Posts Tagged ‘music’


“Weird Al” Yankovic – Summer Tour Kick-off in New Brunswick

May 18, 2011

By Kayla Steinbach, PR & Marketing Intern

As a child I would carry around three different cassettes tapes with me everywhere I went. (You know…the primitive way of listening to music where songs were placed inside a plastic rectangle on a thin ribbon that would constantly get stuck inside and around any machine that would supposedly play your songs. You would then need to use your finger or a pencil to re-wind the tape hoping you wound it properly or at least didn’t rip the ribbon because then the tape was useless!) I carried a tape full of lullabies, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s The Food Album, with classics like “I love Rocky Road” (a satire on “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts) because I did, I loved rocky road ice cream. I preferred Al’s “Eat It” to Michael’s “Beat It” any day of the week. “Eat It” even earned Yankovic his first of three Grammy® Awards.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, is the undisputed king of pop culture parody. He has sold more comedy recordings than any artist in history, with six of his albums going gold (including my beloved The Food Album), eight going platinum, and Alapalooza going double platinum. His satirical twist on songs like Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” (“Amish Paradise”), and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Smells Like Nirvana”) have made him a household name. Some of Al’s other hits include “Gump,” “White and Nerdy,” “I’m Fat,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” “Like a Surgeon,” and “Bedrock Anthem.”

Al’s live show is family-friendly with lots of surprises, costume changes, and all the antics you’d expect. I can’t wait to see him and sing along with all my favorite food inspired songs plus so many more! See you at the State Theatre on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 8pm for a laugh-out-loud event that is sure to bring tears to your eyes!

For tickets and more information please visit


STOMP – What the Noise is About

January 12, 2011

By Kelly Backus, Marketing Coordinator

Thirty brooms, eight lids, five short bins, ten 6 foot by 6 inch poles, 15 pounds of sand, four blocks of athletes chalk, 12 pairs of drumsticks, 200 litres of water, eight bananas, and 12 boxes of matches. No, that’s not some crazy shopping list for Home Depot—that’s a list of the materials that the cast of STOMP uses in just one week of performances!

If you don’t know what STOMP is, then that list probably confused you (I know I would be!) STOMP is an international percussion sensation that’s been performing all over the world since it began back in 1991 (350 cities in 36 countries). As you can see, you won’t find your normal percussion instruments in this group! Instead, these performers show us that anything can be an instrument and that normal everyday noise can be made into something beautiful. These talented cast members use anything and everything to compose complex and fun rhythms that will have you dancing in your seat!

And if you think the show is only banging on cans and sweeping up floors, think again! The show is also influenced by dance and martial arts like tap and Shaolin. And make sure to watch the performers interactions—you’ll catch a lot of humor if you pay close attention. This is definitely a show you’ll never forget!

So if you’re looking for a rocking good time, come check out STOMP at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and see just how these talented performers unconventional instruments and turn them into an outrageous performance of rhythms, percussion and dance!

Be sure to check STOMP out online at their website!

For tickets or more info go to

Photo by Steve McNicholas.

The Crossing – A Concert Choir with a Twist

August 19, 2010

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Joanna

For many people, listening to a choir concert might not sound like a fun way to spend an afternoon. However, The Crossing is attempting to change the way people think about choirs. Founded in 2005, the choir is unique because they sing newly composed and modern music. The Philadelphia Inquirer has called them “Philadelphia’s Best Chorus,” and said “most of the music presented by Donald Nally’s choir, The Crossing, lies outside describable musical contexts”. This is what makes the choir so exciting.

This summer, during their “Month of Moderns” concert series, the choir presented three premieres on words of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Phillip Levine: Statement to the Court by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang; The Memory of Rain by Lansing McLoskey; and Breath by Paul Fowler. I was struck by how well The Crossing crafted a start to finish experience for the audience member. The concert program included some of the most unique program notes I have encountered, and I enjoyed being guided by them. I especially liked the special note for each piece, explaining how the choir came to find it. Following the concert, the entire audience was invited to an elegant, free reception that featured the opportunity to mingle with the choir members and fellow concert goers. This provided a lovely bookend to the beautiful music that came before.

Surprisingly, The Crossing’s administration, marketing, and outreach services are entirely donated. This allows them to focus all of their funds on creating and maintaining an excellent artistic product. However, as you can imagine, it provides unique challenges to the organization and requires innovation and creativity in order to succeed. It was inspiring to see how much they have already been able accomplish. One of their marketing tactics that impressed me was being given a free CD of tracks and clips from previous concerts as a gesture of goodwill for joining the choir’s mailing list. They simply asked that after listening (or importing the tracks into iTunes!) I pass the CD onto someone who is unfamiliar with The Crossing.


