Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LBI funk-reggae fusion band sets its sights on NYC

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 CafĂ©, 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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

LBIF to host 'Cocktails and Canvas' on Friday, August 2

Photo by Jack Reynolds
Easels and wine make
everything fine. 

Grab a paintbrush and a bottle of wine and head to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences on Friday, August 2 at 7 p.m. for the organization’s Cocktails and Canvas painting program. Participants can enjoy a stress-free evening of art exploration, music and laughter as art instructor Sheri Hansen details the basic steps of painting. This unique date night or friends’ night out is perfect for anyone 21 and over. All skill levels are welcome.
“It’s just a fun gathering,” said Amy Carreno, LBIF program coordinator. “Sheri will also paint with everyone else, offering help and great conversation. It’s wonderful company because everyone’s there generally for the same reason, for a fun night out," she added.
The class is held in the Foundation's painter’s loft, which overlooks Barnegat Bay. 

"It’s absolutely beautiful, and sunsets over the bay are just gorgeous. It leads to a great backdrop and great inspiration, whether you had experience painting in grammar school or you continued on,” Carreno remarked.
To register for the class, call 609-494-1241. Classes cost $20 per person, or $15 with a member discount. Art materials are provided.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Local author publishes first book devoted solely to ghost stories on LBI

There’s more than meets the eye on LBI: That’s the idea behind local author Lynda Lee Macken’s latest book, Haunted Long Beach Island. Published in October, the book attests to apparitions that eyewitnesses have encountered along the 18-mile span, from a “distinctive phantom form” seen haunting Old Barney’s catwalk to a young girl in drenched rags who wanders about Beach Haven and traipses across the surf.
“For such a small island, there are a lot of haunted places,” said Macken. “There seems to be a concentration of ghosts on the Island, and it seems to me that the reason the ghosts are on Long Beach Island is because they love it; they don’t want to go. Some of the ghosts are shipwreck victims. They’re hanging around, looking for their loved ones lost at sea,” she added.
Influenced by local ghost story writer Charles Adams, who authored Legends of Long Beach Island: Stirring Tales of Ghosts, Haunted Houses, Pirates, and Much More in the late 1980s, as well as by the late Hans Holzer, a paranormal researcher and author who wrote more than 100 books on supernatural and occult subjects for the popular market, Macken said she decided to fulfill her own dream of becoming a ghost story writer when she opened her own book publishing company in 2000. Since then, she has written more than 20 books highlighting the region’s ghost stories. She has consulted for A & E’s “Paranormal State” and “Psychic Kids,” “Ghost Hunters,” PBS and the Travel Channel. She also appeared on “Unsolved Mysteries” to detail her sighting of Grace Brown’s ghost floating over Big Moose Lake in Adirondack, N.Y., where the skirt factory worker was allegedly murdered in 1906.
Haunted Long Beach Island is the first of Macken’s books that is devoted solely to ghost stories on LBI. She said local customers urged her to write the book.
“I’m not a ghost hunter or an investigator,” said Macken. “I’m fascinated by ghosts, and I like the history behind them.”
Although she does not claim to be a psychic, Macken believes everyone has the ability to pick up on spiritual connections. She said she sometimes sees apparitions in her peripheral view and often feels dizzy or nauseous in places that are considered haunted. She said she once got the “heebie-jeebies” at her uncle’s home in Beach Haven.
Macken published her first memoir, Array of Hope: An Afterlife Journal, in 2008, which chronicles the after-life communications she received from her mother.
“Every ghost story is different because every ghost is different. They’re individuals,” Macken remarked.
She said more and more people have approached her with LBI ghost stories since her book was published. She plans to write an additional book to include some of those stories.
Haunted Long Beach Island retails for $9.95 and is available for purchase at The Bywatyr Shop in Beach Haven Terrace; the Hand's Store in North Beach Haven; the Long Beach Island Historical Museum, New Jersey Maritime Museum, Regenerate and Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven; Bookworm, Surf City 5 & 10 and the Surf City Pharmacy in Surf City; as well as at Andy’s at the Light and The Islander’s Store in Barnegat Light. It can also be purchased online through Amazon.
For more information about the author, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

