Participating in your local music scene isn't just fun,
When you have the right artists who are truly in it for the music and the right crowd who are truly in it to listen, it turns into an incredible community where everyone comes together to support one another. On this past Friday night, Joe Michelini of American Trappist
appeared in Lacey, New Jersey to remind us of that while celebrating the release of his self-titled debut album, now out via Painted Lady Records.
Let's backtrack for a sec and get it out of the way: Michelini is the dude behind River City Extension
, a national success which garnered critical praise and a dedicated fan base. Nearly a year ago, Michelini ended the band with a heart-wrenching farewell show in the shore town of Asbury Park, NJ. Although the group is a thing of the past, it's important to acknowledge this for the sake of the story because in less than a year later, less than one f*cking year,
Michelini is already back on his feet with his new eclectic songwriting project, American Trappist. That's right -- in less than a year, he's managed to write, record, and produce an entire record, release three videos (with more on the way), and establish himself as an artist who's clearly here to stay. All with the help of his music community supporting him every step of the way.
Now we can fast-forward to last weekend where he celebrated his new album. Toms River-based band Curious Garden kicked off the night with fast-paced tunes. Some of the songs included cello arrangements (AKA the way to my heart) and emotional lyrics which seemingly-dedicated fans up in the front sang along with. Beers were being passed around, people were socializing, and it felt more like a laid-back party rather than a show.
Next up was American Trappist, who entered the stage during an audio clip of an old-school countdown. His line up consisted of drums, bass, keys, and Michelini on guitar himself. They dove into what was a very emotional set, playing songs off the new record, "No Bibles," "Up in the Air," "Fireworks," and more. Between every song, Michelini would break to thank people and tell a story or a joke, but kept it sentimental for the most part. Sometimes he'd give a shout out to his fiance, which made the songs feel even more personal and passionate. "When I say I love you, I really do!"
he screams at the end of "Nothing Short of Faithful."
Michelini sure could rip on the guitar. He experimented with different effects throughout the set and nailed the exhilarating and fun solo in "Sour In The Rye." He filled up every word he sang with emotion, switching it up from the recorded version and choosing to hold out certain words longer or sing them differently -- putting a bigger emphasis on his message. When Michelini is in the moment, he's not worrying about being perfect. Instead, he's focusing on putting all of his energy into connecting with the crowd.
When he wrapped up the last song and the crowd was pleading for an encore, I turned to the person beside me and said, "It's like he puts on a stadium-style show in a basement," the person just smiled real big in agreement and nodded with validation... He puts on one hell of a show and his comeback reeks of humble triumph.That night, Michelini left the crowd feeling emotional and connected. Everyone left with new friends and a new appreciation for this nice little community we built together. American Trappist is quirky, edgy, and most importantly, authentic. With such a strong work ethic and talent, there's no doubt he won't stay in the local music scene forever... But when he expands, he'll always come back and remind us about the community where it all started. He did it.