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Aerosmith Tribute Band Pump Ready to Bring Rock Back to the Masses in 2021

Frank Tassielli wanted to start a tribute band as a homage to one of his favorite groups of all time: Aerosmith, iconic rock Gods still going strong today.

So, Tassielli formed Pump nine years ago and loves every opportunity he and his bandmates get to perform Aerosmith’s classic hits in front of rocking crowds all over the New York-New Jersey metro area and beyond. 

Pump performs outdoor show.

“Aerosmith has such a large catalog of songs that it made me want to do it,” Tassielli, 48, said. “And there were no other bands on Long Island playing their music. It seemed like the thing to do at the moment.”

A bass player who took up the instrument in 1986, Tassielli, a Long Island native, especially loves how well Aerosmith features his chosen instrument. Plus, the way the Boston-formed group has been able to stay relevant to this day after forming back in 1970.

“There are great bass lines in Aerosmith’s music,” he said. “It’s crazy how long they’ve been playing. They’re still playing in Vegas. He’s (Steven Tyler) 72, man.”‘

So, why should fans come out and see a live Pump performance?

“Every show is always a different setlist, for the most part,” Tassielli said. Sure, “there are always the standards: Dream On, Sweet Emotions, and Living on the Edge. And we use the audio from the MTV video for Love in an Elevator– ‘Oh, good morning, Mr. Tyler. Going down? (played by model Brandi Brandt, who was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for October 1987).'”

Additionally, “We ask the audience, ‘What do you want to hear?’ Whatever we play,” he continued, “it’s always fun for the fans.”

Pump, who often hits the stage with other hard rock cover bands that play the best songs from Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses, and KISS, has booked four shows, so far, for 2021.

If you have your trepidations about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and seeing in-person shows, Tassielli said with all earnest and optimism: “I can’t stop doing what I do. We’ll ride above the virus. Let’s think positive for the whole world.”

COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, most likely, and could hopefully lessen by the time Pump’s performances roll around. 

However, individual state laws will guide the participating venues on the necessary precautions that it will need to follow to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Therefore, Tassielli said: “Come support the band. It’s going to be a good year for us. It’s not about watching the band play. It’s about the whole show.”

Pump’s first performance is scheduled for Friday, March 26th at 8:00 p.m. at Stereo Garden in Patchogue, Long Island, with KISS tribute band Unmasked and Motley Crue cover band Wildside.

Next, on Saturday, April 17th, the band will be playing at Sean’s Crazy Saloon in North Arlington, NJ, with Motely Crue tribute group Cruecified.

Pump returns to the Garden State on Saturday, June 19th, for an 8:00 p.m. show at the Brook Arts Center, in Bound Brook, NJ.

Then, Pump will play a show on Saturday, August 28th at 7:00 p.m. at Nussy’s Beirgarten, in Round Top, NY.

Pump members include Frank Tassielli, bass/vocals/band manager; Ray Monte, drummer/vocals; Johnny Flaggs Francese, guitar/synthesizer/vocals; and Tommy Lestat Collier, guitars/vocals/talk box.

For more information on Pump and its schedule, visit PumpRocks.net. To follow the band on social, go to Facebook and Instagram.

— Jerry Del Priore

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NJ Native Alyssa O’Neil Needs Third Living-Saving Kidney Transplant

Anyone who has experienced a kidney transplant, or knows someone who has been through the ordeal, can attest to the trying experience. 

For Lake Hopatcong, NJ, resident Alyssa O’Neil, she has not only had the arduous operation twice but now needs a third kidney transplant to save her life.  

After O’Neil had a stroke at 18, the doctors diagnosed her with Systemic Erythematosus Lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs. 

After 15 years, the condition led to O’Neil’s kidneys failing and she received her first transplant from a cadaver at the age of 33 circa 1995. 

O’Neil’s kidney lasted approximately 12 years, but it started to fail, requiring a second operation. 

“I was upset and not happy that I was going back on dialysis,” she said. “I knew what my life was like on dialysis. It really changes the quality (of your life), but I was optimistic that I would be blessed again.” 

On December 7th, 2007, with a little more than two years of waiting, O’Neil, 45 at the time, wound up receiving a kidney from a living donor, her brother. Something she said was nothing short of a miracle.

However, the operation was an ABO incompatible kidney transplant, a procedure in which a donor’s blood type and the recipient’s blood type are not compatible. 