'The Bill and Andy Show' gives 'cover band' a whole new meaning

The Bill and Andy Show brings a whole new connotation to “cover band.” The wildly amusing performance, presented by Bill Hadam, 52, a product marketing specialist who has been renting in Beach Haven West for many years, and Andy Hladek, 55, a technology manager who owns a second home in Mystic Island, has been attracting local crowds with family-friendly fun since they started playing together over 10 years ago.
Photo by Connor Warren
The Bill and Andy Show attracts more and more
people with its silly antics and fun song renditions.
The duo dressed up in their usual show attire, Hawaiian shirts and casual shorts, during their latest performance at the Surf City Hotel on Sunday, July 7. The two have taken after Paul “Presto” Pestritto and Jack “Jackie V” Vitale, who played a similar act at the hotel for more than 40 years. Now a regular stage presence on Long Beach Island and the mainland, Hadam and Hladek have been playing at the hotel, free of cover charge, every Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. for more than five years.
Crowds of people sat around the Beach Club bar at the hotel on Sunday, waiting for the show to begin. Applause and whistles welcomed Hadam and Hladek to the stage positioned in the middle of the bar as they strapped on wireless microphones and acoustic guitars just after 5 p.m. The duo busted out wacky renditions of songs from their usual set list throughout the night, playing music from Jimmy Buffett, Van Morrison, Tom Petty, ACDC, Green Day, Southside Johnny, Bruce Springsteen and more. Requests were accepted via paper napkins hanging from a rotating contraption above the bar. The musicians’ passion for performance and audience participation eventually gave way to group and karaoke-style sing-alongs complete with kazoos, cow bells, tambourines and maracas. A conga line even worked itself around the packed bar.
Photo by Connor Warren
Andy Hladek shows the audience how
to have some good, old fun.
“It’s really all about just trying to do songs that people are going to know and sing along with and have fun,” said Hadam. “We’ve got about 350 songs in the overall repertoire, but we typically play the same 50, 60, 70 songs because it’s the ones people ask for.”
“I think most acts on the Island play all the same stuff because that’s what people want to hear,” added Hladek. “You’re not going to surprise them because they want to hear the songs that they really like. But I think it’s also about what everybody does a little different. We walk around wireless; not a lot of guys do that. We’ll go walk back to a group and get them all singing because they’re just sitting there; you can get the participation going differently that way. We don’t take ourselves very seriously about what we do, and the crowd doesn’t, either. I think they come to have a good time.”
Songs played using a mandolin, ukulele, harmonica or bass also added to the night’s amusement. Fun props such as leis, wigs and giant blinking sunglasses, as well as silly on-stage banter consisting of old-time jokes the two have shared since they met in high school, kept the audience laughing and the drinks flowing.
Besides a drum machine nicknamed “Bob, the third band member,” Hadam and Hladek continued their performance without backing tracks, which have become popular with other cover bands.
“Everything you hear us play and all the mistakes we make are all natural and all live. We don’t practice any of the mistakes,” Hladek joked.
To help keep the party alive, the duo continued throughout the night, forgoing any type of break from the stage – something they said they have always done to help keep themselves and their audience having a good time at the bar.
“It makes you forget about the day job during the week. It’s a stress reliever,” said Hadam.
“We both love music,” added Hladek. “What could be better than doing what you want to do and getting paid for your hobby and making a lot of other people happy at the same time? That’s key.”
The duo is currently sponsored by Landshark Lager and Kona, which provide the audience with take-home T-shirts.
The Bill and Andy Show will take place at the Surf City Hotel all summer long. Visit for more information.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Barnegat women seen kicking, punching and choking other

On Sunday, June 30, a group of local women were seen kicking, punching and choking each other at Hanu Yoga, located in downtown Barnegat. The incident was led by Frank Kellogg, 25, of Little Egg Harbor Township.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Frank Kellogg, 25, of LEH helps Carol Lomberk,
64, of Barnegat perfect her punching skills during
a women's-only self-defense class at Hanu Yoga.
Don’t worry; no one was hurt. Kellogg, who has been practicing martial arts for the past 11 years and received his first degree black belt in taekwondo at the age of 18, was teaching his students how to properly defend themselves against an attacker. The women’s self-defense class, which benefited the Barnegat Food Bank, was the first of a series set for this summer at the local yoga studio.
Kellogg, who said he was bullied in middle school and needed discipline, began teaching self-defense classes about five years ago after training in Israeli Krav Maga, the official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces.
“If I had learned self-defense when I was being bullied, I would have been able to defend myself,” he said. “It’s mentally, physically and spiritually empowering. It helps you walk confidently.”
Kellogg has trained at North Plainfield Fight Club with Michael Gilliam, who has won hundreds of championships throughout his career, and at Nava’s Martial Arts Academy with Israel Nava, a fifth degree black belt recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation in Seoul, Korea.
“I love it. This is my passion,” said Kellogg while warming up for the class.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
The martial arts instructor critiques the
womens' self-defense stances during a
quick footwork drill.
“It’s not going to be rough at all, and you’re going to enjoy it,” he added, directing his attention to the students.
After some basic head-to-toe stretching, Kellogg began the class with a fundamental footwork drill, explaining, “Before any defense can be done, we need to be centered on the ground.” A closer stance, he said, makes a person more mobile, yet less stable; a wider stance creates stability but hinders mobility.
“You don’t think about stuff like this,” remarked Tracy Piana, 38, of Barnegat.
Kellogg also introduced the class to the traditional jab and encouraged the women to protect themselves by keeping their hands open and not in fists, which can be seen as a threat. He also acknowledged eye gouging if need be.
“You want to do things to debilitate a big attacker. You have to know yourself and be able to adapt,” he emphasized.
Kellogg also spoke about deflecting and redirecting an attack, saying, “If two people are fighting and the fight is going nowhere, the stronger person wins. Sometimes you’re not stronger.”
The class ended with the good, old-fashioned choke. Paired up and laughing at the awkwardness of it all, the women practiced the different deflection techniques. Afterward, they all agreed they had learned a lot.
“I never thought of fighting as being very structured. I thought you’d just kind of go crazy,” said Rebecca Maxwell, 32, of Barnegat. “It’s always best to know how to defend yourself, especially as a woman. I just hope I remember how to do it right when I go try this on my husband,” she joked.
Kellogg’s upcoming women’s self-defense classes will further explain the different self-defense techniques. Classes will be held on Sundays, July 28, Aug. 11 and 25, from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m. Classes cost $20 each. Call 732-552-6178 to register.
Kellogg will also lead a Kick Fit class on Thursdays throughout the summer at the Island Wellness Center, located in Spray Beach on Long Beach Island. The class begins at 7:15 a.m. and is open to men, women and children. For more information, call 609-492-4906 or visit  
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Professional clowning is serious business

