East Coast Rocker

Putting You in the Front Row

Highly Suspect Introduces New Album, ‘The Boy Who Died Wolf’ To Fans at Rockin’ Irving Plaza Show

Highly Suspect - File photo by Roberta

Highly Suspect – File photo by Roberta


From local Brooklyn bars to the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, Highly Suspect has spent the last seven years rocking out the crowds at more than 800 shows around the world.

The band has earned its appeal.

Highly Suspect, comprised of twin brothers Rich (bass, vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums, vocals) and their best friend Johnny Stevens (guitar, vocals, synthesizer), played New York’s Irving Plaza as part of their country-wide tour.

‘Little One,’ ‘My Name is Human’

Highly Suspect brought the bluesy-hard rock that their amped-up fans have come to love and expect. The setlist included “Little One” and “My Name Is Human” two already-released singles off the band’s upcoming sophomore album, The Boy Who Died Wolf, which is set for release on Nov. 18.

Highly Suspect - File photo by Roberta for EastCoastRocker.com

Highly Suspect – File photo by Roberta for EastCoastRocker.com

And of course, they rocked the crowd with “Lydia,” “Claudeland,” “Bath Salts,” “Mom” and a number of other songs off their debut album Mister Asylum (released June 25, 2015). Concert-goers sang along with every song, adding to the electric atmosphere at the show.

After getting their start playing covers in their hometown of Cape Cod, Mass., Highly Suspect moved their classic rock sound to the music-drenched streets of New York. Over the years, they’ve polished and matured their sound, pumping out relatable lyrics that tell of personal experiences, anger and heartbreak.

Highly Suspect GRAMMY Nominations

Highly Suspect was nominated for two awards at the 2016 Grammys. “Lydia” received a nod for Best Rock Song, and Mister Asylum was up for Best Rock Album. There’s no doubt we’ll be hearing more from this trio, and we can’t wait to see where they’ll take their music next.

Highly Suspect is touring the United States through the end of November. For tickets and a list of Highly Suspect’s upcoming shows, visit Ticketmaster. You can find their music on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Amazon Music and Google Play.

Benefit for Starship Guitarist Slick Aguilar a ‘Miracle’

Music Lovers and Artists, Enjoy Great Jersey Musicians Night


About four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Lori Silverman at their beach party on the Navesink River in Monmouth Beach, N.J.

Silverman, a successful North Jersey real estate developer, hosts the most amazing summer party with a variety of world class artists like America; Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes; Don Felder from the Eagles; Lou Gramm from Foreigner; Max Weinberg; and Jefferson Starship.  On a side note, Silverman is a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and has been trying to encourage Bruce to drop in to his summer party for several years.

Slick Aguilar

Photos by Rich Hoynes

I was invited to the party by Anthony Cioffi and Rennie Pinkus.   Anthony is the owner of Boulevard Pro, a top shelf sound, stage and lighting company based in Northern New Jersey that handles big name artists across the US.

Rennie is an accomplished music promoter.  I was speaking with Anthony and Rennie about helping  with BEDSTOCK, a music festival fundraiser I was producing to help five schools for children with autism in Bedminster, N.J., and they asked Silverman if he wouldn’t mind me dropping by his party to see them in action.

Well I learned that Silverman and I have a similar passion for healing the planet so Silverman and I became fast friends, an easy thing to do if you know him.  Every year, Silverman picks a different charity and beach party guests are invited to make a donation.

Slick Aguilar, guitarist for Jefferson Starship, met Silverman while playing his beach party several years ago.  They became fast friends.  Little did Slick know how this meeting would change his life.

Slick had a liver transplant last year and incurred over $1 million in medical bills, and his medication costs more than $1,000 a day.   Silverman wanted to help.

So from the invite of Anthony and Rennie, to Steve and Lori’s party, destiny happened.  I had the pleasure of working with Steve to help him with a fundraiser at New Jersey Performing Arts Center with long time friends of Slick, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, and Marty Balin of Jefferson Starship.

Lou Gramm by Rich Hoynes

Lou Gramm
Photo by Rich Hoynes

As the event arrived, we were worried that we might not sell enough tickets to make a profit.  I suggested that with what is was costing him to produce the show and to pay the artists, he might be better off writing Slick a check.

Silverman responded without a second thought:  “I made a commitment to do the show and I need to meet my word. If we don’t make enough, I’ll write him a check anyway.”   Honor and integrity are alive and well in Monmouth, N.J.  This is why Steve and I are friends.

