By Anne M. Raso
We make it no secret here that we think that Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken is the top sticksman in rock and roll, and this Sunday you have the rare chance to catch him with The Smithereens back to back with his side group, Bell Sound at The Union Country Music Fest. Bell Sound goes on at 1:15 PM and the Smithereens go on at 3:45 PM, and best of all, it is a free festival and there is easy access from NYC by NJ Transit trains from Penn Station. More info on the festival, which includes a set from Blondie at 8:45 PM on Saturday night and many other fine bands of renown, can be found at www.ucmusicfestcom.
Bell Sound has been enjoying a lot of critical acclaim for their most recent release Late Music and we got to hear a bit of it recently when the band helmed a show at the Morris Museum that included many guest classic rock artists that included David and Eddie Brigati of Rascals fame and Scottish drummer Andy White, who played on The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” and who now resides in the Garden State.
We caught up with Dennis this week and he seems very excited about bringing Bell Sound to a large crowd (and not far from where he resides in central NJ). He tells us, “I can’t believe that September marks two years since the release of Late
Music! But we’re delighted that people are still discovering and digging it; it’s very gratifying to hear from folks when they take the time to write. We’ve done some wonderful gigs in 2011 and we’re looking forward to playing the Union County Music Fest this year. We’ll be featuring songs from the album and offer a few surprises as well. It will be nice to see many of our NJ friends.”
He goes on about Late Music, which definitely seems heavily Beach Boys influenced with its beautiful, deep vocal harmonies and sometimes flower powerish musical vibe which includes a use of late 60s style keyboards: “Many fine musicians helped Pete DiBella, Dave Amels and me in the making of Late Music. I’m grateful to have the support of a talented group of guys to play in the live lineup of Bell Sound. They all happen to be dear friends as well. (The group consists of) Dave Amels on keyboards and percussion, Chris Bolger on guitar, myself on drums, Steve Gaechter on keyboards, Mike Jodry on guitar and Peter Stuart Kohman on bass. And we all sing!”
We had to ask DD about how The Smithereens are still going strong 31 years later with their current album 2011 and that fact that it reached #17 on the iTunes charts less than two weeks “outta da box” back in April. The album has two hits singles so far: “Sorry” and “One Look At You.” The bespectacled, Hawaiian shirt-wearing skinpounder explains,” I’ve gotta say, the warm reception we’ve had for 2011 means the world to me and the guys in The Smithereens. Many fans who haven’t seen us in years are coming out again and some people tell us that they are catching us for the first time. We’re honored that we can still make people feel good!” There is even a new Android app for The Smithereens–you can get more info about it at https://market.android.com/.
The Mac Wire will be out in full force on Sunday! Yes, we show up at nearly ever Smithereens New York-New Jersey area show just because their lives sets never disappoint! If you can stay still during one of their sets, you’d better check yourself for a pulse. Both The Smithereens and Bell Sound bring music to the table that pays homage to the best of the past, but takes it one step further. Both group’s level of consistency is amazing–and it’s very endearing just how much they love what they’re doing!
Photo Of Dennis Diken by Donna Diken, photo of The Smithereens by Anne Raso.