If slathering on face paint, dressing up in a wacky costume and venturing out into the public eye to construct balloon animals doesn’t seem like an ideal way of living, than you probably wouldn’t make a very successful clown.
Professional clowning is all about letting your hair down (or pinning on a wig) and getting in touch with your inner child. Shy, introverted types don’t really fit the mold. Anyone who fears what other might people think doesn’t stand a chance either.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Sari Mcgovern helps SandPaper writer
Kelley Anne Essinger put her clown face on.
Though clowning isn’t normally a profession (or a journalistic assignment) many people undertake, it’s certainly a fun way to spend a day of work. Having an artistic background usually helps the cause: No one wants to walk away from a face painting looking like a clown themselves, and you probably wouldn’t score many more gigs after everyone sees your “talent.”
But Sari Mcgovern of Manahawkin, better known as Sprinkles the Clown, believes practice makes perfect. Although she grew up in an artistic family, she didn’t exactly know how to create balloon animals five years ago when she decided to start working as a clown.
“I suggested she do a trial run in a different town,” joked Mcgovern’s husband, Sean. “I didn’t know what to expect or what exactly she was diving into. My own recollection of past clowns popped into my head, and I wasn’t really crazy about clowns as a kid. But I know she’s awesome with kids, so it was a natural thing for her to suggest,” he added.
Mcgovern isn’t the type to feel embarrassed about acting silly in front of strangers – a prerequisite for clowning. As a former preschool owner, and now a mother of two, she said taking on clowning gigs has made perfect sense for her.
“I just thought, ‘Maybe I’ll be a clown.’ Don’t you ever just have those thoughts?” she said, chuckling. “I love kids. I love seeing their faces and forming relationships with them and making them smile. I love when they see their faces, after I’ve painted them, and the look of amazement they get. I live for that,” she added.
Although Mcgovern sometimes loses herself in the moment, getting silly with the children or adults she’s entertaining, she said she sometimes has to take it down a notch when others get too frightened.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
is that a mini me?
“A lot of people are afraid of clowns, especially little kids,” said Mcgovern. “If a little girl or a little boy is feeling apprehensive, I try to get down on my knees so I’m on their level. I try to show them that I’m a real person, too. I tell them that I’m a mommy and that I like kittens. At the end of the day, they’re usually the ones with the most paint on their faces. They usually end up really enjoying themselves,” she added.
Unlike Sprinkles, the clown name Mcgovern took after entertaining at Sweet Scoops, an ice cream shop in Beach Haven Crest on Long Beach Island, I don’t really have too much experience working with children. Fortunately, I have plenty experience acting a fool, which often saved me from sheer mortification on Saturday evening at Beyond Ice Cream in Beach Haven West, when I dressed up as Sprinkles’ sidekick, Buttercup – a nickname my parents had given me as a young girl.
“They knew exactly what your clown name would be,” Mcgovern said, giggling.
Using professional-grade face paint, a palette that consisted of the usual colors, such as blue and green, and multicolored swatches, Mcgovern dolled herself up with rainbow eyebrows, a cute pink nose, big red freckles and cherry red lips. After slipping blue and red pom-poms into her hair and sanitizing her just-used brushes, she helped me put my face on.
“You have to be careful with face painting because many parents don’t care if their kids are sick or have an open wound,” Mcgovern said. “If they have a blemish or something, you try to get creative and paint around it. But I can’t paint your kid if they have the chicken pox,” she added.