It was an awesome night of music for a great cause. I invited some of my friends to play with Lou and Marty, talented local Jersey artists.  Tommy Labella and Michael Ghegan, two of my favorite Jersey sax players lit up the stage, and singers Jillian Rhys McCoy and Pam McCoy backed up Lou on vocals with scintillating harmonies. When I asked Slick about inviting Pam McCoy to sing, Slick said he had performed with Pam many years ago and was delighted to reconnect with her.

Rehearsal was set for 3:30 P.M..  The show went on at 8 P.M.   Lou Gramm’s flight from Rochester was cancelled so he had to drive five hours and just made the show with 30 minutes to spare, so no rehearsal.  He came in, sat down for a quick well-deserved meal and the show went on without a hitch.  Silverman got to play on stage with the band.  This Renaissance man is a good guitar player himself.

Gramm stayed, signing autographs for his fans, until the last person left.  I’ve now got a guitar signed by Lou Gramm, Marty Balin, and Slick Aguilar, a treasure.

We almost sold out NJPAC and made a profit.  The music was awesome.  Silverman was pleased, though I’m not sure he has the stomach for producing another concert.  It looks easier than it is.  Lou and Marty gave world-class performances.  Ghegan rocked the house on sax playing “Urgent” with Gramm.  Pam and Slick got to perform together once more.  Slick was emotional when Silverman gave him the proceeds.

Slick Aguilar Lou Gramm Rich Hoynes

Performers join together for Slick Aguilar
Photos by Rich Hoynes

All in all, a great night.

With so many fundraisers, you don’t know how much of the money actually goes to the people that need the help.  But this one was a true winner.

“I had doctors who saved my life, friends who help me. There is a God, and he has blessed me. I’ve been very, very lucky.” – Slick Aguilar 

Rich Hoynes is an editor at East Coast Rocker.  His book, Great Jersey Music, is a top-seller on Amazon.com.

Stefan Marchello: Keeping The Good Rats Tradition Alive

Sons of Beloved Good Rats Founder Peppi Marchello Lead the Band into a New Era

By DONNA BALANCIA, East Coast Rocker

LONG ISLAND — The Good Rats’ founder and lead singer Peppi Marchello had thousands of fans who loved him like family.  Now his sons  Stefan and Gene Marchello are taking the helm. After a fantastic tribute concert in Peppi’s honor last week, East Coast Rocker Editor Donna Balancia caught up with Stefan, who is carrying on in his father’s name. Topics? New music, beer and a laundromat.

Peppi Marchello

Book cover design commemorates the life of Peppi Marchello

ECR:  What are the plans for The Good Rats since the loss of your father?

SM:  Well since the loss of my dad we have had an outpouring of love from Peppi’s fans. Our fans got behind a special Kickstarter project that helped us fund a book called PEPPI MARCHELLO The Songwriter.

The book will have pages of lyrics and great photo’s. Some pictures of Peppi rocking out and others of the family man he was. We will have videos, documentaries, audio books, and of course new music to look forward to.

My dad and I were working on the 34 new songs that he wrote. Best time of my fucking life!!! Lots of stuff we finished but lots more to complete.

In fact, we have the new CD coming out in late April or early May 2014 along with a video called Why The World Should Love The United States of America.  If anything it wins the longest song title…It’s actually a patriotic rock song that anyone who loves America could appreciate. So we have lots of great stuff for the fans and I look forward to keeping my dad’s legacy alive.

Stefan and Gene Marchello take over

Stefan and Gene Marchello – Donna M. Kross Photo

ECR:  How are you and your brother, Gene stepping up?

SM:  Well like I said I’m out there playing. Also, as many shows as he can my brother Gene comes down and plays the guitar and sings songs as well. He’s out there doing his two bands he sings in. One band is a U2 tribute band called 2U and the other is a Journey tribute band is called Almost Journey. Of course he is amazing and I think both bands are the best tribute bands you will find. He will also be helping me finish some of Peppi’s new songs.

ECR:  What are some of the goals for the band ?

SM:  Short-term and long-term goals are pretty much the same. Gonna keep playing out as much as possible. Try and keep the die hard fans happy and make some new fans along the way. And of course finish up all the great songs and projects Peppi left for his fans.

The Good Rats - East Coast Rocker

The Good Rats in their heyday

ECR:  What were among the most unique venues you’ve ever played?

