For the past 40 years or so, Asbury Park has been the epicenter for up and coming musical artists in New Jersey. What Nashville is to Tennessee or what Detroit was to Michigan is what Asbury Park means to New Jersey. While we all know the stories about the acts that have come through the scene from Bruce Springsteen to The Gaslight Anthem, not much is spoken about those who first gave them that shot to play in Asbury. Tony Pallagrosi dominated the scene in the 90’s with his Concerts East promotions and John D’Esposito took a small festival at The Stone Pony and turned it into a giant festival that saw acts such as Foo Fighters and Lil’ Wayne perform at. But as we turn to 2014, we have a rising star in the world of booking in Asbury and her name is Christine Feola.
Originally from Freehold, Feola has been in charge of booking and running the Happy Mondays series at the legendary Wonder Bar since July 2013. Each and every week, Happy Monday’s spotlights the hottest rising acts of the Asbury music scene, all free of charge. The weekly event even won “Best Event” at this past year’s Asbury Music Awards, but before the awards and the drive to help the rise of a local music scene, Feola was like every other teenager who grew up in Jersey in the early 00’s
“I remember being 13, getting dropped off by my dad to wait in a huge line on the boardwalk to get into Skate and Surf. I have always had a thing for live music” said Feola. “The one thing about all those bands though, they loved NJ as much as I did. I loved how Coheed sung about Jersey, along with Taking Back Sunday and The Starting Line. It made you feel that we all were in it together”.
After graduating not only from Rutgers University with a communications degree, but also graduating from the oh-so intense world of sneaker sales at Zumiez, Feola moved on to working as a bartender at The Stone Pony and it’s sister venue The Wonder Bar.
It was during this time that Feola slowly started to take up a behind the scenes role at The Wonder Bar, eventually booking her first few events for the venue. Her first few shows were benefits for various New Jersey charities.
“I threw a couple benefits for Toys for Tots, which I dubbed ‘Rock for Tots’. One that really struck my heartstrings was the one that I threw for the people of Tent City in Lakewood. We collected a ton of coats that Debbie (Feola’s boss at The Wonder Bar) and I brought down to the people there. It was heart warming and yet heart breaking at the same time”.
After the glowing success of the charity events, Feola received the chance to put on something exciting every week for music fans in Asbury, thanks to Michael “Buck” Crowell.
“Happy Mondays was originally started by Michael “Buck” Crowell. He has worked in this town for a while and was apart of something similar called Shore Alternative. Buck had the chance to move up and went onto bigger and better things. Happy Mondays was running for two months already, so Buck let me take over running the shows mid July 2013”, stated Feola.
Since Feola’s take over of Happy Mondays, the event slowly began to snowball to grow beyond anyone expectations thanks in part to tight knit local scene and the weekly killer performances from the top local acts such as Amy Malkoff &; The Moonshines, Hot Blood, The Vansaders and Young Rising Sons. But, Feola sees The Battery Electric as the next band to breakthrough outside of the Asbury scene.
“The Battery Electric is kickass. They bring a great show every single time they play. It also helps that those dudes are just straight up rad. Ron is a great front man! Brent slays it on the guitar and I dig Alex’s bass lines. I see them taking off, sooner than later. Definitely keep an eye on those fools!” said Feola.
After an amazing 2013, that saw Asbury Music Award wins and select shows that have fit over 250 people in the tiny Wonder Bar, 2014 is set to be an even bigger year for Feola and Happy Mondays.
“We have our first national act on March 31st with Mishka! The local acts that play Happy Mondays are also going to get some chances to open up for some nationals at the Pony and the Wonder Bar! I have a couple of ideas up my sleeves for summertime, branching out of Happy Mondays into something bigger” exclaimed an excited Feola.
Only time will tell if the young Christine Feola will fall into the category of a Tony Pallagrosi or a John D’Esposito, but if her current track record says anything, she has the ability to etch her name with the rest of the Asbury greats.
“Let’s just say, we are about to take this local scene to the next level. I just want to keep Happy Mondays running strong and lively into 2014. Happy Mondays is still in its infancy, and I am excited to see where it is going to go from here”.