Though I wasn’t sick, I sure hoped Mcgovern would paint over my blemishes.
For my look, I wanted to mimic a more traditional clown. I felt the exaggerated lines gliding across my face as Mcgovern dabbed on big rosy, pink cheeks, white bushy eyebrows, a luscious red pout and a sprinkle of glitter to my nose while I sat without a mirror, wondering what the heck I looked like. When I finally saw my reflection, I immediately busted out laughing. She nailed it!
Naturally, we also needed funky costumes. Mcgovern let me borrow one of hers – a bright green and orange, polka dot hoop-dress with green-checkered sleeves and furry green trim. I also slipped on a pair of bright orange bloomers and giant rainbow clown shoes.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Sprinkles the Clown helps Samantha
Sabatiel, 6, of Beach Haven West create
a sand art treasure to take home.
After checking our teeth for lipstick and packing the car, I suddenly felt a surge of panic: What will other people think of us when they see us driving around in the car? The anxiety having ceased, I waved furiously, with Mcgovern’s encouragement, at each person we passed. Most people waved back, but only some seemed happy to see us. Others appeared shocked and horrified. We laughed until our cheeks and our stomachs ached.
By the time we arrived at Beyond Ice Cream at 6:45 p.m., I had already started getting hot flashes. Granted, it was 80 degrees outside, and I was covered head to toe in makeup and polyester.
“If your face gets itchy, just tap it. Don’t smear your makeup,” Mcgovern reminded me.
Lugging all of the evening’s equipment – tables, chairs, buckets of seashells, sand art, face paint, brushes, tattoos and a portable balloon inflator – didn’t make things any easier. Mcgovern must work out; I don’t know how she manages to carry all of those supplies during regular gigs, without any of my help.
As the crowds came in, flocks of kids rushed over to greet Mcgovern, who has been working every week at the ice cream shop for the past five years. She called them all by first name, hugged them tightly and asked about their summers.
“Sprinkles is fantastic,” said Sharon Frangipani, owner of Beyond Ice Cream and Bagels and Beyond. “Everyone knows her and looks forward to seeing her. It’s like a summer tradition for people in Beach Haven West. She’s the kindest, sweetest clown, but her real skill is artistry.”
“She remembers everyone’s name and what they like to have painted. She’s not like a murder clown,” added Frangipani’s niece, Brooke Ingram, 10, of Manahawkin.
Still holding on to Mcgovern’s waist, the children mostly gave me a sideways glance. I tried to greet them with my best clown salutation. I really poured it on for those kids, crouching down, though not too much since many of the kids were already my size. I quickly realized that, except for a good, old-fashioned press-on tattoo, I didn’t have much else to offer. I’m no artist (you should see my stick figures), so I couldn’t offer to paint their faces, and I certainly couldn’t make any balloon animals, though it definitely looked like something I’d be interested in learning.
No one really wanted to paint a seashell unless someone else painted with them, and parents wouldn’t normally let their children play with the sand art because it wasn’t free. I tried to offer jokes, but nobody wanted to hear them, which is a probably a good thing because I couldn’t actually think of any. Needless to say, I wasn’t really turning out to be a very good clown.
I was actually feeling pretty sorry for myself (maybe I was a real clown, after all) when I decided to do the only thing I knew how – a cartwheel. I must have done 10 of them throughout the course of the night, my hoop dress coming up over my head and my big shoes flopping in midair, as I tried to secure my own feelings of failure and begged others to clap and cheer for me (maybe I was confusing “clown” with “circus monkey”). I also brushed up on my Hula-Hoop skills and tried to get others to join me in a contest.

