Jersey Music and Down the Shore: Perfect Together

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Carousel at Wildwood. Credit: Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

As it is now Memorial Day Weekend and many of us head down the shore, we often can’t help but think of our youth. Our first car, driving down after prom, windows open, and music blasting.

We have great pride in this state; especially pride for our music. Whether you come from the era of Connie Francis (from my hometown of Belleville), The Four Seasons (from the city of my birth, Newark), Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, or The Boss, just like everything else, if you live in Jersey, you have strong opinions about our music.

There is a special sound that comes from Jersey music. As soon as you hear it, you know it is must be a Jersey Guy. But what makes that “Jersey Sound?”

One word: Calliope.

What? Let me explain.

When you go down the shore, you may not head to the rides like The Scrambler anymore, but we all look forward to a ride on the merry-go-round. No matter your age, we all turn into little kids when we head to that special ride that has been on the boardwalk for generations. That unique music mixed with pipe organ and bass drum is one of those happy memories we think about in January when the temperature is in the single digits and the snow is above your knee. While the correct name for the instrument that provides that music is the band organ, most people refer to it as the Calliope.

Now with that in mind, listen to the last minute of Springsteen’s Jungleland or the first 30 seconds of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, thanks to Roy Bittan. Hear that right hand? That’s the homage to that wonderfully unique sound of the calliope. Add to that Danny Federici’s organ, glockenspiel, and accordion playing, and you have what is known as “that Jersey Sound.”

You can hear this same sound when you listen to Love on the Wrong Side of Town by South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. By the way another Jersey favorite son, Jon Bon Jovi also gigged with the great Southside Johnny.

Many will argue that the prominent use of a horn section is a big part of what makes up that unique sound, and they would be correct. After all, what is The E Street Band without Clarence Clemons? And the use of trumpets hitting the high notes in Southside’s band is a mainstay of his band. But that piano and organ combo is what makes up that special sound.

So as the weather gets warm and we all head down the shore, windows down, wind in our hair, remembering our youth and blast our favorite Jersey music, you can thank the carousels of our childhood for that special music that sets us apart from the rest of the country.

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Happy 350th Anniversary New Jersey!

This year marks the 350th anniversary of New Jersey. From its important role in the Revolutionary War, to Thomas Edison’s many important discoveries, to the awesome voice of Frank Sinatra, New Jersey is way more than the butt-end of jokes by those who have no idea what a wonderful state it is!

The “official” New Jersey began as a gift from Charles II of England to his brother James, the Duke or York. James gave a piece of his gift to two noblemen, Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. The document that actually shows this transaction is now located at the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton.

When the English arrived in 1664, they found Native Americans, Swedish, and Dutch settlers already calling what would ultimately be New Jersey their home.

In 2014, three themes have been developed to help celebrate this special anniversary…

Innovation: The world has been reshaped again and again by people from and things created in New Jersey. From Edison’s light bulb, to the Atlantic City boardwalk, to the first intercollegiate football game, to Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, New Jersey’s innovations and innovators have had an impact around the globe.

Diversity: By virtue of its location and diversity, New Jersey is in many ways a microcosm of the U.S., with numerous national themes playing out within the state’s boundaries over the past 350 years.

Liberty: New Jersey played a pivotal role in the American Revolution, witnessing more significant military action than any other state in the new nation and establishing a tradition of distinguished military service that continues to this day. New Jersey’s commitment to the cause of liberty was further demonstrated when it became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights in 1789.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, I know I don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE my state! From fly fishing on the Flatbrook, to enjoying the beach at Wildwood, to a great Italian dinner at one of the awesome restaurants in Essex County, New Jersey has it all!

If you would like to learn more about the different events that are taking place around the state to celebrate this important milestone, check out the official anniversary site: officialnj350.com. I hope you will take some time this year and participate in one of the great events planned!