Rockin' Brunswick

Rockin' Brunswick - Crossfire Choir - "Left Behind" (1 of 12)

Posted by Paul Devlin

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I grew up near New Brunswick, New Jersey and a lot of my buddies were in bands.  But I wasn’t a musician; I was into making films.  The best way for me to participate in the music was to make music videos.

New Brunswick in the 80’s had an amazing music scene, especially with Rutgers University in the mix. Bands everywhere and lots of places to play. A champion of the music was WRSU DJ, Matt Pinfield, who later became famous on MTV and commercial rock radio. Rockin’ Brunswick was all about that scene.  It was my first documentary.

I shot it all in one summer and then went back to the University of Michigan where I used the school’s equipment to learn how to edit video and put the movie together.  Editing became a lucrative skill.  I discovered it was much more useful getting me jobs on my subsequent travels than my English Lit degree.  

This opening piece is by Crossfire Choir.  They came up from Florida to be near New York, discovered New Brunswick and took the scene by storm. They got their big record contract with Geffen and toured with Culture Club, and Thompson Twins.  But like most rock and roll stories, it did not end happily, and there were many rumors as to why...

Over the next few weeks we’ll post more videos by Crossfire Choir and the other bands in Rockin’ Brunswick and tell more of the back story, so stay tuned.

 

 The DVD of the movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - Jigs and the Pigs - "Let Go" (2 of 12)

Posted by Paul Devlin:

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Joe (“Jigs”) Giglio lived across a small park from me growing up and we were best friends in grade school. 

Jigs' first single "Reason I Rock" was a hit in New Brunswick, NJ and set the tone for a lively rock and roll scene there in the '80s.  His band, Jigs and the Pigs, was one of the most popular at the time and they featured prominently in my first documentary Rockin’ Brunswick.

We played the movie up and down the East Coast on public access television (the YouTube of its day).  Rockin' Brunswick became very popular.  We knew we were on to something when Jigs started getting recognized walking around Greenwich Village in New York City.

I invite anyone familiar with those days to share their stories in the Comments below.

Keep an eye out for more videos each week from Rockin’ Brunswick.
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - Jigs and the Pigs - "Daddy" (3 of 12)

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Jim Wood (of my upcoming movie The Front Man) loves the intro to this piece from Rockin' Brunswick.

“Uh, the song “Daddy,” is really about my father”.  Classic Jigs.  Also a heartfelt song.

Jigs grew up near me in a family of 12 kids, 6 boys and 6 girls.  Many of them are musicians.

They were an amazing family, an inspiration to a lot of us in our hometown.  But no doubt there were a lot of challenges in a household that big.  Jigs’ mother, Phyllis, wrote all about it in her book, When You Come to the End of Your Rope, There’s Hope.

Jigs’ father, Sal Giglio, died last year around Christmas time. As Jigs put it, his father “pulled off the perfect death” - at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to his family.  He will be missed.  A sad occasion, but also the first time in years all 12  Giglio “kids” were all together.  I had the honor of taking this photo of the entire family.

Stay tuned next week for more bands from Rockin’ Brunswick.
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - DP and the Greys - "Bombs" (4 of 12)

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DP and the Greys were a talented, diverse band.  Danny Petroni was one of the few musicians in the New Brunswick scene at the time who had released an entire album.  And he did it himself, independently!  In that way, Danny was way ahead of his time, anticipating a DIY mentality would become the norm, especially as the music industry shifted and record companies collapsed.

Speaking of DIY and independent releases, the complete Rockin' Brunswick DVD is now available. Or you can stay tuned here for the ongoing episodes.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Rockin' Brunswick - Rockin' Bricks - "Heartbeat" (5 of 12)

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Pete Tomlinson wrote a column in The Home News called “Rockbeat,” covering the local music scene around New Brunswick, NJ.  He was also a member of the popular band Rockin’ Bricks.  Perfect cross-promotion combination for me: I interviewed him about the music scene and put his band in the movie, which he then wrote up in his column!

