Indie Rock Profiles: Woodfish (New Jersey Quintet)


It has been my pleasure to become well acquainted with a group of musicians  from the New Jersey shore for the past several years. Hailing from Red Bank, NJ,  the band Woodfish is comprised of two brothers, bassist Steve Kalorin and  drummer Dominic Kalorin, Don Honeycutt on saxophone, John Samuel on guitar and  Luke De La Parra, vocals; up front and center.

Upon first meeting, I was asked to listen to them play and in all honesty  after hearing bands perform several times as a talent agent, I was not overly  excited to go and frankly not expecting anything spectacular.

Having come from a background in music, as a classically trained violinist  and drummer, I not only hear every note, chord, riff, pick up, break, beat and  tone, just the slightest aberration will send me running out of a venue after  the first three chords. I can also tell if what I am about to see has good stage  presence and a good stage vibe and has a hooked out, marketable talent. Woodfish  has all that and more.

When I walked into a small venue in Belmar, NJ, to hear Woodfish perform for  the first time, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Not the typical rock band,  this was a super funk, jive, jam, jazzy party band with a wailing sax player. I  wasn’t sure if it was a Red Hot Chili Peppers revival or a seasoned and  funky NYC jazz band with a ragtag bunch of guys in flannel shirts and torn  jeans. I was about to have my socks rocked.

WoodfishWoodfish is led by Steve Kalorin who plays the bass like nothing I have ever  heard. And, he writes the material. Trying to put him into an appropriate group  of contemporaries, my best guess is he is the newest version of Flea or a  reincarnated version of Jaco Pastorious.

Steve is to the bass what Eddie Van Halen is to the guitar. Not only is Steve an  accomplished bassist, he puts on a stage show (sans clothing, unlike Flea), in  which he slaps the bass with a beer bottle hitting all the thick, hard driving,  bending bass lines and melodic chords without a hiccup. It is truly something  that needs to be seen as well as heard.

As one might expect, you will also hear some very funky jive riffs a la  Bootsy Collins of  the Parliament-Funkadelic. Steve has won the Best Musician  Award several times at the Asbury Park Music Awards annually held at the  infamous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ where I have had the honor of attending  on a few occasions.

Rounding out the band is Domenic Kalorin, Steve’s brother on drums. Together  they produce a sound and resonance, heavy bottom end and a driving force that is  highly unusual in any of today’s indie rock bands. With an unusual mixture of  the sounds of Stuart Copeland of The Police and Buddy Rich, plus the precision  of Neil Peart of Rush, Dom’s drumming is imbedded into his soul and you may  wonder if he is ever absent from his kit. When I listen to the Pennsylvania band  Live’s song, “Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe,” I am always reminded of  Dom playing drums. The lyrics, “My brother kicked his feet to sleep,” must have  been Dom as a child.

Luke de la Parra is up front as vocalist and brings a swarthy, gritty Joe  Cocker-style of bluesy vocals to the band. Don Honeycutt playing sax brings an  eclectic, jazzy, NY retro sound reminiscent of Stan Getz. John Samuel’s adds guitar leads and rhythm on cue  and perfectly orchestrated to fully compliment this bass driven quintet.

On their first CD release, Bamm Didley and their newest CD release, Starlight Remedy, Woodfish manages to blend effortlessly sounds like  surfer music icon Dick Dale and funk icon Bootsy Collins along with killer  ripping Flea-esque bass lines. The vocals are sometimes reminiscent of Darius Rucker and always gritty  like Joe Cocker, but newer and more rocked out like perhaps Scott Stapp of  Creed. There’s ’70’s style guitar riffs like Bachman Turner Overdrive and newer  alternative rock with Stan Getz styled sax overtures lilting throughout.

Overall, I would say Woodfish is virtually impossible to define musically.  They have created their own music genre and the only way to understand their  sound is to hear them live and experience the deep, eclectic mélange of their  vast musical repertoire with decisively rock and roll roots.

Woodfish is a very talented and hard working group of musicians and it is my  honor to profile them. And I must say, being backstage with them when they  opened for Foghat at the Blender Theatre in NYC was a pure  treat and one of the best times of my life as well as an incredible show.

You can check out its current tour schedule and download Woodfish tunes at

This article was published first on Blogcritics.

