ANOTHER biased review for Tasting Grace
This time at the Downtown in Red Bank, NJ – May 25th, 2011

Ok, as the title would suggest, I’ve reviewed the band Tasting Grace before. See here for that review.

And like before, it is still going to be partially biased since drummer Johnny Rox and I are good friends, former bandmates (I was the manager of the now-defunct RiffSurfers) and brothers in the charitable Star Wars costuming group the 501st Legion – But I’ll try to keep it as unbiased as I can..

Last night’s show was at the Downtown bar in Red Bank, NJ – They have an upstairs room for shows – I had done a book signing there at another friend’s hypnosis event there back in January 2011. It’s a pretty big place with a good vibe to it.

As mentioned, I’ve been to a Tasting Grace show before back in November, 2010 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, and they were great back then, albeit with a few lighting problems that made it difficult to see the band on stage (really, read my previous review). But this time, there were no technical problems (at least to me) and I saw the show as the band wanted me to.

And they were AWESOME!   I know I’m biased, but this is a band that really knows the meaning of the word showmanship. There were masked costumes, amazing lighting effects, and lead singer Jenna “Grace” Milano pulled out all the stops last night playing guitar, bongos, and even violin as the band rocked out. Oh yeah, and she’s a pretty good singer too – It just sounded great all-around. It also doesn’t hurt that they have the greatest drummer in the world pounding his little heart out on in-synch-lit drum set (Yes, thats my completely biased opinion there – but he is one of the best drummers out there) – Rounding out the band were Willy Toledo on bass, and Drew Leeds on guitar who did spectacular jobs.

They mixed it up with some original songs, and some covers and kept the energy up throughout… At one point, they played Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” and it was such a great version that before the chorus kicked in, I remarked to Jackie (my wonderful wife for those who don’t know) that I didn’t realize that it was a Tasting Grace song. Jackie just looked at me incredulously and went “Really?” – she knows that I know the Lady Gaga song because I mimic the chorus part often… Apparently I don’t know the rest of the song’s intricacies as well! Hey it was late on a weeknight!

Which brings me to one of the not-so-good part of the show. See, I can be unbiased :)  The show was advertised that the doors were opening at 8pm, and to get there early because it will sell out.  So we listened and got there at 8. When we got there, they said they weren’t letting people in until 8:30, so I figured I could go to my favorite comic book store Jay & Silent Bobs Secret Stash which was two blocks away.  Jackie was having none of that, because she knows me too well – If I was to go into that store, I’d buy “something” and eventually it would turn into *her* having to carry it around the rest of the night (Its not intentional, but it just always happens that way). So we stood outside the bar for about half-hour in the cool summery day people-watching – which was actually kinda fun..

We get in around 8:30pm, and find a couple of stools. Eventually our friend (and lifecoach/hypnotherapist) Loretta Parete-Gonnella showed up. And then Zach H, one of Johnny Rox & my brothers in the 501st legion showed up to support the band. We had a good time yapping and checking out the things going on. Eventually it turned to be 10pm and we started wondering if the show was ever going to start

The opening band then went on. They were called PK’s Band without Fear, and while they were a little too “country” for my taste, they were actually pretty talented, and when they ripped into a Pink Floyd song, thing got much more interesting. They played till about 11pm and then a short wait, and then Tasting Grace went on and played till 12:30pm – Which would have been perfect on a weekend, but this was a weeknight where we had to get up for work the next day.

So next time, I hope they’d start earlier or make it a weekend show.  If that’s my ONLY complaint about the show, I think you can say that I had a great time, and recommend seeing them when they come around your neck of the woods…

After the show, we hung around talking to Johnny Rox for a bit while listening for the raffle winners for the Mark Weiss photos of the various “Women in Rock” series that he took over the years (see the images below for an idea).

Then we went to introduce ourselves to Jenna, and hopefully get a picture. And both Jackie & I agree that she’s a sweetheart in person and she was really appreciative that we came out. While talking, we got interrupted and took that as our cue to take off, but as we were leaving and she was talking to the guy who interrupted us, she reached back and grabbed my arm so that we wouldn’t leave without the picture. Which I thought was really cool. Then we had some camera issues (it’s a new camera, and we’re still getting the hang of it), and she was really cool about it without any hint of impatience.

Bottom line: She is a class act and I really hope Tasting Grace achieves the success because they deserve it with their musical and visual/graphical talents, and her sincere attitude. Not to mention the greatest drummer in the world Johnny Rox :D

Picture thumbnails down at the bottom of this post, but if you use Facebook, you’ll find nicely described & tagged photos here


Tasting Grace @ the Downtown in Red Bank, NJ 05/25/11 – “Entrance”

Tasting Grace @ the Downtown in Red Bank, NJ 05/25/11

Tasting Grace @ the Downtown in Red Bank, NJ 05/25/11 – “PaparazzI”

Quick advertisement – I wrote a book called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang – that is now available on the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders websites…    Learn more about it on the book’s Facebook page (yes it was professionally edited, not like this blog that is probably full of typos LOL)

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