Having long performed exclusively as a solo acoustic guitarist/vocalist, the local musician has expanded his horizons extensively in recent years.
ATLANTIC CITY — In a time when budgets are strained and canned music has replaced genuine talent at many venues, some local musicians consider themselves lucky just to line up any gigs that fuel their passion for music, never mind any that actually pay.
Tom Pacitti, born and raised in Brigantine, has been blessed in that regard. A musician for 40 years (having taken up guitar at age eight), Pacitti not only continues to be a fixture as an acoustic soloist at many local establishments, putting personal spins on modern and classic-rock hits, he’s since teamed up with other talented artists to perform with varied ensembles at many area hot spots.
“I started out playing at the [bygone] Circle [Tavern in Brigantine, now a CVS] with a band called Powerplay, and after that I started playing solo acoustic vocal,” says Pacitti, an Atlantic City High School graduate. “This past summer I was booked Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday doing solo acoustic at the Boardwalk Beer Garden [outside of Caesars], and solo acoustic Saturday afternoons at Harry’s [outside Bally’s].”
Pacitti found the spacious Dennis Courtyard off Bally’s could easily accommodate a full-sized band, so he assembled Funkybone with guitarist Mitch Sutton, keyboardist/saxophonist Steve “Hooper” Lombardelli (formerly of Asbury Park sensation The Shakes) and percussionist Mike Dempsey. Funkybone continues to do regular gigs Friday evenings (5-9pm) at Harry’s and Saturday afternoons (2-6pm) at the Boardwalk Beer Garden, and Pacitti and Sutton occasionally perform as an acoustic duo, including next Friday, Oct. 28, at the Tuckahoe Inn, where Pacitti appears solo every Thursday (5-9pm).
The following night, Saturday, Oct. 29, Pacitti and Funkybone are playing a Halloween party at the upstairs banquet room of Cellar 32 in Brigantine starting 9pm. Occasionally Pacitti will fill in for longtime friend, singer/songwriter/guitarist Patty Blee (who also grew up in Brigantine), or Patty Balbo at the Library III in EHT, and has appeared at Somers Point hangouts like Caroline’s, 800 Bay and Crabby Jack’s in the recent past.
“This was the first summer in the past seven summers I wasn’t regularly at Crabby Jack’s, but I couldn’t have fit in another gig even if I wanted to,” he says. “Over the past four or five years it’s really taken off for me. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve had the opportunity to play with some of the best local musicians you’ll find anywhere.
“Mitch is definitely one of the best guitarists in the area, but once in a while if he can’t make a Funkybone gig I’ll get Ernie Trionfo or Don Shaw, who are also both excellent guitarists. This summer I also booked about six gigs with Revolver [a popular local band that regularly plays Chickie’s & Pete’s in EHT, and JR’s Tavern in Somers Point], and Mitch and I are working on maybe putting together a Dave Matthews tribute band. I’ve had several people tell me I play Dave Matthews and [folk rock singer/songwriter] Jack Johnson really well.
“For several years I was just playing acoustic vocal by myself, so it’s been great to do private projects with Revolver, play with Mitch as a duo over last three years, and now Funkybone turned out to be a real blast. Playing with these guys is awesome, but I still enjoy the solo gigs and I think, for the most part, establishments are becoming more and more favorable to them. It’s affordable, there’s not a space issue and, quite frankly, it’s hard to find a lot of people who do it well. People like Patty Blee, Patty Balbo, Don Ellsworth — the acoustic performers who do it really well are now in big demand.”
Dear local musicians, DJs and venues that provide a forum for live, local music: Please excite me, surprise me, be incredible and think big! Or think small — but think differently, think creatively, think funky and think new. I have a music column and I host and produce radio shows, but there have been times when it seemed as though what was available on the local music scene had just skipped town under the radar. Think of this as a two-part request; the first part is an appeal to contact me. Southern New Jersey venues that are not being fully utilized — let’s set up a night of fun and let some great artists and fans enjoy your venue. DJs who are playing beyond the Boardwalk and doing groovy sets in little cubbyholes where...
The truth is, our region has been a live-music mecca since the early 1900s, when cats like Eubie Blake and Eddie Cantor hung out for summers and performed at local clubs. Decades later the Atlantic City jazz scene was as hot as they come, with internationally heralded performers from Billy Eckstine and Louis Armstrong playing residencies at some of the hottest clubs on the East Coast, namely the venues on Atlantic City’s fabled Kentucky Avenue — all of them are gone now — including the Club Harlem.
The guide is destined to soon become the place for local booking agents and promoters to check out local bands and listen to songs and watch video.
"The Local Music Guide is a great idea. I believe it’s very important for the musicians to work together and support each other, rather than just protect their own ‘piece of the pie.’ The South Jersey music scene seems to be growing stronger and stronger, and hopefully this guide will make it easier for all involved — clubs, fans and musicians alike — to continue that growth and bring back the ‘glory days’ once more.”
In addition to the original artwork on its walls, and original Cajun fare found in few other bistros this far north, the House of Blues restaurant now offers original and replicated contemporary musi...
Clancy’s By the Bayfest
A ‘Haven’ at Golden Nugget
Life in the Laugh Lane
Pat Martino Plays the Point