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Broken Glass

After many years of having an extremely positive and impermeable, impregnable outlook on life and a belief in the inherent good that people possess, something I call a malignant optimism, my rose-colored glasses have once again been removed. However, I fear that this time, despite having been able to bounce back from any situation no matter how difficult in the past, I am unable to mend what is now permanently broken. The glasses are off and in their place lie the broken bits of pink glass.rose colored glasses

I was a sheltered child but in many ways I was also brought up to be a free spirit. As an only child, I lived in a world of my own making. When things seemed dark or frightening, I would find a spark of light to illuminate the shadows. I played in the deep woods alone and communed with animals. I had a magical outlook, seeing things others couldn’t and experiencing supernatural things as well. I’d see the rare Luna moth frequently, or giant white egrets would follow me into the kitchen to eat frozen fish from my bare hands. Migrating birds, 20 miles out to sea, have flown into my hands as well, and I’d gently place them in my pockets for temporary refuge. As a child when I had a bad dream, I was able to reprogram my dreams more to my liking. I poured myself into music and dance and art. I had a very active and colorful imagination. I suppose this was a subconscious way to protect myself from harm, real or imagined, and it also left me feeling happy and filled with spectacular and perpetual joy. It was a good place to be and I resolved to stay there for the rest of my life. Until now.

I recognize these same qualities and attributes in my granddaughter, Sophia. She is an effervescent little girl. She is so filled with charm, and has a dreamy quality about her. Just like a fairytale princess, she traverses her world filled with fireflies, ponies, and magical dragons that lull her to sleep at night and give her joy every day. She loves music and dancing and painting. She loves books about fairy kingdoms and magical animals with healing powers. She is enamored with anything to do with the sea: dolphins, penguins and fish. She speaks with the verbal acuity and understanding of a child much older, yet she is only a toddler.

She is a product of both her genes and of her environment. She suffered at her birth from a congenital birth defect that I wrote about in a previous post. She also, this past year, has been abandoned by her father. It has been extremely difficult both for her and for her mother, and for myself, who can only stand by and watch as the suffering unfolds. She is nearly four years old now and I see so much of myself in her at this tender age in many ways. Though I was not abandoned, my father did travel extensively and was rarely at home.

To compensate for his being away, I grew up idolizing my father. She probably will not get that chance. The relationship a girl has with her father is critical to her upbringing and the woman she will one day become. There needs to be love and nurturing and affection, especially if he is gone quite a bit. The expressions and outward manifestations he provides are adopted and carried into her adulthood. It creates the ability to recognize honest and caring individuals and love from others. Without it, or if he disappears from her life altogether, the inability to see pretense in others, or danger, or the risk of becoming victimized is heightened. It also leaves the child blaming herself for his absence in ways that when she is older will manifest as feeling abandoned and seeking out a replacement father figure over and over to provide what was either not given or what was abruptly taken away.

I did not realize until just recently that my father’s absences made such an impact on my life. I would always long for his return while I was growing up. He was a bit distant emotionally and I wasn’t sure if it was his job that made him this way or if it was me. I must have internalized this at a young age. It seems normal to me, then, to accept unavailable or distant men. It left an opening in my heart that, without my knowledge, others would be able to gain access to and take advantage of. I was completely unaware that others could see into this vulnerability, this gaping hole. I didn’t even know it existed. It makes sense to me now why four years after his passing, I still grieve for him and miss his presence deeply. Looking back, I now know why I have been vulnerable at times in my own life, unable to see pretense in others, and victimized by still others in some cases.

I pray she doesn’t experience this and I will do what I can to protect her and guide her properly. It is the man, though, early in a little girl’s life who forms her basic understanding of how love should be given and what it should feel like. He forms her opinion and shapes her beliefs in how all men should behave. He sets the foundation of what she will accept in love and nurturing. Her relationship with him is much like a computer program that is running all the time in the background. It controls the operations remotely.

Sophia is cracked but not yet completely shattered or broken. There is still time to right some of the wrongs that she has been prematurely and unfortunately exposed to. Perhaps in time, much the way glass will melt and ooze down into an old window frame, those blemishes will smooth over. For me, though, having this one last time been broken, it has completely shattered a belief system that was once core to my being. I have no idea what is true or right or how to even recognize it. It is a frightening place to be. In fact, it is paralyzing. I do know that I cannot return to those old beliefs or put my glasses back on. There is no repair. The shifting, melting glass has puddled into the bottom of the frame, bubbling and separated on all four sides, the rose tint no longer left on my glass.

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Hagia Sophia:Holy Wisdom

Spiritual symmetry and canonical organizational belief systems offer up a quandary to a person such as myself. Apt to “go with the flow,” I suppose if I were to adhere to a structure of thought, the Tao might be most appropriate. Preferring instead wu wei, to stricture, I’d rather follow a less dogmatic ideology.

Nomadic tribes and Bronze Age peoples had an uncomplicated view of the world. The Moon’s reflection, revered for the light it brought to darkened forests and subterranean caves, garnered respect. The green returning from its long winter hiatus, along with the Sun’s return, elicited joy. Spirits of the long-deceased gave consult to those seeking refuge. Narratives told were edited and collated over the millennia resulting in the organized religions of today.