Eventually I made a friend. Samantha Sabatiel, 6, of Beach Haven West was all decked out in pink, a glittery rainbow spreading down her left arm, when I talked her into applying two press-on tattoos to her bare right arm. After that, it was onto shell painting and even sand art. She stuck around for a while, playing jump rope with her parents, before it was time for her to leave. Waving goodbye, I asked her if she wanted to be a clown when she grew up. 

“Maybe,” she answered.
As the night went on, more and more kids showed up. They came in clusters as their parents gabbed amongst each other, eating ice cream and answering cries of “Mom!” and “Dad!”
As Mcgovern kept it cool, painting faces and creating balloon animals, I tried to manage the dirty paint water and make sure the kids playing with the sand art weren’t mixing the colors or bullying each other.
Suddenly, I realized I was babysitting. I was a funny-looking babysitter wearing a silly getup, and I couldn’t even remember any of the kids’ names. Now I was a bad babysitter.
It was hectic, but I’m happy to say that I only saw one minor tantrum. Whether or not a friendly dog tried to eat my clown costume is something you’ll have to ask my cousin who also paid me a visit.
At the end of the night, Mcgovern’s husband and their two kids, Mikaela, 10, and Kelsea, 3, joined us for ice cream and helped us pack everything back into the car. Kelsea looked at me with hesitation, probably wondering why I was trying to take over her mother’s job. She didn’t really warm up to me, even when I changed into my original outfit and washed off all my makeup. I guess you can’t win them all.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Arlington takes over Bayberry Inn on LBI

The Bayberry Inn’s Colonial-style atmosphere has taken on a new, modern look. Now known as The Arlington after Ship Bottom’s original name, Beach Arlington, the local restaurant has been totally revamped into a cozy, rustic eatery. Its casual yet polished ambience, complete with decorative sconces, reclaimed barn-wood wall applications, rustic pine and Douglas fir table tops, and its new, seasonal American fare, seem more like something you would expect to find in the city rather than on Long Beach Island.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Bar patrons take advantage of The Arlington's
new rusitc feel and appetizing happy hour specials.
That’s exactly the vibe The Arlington’s owners, brothers and former Plantation and daddyO managers Paul and Brian Sabarese, were going for. They were able to completely refurbish the space to their liking after its former owners had to completely mitigate the building due to damage from Superstorm Sandy.
“We basically took places that we like to go in Philadelphia and New York and re-envisioned it here,” said Paul. “We wanted something that was very warm and inviting.
“We pretty much started from scratch. We revamped the entire kitchen and put a whole new roof on the building. We did a lot. The walls were all here, obviously, but everything decorating-wise is new,” he added.
The eatery’s main bar area has been moved from the front to the back of the building and now seats 25 people, rather than 12. Its 21 on-tap craft beers ($4.50 to $8.50) and barrel-aged cocktails ($8 to $12) are the tavern’s newest showpieces. German, Belgian and Italian imports are offered alongside their American counterparts, including Carton Red Rye Returning ($6) from Atlantic Highlands, N.J.
“That’s probably been the biggest hit in the bar. We’ve sold a ton of beer,” Paul remarked.
Specialty cocktails, each made with a special Arlington twist and aged for three to four weeks in American oak barrels located behind the bar, have also been a major hit. The Barrel Aged Manhattan ($12), aged for 30 days and made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cinzano and Angostura bitters, is the most popular drink so far.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Bartender Rick Jefferson pours
cold drinks for thirsty guests.
“It basically takes on an oak flavor from the barrels and usually gives it a nice, round flavor. It’s cool. People love it,” said Paul.
The restaurant’s menu offers simple American food, including meat and fish dishes ($14 to $29) and a raw bar with oysters (market price), middle neck clams ($8 for six; $15 for 12), jumbo Gulf shrimp ($4 per piece) and seafood plateaus ($25 or $45). There’s even a tofu dish with Israeli cous cous, crispy chickpeas and stewed vegetables ($18).
“We didn’t want to have a lot of crazy flavors. We wanted the food to kind of sing for itself,” said Paul. “We’re using great product from the local fisheries. We’re using scallops from Viking Village, and we’re getting fish from them every other day. We basically go down there, and whatever they caught is something we put on the menu as our market fish. We don’t want to overdress the food,” he explained.
Happy hour is available daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with $1 oysters, $3 lagers, $5 house red and white wines and a specialty cocktail of the day, and $1 off the craft beer choice of the day. Food is served from 5 p.m. to midnight. The bar is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Arlington also offers live entertainment on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 9 p.m. to midnight and on Saturday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., all summer long. Local soul music artist Bryan Parr is set for Fridays.
“It’s been busy. The bar’s been really packed every night, and the response has been good. Everyone seems to be pretty happy with the food,” Paul remarked. “We want to cater to everyone. We want to get the locals in here, so we’re doing specials at the bar. But we’re large enough that we want to be able to accommodate families,” he added.
Private parties are available for reservation in the banquet hall. Now located in the front room, the banquet hall can hold up to 60 people for rehearsal dinners and showers, or 100 people for cocktail parties.
To view Arlington’s full menu, or for more information, visit, or call 609-494-8848.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

LBI's Sea Shell Resort adds sophistication to its newly renovated property, post-Superstorm Sandy

