atlantic City.

And the biggest reason: New Jersey shows! In the past they always were a lot of fun. The audience always seemed to be really excited to hang out and actually get into the live show. That’s always a fun environment to play in and we can’t wait to come back early 2011!  – Josh Fiedler of Vesta

Can’t wait until they get to NJ to check out the band?  You can get a free copy of Vesta’s single, “She Said Fine” right here! (the free download is on the right)

See you at a Vesta show in New Jersey this spring!

The Jersey Girl

December 27, 2010 ~ Old Photos and New Music


Opening the backdoor in the morning to mounds of snow (even after clearing it away a few times through the night)!

With crazy winds whipping around the almost two feet of snow that came yesterday, here in Central New Jersey, I’ve been inside working on my genealogy project.  Boxes (and boxes and boxes) of old family photos and online research capabilities have been keeping me entertained and off the roads.  It’s fun to see how far back my family has been here in New Jersey; my Jersey roots run deep!


I’m not the only one who’s been busy…Those Mockingbirds of Montclair, NJ have been working on new music, planning new shows, and breaking in new band members.  They’ve been nice enough to send over a link to their newest single, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (follow the link, then right-click, and then press “save as”).   If you like what you hear (and I’m sure you will – it sounds really great live, too!), make sure to pass the link on to your friends and check out for information about upcoming live shows and links to their other amazing songs.

Stay warm!

The Jersey Girl

December 8, 2010

I’m really pleased with the responses I’ve received from writers and photographers interested in writing about our beloved state of New Jersey.  If you are interested in a writing or photography opportunity, and haven’t already sent me an email, please do!

The new website is coming along quite nicely and should be ready for visitors soon!

Though I’ve been absolutely up to my eyeballs in school work recently, I’ve also been lucky to come across some really awesome new music to keep me company while I work.  Gerry Perlinski, Those Mockingbirds, and Vesta all have new stuff in the works that you have to hear!  And I’ll share it here, soon…

The Jersey Girl

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

You have to begin somewhere…

It’s always interesting to me to learn what people think about my home state when I tell them I’m from New Jersey.  People from the eastern region of the U.S.  tend to think of us in terms of our dreary Turnpike (which, of course, we only use to get to get out of our dreadful state and go to New York) and will jokingly ask me, “What’s your exit?”  Or, I get comments like, “Isn’t that SUPPOSED to be the Garden State?  What happened to all the gardens?”  People who are not from the U. S., say Italy for example (I choose Italy as an example because that is actually where I am as I type this entry), know New Jersey (if at all) only because it is near New York and Philadelphia.  But as a state we are so much more than a Turnpike…with a stench…near two major cities.

We have character, and charm, a lot of history, and we actually do still have farmland in the Garden State.  We have a lot to offer anyone who would be lucky enough to come visit.  But, as a native Jersey Girl, I am sad to say I couldn’t begin to tell you the half of it.  I grew up in central New Jersey, have spent a lot of time down the shore, and worked in northern New Jersey for a while, but I know I’ve missed a lot of the unique sites and restaurants and other cultural aspects in the state because, like so many people, I live within my comfort zone and take a lot of what we have to offer for granted.

I have decided to explore my home state with new eyes and hopefully in the process, be able to defend its honor!  I am determined to uncover the rich culture and creativity within the state.  I’m hoping that I will discover treasures to share with all of you and eventually help my home state develop a more accurate reputation than the one it seems to have now.

Along my journey, if you have any suggestions for me as far as sites to see or restaurants to try, please email me or post them to this blog.

I’m looking forward to the challenge!

The Jersey Girl 🙂