This year, there were many local bands that played outstanding shows. We can't name them all, but we thank them nonetheless for their contributions to the local scene. Here are some of the favorites from 2006.
Those lucky enough to have heard Amy Speace live at the Art & Music festival this past spring, surely appreciated her honey-smooth voice paired with her foot-stomping, guitar driven songs. Speace & the Tearjerks are seasoned musicians who know how to improvise at a show.
Jersey City girl Speace recently released an album, "Songs for Bright Street," which received fantastic reviews (including from this reporter.) But don't take our word for it; listen for yourself!
There are very few musicians who get restless after they have been signed by a major record label, yet Val Emmich follows his own lead. This talented songwriter broke away from the label to create his own vision. He released his latest album "Sunlight Searchparty," which is a varied rock album that displays all his passion. This fall Emmich returned to his roots by playing locally at the legendary Maxwell's.
The band formerly known as eugene (Jamie and Dom Della Fave, and Ed Smith) transformed themselves into The Fave this year with the addition of Fran Azzarto (formerly of Skanatra). Azzarto brings a new intensity to the band as their new drummer. The foursome has a huge local draw, built from the ground up. They are united in performing original rock that is different from the mass-marketed songs that are played on most radio stations. The Fave are planning on releasing their first studio CD early next year.
Another band that has a local fan base is the Hoboken based band Full Out Freak (bassist Eric Berkowitz, lead singer/guitarist Joey Aparicio, and drummer Justin Neighbour).
This original rock band plays catchy songs, a few of which were featured on compilation albums with Bon Jovi, whom they also happened to open for at Continental Arena. Their latest single "Loser Anyway" has gotten plenty of play on internet radio.
At live shows, they are pure energy and fun. Yet they are nothing but serious about their original music. The band plans to release 15 new songs for a new full-length CD, but they won't finish it until it meets their high standards. Fans can see them live at Maxwell's.
Although not strictly new, BuzzUniverse has brought a new sound to the original music scene. These guys blend genres as often as they change instruments. Their latest album birdfishtree is a giddy blend of Latin, jazz, and rock beats. These four (Alex Garay, Freddy Moises, Dave Migliore, and Greg McLoughlin) got their start in Hoboken, but have moved onto bigger venues and festivals.
Straight Dope Cherry is a self described "rock-roots" band that plays original, grooving songs. The guys are a working band, having just returned from a tour for their CD Bell Bottom Baby that hit major venues in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Colorado, St. Louis, and more. The four guys (Ronnie Grana, Craig Sorensen, Rick Ackerman, and Al Perdomo), work hard to stay focused and deliver music that is fresh. For 2007, fans can expect a new CD and a new band member as they are expanding the group.
Grammy nominated Spyro Gyra was in Hoboken last week to record their new CD. The guys were recording their new album, which will be released early next year, at the HarariVille recording studio in Weehawken. This jazz band has received national recognition and many nominations over the years, and this year they have been nominated for "Best Pop Instrumental."
The band includes Hoboken resident Julio Fernandez plus: Jay Beckenstein, Tom Schuman, Scott Ambush, and Bonnie B. Although Spyro Gyra isn't scheduled to play in Hoboken soon, guitarist Fernandez has played concerts in Hoboken.