When David Calamoneri yelled from the stage, “Hey, Hoboken!” the crowd erupted, several dozen fans screaming back at the top of their lungs. If not for the small blue sign on the back of the stage that said, “The Saint, Asbury Park,” you would have thought you were in the heart of the Mile Square City.
While not nearly as famous as The Stone Pony, The Saint has become a gateway establishment for emerging talent – sometimes offering each week a musical sampler that includes a wide variety of acts – from hard core head-banging metal to folk rock.
Scott Stamper, owner of The Saint, has made it his mission to present and preserve live music in Asbury Park.
But on this Saturday night in late August, it was nearly all Hoboken, as two well-established Hoboken bands came south to play.
“There aren’t as many places in Hoboken for live music anymore.” – David Calamoneri
“I was born and raised in Monmouth County,” Calamoneri said. “Before I lived in Hoboken I lived in Ocean Grove, the town just south of Asbury Park. I still have a lot of friends and family that live in the area and have been wanting to play it (The Saint) for a while now. It took The Fave and Scott at the Saint to finally make it happen.”
This was Davey & the Trainwrecks first appearance at The Saint.
“I played solo acoustic there years ago,” Calamoneri said. “The shortage of local venues for original music sucks. In Hoboken, it especially hurts. I’ve lived over Maxwell’s since 1998. The Trainwrecks still has had some really great nights playing Northern Soul, the Kolo Club at the Pilsner Haus, the Elks, as well as City Park and festival gigs, but yeah, there aren’t as many places in town for live music anymore – definitely less than 1998. Some places like Finnegan’s are trying to fill the void a bit, so there still is some hope. Jersey City has a bunch of music going on. A lot of the venues seem to be bands playing on the floor in the corner of the bar or restaurant, but there’s a real creative buzz in that community. Look at what they do at the Grove Street PATH. Very cool. I don’t know about the rule changes, but allowing local pubs to have live music sound good to me.”
The Fave has been there before
Despite roots in Hoboken, The Fave is no stranger to The Saint.
“We have played The Saint a bunch of times over the years but we haven’t been back as a full band in a while,” Dominick Della Fave said. “Jaime and I played an acoustic set there recently. It is one of our ‘fave’ places to play. The sound on stage and in the room is great and the vibe at the club is pure rock n’ roll. Scott is very supportive of original music and has been great to us since we first played there. We were even nominated as the best pop rock band in the Asbury Music Awards for two years.”
While Fave said the band has tried to spread out from home, the lack of local venues for bands playing original music has required them to play outside of Hoboken.
“We’re very hopeful that Jersey City will start to generate adequate rooms for full electric original bands,” he said. “We have been part of the Hoboken music scene for over a decade. The venues have evaporated. Northern Soul is just about the only place that does original music regularly with an open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Thursday and Saturdays. Dave from our band runs the music there but it isn’t optimal for louder bands.”
Music from an era
The two bands brought their own interpretations of classic rock to The Saint that night. These are not cover or tribute bands, but each embodies music from that era from Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers to The Beatles and The Police. Both bands also embodied a bit of the Hoboken sound from when Hoboken rivaled Asbury Park as a music scene.
The Fave has been a mainstay of Hoboken music for well-over a decade with Jamie and Dominic creating harmonies that provide the band with a very polished sound and along with guitarist Dave Entwhistle, bass player Jack Breslin and drummer Mike Mitolo, the band also has an edge.
The band has played in a number of venues in Hoboken such as the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival. They also played Maxwell’s, Shannon Lounge, Love’s Sexy, and in Hoboken’s declining music years, talked themselves into venues that normally wouldn’t accommodate bands like theirs.
They have very high energy music, but can go from electric to acoustic in a heartbeat. But at The Saint they were all high energy.
Davey and the Trainwrecks feature Dave on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Bill Hamilton on lead guitar, James “The Reverend” Dillman on bass, and Tommy Costagaliola on drums. They blend folk, blues, country and funk.
“Davey & the Trainwrecks has only been together for five years, but me playing my music live goes at least five years prior to that,” Calamoneri said. “The biggest change, though I don’t think it or anything really is permanent, is organ, or lack thereof. Jeremy Beck is a great organist/keys player. He played with the Trainwrecks in the beginning and on our record ‘Last Stop Hoboken’ but the schedules just didn’t jibe enough. The organ added a different dimension that I do miss sometimes.”
It is not unusual for these bands to play together and they have done so a number of times back in Hoboken.
But it’s tough for any band playing original material to find venues and why places like The Saint are so valuable to them.
The Saint has been around for more than a decade and has a reputation for providing quality music not just from Hoboken but local and national acts, and most Saturday nights the place provides a range of talent.
“We often preset two or three local acts each night in support of the touring road shows,” said Stamper.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.