The video was shot at the Court Tavern.  The Court was very supportive of Rockin’ Brunswick and I’m still thankful.  This amazing venue is the bedrock of the New Brunswick music scene, even as most other live music venues have disappeared.  It continues to host live music, decades later.  This, despite many assaults on its existence, including tax battles and massive buildings rising up all around it.  Check out this article about their perseverance and community support.  And here’s their MySpace page.

Long Live The Court Tavern!

Stay tuned next week for more bands from Rockin’ Brunswick.
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - The Deed- "Thought/Passage" (6 of 12)

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I didn’t know much about The Deed when I started shooting.  But as I was researching which bands to shoot, they came highly recommended.  Rather than doing a lip synch music video shoot to a pre-recorded track, they wanted their music and performance live – a challenge for me at the time.  Terry Hughes, of Rubber Ball Productions came to my rescue.

This video was shot at Patrix, a fantastic club in a very dodgy part of town.

Stay tuned next week for more bands from Rockin’ Brunswick.
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - The Deal - "Loving You, Needing You, Wanting You" (7 of 12)

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High-energy, lots of fun and a sense of humor.  Love this video!

The Deal are good friends of mine from high school.  In fact, I was the one who put the band together by introducing them to one another – their first rehearsal was in my parents’ basement.  They’re still together, now as the Loaded Poets, and are the subject of my next project The Front Man.  Check out a clip here.

This video was edited by my brother Ted Devlin “aka Tom”.  Rockin’ Brunswick was the first project I ever edited on video.  I started spending all my time at the University of Michigan’s Media Center, learning the old 3/4” tape-to-tape equipment from scratch. Starting out with a one-hour documentary was ambitious, and I soon became overwhelmed.  Ted offered to help out by editing a couple videos at MIT where he was going to school.

He did a really great job!

Stay tuned next week for more  Rockin’ Brunswick as we introduce The Nullset!
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - Nullset - "To The Point" (8 of 12)

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This excerpt from Rockin’ Brunswick is by the Nullset, led by Joe and Dave Machos.

Back in the day, it wasn’t easy to access decent video cameras and mine was borrowed from Rutgers Physics Department where my father was a professor. My time with it was limited, so when the Nullset drummer, Chris Dallenbach didn’t show up as scheduled, we substituted Crossfire Choir’s keyboardist Eddie Freeze, who was waiting in the wings.  Chris showed up later for his cameo.

Stay tuned next week for a great fun single from The Blasés!
The DVD of the complete movie is also available here!

Rockin' Brunswick - The Blasés, "All Night Long" (9 of 12)

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The Blasés were good friends of mine through high school and college and still are.  They lived in North Jersey and I grew up in Central Jersey. But the keyboardist, Bill Donohue, is a cousin of my high school classmate Jim Donohue.  So we combined our groups of friends, and went on adventures, heading north on the Garden State Parkway to watch the Blasés play high school dances.

The Blasés were a hit in New Brunswick and I made two more music videos of them, both of which played on MTV (we'll post those here as well soon).  They went on to become one of the most popular bands at the Jersey shore in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and enjoyed a lot of college radio play. 

This song from Rockin’ Brunswick features bassist Paul “Rock” Verdon.  Our buddy Rock died in a train accident in 1985 and will always be missed.

Next up, The Groceries....

Or you can get the DVD of Rockin’ Brunswick, here.

Rockin' Brunswick - The Groceries, "Part of the New America" (10 of 12)

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The Groceries were really a Princeton band rather than a New Brunswick band.  But we found a way to sneak them in Rockin’ Brunswick anyway, because they were so popular.  

Robin Gamble and Martha Haney lent us equipment for Rockin’ Brunswick. They were friends who ran a company called Video-a-Go-Go, which pioneered music video projections at live shows even before MTV became popular. Martha shot footage of their friends The Groceries at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ and various other locations and I edited it.

Richard Auguste Morse
led The Groceries. Later he sought out his musical roots in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  He wound up running the storied Hotel Olofsson, frequented by prominent visitors such as Jonathan Demme.  Richard’s current band RAM was featured on the soundtrack for Jonathan Demme’s movie Philadelphia and he has a successful musical career in the Caribbean, releasing 5 CDs with RAM.


Stay tuned next week as we return to Crossfire Choir!

Or you can get the DVD of Rockin’ Brunswick, here.

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