With an ABO incompatible kidney transplant, you receive medical treatment before and after your kidney transplant to lower antibody levels in your blood and reduce the risk of antibodies rejecting the donor’s kidney, according to MayoClinic.org. 

This surgery makes it possible for a successful outcome, with varying results, however. 

But O’Neil said that after the transplant, the doctors found antigens–toxins or other foreign substances which induce an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies–in her blood. 

“They felt it wouldn’t last, that it would start to fail,” O’Neil recollected. “But they weren’t sure. But I was fortunate that they were able to do an incompatible transplant.”

O’Neil said that the kidney lasted over 10 years, longer than the doctors expected. 

Unfortunately for O’Neil, the 57-year-old is on a waiting list for a third kidney while undergoing kidney dialysis treatments three times a week, which, she noted, occupies five and a half to six hours, including travel time, with each session. Plus, not always feeling her best, to say the least.

Remarkably, O’Neil has managed to remain on the bright side of life, using prayer and life-affirming optimism to help lift her spirits. 

“I just keep positive,” she emphasized. “If you don’t keep positive, if you feel sorry for yourself, it takes you longer to recover and bring yourself out of being sad. And it affects the people around you, so it’s important for me to be positive.” 

Fortunately for O’Neil, she has a fighting angel in her corner, Donna Tissot, Tissot is a kidney donor advocate who she connected with through reading an article on the work she performed for a person who needed a kidney. 

“She’s been great,” O’Neil said. “She’s selfless, too. She does this work for so many other people.” 

So, why does Tissot put forth the tireless effort to help people obtain a kidney, most of whom are strangers at first? 

“I had a goal when my brother-in-law needed a kidney, to find him a living donor,” Tissot explained. “Now, I am passionate in helping others find living donors, to give them the gift of life. She needs a hero to save her life.” 

While there isn’t an exact number, because of factors such as age, a patient’s condition, and protein in the urine, among other elements, kidney transplant experts believe that the average life expectancy for a person receiving dialysis treatments is 4.25 years and only 23 percent of patients can live for 10 years.

Most medical experts point out that being a living donor isn’t as scary as most people would think. 

O’Neil and Tissot encourage people to get tested to see if they are a viable candidate for the surgery. And if they are suitable for the producer, recovery time is around four-six weeks, per mayoclinic.org

To help O’Neil and others awaiting a life-saving kidney transplant, visit the links below. 

The New Jersey Sharing Network: https://www.njsharingnetwork.org/.

The living donor referral form: www.rwjbh.org/livingdonorreferralform

Living donor website: https://www.rwjbh.org/ldi

The NJ Sharing Network is a non-profit organization responsible for the recovery and placement of donated organs and tissue for those in need of a life-saving transplant.

Nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents are currently awaiting transplantation, according to its website.

— Jerry Del Priore

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Dunkin’ Gets Spookey with Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut

Just when you thought the food industry ran out of ideas for spicy fare, today Dunkin’ introduced its Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut, just in time for Halloween.

Dunkin’s Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut

The limited-edition doughy treat features strawberry-flavored icing with cayenne and ghost pepper for a sweet heat indulgence. 

As peculiar as it sounds, the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut blends both tantalizing tastebud sensations into one mouth-watering flavor.

“Halloween looks a little different this year, and so do our donuts. While our classic bakery offering has plenty of crave-worthy treats, we’re excited to show our spicy side with a donut that packs a touch of heat with something sweet and can be enjoyed any time of day,” said Jill Nelson, vice president of marketing strategy at Dunkin, in a press release.

The Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut is available today until December at participating Dunkin’ eateries nationwide.

Jerry Del Priore

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The Nerds to Play Two Limited-Capacity Shows at MPAC in Morristown, NJ in October

New Jersey’s favorite party band, The Nerds will be performing two shows at Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown on Friday, October 16th at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Not many cover bands can match The Nerds’ intensity.

Playing since 1985, The Nerds have built a loyal legion of fans all over the world. But no other area loves the geeky, ever-popluar cover band more than we do right here in the Garden State.

I last saw The Nerds on Tuesday, August 18th at the 2020 Hot Summer Nights Concert Series at the Village Green in Summit. 

Though it was my first time, I do not intend it to be my last.

From MPAC: MPAC is excited to begin welcoming patrons back in the theatre in a limited capacity. This event will be held with a maximum capacity of 150 patrons and will be seated with social distancing measures in place, per Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 183. Please click here to learn more about MPAC’s health and safety guidelines.