Sitting poolside on the The Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club’s newly renovated oceanfront patio is utterly surreal. No one would ever guess that raging Superstorm Sandy ocean water crashed through the 50-year-old beach resort just eight months ago – an iconic image that took the public by surprise and questioned the fate of the Long Beach Island oasis.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
Sea Shell bartender Frank Ritacco
pours four martinis at once.
Located on the beachfront in the heart of the Queen City, the Shell has been a family favorite for local beach-goers since it was established in the 1960s. Tom Hughes, the current owner, along with his wife Sherry and brother John, who has since passed away, decided to take over the family business in 1992. Hughes’ daughters, Brittany Hughes and Jaimee Boyle, have also decided to work in the family dynasty.
Although the family has seen many storms blow through the 18-mile Island, their beloved resort has always been spared from any damage, thanks mostly to a 35-foot bulkhead, which has kept water from flooding into the two-story building. Of course, Superstorm Sandy changed all that.
The building suffered from 3 feet of floodwater damage in October when the storm water collapsed through the resort’s oceanfront windows, destroying everything on the first floor and ruining parts of the second floor.
“Literally, this became part of the ocean,” said Hughes, peering around his newly renovated resort. “It wasn’t just a wave that passed through, it was full of water.”
Hughes stayed with his wife at their home in Brant Beach during the storm. Although he was anxious to see what the resort property looked like after the storm, he said the roads were impassable, filled with water and sand, for quite some time. When he finally made it there and saw the onslaught of devastation, he said he felt sick to his stomach.
“It was just utter devastation,” said Hughes. “Everything that was in here was no longer in here – furniture, bars, kitchen equipment. Mostly everything was washed out the front door or submerged and destroyed.”
Photo by Jack Reynolds
The Shell's new martini lounge 10 South
offers a more sophisticated drink menu
than its outside beach bar.
With 18 weddings booked for the spring, Hughes said he considered canceling the whole season. When 20 of his family members and dedicated employees, some smuggled over by boat, showed up two days later to help during the cleanup process, Hughes said he knew the resort would be up and running again by deadline.
“We just started to clean, not really sure what to do first. But we felt that we could get this job done,” said Hughes. “It was a good motivator for us. We decided to keep the season and put the place back together by ourselves, which we did pretty much by ourselves with our own people,” he added.
The initial cleaning process included shoveling out a 1½ feet of sand from the building and 4 feet of sand from the pool and deck area. Ridding the building of remnants of furniture, stripping the walls and reinforcing the front parapet so the building would not collapse took about 3½ weeks to accomplish.
Photo by Jack Reynolds
10 South offers a wide selection of
specialty drinks, including a Corona-Rita.
The building process began immediately afterward. Alongside the help of an electrician, plumber and HVAC technician, everything was completely renovated and redesigned by Hughes’ family members and staff.
“We would come in here at night, when our workmen were done, and we would sit around on paint cans and try to envision what we were going to do next,” Hughes remembered. “In the morning, we would decide to put a wall up here, a bar over there. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t. If it didn’t, we’d change it the following day. But we just went day by day to try to take all the things in the last 20 to 30 years that we weren’t super happy with and make them exactly the way we wanted because we were starting from scratch,” he added.
Maximizing the flow of the banquet room and taking away some of the “dead space” was a major priority. Thanks to the crew’s determination and handy work, the resort was up and running again by April 18, ready for the season’s first wedding rehearsal.
“We were literally screwing toilet paper holders into the walls as the first bride was saying ‘I do,’” Hughes remarked.
Now completely refinished, the Shell exudes a more open and sophisticated charm. The old slate floors have been replaced with ceramic tiling and custom granite inlays. The old paneled, brick walls have also been given a whole new color scheme and design.
The Shell has also invested in a brand new martini bar, called 10 South, located just inside the main resort. The upscale lounge, reminiscent of an old rum bar, has a full-fledged menu of cocktails made on the spot with fresh fruits and herbs “and a little love.” A solid copper ceiling, custom wine barrel tables paired with chairs made from the staves of wine barrels and a handcrafted maple and granite-top bar all add to the elegant ambiance. Gourmet appetizers, two 40-inch high-definition TVs and dim-lighted sconces make the new lounge perfect for anyone looking to get away from the outdoor beach bar. The new lounge also acts as a VIP area during evenings when the resort offers itself as a nightclub.
“The Sea Shell is a beach club; you’re outside drinking beer out of a can and drinks out of a cup. (At 10 South) you have a super high-end wine list and mojito and martini and specialty drink list, and you’re drinking out of a beautiful glass,” said Hughes. “It’s just a whole different ballgame. It’s for those who don’t want to have their feet in the sand and do the things we’re doing outside. They can dress up and come in here any night of the week and enjoy the atmosphere,” he added.
10 South is open seven nights a week, offering live piano music three nights a week.
“We’ve always had the beach bar, flip-flop kind of thing going on outside, and we thought there was a need for a little more sophistication in Beach Haven,” said Hughes. “So far it’s working out great. It’s kind of like we’ve created a whole separate business and put it into the Sea Shell without interrupting what we’ve always done here,” he added.
Hughes said he is glad he did not have to close the resort for the season and that Shell fans did not have to miss out on one of their favorite LBI stops. He stressed that none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of his family members and staff.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LBI-goer writes children's book for Superstom Sandy relief

