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JERSEY CITY SPRING SERIES: Our Tris McCall Traces The Excitement That Exists Again, For You The Rockers, The Artists, The Fans.

Photo by David Jones

Tris McCall is a stalwart of Jersey City music, it’s scene and the artistic culture. In this new series, he’ll be covering the emotions and, more importantly, the journey to certain exciting venues around town. We’re happy to have him traverse around town, helping all of us feel a bit more connected to the JC music scene; which has always existed and now, deserving even more highlighting.

This series is dedicated to all you Rockers, Musicians, Artists, and of course, JC fans.

Find out where and when Tris’ journey will take him this Spring around town, through comeherefloyd’s site or Social Media. You can follow Tris’ journey on Twitter [HERE], as well.

Tris’ Own Words to ‘JERSEY CITY SPRING’:

Hi, my name is Tris McCall, and I’ve been in Jersey City for a long time. I was here when uncle joes began booking rock shows, and I was here when Uncle Joe’s fell to the wrecker’s ball. I was here when the Iron Monkey squeezed punk rock shows into a tiny Chinese restaurant in Exchange Place. I recall the Waterbug Hotel and the original 58 Gallery on Coles Street; I remember every time local organizers were visited by the police for the crime of hosting live music. I saw the Dopeness open and close its doors, I saw listeners crowd into a Funhouse in the shadow of the Turnpike Extension, I saw live rock and Latin music in the cavernous interior of Victory Hall before the building was repossessed by the church that owns it, I saw performances in the aisles between the diner tables at the old Hard Grove Cafe. I cheered concerts in places that weren’t really built to accommodate them: art galleries, corner stores and cathedrals, park gazebos, the steps of City Hall. I read the plans for a dedicated music venue in the Arts Center at 111 First Street. Then I saw 111 First Street reduced to a pile of bricks.

Most of all, I remember you, Jersey rocker. Or Jersey writer, or rapper, or artist, or fan. No matter what happened, you never lost your faith that Jersey City was on the verge of a breakthrough. I remember your excitement at every opening, and I shared your frustration whenever a new initiative didn’t work out. This city was filled with creative people. We were seven minutes by train from the biggest city in the country. Our rise, endlessly deferred, felt inevitable. All we needed were some good places to play.

Well, now we’ve got them: Fox & Crow and the Hutton in the Heights, WFMU’s affiliated Monty Hall on Montgomery Street, and, in a four-block stretch of Newark Avenue, FM, the Pet Shop, and the bars, restaurants, and stages at the refurbished White Eagle Hall. We’ve got a long-running record shop, nascent record labels, a good musical instrument store, regular disc fairs at the train station, and a few websites like this one that have demonstrated a commitment to covering local public culture. The musicians have always been here; we’ve finally got the infrastructure to support them. Everything is in place. Now it’s on us.

Yes, we’ve got them, but there’s no guarantee that we can keep them. Obstacles remain. The municipal government remains capricious, intrusive, and not too enthusiastic about free expression. The shadows of the skyscrapers across the river still fall heavily on Jersey City, and make it hard to see what’s right in front of us. The rising value of land makes this a daunting place to do business. A property developer with deep pockets is currently plotting to turn your house, or your shop, or your favorite bar, into a luxury hi-rise. Just kidding about the last one. I think.

But after a long winter, we’ve got no time for worries. This April, I’m hopeful that a gorgeous blossom is budding on the branch. Luckily for me, I don’t have to walk or bicycle very far to find out if I’m right. I’ll be out at the clubs of Jersey City for the next four evenings, and I’ll be posting my reflections here. Check back tomorrow for my first dispatch, and then again on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These won’t be proper concert reviews – although those will come. Rather, they’ll be impressions of a city on the cusp. Same as it ever was, sure, but there’s good reason to think that this time is different. It is deeply meaningful to me that I can see live music for four nights straight without leaving town, and not merely because I like saving $5.50 in PATH fares. No, I’m excited for the same reason I’ve always been: I believe that Jersey has something to say. When we can hear it speak, we really ought to listen.

See you around town?

Tris McCall


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