SM:  Well, a couple come to mind. One was when we played a laundromat in New Jersey. It was a friend who owned it and he wanted us to play. So,we went there and people were filling the washing machines with ice and beer. It was actually a cool idea and everyone had a great time.

Then there was The Prison Tour in Pennsylvania. We did like 23 prisons all in 30 days. There were lots of stories that came from this tour. Things like broken fingers, accusations of heroin use. Those are long stories… but a short simple one was when I saw my picture ripped down and the other guys in the band pictures were still hanging up. I was told that a prisoner thought I was cute and took it back to his cell to have his way with my pic. I guess I should be flattered. We did all men prisons except for one. Of course, those women really were happy to see us!!

Dee Snider and The Good Rats for East Coast Rocker

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister joined The Good Rats on stage last weekend in tribute to Peppi Marchello. – Video by Harry Buck.

ECR:  What are the common threads that keep the Good Rats similar to the former incarnation of the band?

SM:  Well, the biggest one is blood. I worshipped my father and his talent so I try to really bring that to the show. The guys that play along me are huge loyal Good Rats fans so they really learn the parts like it’s played on the album and they love performing the songs. Dan “The Man” Smiraglia is on keyboard and Michael A. Brenna is on drums.


The Good Rats’ new album, Afterlife – Mary Reilly photo

ECR:  When is the new album coming out?

SM:  The new Good Rats album will be called AFTERLIFE. It will be out in late April early May 2014. It’s also available right now on itunes. ECR:  Any venues outside of New York that you guys might play? SM:  Right now we do New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. I’d love to play anywhere they’d let me stand.

ECR: What were unique features about Peppi’s music and what has he handed down to you?

SM:  He was a perfectionist. I don’t think you can find one guy who played in this band — and there were lots of them — who didn’t become a better player for it. It was because of his perfectionist leadership skills they improved. So I will always remember his drive and approach on doing your best but always knowing you can always strive to improve.

When it comes to performing he once told me….The people came to forget about their problems. This is their getaway. Leave your own stress and problems at home and entertain their problems away…Simple, but for me insightful.

‘Great Jersey Musicians’ a Work of Love for Rich Hoynes

Rich Hoynes, photo courtesy of Rich Hoynes

Author Rich Hoynes love Great Jersey Musicians and wrote a coffee table book about the people who make the music happen. A portion of every sale goes to charity.

BELMAR, N.J. — Richard Hoynes has accomplished a great deal as a corporate executive, a charitable benefactor and as photographer and writer.  Of course, we know him as Regional Photo Editor at East Coast Rocker.

Richard’s latest work, “Great Jersey Musicians,” documents some of the musicians he has come to know in The Garden State.

East Coast Rocker:  What sparked your love for music?

RH: I’ve been into music since I was born.  My mother sang and cut a 78 record back in the day, and encouraged my music passion.  She bought me my first electric guitar, a ’63 Fender Jazzmaster, when I was 14 years old.  I sang in choir all through grammar school and sang in a Christian choir in high school.  I taught myself guitar and I write songs, mostly songs about loss and love, like many musicians.

East Coast Rocker:  Why did you decide to incorporate both famous and not-so-famous Jersey musicians in your book?

RH: There are so many great musicians, many of whom are yet undiscovered.  I photographed those I heard who I liked.  To make it big in music is tough, and I think those who are both talented and have good business sense, make it. I also believe you become what you believe you will be.  Many musicians have a “starving artist” belief about themselves.  To be good, you must be hungry.  I think many musicians could benefit from some good business management help.   Though their art is amazing, some of the best artists suffer from self-sabotage in one form or another.

East Coast Rocker:  What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had in your career so far?   

RH: Probably having the honor of meeting Joan Jett and Daryl Strawberry. I started AMA Charitable Foundation in 2010 to help non-profits raise money.   We then hosted a fundraiser for autism for 5 schools for children with autism.  Joan came and brought a signed guitar, some signed records, and a Joan Jett Barbie doll.  I didn’t know there was a Barbie doll of Joan Jett!   (See the Joan Jett video here)   I gave her a guitar, that we had the children at Somerset Hills Learning Institute in Bedminster, NJ.,  sign for her.  In a spontaneous moment, someone from the crowd shouted, “Happy Birthday Joan!”   She had just turned 50.  Of course I spontaneously led the crowd in singing the Happy Birthday Song to her.  Of course, after the first verse I realized I was the only one singing.  She was gracious. I think there is a Youtube video of my embarrassing moment, but we had great fun and raised money to help some wonderful children.  (See the video here)

East Coast Rocker:  Who are your musical inspirations?