Jennifer Crawford, 40, of Charlottesville, Va., is a wife, a mother of two young children and a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. With more than enough to keep her busy, she somehow found the time to write a children’s book for Superstorm Sandy relief.
“I was at the library one day with my kids in January, a snowy Friday afternoon, and it just kind of hit me when I was there that I can do this,” Crawford remembered. “I was looking at dozens and dozens of children’s books, and I thought, ‘I can do this, and I can do this for a good cause.’”
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Crawford reads a copy of her book, No Sand in
the House!
, to her children Charlie and Gabby,
who are also the book's main characters.
Crawford self-published No Sand in the House! through Createspace on Amazon in May. The “semi-autobiographical” beach story set on Long Beach Island revolves around her children, Abby, 7, and Charlie, 6, as they try to avoid trekking sand into their grandparents’ shore home.
Although she hopes to make enough profit from the book to cover the cost of the illustrator and other initial expenses, all other proceeds will go directly to local nonprofit organizations affected by the storm. Donations will target the High Point Volunteer Fire Co. and Alliance for a Living Ocean, as well as Restore the Shore/Hometown Heroes. So far, Crawford has sold more than 300 copies of the book and has already donated a total of $500 to HPVC and ALO.
“I didn’t want LBI to get overlooked,” said Crawford. “With a lot of publicity going to other shore places, I wanted the place where I grew up to persevere. I remember doing activities with Alliance for a Living Ocean when I was a kid. The fact that they’re still around making a difference, I knew that was a known quantity and that the money would be going to the right place.
“I want the book to be successful, but I’m not in it to make money. I would say I’m advocating for it more because the money is going to charities that I believe in, whereas I might not be working as hard if it wasn’t," she added.
Crawford has been visiting LBI since she was a kid. Thirty years ago, after renting for many years in Beach Haven Park, her parents, Dick and Sandi Crawford, decided to buy a house on the same street they always visited. Although they spent winters up north in Verona, Crawford said the family always looked forward to summers at the beach.
“I’ve never gone to any other beach,” she said. “Literally, the same two blocks in Beach Haven Park, that has been my beach world. We never took a beach vacation anywhere else.”
Crawford has continued the tradition with her husband, Chuck, a U.S. Army judge advocate, and their children. The family finds solace on the 18-mile island, especially during the few weeks during deployments when they are displaced.
Unfortunately, the first floor of the family’s summer home suffered from about 4 feet of floodwater damage due to Superstorm Sandy.
“Even with that, I would say we are luckier than most, and we appreciate that,” Crawford said. “It was not (my parents’) full-time home, they were not home at the time (of the storm), and they did not have to evacuate. So we are very thankful and very blessed with what we have.”
Having stayed in Virginia to look after her children while the rest of her family went to LBI to help clean up, Crawford said she felt stranded. The book helped make her feel like part of the recovery process.
“I felt very helpless in Virginia, and I couldn’t come and help my parents because my husband was working and the kids couldn’t go,” she said. “We’re a military family, so we move every two years. And literally, every time we move, we come here for about six weeks because our stuff is being shipped and we’re homeless. So Long Beach Island is a home, and it’s a home for the kids. In the midst of all this turmoil of moving and deployments and everything, coming to the shore in the summer is a constant for them,” she added, choking up a bit.
Crawford finished writing the story in one sitting. With her husband’s and her daughter’s immediate approval, she set out to find an illustrator. She wanted to have the book finished and ready for purchase within four to six months, but many illustrators, while very supportive, thought her timeline was unrealistic. Luckily, Hannah Touhy, an illustrator who also lives in Charlottesville, agreed to do the project. She was hired in February and supplied with photos of LBI and Crawford’s family to help her better depict the image of the local area.
Many businesses on LBI have the book available for purchase. Copies can be found in Regenerate, Song of the Sea, Haymarket Hobbies & Toys, Book Swap, SwellColors Glass Studio, Islanders’ Store, The Book Worm and The Chicken or the Egg. Copies will also be available for purchase at the Long Beach Island branch of the Ocean County Library on Monday, July 8, where Crawford will be offering a book reading and signing during the summer reading program.
For more information about the book, visit
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Pickles get juiced up on Long Beach Island

