On one of the sunniest day of the year so far, Hobokenites came out in droves to eat, see local art and hear live music at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival on Sunday afternoon.
The event ran from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and spanned the area on Washington Street between Observer Highway and Seventh Street.
The main stage for music sat at the south end of the festivities and kicked off the rock at noon with Hoboken locals, Davey & The Trainwreck. The band's brand of Americana-tinged folk rock was just the right vibe to ease the crowd into a long afternoon of music.
Lead singer Dave Calamoneri, took note of the gorgeous day. "The sun finally decided to grace us with its presence," he said. Indeed it did, remaining a constant companion to festival-goers throughout the day.
The second band on the bill was Montclair-based . A five piece, with two guitarists who share lead vocal duties, a bass player, a drummer, and a percussionist, Bern & Co make a pretty big sound. Bernadette Malavarca, co-bandleader and notably fantastic lead guitar player (on a blond Telecaster), also made note of the "perfect day" and told the audience it was the band's drummer Jose's birthday. Catherine McGowan contributed strong rhythm guitar and inserted "Hoboken" into the chorus of one of her songs.
Up next was a Blondie tribute band that flicked the party switch on from note one. Led by platinum blonde firecracker, Tammy Faye Starlite, The Pretty Babies ripped through an energetic set of Blondie classics including 'Hanging On The Telephone', 'One Way Or Another', 'Dreaming', and 'Atomic.'"
Set highlight number one: Starlite's mesmerizing intro to 'Heart of Glass' where she described the late 70's, Studio 54 scene, while her band chugged along behind her building up to the unmistakable bass riff that is at the heart of that song.
Set highlight number two: drummer Linda Pitmon. She was amazing and she also played in the next band up, .
Before The Baseball Project got on to the business of playing their tunes , they helped Mayor Zimmer give an award to members of the Hoboken Little League in celebration of its 60th year. Half a dozen uniformed little league players got up on stage and accepted the award from Zimmer. Peter Buck of The Baseball Project hoisted up two little leaguers for a photo-op moment that was nothing short of adorable.
The Baseball Project then proceeded to rip a hole through the afternoon with the sheer power of their rocking and songwriting prowess. Highlights (and there were many) included Wynn's ode to Detroit Tiger's pitcher Mark Fidrych entitled '1976', McCaughey's wordtastic 'Panda and The Freak,' and the ridiculously talented rhythm section of Buck and Pitmon.
Craig Finn (of the Hold Steady) made a truly electric guest appearance on a tune for which he penned the lyrics called, 'Please Don't Call Them Twinkies.'" He was entirely captivating and having never heard/seen him sing live before, I think I fully understand now why his band is so popular.
As the afternoon wound down, the area surrounding the stage filled up as it got closer to the time were scheduled to hit the stage. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air.
When the band walked out, Hunter sat at an electric piano and he and the Rant Band opened the show with the Mott The Hoople classic 'All The Way from Memphis.'" A few songs later, they had the crowd heartily chanting along to 'Cleveland Rocks.'"
The seasoned band went on to seamlessly blend songs together spanning a 40-year career and the set was a triumph that band and crowd seemed to enjoy equally.
"It's lovely to be here," Hunter commented between songs near the end of the set. "I've always loved this town."