RH: There are too many to name.  I like all classic rock. The Beatles, The Stones, The Eagles, and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.  I’m actually inspired by some of the great lesser known artists that play the Jersey scene today.  Pat Guadagno, who I affectionately in my book named “The troubadour of the Jersey Shore,”  is an amazing vocal talent.  You know you really like an artist when you have their music CD in your car. I’m inspired by Emily Grove, a 22-year-old singer who I watched from the age of 18.  She has a June Carter kind of sound and is a great songwriter. I’m inspired by Marc Ribler, an amazing singer/songwriter and guitarist.  He wrote a great song for Autism for my BEDSTOCK event and performed it live.  He wrote a song for Sandy victims called, “Our Spirit is Strong” and gave all the proceeds to Sandy victims.  He’s written TV commercial jingles. I’m inspired by JT Bowen who was the lead singer for Clarence Clemons band for battling alcoholism, finding God, and turning his life around.  I’m also inspired by Clarence Clemons son Nick, who took care of his mother after his dad left and is working hard to leverage his father’s legacy and name to run charity events.  He has a great soulful voice.

I worked with Nick to do a fundraiser for Clarence’s birthday at Lance Larson’s Wonderbar in Asbury Park.  We raised money for two schools at the Jersey shore whose musical instruments were destroyed during super storm Sandy. Tom Doyle, master luthier and guitar player, played with Les Paul and took care of his instruments.  Tom worked with Les for more than 40 years.  I took his luthier class in North West Jersey for about a year and refinished my ’63 Fender Jazzmaster. I could go on.  I’m inspired by the music.  I’m inspired by the kindness.  I’m inspired by the charity of so many of these artists who play fundraisers for free when they can barely pay their own rent.

East Coast Rocker:  What did you enjoy the most about producing this book?

RH: Probably the smiles on the artists’ faces when they see themselves in it and the admiration of those fans who once they pick it up, can’t put it down. I also enjoyed making something that people can enjoy in their living rooms and that benefits the musicians, their fans, and charity.  $5 of every book sale goes to charity.  I’ve donated almost 100 books to charities for their fundraising events.  The musicians get the book wholesale so they can make additional revenue from doing book signings and selling them to their fans. East Coast Rocker:  What characteristics draw you to a band or solo artist?

RH: I’m drawn to great musicians who are also gracious and generous with themselves and their time.  I like songs with meaning.  In addition to those I mentioned, I appreciate the music of folk singer George Wirth, and the blues music of Kelley Dewkett.  They tell stories that make me think.

East Coast Rocker: What’s in the future for you after this book?

RH: I have a passion for leaving the planet better.  I spend the largest share of my life working as a business executive for large corporations, IBM, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and others.  I’d like to spend the next chapter thinking of ways to help address the social and health issues of our times. There are many small non-profits all across America started by people who are passionate about a particular cause who have limited business experience, limited financial means and weak fundraising ability.  There are also a large number of well-funded foundations who work hard to focus their resources on meaningful efforts across the world. Rather than spending large amounts of time trying to raise a few thousand here and a few thousand there for charities, I would like to help the larger well-funded non-profit foundations focus their resources on addressing the social and health issues affecting us today. The top 10 charitable foundations have more than $100 billion in assets.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has over $34 billion in assets and donates more than $3 billion a year to help causes.  I met Bill Gates and Steve Balmer when I worked as CIO for Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.  They do great work.  The Ford Foundation has almost $11 billion in assets.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has about $9 billion.  I’m thinking I would like to help them invest some of that. I think we should create a TV show that is a cross between the Jerry Lewis telethon and “Shark Tank” for non-profits.  We could bring together some of the top foundations with non-profits needing money to help fund and support specific efforts, and non-profit innovations in technology and new capabilities.  Do it live.  Allow people to donate live online and show the results in real time.  Film the results and share successes live, building a greater sense of community, volunteerism, and support for philanthropy.  If anyone knows how to make that happen, I’m in!

East Coast Rocker:  How do you manage to capture such great shots of the artists?

RH: Thank you for the compliment.  Nikon makes a great camera.  Can I say that?  I also use some great software products from Abobe Systems, Photoshop and Lightroom.

East Coast Rocker:  When meeting a band or singer have you ever been nervous?