For more information and tour dates, visit the-nerds.com, and you can like them on Facebook by clicking the link above to the right.

To purchase tickets to either of The Nerds’ two MAYO shows, follow this link: https://www.mayoarts.org/shows/the-nerds

— Jerry Del Priore

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The Nerds Make Geek Chic at Summit, NJ Concert Finale

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The Nerds rock out in Summit, NJ.

I cannot think of a better way to end the Investors Bank 2020 Hot Summer Nights Concert Series at the Village Green in Summit, NJ, then watching renowned New Jersey cover band The Nerds perform in front of a live audience Tuesday night. 

Playing since 1985, The Nerds have built a loyal legion of fans all over the world. And approximately 250 people had the glorious opportunity to see them for free. 

I, for one, always wanted to witness The Nerds in perosn and wasn’t disappointed one bit. 

The Nerds kicked off their show with Christmas Eve / Sarajevo, which Trans-Siberian Orchestra made famous. It’s not an easy song to play, but they rocked it to the fullest. 

The band went into a few of my personal favorites: Prince and The Revolution’s Let’s Go Crazy and being a heavy metal brat, I enjoyed the Nerd’s version of Poison’s Talk Dirty to Me

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Not many cover bands can match The Nerds’ intensity.

Fronted by Jim “Spaz” Garcia, who sang and played lead guitar, The Nerds performed Wild Cherry’s Play That Funky Music White Boy, with Peter “Stretch” Oltmanns banging out that unforgettable funky baseline. The group even changed up the tempo with New Jersey’s own Frank Sinatra’s Summer Winds

Oh, What a Night and The Nerds played that, too, mixed in with a little Led Zepplin. 

They followed that up with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and a resounding version of Gun N Roses’ classic rock track Sweet Child of Mine, sang by Mike “Mongo” Spiro, who hit those difficult-to-reach high notes and also dazzled the crowd with his fantastic keyboard work. Plus, Jack “Biff” Yocum’s rhythmic drum playing.  

Yeah, Rock n Roll, baby. 

To keep everyone dancing, The Nerds fast-forwarded it to 2015 with Flo Rida’s Welcome to My House and DNCE’s Cake by the Ocean

Paying homage to this great nation of ours, The Nerds dropped the curtain on the show by playing The Star-Spangled Banner.

For more information and tour dates, visit the-nerds.com, and like them on Facebook.

Watch the video below of The Nerds playing Toto’s Africa.

— Jerry Del Priore

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Brian Kirk & Jirks Bring the Summit, NJ, Crowd to New Heights with Rocking Performance

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Brian Kirk & Jirks at the Village Green in Summit, NJ.

One of my most anticipated concerts of the summer was seeing the band Brian Kirk & the Jirks perform at the Village Green in Summit, NJ, on Tuesday night. 

And the seven-piece (usually nine members) cover band did not disappoint, playing memorable tunes from the 70s up to the present. 

Brian Kirk & the Jirks had the people dancing, singing, laughing, and just plain enjoying themselves, helping them cope with their COVID-19 worries, at least for the time being. 

Brian Kirk, the charismatic frontman of the New Jersey-based band, used his soulful voice to belt out songs: Looking Glass’s Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl), Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes’s Talk to Me, Billy Joel’s Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, and New Jersey’s Own Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road.

The group also performed Manfred Mann’s Blinded by the Light, a song which “The Boss” wrote and originally recorded in 1973. 

Additionally, Freedom Bremner, a wonderful singer, handled the vocals on Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, Bob Marley and The Wailers’s Could You Be Loved, and Stevie Wonder’s You Can Feel it All Over, plus other great tracks. 

When songs called for higher octaves, however, the band’s lead guitarist took over. He rocked out to Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, 4 Non-Blondes’s What’s Up?, and Leo Sayer’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Kirk, a true showman with undeniable high energy (visible sweat markings and all), even injected a bit of humor into the concert. Although a little dry at times, Kirk told one joke that had the crowd in stitches.  

“The Canaries Islands do not have one canary on it,” Kirk, who owns an encyclopedia knowledge of music, told the audience. “The Virgin Islands? Same thing, no canaries.” 

But I digress.  

One of the highlights of the show was Brian Kirk & the Jirks’s brass section, which was outstanding, adding an element of musical style most cover bands cannot match. 

All in all, Brian Kirk & the Jirks came out to party and rock the crowd, which it did, no doubt about it. 

For more information, watch and listen to the band’s music, and to book the group for an event, which I recommend, please visit jirks.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram

Watch the video of You Can feel it All Over below. 

