Tony Mart’s Rock ‘n’ Roots Festival was jamming at Somers Point Saturday night with The Ryders. Cerubus and The Donna Jean Godchaux Band
Sometimes top-shelf entertainment can be found without much travel or shelling out a lot of greenery, and a keynote case-in-point was the inaugural Tony Mart’s Rock ‘n’ Roots Festival held last Saturday night, Aug. 1.
The event endured a sort of eleventh-hour venue shift from its original EHT site to Mac’s in Somers Point, but it drew a nice crowd nonetheless that truly seemed to appreciate the abilities of the blues-infused band Jeff Schwachter & The Ryders, classic-rock specialists Cerubus, and a headliner that wowed Deadheads with the Donna Jean Godchaux Band. Fronted by the former female vocalist of the Grateful Dead and guitar virtuoso Jeff Mattson, the five-member Donna Jean Band definitely deserves mention among other offshoots of America’s ultimate jam band like Bob Weir’s Ratdog, Phil Lesh & Friends, and a sensational tribute group called Dark Star Orchestra. Mattson’s talents with a guitar are akin to — at the risk of sounding irreverent among the rock gods — the late Jerry Garcia, whose birthday the festival celebrated with a giant birthday cake.
Along with singer, guitarist and AC Weekly editor Schwachter, The Ryders included guitarist Ray Polonsky, drummer Mike Hoebler, eccentric accordionist Malcolm "Sidney" Tent, and bass player Adam "1Adam12" Berardo. They opened the show and set the mood for a fun evening with a series of Bob Dylan songs, including “Tangled up in Blue,” “Slow Train,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” the old blues number “Sitting on Top of the World,” a new Dylan single entitled “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’,” and “It Takes a Lot of Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” They ended their set with “The Weight” by The Band (which has early roots at the bygone Tony Mart’s in Somers Point).
After Cerberus performed series of modern-rock hits by Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne and others, the Donna Jean Band opened with a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and did a nice rendition of John Fogerty’s “Green River.” They also performed several Dead numbers, including “They Love Each Other,” “St. Stephen,” “Eyes of the World,” and “Franklin’s Tower,” and two songs by the Jerry Garcia Band called “Mission in the Rain,” and “Tore Up Over You.” A cool song written by Godchaux called “Kettle Joe” was part of the set, and is a component to the title of her band’s name prior to renaming itself Donna Jean & the Tricksters, and finally the Donna Jean Godchaux Band.
“I didn’t want my name on the band when we first got together, so we called ourselves ‘Kettle Joe’s Psychedelic Swamp Revue’ after a song I wrote,” Donna Jean told AC Weekly in an interview prior to the Rock ‘n’ Roots Festival. “Well, that name was short-lived because it turned out to be too confusing, and it would never fit on any of the marquees of the places we played.”
Donna Jean and company finished the festival with an encore rendition of the Dead’s “Bertha,” which served to showcase Matttson’s exceptional guitar skills.
Look for video from this event soon! Meanwhile, here's a photo gallery from the Ryders' set and the enormous/delicious cake for Jerry Garcia.
(Photos by Josh Gager)
The six-piece band took the stage at the HofBrau Hotel in Wildwood in the summer of 1954 and threw a fashion changeup at the crowd. ....
Levon and the Hawks were about to hit the stage when the band’s bass player, Rick Danko, seemed to be missing. When Frye discovered that Danko was in an Ocean City jail — busted for smoking marijuana — he had the sergeant of police in Somers Point, Lyn Bader, contact the Ocean City Police Department and persuade them to let Danko come to Tony Mart’s so the band could perform.
“The location was the key. A beautiful backdrop of the bay, with all types of boats cruising past, and the Ocean City skyline [across the bay].”
The Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point was founded in 1910 and moved to its current 280-seat location at Bay and Higbee avenues in the early 1920s. It was purchased by the City of Somers Point in 2006 and has been closed since that time pending much-needed renovations.
Justin Pierce opted to strike out on his own and help find places for local, original-material producing musicians to hone their craft in live-audience settings. In doing so, the Port Republic resident recently launched the fledgling promotional/booking company JP Entertainment, which will host its inaugural event on Friday night, Dec. 2, at Le Grand Fromage in Atlantic City.
You might be surprised to hear Andrew Latz refer to his new Somers Point restaurant as a “return to Bay Avenue.”
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