Monte and the Betty Ford All-Stars open mic jam is a chance for local musicians to possibly further their careers.
â€śEverybody gets a chance, nobody gets preferential treatment,â€ť said Rob Monte, event founder and lead singer of the mega-popular cover band Dog Voices.
For the summer, the event is held at Long Beach Islandâ€™s Quarter Deck. It moves there from the Ringside Pub in Caldwell, New Jersey, which plays host during the spring.
Walter Stacey, lead guitarist for Big Orange Cone, regularly plays the show, and has since its inception, said Monte. The event also draws other top-notch musicians, including Southside Johnny and the
Asbury Jukes' guitarist, shore legend Bobby Bandiera and John Allen, from Tommy Leeâ€™s band, said Monte.
The Benjamins have also made appearances, performing one show while switching instruments; their singer playing drums and their bassist playing guitar.
The open mic jam began in the summer of 1997. Monte had a night off from his Dog Voices schedule and his agent suggested doing a show alone. Since its beginning, Monte has tried to arrange the format
so bands get more than one chance to play. This takes some of the pressure off them. â€śIt was very quick and also it was intimidating,â€ť Monte said of the situation for bands when it first started. Bands
had to prove themselves in their first week playing, and a change was needed so they could be given more a chance to play, Monte said.
â€śWe like to showcase bands that want to become a part of S.T.A.R.S. Productions,â€ť Monte said. â€śThey call and let me know in advance that they are coming down.â€ť The sessions are a great opportunity for
bands who are looking for gigs, or full-time management.
Each band is allowed to do five or six songs, individuals are permitted one or two. â€śWe encourage people getting up there for the first time,â€ť Monte said. â€śWe try not to discourage first-timers.â€ť Participants
don't even need to bring their own instruments. The format has the Betty Ford All-Stars doing two or three songs and then calling others who are looking to play up on stage.
The Amy Ward band, who Monte now works with personally after seeing perform at the event, is one of the up-and-coming bands to play the event, said Monte. He is also impressed with a band called the
Monster. The show gives him a chance to work with younger bands. â€śI try to give them constructive criticism,â€ť he said. The jams give Monte a chance to see bands repeatedly and take additional looks at bands
he potentially would like to book with S.T.A.R.S.
â€śThereâ€™s a lot of agents out there that grab bands when theyâ€™re not ready,â€ť said Monte. The opportunity to see a band perform many times over several weeks gives Monte a chance to make quality decisions
in choosing bands for working with in the future, he said.
The shows are also a chance for Monte to stay out in the music scene, even on his night off. â€śI enjoy it. I really enjoy the whole music scene,â€ť he said.
Further details about the open mic jams can be found on the Dog Voices official web site at www.dogvoices.com.