ScrapArtsMusic stops in New Brunswick before their performance at the 2010 Olympics

February 10, 2010

On February 5, just one week before their 2010 winter Olympics debut, ScrapArtsMusic—an innovative percussion music group—gave an amazing, high-energy performance to an ecstatic State Theatre audience. More than 600 people braved the coming snow storm on Friday to watch the group perform on more than 140 different instruments (altogether weighing about two tons!) crafted from salvaged and recycled junk, including discarded artillery shells, plumbing fixtures, exhaust hose, steel oil cans, and accordion parts. Talking to attendees after the performance, the reviews were “couldn’t wait to see what they would do next,” and “the performance was terrific.”

So, in short, it was really a great night and we hope to have them back soon. In the meantime, we can’t wait to watch them at the 2010 Olympics on Sun, February 14th. And we hope you watch too. For more on ScrapArtsMusic visit:


“Backstage Access” – From The Belly of The Beast Part 2

December 10, 2009

By Larry Dember, State Theatre Director of Production

Once upon a time a long long time ago, I lived in a town called Massapequa.

Many famous people have hailed from the land of the Pequas such as: Jerry Seinfeld (my sister was in Hebrew school car pool and graduated with him), Neil Diamond, the Baldwin’s (their Dad was my football coach/social studies teacher), Twisted Sister, Eliot Eastman (the Cars guitarist), the Baldinger Brothers (Pro football players) , Andre Eglevsky (ballet dancer), Carlo Gambino, John Gotti, Steve Guttenberg, Marvin Hamlisch, Ron Kovic (I played in a band with his brother Jack at the New York Times 4th of July release party for his brothers book, Born on the Fourth of July), Bob Nelson, Helen Slater (spent a couple of Thanksgivings with her at her cousin Hunt Bresky’s house), and of course, all three of the Stray Cats.

I was in a band with Lee (Leon Drucker) Rocker in high school but we kicked him out because he was not a great bass player and had a bad attitude (I hear things have not changed). James McDonnell, aka “Slim Jim Phantom” is the drummer for the Stray Cats and was in an original jazzy band that beat my band in the Nassau County finals of the battle of the bands. Great drummer. A founding member of that band was Brian Setzer. It was my pleasure to present him in concert last week here at the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

When Brian was a young teen he would take guitar lessons at my buddy Ralph Agresta’s (nationally accomplished guitarist/songwriter/teacher/vocalist) music store. We all knew Brian was different and very, very skilled, even at 16. I remember going over his house one day and he had just come back from Brooklyn shopping for guitars and he had bought a Dan-Electro double neck bass and six string. Another week, he came into school with his hair dyed bright orange. Back then he was playing the hell out of Zeppelin, Queen, Bowie, and Deep Purple. He was a rock god on guitar. One day in our senior year I was sitting in the little theater at school watching auditions for the Senior Variety show and Brian took the stage with his band and sang “Communication Breakdown” and “Ziggy Stardust”. I was so blown away from the energy and talent exhibited. It is a feeling that I get whenever I see a real virtuoso. His band played the show and dressed like Kiss and rocked the house. In the next years, I had the pleasure of jamming with him at a party and some late night basement jams. He was doing a lot of hard rock and was putting together a punk band called Bloodless Pharaohs. Not my taste at all and we went our separate ways. Mine was the business side of music, his was the UK and reinventing Rockabilly, playing with Robert Plant, touring the world, selling millions of records and winning three out of 7 Grammy nominations.

It must be about 15 years since I saw Brian out at a trade show in California. Last week when I sat with him in his dressing room and we talked about old friends, girlfriends, and jams I told him how proud all of us non-celebrities from Massapequa are of him. He was very humble and gracious as always. You can see in his face that he has led a fun packed life, playing thousands of shows all over the world. It took all my power and restraint not to remind him my band Starfire beat his band in the Massapequa High School Battle of The Bands in 1977. So what he sold millions of records and won 3 Grammys. I didn’t want to rub that old wound in his face, especially before he took the stage for an amazing night of music to a packed house.


What a Blast — 3rd Annual Jersey Summer Beatles Bash Proves to Be the Best Yet

August 4, 2009

For three years, the State Theatre has partnered with local celebrity musician Glen Burtnik (former member of Styx) on a Beatles tribute concert called the “Jersey Summer Beatles Bash.” Every year, Glen picks a Beatles album, and some friends (a very talented group of musicians) to perform a note-for-note rendition of that album. This year’s album was Abbey Road.

(Above, people browse through the Beatles Rock Art that was displayed during the pre-show Happy Hour.)

