Groove on Grove: Ben Franklin, Meet/Pause, Bad Parts
“So yea watch the cussin’, fellas.” I tell Scott, Sean, Keith and Graeme of Meet/Pause. It’s their first Groove on Grove, I figure I might as well get that out of the way.
“So, Zac, I’m gonna pull you on stage and you can talk about what you have going on and introduce the bands and stuff.” Dancing Tony Susco, who runs the Groove on Grove events, tells me. A small amount of fear washes over me, because I really hadn’t prepared for this moment. He let me book the bands and help promote the event so naturally he’d want me to come up and be the center of attention for a part of the evening. I just hadn’t prepared.
Eddie Garza of Ben Franklin appears, “We’ll probably steer clear of ‘Teamwork.'” He refers to a B-side off the band’s latest release, The Urgency EP, which has glaring use of the F-bomb. It’s a family oriented event so they geared their set toward not pissing off potential new fans and tainting young ears.
My head is still spinning with thoughts of my impending speech as The Bad Parts are rocking out. Ska infused rock, trombones and all, the Bad Parts are James Burns (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Garcia (Drums/backup vocals), Charles Potenza (Bass) John Sequiera (Trombone/backup vocals) Rob Miranda (Trumpet/backup vocals) and Daniel Palmer (Alto Sax). The kids on the grass mat were tearing it up. There was a little guy in the crowd wearing a “Nevermind the Bullocks” Sex Pistols shirt that was putting the groove in Groove on Grove.
The Bad Parts finish and Tony intros me to the crowd I say a few words about the Brick City Sound Riot and talk up Meet/Pause then they begin playing. Like a doctor after a shot, Tony could tell I was a little nervous, but my first appearance went well, “That wasn’t so bad.” He smiles and moves to the front to get the crowd stirred up.
Meet/Pause is from New Brunswick. I met them a few months back and thought they had something unique going on. It was apparent that I was spot on, because after their first song there was a crowd of toddlers with balloon swords having a massive Jedi battle as they played. Watching from Backstage with the other members of Ben Franklin, you could tell Meet/Pause was digging the scene as well. The played through their EP “Cluster Cascade“. and threw in a few older tunes as well. After their set they were all smiles, GonG has this really positive effect on how bands see Jersey City.
Tony motioned me back onstage, I was feeling a lot more confident now. We talked about the burgeoning music scene here, and about Uncle Joe’s and the void it left in said scene. Then he asked me about Ben Franklin. If we weren’t pressed for time I could have told the crowd about Ben Franklin for hours. I know almost as much about the band as I do the historical figure, perhaps more.
Billy Gray (guitar,vocals) Sarah Tomek (Drums), Eddie Garza (bass, vocals) and Adam Copeland (guitar) are damn near family. Heavily involved in the music scene incredibly supportive, not to mention talented (and hey let’s throw in good looking while we’re at it) Ben Franklin is almost more of a force majeure than a rock band. That said, the crowd went bonkers for them.
I confess I haven’t been to Groove on Grove since they changed the location of the stage. I have to say I really like it. More room for the food trucks and vendors, and this set up, I believe, sort of forces folks to see the bands. I turned to the crowd at one point and realized the crowd was one of the largest I’d seen for these events. A line of folks from the PATH station just standing there watching the band. They finished out the set with “Tell Us How You Really Feel”, a personal favorite of mine off their LP Optimist, which is free at bandcamp . Tony called for the all too obvious encore and they busted out with Fren Banklin, the band’s signature battle cry. It’s about the fictional, and sometimes science fictional, exploits of their namesake. Everyone got into it.
After the show, I hunkered down over a few beers with Billy. We talked about the show, about movies and comics. He confessed, “I forgot my entire verse in Fren Banklin was not even close to kid friendly. I had to make it up on the fly as the event horizon of my part came up. It looked like I didn’t know the words.” We laughed I thought he did a fine job, though I did laugh at the times they had to switch words. I’m pretty sure only I noticed anything out of the ordinary, and I was too busy cackling to care.