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NJBS Annual Party


The North Jersey Blues Society (NJBS) held its Annual Party on Saturday, November 11th at the legendary blues venue, The Stanhope House. A very special thank you to the entire blues community -- to Kathi Skyta, Ginny Hansen, Kirk Hansen, Joe Foti, and Steve Benvenutti who all helped set up and manage the event, to the bands who gave their all -- Eric Heilner, BLUES People, Alexis P. Suter Band and Wayne Baker Brooks Band, to Clark Paddock for providing spectacular sound throughout the event, to all of the silent auction donors and fans who purchased raffle tickets, to the Ren Giliberti and the venue staff who provided stellar service, and to the blues fans who came out to support this very special event -- including some very special guests (Eliza Neals, Ro Stafa, Johnny Charles and NJBS Sponsors Denise and Leo from Montclair Brewery).


The event included a silent auction, where bidders won a wide range of items, including music event tickets, a hand-carved lyric pottery bowl, a custom charcuterie board, and other themed gift baskets. Thanks to the generosity of our blues community, NJBS can continue to keep the blues alive. The autographed guitar raffle included a Fender guitar with 20 signatures from various blues guitarists including Albert Castiglia, Mike Zito, Keb Mo, Walter Trout, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Anson Funderburg, to name a few. Congratulations to Stacy Russo, who held the winning ticket. The raffle generated $1,400 in ticket sales, which was donated to the BLUES People to help offset travel costs to Memphis in January. BLUES People also have a GoFundMe page - please support them if you can.


Eric Heilner kicked off the event with a toe-tapping boogie woogie set. Hailing from New Jersey, Eric studied piano and composition at New York's Julliard, has written multiple award-winning compositions, and has released an album "Modern Sounds in Classical Music." Eric will be representing the North Jersey Blues Society as a solo artist at the 2024 International Blues Challenge.

Next up was BLUES People, who gave a stellar performance. BLUES People is a NY/NJ blues-based band featuring...Kelton Cooper (vocals/guitar), Mike Griot (bass), Ron Thompson (keys) and Gene Lake (drums). Having released two promotional singles in 2022, the band is busy in the studio wrapping up their much-anticipated debut album "The Skin I'm In." BLUES People will be representing the North Jersey Blues Society in the band category at the 2024 International Blues Challenge. Sitting in for Ron was Victor Burks and for Gene was Lee Finkelstein.

Next up was the Alexis P. Suter Band, who tore it up. Alexis P. Suter is an American blues and soul blues singer and songwriter, and was nominated in the "Koko Taylor Award" category at the 33rd Blues Music Awards in 2015. She and her backing band have released six albums to date., and are currently working on a new release ,-- please help support this release by contributing to the GoFundMe. Meet the band: Alexis Suter (vocals), Vicki Bell (vocals), Ray Grappone (drums), Arthur Neilson (bass - yes, you read it right, bass!!) and Jimmy Bennett (guitar).

And closing out the night was the Wayne Baker Brooks Band. Cristy Benvenutti, President of NJBS, received a call the night before the event from Mike Griot and Kelton Cooper. Kelton received a call from Wayne asking if there were any gigs available as his gig was canceled at the last minute. Fortunately, NJBS jumped on it and we were happy to have this band close out the event. Wayne Baker Brooks is considered one of today's top guitarists whose signature style combines powerful vocals, with liquid fire guitar playing that honors his rich heritage yet effortlessly expands the boundaries of the genre. He has three releases and one book published. Joining the band were special guests, Eliza Neals and Kelton Cooper who sat in for a few songs.



1 Kommentar


I am so sorry that I missed this great evening. I was under the weather.

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