Local Jamz 2005

Chris Grenda Takes The Scene Another Step Forward

Chris Grenda's own passion for music has transcended into his idea of expanding a venue for which other musicians can express themselves. Grenda has worked to bring New Jersey's original music scene together for a number of years by organizing and a promoting a series of concerts focused on exposing the local scene.

In August 2001, Grenda continued with an idea called G-Fest at the Brick VFW. The shows began in his Point Pleasant Borough, NJ, backyard during the prior year. The 2001 outdoor show displayed what Grenda, a/k/a Mr. G, is capable of as a performer and the successful result of the music scene's merged efforts. The show, which featured performances by Slowdrown, Madjul and Brown, brought out an impressive crowd.

Last year, Grenda changed the show's name to Local Jams 2004 and held it at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. This year's Local-Jamz 2005 will take place at Bar Anticipation, Lake Como, NJ.

The show, presented by Mr. G and Budweiser True Music, will be held from 12-9:30 p.m. on Aug. 20. The cover is $10 and only those 21 and over will be allowed to enter. The line up is as follows:

1:45-2:45 P.M. - Fly Me Courageous
3:05-4:05 P.M. - Red Lyte District
4:25-5:25 P.M. - The Benjamins
5:45-6:45 P.M. - Mr. G
7:05-8:05 P.M. - The Youth Ahead
8:25-9:25 P.M. - Beggars Canyon

Nowadays, staying active on the business side of music is of high importance for any band taking a shot at the mainstream. Grenda has always demonstrated persistence in both the creation and promotion of his music. In the process of developing his own fan base, Grenda has thought up other ideas to help the rest of the scene. One of those ideas may include bringing a Local-Jamz-styled show on the road.

Grenda's band, Mr. G, will be among the performers showcasing their latest music at Local-Jamz 2005, as the band will play songs from its new release, "Emerge".

Recorded at Shore Fire Studios, Long Branch, NJ, the album is the band at its best. Though "Emerge" is Mr. G's first release in a long time, the band's members managed to pick up where they left off. The album displays the trio's growth into a band which is worthy of radio play. Grenda's vocals are as smooth and unique as his guitar leads, while bassist Ryan "R" Martin and Chuck "Chucky D" Dingerdissen are among the scene's most solid rhythm sections.

Chorus and Verse recently asked Grenda about the latest Local-Jamz installment and his band's most recent music release.

How has Local-Jamz 2005 evolved since it first began as G-Fest?

The show has taken many turns over the years. It went from my backyard, to my front yard, to the outdoor area of the Brick VFW. Then, two years in a row at the Stone Pony and now we are endorsed by Budweiser True Music and hosting the show at Bar-A. This is a wonderful moment for local music as a whole. Anyone who is in the local music scene knows how tough it can be to break into certain clubs. The cover bands have almost a monopoly on certain clubs here. Our show proves that there truly can be collaboration between all the great clubs and local original music.

Did you expect it to grow into what it is now?

Actually, I always had hopes it would be much larger than it is now. I am very happy with the continued success, but my dream is to be able to tour the coasts with this show. I would like to be able to present this show in all sorts of cities with local bands from those cities being on the bill; [to] make this show a traveling A&R extravaganza! All we need is full support from major players in the business. It could be a traveling show that gives much recognition [to] local bands all over the nation!

How did you get Bar A involved? Have they been receptive towards original music?

I have been in contact with Tom Jannerone at Bar A for many years. I always manage to mention to him each year how things were going with the show and last year he offered to me to have the show at his place. I contacted him earlier this year and set the date. Anyone in this business knows that anything we get is from people you maintain good relationships with. Bar A is giving us a great chance here to show that we have a solid show, it goes much appreciated.

Why did you choose the bands which have been included on the bill? What does each band add to the event?

I have always had much respect for the Benjamins. They have a great cover band going and they are very talented guys. I heard the release of their new CD and was very impressed. They are a great NJ band and I wanted to play with them. I offered The Youth Ahead this gig two years ago but they were on the road with the Warp Tour. I vowed that they would get on this festival when they weren't on tour - and here they are. Those are just two examples of how this year's lineup came about.

Each band has a unique story to how they made the lineup. I am always very proud of all the bands that play this show. I look at it this way: the show is the veins and the bands are the blood. I need them to survive.

Can you tell me about your latest CD? Where was it recorded? How does it differ from your past efforts?

Ahh, yes. "Emerge". Well, as you know, man, we have been working on this CD for a long time. We put our full hearts into it and it is finally done. We recorded the album at Shore Fire Studios in Long Branch, NJ, with Joey DaMaio. He is very recognized as one of the best engineers around. "Emerge" is a solid rock album. Of course I think that, I wrote it. But, I would like for the music to speak for itself. How 'bout you listen to it and tell me how it is!

Will this be the unveiling of Mr. G's latest tracks?

We will be playing some tunes from our first album. Pretty much all of the stuff on the new album and even one or two songs that are not yet recorded. I pride myself in that I never stop writing. I always try to stay tough and write new music for upcoming albums even as I just release an album. Pretty standard in the mainstream music industry.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.