Chevy Lopez was exploding with passion and young talent during their live performance at the first free concert of the season at Sunset Park in Harvey Cedars on Wednesday, July 17. The local six-piece band, playing a fusion of funk, reggae and rock tunes, had nearly 500 barefoot and bright-eyed concert-goers getting down to the music and literally begging for more.
“What, are you having fun or something?” shouted the band’s lead vocalist, Lexi Todd, 22, of Manahawkin.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Lead singer Lexi Todd belts it out
alongside Julian Massiah on sax.
“We love you, and we love LBI,” yelled bassist Giovanni Rossini, 22, of Ship Bottom.
The band’s obvious confidence could have fooled anyone into thinking members had been rocking out together for years, but they only started playing together three years ago. Other members include lead guitarist Greg Warren, 22, of Harvey Cedars; Ryan McShea, 25, of Manasquan on guitar and keys; Julian Massiah, 23, of Brooklyn on saxophone; and drummer Chris Cielazawitz, 25, of Brielle.
Musical talent brought the high school and college friends together as a laid-back cover band called Collateral Jammage before they decided to break away from the “beach-y stereotype” and go big with original music.
“We want to make it as a real band,” said Warren. “We don’t want to be playing LBI three or four nights a week 30 years from now like Shorty Long or No Discipline. They’re really talented musicians, but we really want to get into the city and make something out of ourselves.”
The band recently recorded an EP album called “Mr. Cool” in Hoboken.
|Photo by Ryan Morrill|
Crowds fill in at Sunset Park
to chill out and get down.
“We have a different influence from other people our age,” Todd remarked. “We play sort of a Motown-funk, genres that have been kind of forgotten about in our generation.”
The group's unique vibe has helped them land gigs during the area’s off-season — what the band now considers their on-season — at big-time nightclubs, including New York City’s oldest rock and roll club, The Bitter End, located in Greenwich Village.
“Everyone and their mom has played there,” Warren emphasized.
The group continued to push their image on Wednesday night by selling band merchandise and asking the audience to join their email list.
“Make sure you like us on Facebook and follow us around. We love it,” screamed Todd.
The band even handed out free CDs, which the audience went wild for.
“They’re all good musicians; they’re killer,” said Brian Eastburn, a Barnegat Light resident who opened for the band with a solo acoustic performance. “They’re probably the best up and coming band on this Island, hands down,” he added, while grabbing one of the band’s last available CDs.
The group busted out cover songs from Gwen Stefani’s “Spider Webs” and “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida to “Ball and Chain” by Janis Joplin and Ann Cole’s “Got My Mojo Working.” They also mixed in a few originals, including “Lexi’s Funk,” a feel-good tune that kept the crowd moving and grooving in front of the stage.
“There’s a sunset over the bay and reggae in the air. We’re having a great time,” said Lizzie Sikkema, 23, an Island Surf and Sail associate offering free kayak and standup paddle board demos to anyone interested in checking out the sport.
“This is the kick start to summer,” added her twin sister Jackie. There’s a good sense of community here. It breaks up the week.”
The band and the audience continued to feed off of each other’s groove throughout the night. The band played louder and harder as kids jumped up on the stage’s front steps to dance.
“I try to approach music with an emotional reaction, sax-style,” said Massaih. “I play in the moment and feed off of the reaction from the band and the audience. Everyone in the band is really talented and very articulate in music.
“I loved the energy of the crowd. This was a concert held for the community, by the community. Everyone came out to have fun and support local musicians. It’s very unique,” he added.
The band’s distinctive style had Wednesday night’s crowd shouting for more entertainment when they played their last song at 9 p.m. The group continued to play an extra 15 minutes due to popular demand.
Chevy Lopez will perform again at Rick’s American Café, located in Barnegat Light, on Saturday, Aug. 10. Visit the band’s Facebook page for more information.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.