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  • Writer's pictureJohn Haley

Edison Music Scene Moving Fast and Furious

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

(Pictured Melissa Peterson and Mike Fisher)

When Mike Fisher asked his son Jacob if he and his band would like to perform as part of the newly created Edison music scene, he scoffed and said something to the effect of “Nobody will come to Edison for live music.’’

Well, now that the Edison music scene is up and thriving, thanks to Fisher and the herculean efforts of Melissa Peterson, this time it was the son asking the father if the band, Thelonious Funk, could play Edison.

“Sorry but we’re all booked up,’’ Fisher had to say.

Such is life in the world of free live music, which Edison is now a big part of.

Although live music has been around in Edison for about three years now at the Fisher-owned Edison Coffee House, where live acts perform on the outside area on Fridays and Saturdays, there are now venues on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as featured festivals around the Clara Barton section of town.

Peterson, an Edison resident and employee of Telegraph Hill Records in Asbury Park, was a perfect fit to bring new talent to the Coffee House, located at 931 Amboy Ave., on Friday and Saturday nights and to Edison during the week.

Their first venture, In partnership with Edison Community Beautification and the Edison Chamber of Commerce was the Edison Tulip Walk in April. Planned on short notice due to COVID they were able to add 8 live performances to the outdoor event on Amboy Avenue.

From there, Chamber President and Councilman Joe Coyle saw the positive response and got the town on board to create two outdoor public performance areas on Amboy Avenue for the season, as funded by private donations. The next stop was booking the acts to fill them.

Peterson used her contacts to attract quality entertainment. Her first ask was local, as it turns out one of Asbury Park’s most popular bands is currently based in Edison. Nicky Ryan and the Mess played the first three shows in June to get the program rolling while she lined up future events.

“Since I started this kind of late, a lot of the acts from Asbury were already booked for the summer, as were the locals, especially on weekends’’ said Peterson. “So we went with weekdays to start. We were lucky to have Nick Ryan and his band step in on short notice to bring residents a show they kept coming back for week after week. They performed the first three weeks in a row while we booked later dates”

Starting with bands on Wednesday evenings and now along with a collection of local artists they also host solo performers on Mondays - all free and outside in spaces with seating and dining options from local restaurants and food trucks on site. The Coffee House takes care of weekend, having started earlier they have live music every Friday and Saturday on their outdoor patio (indoors for rain).

Some of the Jersey Shore acts to grace the area from the Coffee House to the public area on Amboy Avenue and what has been dubbed “Music Street” so far are: the Wag, Natalie Farrell, the Cranston Dean band, Brian Erickson (of the Paper Jets, the Extensions), Bryan Hansen Band, Renee Maskin, Arlan Feiles, Tara Dente and more.

The thing which separates Edison from other music venues is the community involvement, including businesses.

“That is really our focus, as opposed to other towns where there is a large gathering just to hear the music,’’ said Peterson. “We want people on the streets of Edison for entertainment and to promote local business. In fact, our Monday series is called Meet Your Neighbors Monday.’’

(Video: Nick Ryan and The Mess)

Since the start of the two series, the crowds have grown to as many as 200 per evening.

On Mondays, food options include food trucks such as Cousins Maine Lobster and the Mexi-Boys, an ice cream cart, specialty items like quiche and vegan entrees from local chef Raphi Victus and the Coffee House. There is table seating for diners and shoppers, or guests can bring a chair. A 50 by 80 tent provides cover for all and it’s rain or shine to enjoy the music.

On Wednesdays, a closed section of Third St. provides table seating and ample room for guests to bring chairs while taking in a full band performance. $5 food specials for takeout can found by hungry showgoers at the nearby at Ruby’s Kitchen, Nick’s Meat Depot and the Coffee House is there to sell soft drinks and ice cream.

And speaking of The Coffee House, where it all started, the weekend music has been consistent since May anD they have added two open mics a month on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. They have the luxury of keeping this up all year long too, as they simply move inside when the weather gets cold or it rains.

The Edison music scene happened fast and is now furious. Even their existing events have been elevated, with he Food Wine and Beer festival on August 21 and the Fall Festival of September 25 (both to be held in and near the new covered area at 926 Amboy Avenue) adding additional stages to accommodate maximum levels of bands.

“I knew residents would appreciate the music and be grateful to have some life shot into Clara Barton’’ said Peterson. “But I didn’t expect it to grow this fast. Having a team like Mike Fisher, Joe Coyle and Edison Community Beautification behind this has made it all possible.’

The Schedule with remaining dates:

MONDAY’S August 16 Blue Lagoon August 23 Bob O’Connell August 30 Bella Liberati September 6 is a break for Labor day and the remaining September schedule will be announced soon.

WEDNESDAY’S August 18 SSV Band August 25 The Strazzacasters September 1 Strictly 60s September 8 is a break for Labor day and the remaining September schedule will be announced soon.

Check or @downtownclarabarton on Instagram for details.

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