2006 Year In Review

Looking Ahead with The Wag and Echofission

The year 2005 was rather eventful in the world of New Jersey music. It was a year, during which the area's most legendary performer Bruce Springsteen released a solo effort entitled "Devils & Dust" and toured the world. Back in Asbury Park, 2005 saw the kick off of some impressive young acts, as the veteran bands continued to play at some rather impressive venues.

Brian Ostering, bassist for Middletown, NJ-based The Wag, said the most memorable moment for his band was developing and writing acoustic songs for its new acoustic set.

"This year we have developed an acoustic set, which has made it possible for us to perform in venues that are new to us," he said. "It is a new creative outlet for us. It was challenging and rewarding."

The band was nominated for the fifth time as Top Pop Band in the 2005 Asbury Music Awards, something which Ostering also included as a highlight.

"It's a great compliment, considering all the pop acts around these days," he said. "Also, having opened for some pretty big-name acts has been a big highlight for us."

Though 2005 was a memorable year, all of the Wag's years together can be described in the same manner, he said.

The band's goal in 2006 is to become a signed act, he said.

For John Rango, lead guitarist for Echofission, the past year's most memorable moment happened during the Live 8 concert.

"The most memorable musical moment in 2005 is the reunion of Pink Floyd at Live 8," Rango said.

Rango said Echofission's highlights included hosting a Hurricane Katrina relief benefit show that drew about 300 people and playing its first theater show at the Luna Stage in Montclair, NJ.

"But, most importantly, we went back into the studio this fall to record a seven-song EP with longtime friend and recording engineer, Mod [Elefant]," he said.

The band's top priority in 2006 will be to have as many people become exposed to its music as possible, he said.

Echofission's "Amplify The Sun" will be released on Jan. 14 at the Mexicali Blues Cafe in Teaneck, NJ. Free copies of the CD will be distributed during the show.

"Joining us as opening and supporting acts will be Seminole jam band God Street Wine guitarist/vocalist Lo Faber," Rango said "Lo will be playing an opening acoustic set, as well as joining Echofission during their set and our friends who we play with more than any other band, Souls' Release, will play a set as well. After the release party, the band will play some gigs supporting the new album and also work on new songs."

The fifth year of the 21st century seemed memorable for both Echofission and The Wag and both should garner some more momentum early in 2006.

"It was most definitely a memorable year," Rango said. "After playing for years together, we have solidified our sound and have become more open-minded and experimental. That is memorable for us."

[ Websites: www.thewagband.com and www.echofission.com ]

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.