Rock the Farm Once Again Fired On All Cylinders

Eighth annual tribute festival for a cause returned to Jersey shore

Saturday, the time had finally come for the long-awaited Rock the Farm to return to the Jersey shore. The annual tribute festival in Seaside Heights, N.J. once again delivered 10 hours of great music for a cause. And that cause – helping individuals and families struggling with addiction to drugs, alcohol and other substances – has gained even more urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rock the Farm is the main annual event of the nonprofit New Jersey CFC Loud N Clear Foundation to raise funds for programs designed to prevent relapse after drug rehab, a particularly challenging time to stay sober. CFC notes that since it was established in 2012, the foundation has assisted over 20,000 families struggling with addiction and has received numerous accolades and rewards for the innovative, groundbreaking approach to recovery. Throughout the event, individuals who have benefitted from CFC’s programs stepped on stage to share some of their stories, which was both pretty inspiring and moving. You can read more about CFC’s important work here. Let’s get to some music!

Kicking off the festival once again were One Fine Tapestry, a great tribute to Carole King and the music she co-wrote with Jerry Goffin for many other artists. At the core of this act are Gerard Barros and Diane Barros, a New Jersey-based versatile husband and wife duo who for many years have performed a variety of tribute shows. My all-time favorite Carole King album remains Tapestry. Here’s I Feel the Earth Move.

We May Be Right are a fun Billy Joel tribute led by pianist and lead vocalist Karl Dietel, a 20-year veteran of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state area live music scene. The band also features Perry Andrews (brass, woodwinds, percussion, backing vocals), Derek Davodowich (guitars), Luke Kessel (bass, backing vocals) and Andy Janowiak (drums). I know I’ve said this before, it’s amazing to me how popular Billy Joel remains to this day, nearly 30 years since the piano man released his final pop album River of Dreams. There were definitely many Billy Joel fans among the Rock the Farm audience. One of the tunes they enjoyed was Big Shot, off Joel’s sixth studio album 52nd Street from October 1978.

And then it was time to really put the rock into Rock the Farm with La Grange. This New Jersey-based tribute to ZZ Top includes Sean Peronard as “Billy Fibbons” (Billy Gibbons)Pete Perrina as “Frank Goatee” (Frank Beard) and Jim Capobianco as “Rusty Hill” (Dusty Hill). It was all there: The sound, the singing, the beards and even the fury guitar and bass – the only things missing were the rotation of the instruments and my all-time ZZ Top favorite Tush! But, hey, they played plenty of other great tunes. It was a ball. Check out Cheap Sunglasses from the Texan rockers’ sixth studio album Degüello.

How about some more kickass rock? Ask and you shall receive with Stiff Upper Lip! This New Jersey tribute to AC/DC, formed in 2007, features Glenn Taglieri  (vocals), Joe Witterschein (guitar), Mike Cusumano (guitar), Peter Lee (bass) and Steve Villano (drums). One of my all-time AC/DC favorites is their song with the longest title: It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll). The tune initially appeared on AC/DC’s second, Australia-only record T.N.T. Subsequently, it was also included on their first international release High Voltage, which came out in April 1976. Here we go, featuring some enthusiastic, dancing ladies with glowing devil’s horns!

Okay, I’d say it’s time for a little breather. Here’s a little photo collage with different impressions from Rock the Farm.

Clockwise from upper left corner: Rock the Farm audience with bubbles from foam dance floor; the cameraman with another enthusiastic attendee; Jagged Little Thrill – The Alanis Morisette Experience (https://www.facebook.com/jlttribute); reminder of the event’s purpose; Winslow an Evening of the Eagles (https://www.facebook.com/WinslowEaglestribute); and once again the (exhausted) cameraman after 10 hours on his feet

All right, on to part II of this post and The ELO Tribute Show – yep, they make no bones about whose music they are celebrating! The group of Philly area-based musicians includes Mick Bodine (lead vocals, guitar), Andre “Virus” Karkos (guitars, vocals), Chris McCoy (keyboards, vocals), Julie Meyers (violin, vocals), Tommy Grasso (bass, vocals) and Dave Ramani (drums, percussion). Check out their cool rendition of Evil Woman, a tune from ELO’s September 1975 record Face the Music, their fifth studio release.

One could argue that holding a tribute festival in New Jersey without featuring music by at least one artist from the Garden State would be an oversight. Coming to the rescue were Keep The Faith from – nope, I bet you didn’t guess that one – Canada! This Bon Jovi tribute from Ontario includes Chris Newman (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Tondreau (guitar), Dan Benezra (keyboards, vocals), Doug Adams (bass) and Mark MacPherson (drums). Shall we check out their rendition of Born to Be My Baby, off Bon Jovi’s fourth studio album? Well, it’s really a rhetorical question since it’s my frigging blog! Are you one of the 100,000,000 Bon Jovi fans who can’t be wrong? If so, you should know the title of Bon Jovi’s fourth studio album. Yes, New Jersey!

And then things got pretty groovy with Funky Monks who shall we say aren’t your typical monks. Formed in 2003, this Chicago-based tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers has performed across the U.S. and even internationally. The band consists of Ryan “Ryanthony” Machnica (vocals), Mike Walker (guitar), Jeff “Jefflea” Genualdi (b-b-b-bass) and Paul Guziec (drums). In case you ever wondered why I like to say bassists are cool dudes, Jeff is one of the reasons. Yes, I know, it’s the obvious Peppers tune to feature, but I couldn’t help it. Here’s Under the Bridge, included on Peppers’ fifth studio album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, released in September 1991.