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

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3 More New Jersey Pizza Places that Make Me Feel at Home

Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world, but arguments could go on for hours on which area makes the best: Brooklyn, Staten Island, Chicago or New Jersey? 

As a Brooklyn native, I have been on a never-ending search for great New Jersey places to satisfy my craving for the Italian delight. 

Here are three NJ pizza joints that make my taste buds smile. Enjoy. 

Coppola’s Ristorante  590 Central Ave, New Providence, NJ 

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Coppola’s Square.

Coppola’s is everything right about New Jersey pizza.

Located in New Providence, the restaurant provides the finest Italian food, made with a Naples-inspired flair.  

As for the pizza, I enjoyed a sausage slice, with the meat baked right into the pizza, just the way I love it. Some places throw the sausage on top of a slice before popping it into the oven. Hey, it is just not the same, trust me. 

Next, I devoured a Sicilian pizza (square, for you people not in the pizza know). This slice was not too doughy and had a ton of flavor, so it was up to my Brooklyn standards of tastiness. 

My girlfriend Maggie had the spinach and mozzarella slice.

All the savory offerings were outstanding, crafted with top-quality ingredients, including tangy sauce, crispy but not that hard of a crust, with delicious, fresh mozzarella to put an exclamation of excellence point on the pizzas. 

Coppola’s has become one of my go-to spots for pizza when I am in the area. 

Coppola’s has a 3.5 out of five stars, with 183 reviews on Yelp. 

Note: Coppola’s Pickup Instructions. 

To limit the amount of person-to-person contact, Coppola Ristorante is offering order pickup.

Instructions:

1. Call Coppola’s (908) 665-0266 and place your order (click to see our menu)2. Pay for your order over the phone using a credit card.

3. Arrive at the pickup counter which is now behind a glass window.

4. A Coppola staff member will take your name and bring your order to the counter (we will leave the receipt with your order).

Its staff members are all wearing face-masks and gloves. It asks their customers to wear a face-mask for food pickup and, if needed, to wait in-line, keeping the required six-feet of distance from each customer. 

Saporito Pizza — 100 State Route 22, Springfield, NJ

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Saporito

Saporito is like many of the pizza joints I used to frequent in Brooklyn. It even makes a Brooklyn Pie, a Sicilian-style pizza, with the cheese on the bottom and sauce on top.

Additionally, Saporito offers a wide variety of specialty pizzas, 22 to be exact. 

Maggie and her daughter Nicole delighted in Bruschetta Pizzas (picture above) — an old fashioned pizza with a thin crust flavored, oregano and roasted garlic, topped with fresh tomato and basil pesto and mozzarella (no pignoli nuts).  Yes, it is amazing as looks. 

But if you just in a mood for a regular cheese slice or square, you can’t go wrong. It’s very close to the New York City-style, crafted with fresh, mouthwatering sauce and mozzarella, not to mention a firm, crunchy crust. 

Not to worry too much about pandemic protection, as Saporito adheres to all Garden State food guidelines, Plexiglas and all. 

Saporito has a four out of five stars, with 72 reviews on Yelp. 

Doria’s Pizza Restaurant — 432 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ 

Doria's Pizza

Doria’s slices!! Yessss!

I was in search of a pizza establishment that was nearby to Chatham, where I now live. So, I came across Doria’s Pizza in Summit. 

When this place first opened in 1986, high hair, rubber bractlets like the ones Madonna wore, and bright neon colors were all the rage. 

So, there is something to be said for longevity. And Doria Pizza was on the money, with its slices. 

Crisp and bubbling with cheesy goodness, I had two slices to go. It another pizza place that makes close to the famous NYC-style slice.

Yes, I will be back again.

Doria’s Pizza has four out of five stars, with 59 reviews on Yelp.

— Jerry Del Priore

 

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The Nerds, Brian Kirk & the Jirks Round Out Summit’s Village Green 2020 Summer Concert Series

Brian Kirk & the Jirks

Brian Kirk & the Jirks (photo: Facebook).

As the summer heads into August, the music at the Investor Bank 2020 Hot Summer Nights Concert Series at the Village Green in Summit, NJ, is reaching a fever pitch.

The next two musical acts are a testament to the quality of musical acts playing at the Village Green (356 Broad Street) in Downtown Summit. 