Either my parents were either too busy to indoctrinate me, or they understood that a belief system needs to be acquired slowly. I liken it to developing a taste for fine wine. What once seemed arid and acerbic is transmuted to full-bodied with hints of blackberry and cassis over time. Though many family and friends subscribed to an organized view of spirituality I could not. Throughout, I attempted to understand many religious doctrines but always found them constricting and decided to bow out of the entire process at a very early age. I simply maintained a faith in nature since it has always abided by me, allowing myself instead to absorb the natural magic around me with the knowledge that we, like the tides, flow in and out of life. Without hostility towards binding spirit into manuscript, agnosticism seemed a better fit when gods and saints and angels were not part of my repertoire.

Then on a blustery, snowy predawn morning on March 17th 2007, an angel fell to earth and into my arms.

Not being familiar with the congenital birth defect gastroschisis, I immediately sought to understand it in its entirety. Reading medical journals and literature seeking explanation for this aberration in nature, I was relentless in my search for answers.

Gastroschisis is a condition seldom encountered; however of late is on the rise statistically. It occurs when during gestation the human fetus’s intestinal organs form outside of the abdominal wall. The amniotic fluid surrounding the unprotected organs, caustic from uric acid secretions in the waste from the fetus, causes the organs to swell, pushing them out through the skin usually to the right of the umbilicus.

At birth, the infant must endure immediate surgery to place the organs back inside the abdomen. Aside from being bathed in uric acid while inside the womb, once born, the organs are exposed to the air and subject to drying out and further bacterial infection.

More severe is an omphalocele, mostly occurring in males, in which a larger opening is present in the abdominal wall. Treatment generally consists of placing a silo around the organs and utilizing pressure over a period of days to weeks to coax the organs back into position. The literature as to the cause of this birth defect is somewhat weak. The etiology is not fully known. It seems to occur in women under 30. It is not linked to chromosome abnormality or attributed to drug use.

They chose to call her Sophia and when she gazed at me for the first time I recognized a distant familiarity. As though acquainted in some long-ago time and place, we knew one another at once. Repressed by extreme malaise and qualm she lay stoic, a tiny courageous female warrior. She seemed to possess some innate wisdom of her surroundings, her anguish, and the world. Volumes were exchanged between mine and those baby eyes.

Soon, time passed and she healed quite well aside from some periodic abdominal disturbances.

On her tummy, a faint star-shaped scar remained where a belly button should have been. Repeatedly she would point at it and look at those around her for answers.

Unknown she and I were to the origin of her name: the Hagia Sophia, a large basilica in Constantinople, which translated means Holy Wisdom. The imperial capital of the Roman Empire oddly enough would be my home once as a child.

She tenderly spoke in a sweet little voice only a baby could have. Inquisitively, “Nona, where is my belly-button?” she’d ask. Rather than reply with an explanation of the variances in nature or how the surgeon made her tummy all better, I assured her from the depths of my spirit, “Because angels don’t have belly buttons, Sophia.”

This article was first published on Blogcritics.

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Dodging New Jersey for Southern Solace


Growing up in central New Jersey there was a lot to be grateful for. It was not the industrial waste zone most visualize when thinking about New Jersey. Surrounded by farmland, open spaces, and the Pine Barrens just to the south, our childhoods were filled with sunshine and fresh air. Our yards were spacious and there were woodlands to hike and explore. Monarch butterflies and Baltimore Orioles filled the trees during their migration turning them ablaze with color. To the north was New York City, entertainment mecca of the world. Its flavors filtered down to us in the piedmont and beckoned us to come taste its wares. In summers, our seashore drew millions of visitors for salty surf, splintered boardwalks, and sugary taffy.

Soon though the large spaces were invaded by subdivisions and strip malls. The pastoral life living lakeside would present largesse to tax collectors seeking monies from landowners in order to fish or ice skate in their own backyards. And so the exodus began.


Longing for “greenspace,” I moved to my college state, Florida. Everglades and Spanish mosses weaving through tropical breezes, sunsets offering inspiration to the painter, poet, or songwriter, and tranquil warm seas that soothe the weary soul.

It too has become but once upon a dream. The Miami sound machine, its newer populace and cultural fragmentation have altered the Floridian landscape. The disenfranchised arrive seeking asylum from the stressors of life and inadvertently add to the chaos. Gone are the days of serenity and solitude in a southern oasis. No longer the charming and sultry days reminiscent of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Ernest Hemingway; bright lights, fast cars, and faster lifestyles permeate the languid coastal towns and farther out to the center of the state. It is heartbreaking to bear witness. May we yet find comfort in some corner of the world with which to commune? Even the Everglades does not see the dark of the moon.

Shall I run forevermore? Straight from childhood visions to rummage a bit of quiet to embrace. To seek a simple corner to lay down a weary heart and head. Where birdsong drowns out the frenetic pace. Where will you go? they will ask. Another planet, perhaps, I will answer.

This article first appeared on Blogcritics.

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