One of the most iconic images in New Jersey Shore history is Tilly the clown. That face is everywhere. He’s the spokesman for keeping Asbury Park weird, and he would be the one facilitating our night together for some great music! For almost fifty years The Wonder Bar has been known to showcase local up-and-coming talent, to “The Boss” BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, and everyone in between. Well on this beautiful July night, with the garage doors open to let the beach breeze in, it was time for JOE SAMBA to get a turn.
First up, though, CROOKED COAST from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, hit the stage to set the tone. These guys had a lot of people looking at each other when they started with wide eyes and approving head nods, as if to say “I haven’t heard them before, but I definitely like where we’re headed”. I can guarantee they gained new fans that night, and rightfully so! Their two vocalists have such amazing voices, that each get their own shine on almost every song, which complements each other perfectly. They weave in and out of genres so well while simultaneously staying right in that “reggae rock” lane. The band behind them is solid and you know immediately that they put the work in to make their live set sound exceptional. Crooked Coast hosts their own annual festival and hits the road non stop; check them out next time their in your area!
Joe Samba demands the attention of a crowd. You would think it’s because he’s a big dude, with a big beard, that looks like he can beat us all up if we don’t like his music, but that’s not the case. It’s his voice that draws eyes to the stage and keeps them there until his encore is over. He goes from low to high, softly spoken words to full screaming, and head banging to gracefully swaying hips during “Mambo Italiano”. Ever since I first heard him a couple years ago, his words on tracks have been some of the most relatable to my own life than a lot of others in our scene. Maybe it’s because we’re both Northeastern paisanos, maybe it’s because he reminds me of a few friends I grew up with, but most importantly it’s because of the realness he uses while writing. If you’re a fan of his, you know the most important thing to him is staying true to himself always. Whether it’s the good or bad in life, you can guarantee Joe will tell you what’s really going on. I think that’s why he is such a fan favorite; he invites us into his world with songs, and while we there, we might just figure out something about ourselves as well. Only true artists can achieve this, which in my eyes is way more important than streams and sales. Joe talked to the crowd quick about being a new father and the support he has from his family. With them in his corner, and the new outlook of things around him, the sky is the limit for his song-making abilities.
The band played over an hour of high-energy songs that had everyone smiling, dancing, and at one point even moshing a bit. With real groovy lines from their barefoot bass player, a drummer that balances a chill rhythm and heavy fills with ease, and a lead guitar player that makes absolute shredding look like a walk in the park, Joe has some great back up on stage with him. These guys love touring and playing their songs for us. Catch them live immediately, and I promise you’ll be waiting for the next time they’re in you area again; I know I am.