First, on Tuesday, August 11th, at 7:00 p.m., Brian Kirk & the Jirks, a nine-piece interactive, high energy band, will be hitting the stage, bringing their cool brand of music to the Summit area. Brian Kirk and the Jirks play a variety of tunes from Led Zeppelin to Taylor Swift and everyone in between. 

With two decades behind their musically rocking experience, Brian Kirk and the Jirks played everywhere from New Jersey, New York CityPennsylvania, and Long Island. But the band has traveled around the world.  

If that isn’t good enough, on Tuesday, August 18th 7:00 p.m., New Jersey’s beloved group The Nerds will bring their hip dorkiness to Summit, playing a blend of Soul, Classic Rock, and TV themes. 

Yes, even I have always wanted to see The Nerds perform live, and now I will get my chance. 

Performing everywhere and anywhere, The Nerds, first known as AKA, has entertained thousands of crowds since 1985.

Additionally, they have been on The View about four times, The Carson Daly Show, and The Arsenio Hall Show, among others. 

For more information on the 2020 Hot Summer Nights Concert Series at the Village Green, visit www.summitcommunityprograms.com/.

To follow the bands on social media, go to www.facebook.com/BrianKirkandtheJirkstwitter.com/jirksevents for Brian Kirk & the Jirks, and on Facebook and Twitter for The Nerds. 

Note: Social distancing of six feet or more and face coverings will be enforced. Please help keep everyone around you safe and as healthy as possible. Plus, bring your own chairs and blankets for comfort. 

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

 

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Annabella’s Pizza II Makes a Brilliant Case for Jersey Goodness

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Now, that’s a pizza!

I usually have a steadfast rule of not purchasing pizza right as a place is closing, you know? You don’t always get its best pizza, as it’s usually the leftovers, sitting there for some time. 

But I couldn’t resist a hankering for some cheesy goodness from a pizza joint I had not eaten at before, Annabella’s II, located at 401 Speedwell Avenue. Morris Plains, NJ. So I order three offerings: sausage, white, and square. 

Hey, I was hungry, but I digress. 

Completely outfitted for pandemic protection, Annabella’s Pizza II crafted the sausage slice with the meat baked right into it, just the way I like it. While the pizza did droop a bit, the fact that the sausage abounded, the extra weight caused the pizza to flop. But, overall, it was a tasty slice. 

Next, the white slice was equal to the task, made with quality mozzarella and creamy ricotta, with the crispy crust complementing the pizza. 

Last but not least was the Sicilian-Style (square) delight, which checked off all the boxes for flavorsome pizza. Delicious cheese, just the right amount of doe, and the same savory sauce used on the other varieties reminded me of a Brooklyn square. 

I will have to visit Anabella’s II during a busier time when the pizza is pipping, hot-out-of-the-oven, mouth-watering ready to enjoy. Plus, to sample its other Italian specialties. 

Please visit Anabella’s other location at 329 Smith Road in Parsippany. For more information, check out eatatannabellas.com and on Facebook

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

 

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NJ’s Madison Downtown Concert Series Rocks On

Tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Madison Downtown Development Commission and Museum of Early Trade & Crafts (METC) Concert Series, The Zaire Band will be performing in front of METC’s building on 9 Main Street in Madison, NJ. 

The Zaire Band is known for playing its own rendition of cool country music classics and today’s best from the popular music genre. 

Jumping the Gun

Jumping the Gun in Madison, NJ. 

Next, on Friday, August 7th, Jumping The Gun will be hitting the stage to play classic rock tunes from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, NJ’s Bruce Springsteen and more. 

For a sweet change of pace, on Friday, August 21st, Orquesta Los Nueve Del Sabor, comprised of salsa music artists from the NY/NJ area, will be bringing its high-energy, Latin  rhythms to the region for a night of classic salsa, merengue and Cumbia (a Colombian folk dance and dance music) hits. 

On Friday, August 28th, House of Hamill, a Celtic group from Philadelphia, will be brandishing their fiddles and violins for an evening of foot-stomping, joyful music.   

Check out this amazing rendition of Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child of Mine

The final performance in the concert series features Madison-based rock n’ roll band What’s What.

What’s What jams out to up-beat rock music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, playing the likes of Val Halen, Tom Petty, Cheap Tricks, and others. 

Last Friday, Mama D & the Vexations rocked the crowd with its own brand of eclectic music. 

Note: You must wear face coverings and practice social-distancing of six-feet or more. Also, it’s strongly advised that you bring hand sanitizer for adding protection.  

— Jerry Del Priore 

Photos and video: Facebook and YouTube.