One thing was sure on Saturday, June 15 at the Surf City Hotel: The Pickles are the epitome of fun. With a band name like that, it is safe to assume they also have a good sense of humor.
“‘The Pickles,’ you either love it or you hate it. You can be blackout drunk at one of our shows, but you’ll always remember our name,” said the band’s bassist, Todd Raupp, 32, of Manahawkin. “It’s kitschy. It sticks with you, and people take notice.”
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Members of The Pickles: Todd Raupp on
bass and Charlie Berezanksy on drums.
Between silly on-stage banter, the three-piece cover band – a group of talented, hysterical guys – brined up the best musical flavors available, offering tunes from the ’60s to today. Fifty-minute sets included songs from The Temptations, The Rolling Stones, Sublime, Men at Work, the Zac Brown Band and more. Boose Rutledge, 32, of West Creek, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, even played slide guitar using an empty beer bottle for an epic rendition of The Allman Brothers’ “One Way Out.”
Rutledge’s girlfriend, Candy Ermilio, 31, of Manahawin, had the beer bottle dumped out and ready for him to use “because he can, and I know he does it sometimes,” she said. Ermilio claimed he once used a slice of pizza during a performance at the Saw Mill on the boardwalk in Seaside Park. Food was never pulled out on Saturday, but Rutledge did manage to play a different song using the stage’s front banister.
A force of crowd-pleasers, it is no wonder why the band has had staying power since it initially formed in the late 1990s. Rutledge is the only original member left. Raupp – the only one who actually likes pickles – has worked as bassist and band manager since he joined seven years ago. Charlie Berezansky, 33, of Manahawkin has been drumming with the guys for the past three years. Berezansky and Raupp formerly played with a band called Downstage before the two ensembles basically swapped members.
Raupp took over as band manager, booking gigs and interviewing with the press, after the band’s former keyboardist, Brian “Bozman” Bozarth, passed away in the summer of 2010.
Photo by Ryan Morrill
Guitarist Boose Rutledge takes a break
from vocals to jam out during a solo.
“Todd had some big shoes to fill, but he’s really taken the reins and brought us to a whole new level,” said Rutledge. “I give him a lot of credit for where we’re getting.”
A number of agencies are looking to sign the band, but Raupp’s managing skills make scoring gigs easy and cost-effective, the band agreed.
The group has 85 gigs lined up during the next 120 days. Rutledge and Raupp will play as an acoustic duo by the Tiki Bar at the Sea Shell in Beach Haven, from 3 to 7 p.m., and from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the club on Wednesday, June 19. Berezansky will join them by the pool on Friday, June 21, for a full, electric performance from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., again at the Sea Shell.
“Todd helps book us everywhere. He’s like the greatest pimp ever,” Berezansky joked.
“The nice thing about the band is that we respect each other’s talent very much,” he added in all seriousness. “If you asked either one of us, we’d all say that we wouldn’t want anybody else to take each other’s place. We really trust each other, and that’s what keeps a good band together. One of us might have a hiccup during a performance, but we know we’ll correct it next time,” he added.
The band members pride themselves on being able to cover every musical genre. Their “Island vibe,” which encompasses music from Bob Marley and Jack Johnson, thrown in with a bluesy, punk-rock vibe, caters to what the crowd wants and gets people up and dancing.
“We can go from playing an eclectic mix at Margaritaville in Atlantic City to music that’s young and hip where people want to dance, like at the Surf City Hotel,” Rutledge remarked.
Although the band has gone through different members since its inception many years ago, even at one time including a saxophonist, the group still radiates a genuinely gifted energy. The power trio said they often receive praise for sticking to playing live music without the backing tracks that have become popular with other bands.
“The coolest thing is that people can’t believe we’re only three people,” said Rutledge. “We refuse to get backing tracks; we’re completely live. We’re outside the box.”
“Which is actually inside the box,” Raupp added with a laugh.
The band performed louder and harder as the night went on, and more and more people paid the $5 cover to enter the back bar area, where they could listen and watch and let loose on the dance floor.
“These guys are fantastic, and I know music,” shouted Mike McHugh, 46, of Staten Island, who plays percussion in an eight-piece rock and soul band called Souled Out. The long-time Island visitor, who has been staying with his cousin in Harvey Cedars, said he was thrilled to catch The Pickles for the very first time. He promised to see them again after praising them for their upbeat performance.
“These guys always have fun together, and they always take time to acknowledge their fans,” said Ermilio. “They’re a genuine group of musicians; they’re like a real family unit.”
The Pickles will be performing at the Jersey Shorefest, a Sandy relief fundraiser for the first responders of LBI, on Saturday, June 22. The band will perform at Sunset Park in Harvey Cedars at 1:30 p.m. Visit for information on other upcoming shows.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.