From start to finish, this year’s performance was amazing. I mean you could just feel the energy of the crowd in the hall, it was electric. (And it’s still funny to me that lighters have been replaced by cell phones.) One of these highly charged moments was during I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” The song, which is hypnotic without a live performance, was mesmerizing to listen to and to watch, especially as Glen and several other guitarists including Bob Burger (who has performed alongside Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Jon Bon Jovi), John Merjave (from the band Liverpool), Marc Muller (has played guitar for Shania Twain, Kelly Clarkson, and Elton John, among many others), and Marty O’Kane (lead guitarist/multi-instrumentalist for award-winning songwriter April Smith) poured themselves into the repetitive guitar riffs of the song (which is in fact 8 minutes long).

The last song of the night was the ever-popular “Hey Jude,” where quite a few folks (including some State Theatre staff members, see pic at right) jumped onstage to join Glen & Friends for the song’s repeating “Na-Nas”. So, it really was a great night and we can’t wait for next year’s.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW (7469) or visit Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.


Toxic Audio: A Cappella with a Twist

July 16, 2009

A guest blog by Marketing & PR Intern Kelly Dolan

Last week, while on a Royal Caribbean Cruise, I had the opportunity to see many shows. I was beginning to get bored of night after night of subpar shows, when finally I saw Toxic Audio perform. I could hardly believe that they were using nothing but their own voices as the background music to some highly intricate instrumental songs. This five- person a cappella group not only sang popular songs such as Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn the Beat Around” and Mika’s “Grace Kelly” but they also use their own voices to supply all of the background music. When I shut my eyes for a second I felt as though there was a real trumpet, guitar, and piano being used during performance.

The singing was not the only thing that kept me entertained. The performance of each song had some type of twist to it. For example, when they sang “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles they walked around the audience and had members point to random words from a book. By the end cast member Jeremy James, known as the “Rap Master”, was able to create a rap song on the spot using all the words collected from the audience. Toxic Audio puts on a show that keeps audiences in awe throughout the entire performance. After seeing them perform, you may just be tempted to try and move your own nose at just the right angle in order to sound like a trumpet.

For more information on Toxic Audio, visit:

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.


A Brief Q&A with Michael Cavanaugh

July 14, 2009

A brief Q&A with musician Michael Cavanaugh, the original Piano Man in Broadway’s Movin’ Out on his upcoming tour and his new CD, In Color

How long have you been playing the piano? And did you always want to play the piano? I have been playing since I was 7. My parents purchased a piano for my Mom and immediately loved it and started playing. When I showed up to my first piano lesson I played “It’s still Rock & Roll to me”. Then my first lesson was something like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” I wasn’t that interested. I wound up being a poor piano student.

How did it feel to be hand-picked by Billy Joel to star in Movin’ Out?
It was unreal. It was the kind of thing I imagined when I was a kid.

Can you tell us about your new album In Color?
My new CD was one of the greatest experiences I have had making music as we teamed up with producer Rob Mathes and have some great originals as well as some interpretations of some classic songs by Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, Pete Townsend, Bob Dylan, and others. We also received a great distribution deal so it is available at iTunes,, as well as Best Buy and Borders. I will be out front after the show at the State Theatre signing CD’s too!

What’s has been your most memorable performance? What town/city was it in?
There have been many, if I had to pick a few, I would pick playing on stage with Billy Joel in Cleveland, Ohio (my hometown) during one of his shows. Others of note would be the first symphony performance I did with the Indianapolis Symphony because they had such belief in the project and that first night was incredible. And obviously my first night on Broadway was pretty special 🙂

What are some of the bands/artists that you are listening to right now?
The Beatles, John Mayer, Daughtry, The Eagles, The Who

Would you ever consider performing on Broadway again?
Who knows, I never say never. For now, I have many other projects that I am working on. A new symphony show (Generations of Rock-n-Roll), a new Vegas show (hoping to debut this fall), as well as a tour in the Far East. I plan on having a long career so you never know.

Michael Cavanaugh performs with a full band at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ on Thursday, July 16 at 8pm.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.


Rocking Opera Like No Other Group – East Village Opera Company

February 26, 2009
Opera? Rock? How about Opera rocked? Yes, music fans, there is a new genre of music where 300 year old arias are being re-imagined and re-worked as Rock songs. And the group leading the way is East Village Opera Company. With their leather pants and kick-ass performances, East Village is making waves across the music industry with their unique and explosive new sound. They even have the Grammy nominations to prove it! And, classical and rock fans alike are loving it!
Check out the video below and see for yourself!

East Village Opera Company performs live at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, on Friday, April 3 at 8pm.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit

Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.