RH: Yes. I would say I’ve been a bit nervous around many great musicians, until I got to know them.  I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but I met Bruce Springsteen when I was 19 in a bar called Key Largo in Belmar, New Jersey.  I said hello and introduced myself.  He was great.  I was also nervous when I met Joan Jett, though her warm and relaxed interpersonal style put me right at ease. Richard’s book, Great Jersey Musicians is available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Great-Jersey-Musicians-Photographic-Artworks/dp/0988814803/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369163179&sr=8-1&keywords=great+jersey+musicians

The 16th Bobfest Brings Together Musicians for a Cause

BOBFEST is an annual celebration of the music of Bob Dylan, held on his birthday.

BOBFEST is an annual celebration of the music of Bob Dylan, held on his birthday.
— Photo by Richard Hoynes

By RICHARD HOYNES, East Coast Rocker

RED BANK, N.J. — Bob Dylan, who turned 72 years old on May 24, is one of the greatest singer-songwriter-poets in the world. There’s a story running around that Bob was picked up by the police during his visit to Long Branch at the Jersey shore a few years ago because they thought he was homeless person and had no ID.  How could you not know who Bob Dylan is?

In its 16th year, BOBFEST filled the Count Basie Theater with the wonderful lyrics and songs of Bob Dylan.   The show was led by Pat Guadagno and his band, Tired Horses, and included many special guests.  I respect Pat to such a degree, I featured him in my new coffee table book, Great Jersey Musicians.

BOBFEST was hosted by Big Joe Henry of New Jersey 101.5 FM. Pat and his band were joined by some very special guests including, Steve Delopoulos, Rob Paparozzi, Marc Muller, Jeff Levine, Steve Reilly, and Mary McCrink.

The harmonies of the combined voices of Pat, Steve and Mary brought the audience to their feet with cheers.  When Mary sings, it’s like the heavens open and the light shines through.

In the lobby were some sales and auction items, a portion of whose proceeds went to a scholarship charity in the name of Pat’s late brother, Anthony Guadagno.  Some of the items included CD’s, a giclee painting of Bob Dylan, and copies of Great Jersey Musicians signed by musicians including Clarence Clemons III, the eldest son of Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band; singer songwriter Kelley Dewkett; and Arne Wendt, the keyboard player for Jon Bon Jovi’s second band, The Kings of Suburbia.

Mary McCrink and Pat Guadagno make beautiful music together at Bobfest

Mary McCrink and Pat Guadagno make beautiful music together at Bobfest
— Photo by Richard Hoynes

We had the pleasure of interviewing Pat after the show.

RH:  What sparked your passion for music?

PG:   We are all born with a passion for music. Entertainers just deal with it differently (and constantly)

RH:  How did you get started?

PG:   As soon as I could reach the record player on top of the TV I started playing 45s.  Pat Boone’s “Love Letters in the Sand” and Jimmie Rodgers’ “Kisses Sweeter than Wine” were the two that I recall playing over and over again.

RH:  What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had in your career so far?

PG:   Singing the National Anthem at Giants Stadium before the Giants-Cowboys game was BIG, as was performing for Navy Troops on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. But Holiday Express has allowed me the biggest ROI by far. Performing is circular.  What you put out comes back to you if you’re lucky. On any given night I can reach out and grab someone’s soul, and at the same time annoy the guy trying to watch the hockey game, but nothing can compare to watching an autistic child feel live music or a forgotten soul receiving the only gift he will get this year.

A portion of the proceeds from Bobfest goes to charity.

A portion of the proceeds from Bobfest goes to charity.
— Photo by Richard Hoynes

RH:  I saw you give a portion of the money to charity.  What charity and why?

PG:  A portion of the proceeds from BOBFEST goes to the Rock and Roll Music Fund which is a 501(C)3 non-profit that helps out those less fortunate through music.  We started the Tony Guadagno Scholarship Fund, which every year will help a bass player from NJ attend Berkley College of Music where my brother studied.

RH:  Have you met Bob Dylan?

PG:  I’ve never met Bob Dylan.

RH:  If you had to live your life over again, what career would you choose and why?

PG:  Without sounding evangelical I think that you don’t choose a musical career.  It chooses you.  Given the chance to do something different, I would do nothing different.   I do wish I had studied music harder, but my aversion to studying music began when piano lessons got in the way of playing guitar. I don’t ever want to understand music or how it works or why it touches people differently, or why I was chosen to be one of the instruments through which it travels.  It’s magic. I believe in magic.

Pat can be seen playing all over the Jersey shore.  For more information, visit http://www.magombo.com and www.GreatJerseyMusic.com .