All things must pass, as the wise George Harrison once sang. This also applies to Rock the Farm, which brings me to the final act of the night: Fleetwood Mac tribute TUSK – what a great way to end yet another outstanding event! Founded in 2008, TUSK primarily focus on the Mac’s pop-rock period. In addition, they feature some music from Stevie Nicks’ solo catalog and on Saturday night also threw in a cool blues medley of the Peter Green era. TUSK are Kathy Phillips as Stevie Nicks (vocals), Kim Williams as Christine McVie (keyboards, vocals), Scott McDonald as Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals), Randy Artiglere as John McVie (bass) and Tom Nelson as Mick Fleetwood (drums). Here’s Little Lies, off Fleetwood Mac’s 14th studio album Tango in the Night, which came out in April 1987.

Rock the Farm 2022 is over. Sadly, the same cannot be said about addiction, which continues to upend the lives of those impacted and their friends and families. Many lives have been lost, even more so during the pandemic, leaving empty chairs in kitchens across this country.

The reality is addiction can happen to all of us. Nobody is immune! People struggling with drugs, alcohol and other substances deserve our compassion rather than stigmatization. That’s why it is so important that organizations like the CFC Loud N Clear Foundation continue their work. Once again, in case you’d like to find out more about their programs, visit https://healingus.org.

Sources: Wikipedia; CFC website; One Fine Tapestry Facebook page; We May Be Right website; La Grange Facebook page; Stiff Upper Lip website; The ELO Tribute Show website; Slippery When Wet website; Funky Monks website; TUSK website; YouTube

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14 thoughts on “Rock the Farm Once Again Fired On All Cylinders”

  1. Rock the Farm must be a great festival. I watched a few videos and must consider that Karl Dietel acts the same way like Billy how he sits and sings in front of a piano.
    I’m also a huge fan of Billy Joel and I can’t expect to get the full concert at Yankee Stadium 1990 (CD and Blu-Ray) in November.

    But the best shot you made was the gig of Funky Monks with their version of “Under the Bridge”. Stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A good idea for a great cause! thanks for bringing it to light. I have an inkling from reading it, but which was your favorite of all those acts?
    An Alanis tribute is still viable…. ‘told you so Miranda’… I had a friend about 20-25 years ago who was a folk singer in Toronto. She happened to look a LOT like Alanis, and had the same cadence to her voice as Ms Morrissette. I suggested to her a couple of times that she should do Alanis tribute/cover shows because they’d probably draw well and make a lot of money to help finance her indie folk CDs but she didn’t quite figure it was a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TUSK, Stiff Upper Lip and La Grange were my personal favorites.
      As a huge Carole King fan, I also always enjoy listening to her music.

      Musically, Funky Monks were outstanding as well, but I’m not so much into the Peppers. That said, I like “Under the Bridge” and “Californication”.

      I had considered including Jagged Little Thrill, but the band’s lead vocalist who I thought did a good job capturing Alanis Morissette’s unique voice asked me to take down the clip I had recorded, since they had some sound issues.

      BTW, that Eagles tribute band Winslow was pretty good as well. As you know, I generally love Eagles music but not their aggressive copyright lawyers, so I chose not to include them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love the Eagles too (perhaps a minority opinion around here) but yep, there do seem to be more issues regarding them and things like Youtube videos than most other artists. RHCP… yeah, it’s odd but they’re great musicians but I no longer really get into their music much. Liked them a lot more in the 90s but for some reason, it just doesn’t hold up that well to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I was drawn more toward the ELO and Fleetwood Mac bands…It would be fun to be in one of those types of bands. NO question about the setlist!
    Sounds like you had a great time and for a great cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a lot of fun, Max, though I can’t deny my back felt the 10 hours I was on my feet.😀

      It was also really inspirational to witness some of the folks CFC supports step on stage and share their stories. The human havoc addiction can cause is just incredible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea addiction is terrible and it happens everyday.
        Yea I hear you on the back part…. Walking miles at Graceland and Beale Street wore me out.

        Like

  4. Sounds like fun. I used to love going to hear cover bands. As soon as I was old enough to get into bars I used to go to the kind that always had cover bands on Friday night who did classic rock of the ’70s and stuff. I’d rather hear someone doing songs that I love than hear some new band doing their crappy original songs. And then when those Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin laser shows used to come through town I went to those too. They played really well and it was always a great show.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never heard of that drug relapse organization but if it’s as successful as it says they are then that’s great. Cuz I know it’s really hard and no drug program ever worked for me and I couldn’t stop no matter how many rehabs I went to and I didn’t stop until it gave me a heart attack and a stroke at the age of 34. So after recovering from all that I just kind of lost interest in drugs and never bothered with them again. But some people do good with drug programs, and some people don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing that, and I’m really glad you managed to recover from your scary health episodes and overcame addiction. I’ve never been addicted to drugs, so can only imagine how hard it must be to overcome dependence. I suppose addiction recovery programs are a bit like medicines – unfortunately, they don’t work for everyone!

      Like

  6. The King of All Tribute Bands knocks one out of the park. All sound good. As we talked about before, you can’t suck as a band if you’re doing a tribute. Fans will sniff that out in a minute. And ten hours on your feet? No way.

    Liked by 1 person

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