Archive for April, 2018

Twisted Sister Guitarist Jay Jay French Has Controversial Thoughts About Some Well-Known Bands and the Local Artists Who Covered Them

April 29, 2018

Jay Jay French believes the Rolling Stones ‘can’t fucking play’, calls Judas Priest a cover band, and has plenty more disparaging remarks about some well known successful bands:

Jay Jay French Twisted sister

During a Q&A session at the Spooky Empire convention in Orlando Florida, Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French had some pretty strong opinions about rock bands that are continuing to play despite their old age.

And he compared them to some Long Island bands that were so popular here in the 1970s and 80s.

Here are some of the quotes from his Spooky Empire appearance:

“[Judas] Priest is 65 years, 70 years old, Saxon’s 80 fucking years old. The Rolling Stones are 90 years old. Watching Keith [Richards] and [Ronnie Wood] trying to play guitar is like being driven in a tour bus by José Feliciano and Ray Charles without GPS — it’s a terrifying fucking experience.

“If The Stones were smart, they’d hire two 25-year-old guys from Nashville who know how to play their song parts and let these two cadavers walk around on stage and fucking act like Johnny Depp in fucking ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’. They can’t fucking play.

“And it bothers me they charge eight hundred dollars [for a ticket]. At least when you go to see The Eagles, there’s 45 guys on stage, ’cause you want the [band] to sound like The Eagles. And when you see go see Roger Waters, there’s 45 guys on stage, ’cause you wanna hear what ‘The Wall’ sounds like. But The Stones insist that you watch them decompose in front of your eyes for a high ticket price. And they suck so bad.

“I get annoyed only because we work so hard to be perfect every night,” he continued. “And I watched them. I’ve been a Stones fan, by the way, all my life and saw them at the peak of their fucking life — in ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72. They were arguably the greatest rock band on the planet earth. And there’s a DVD, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones’, which you can watch. Why are they happy sounding so bad when you’ve got this?

“Now, Priest. Look what you’ve got with Priest. K.K.’s [Downing, guitar] gone — he went to golf. And now Glenn’s [Tipton, guitar] left. And it’s wonderful. And now it’s a cover band, essentially.”

Then after the crowd reacts with a noticeable opinion of disagreement, French responds:

“No, no, no… Wait, wait, wait… Hold on… I don’t say this… I come from a world of cover bands. When Twisted Sister started in the bars, the cover bands that played the bars were better than the bands they covered.

“The reason why we were so big, the reason why Rat Race Choir and the Stanton Anderson [Band] — these are the bands that existed as bar bands back when we were playing in the bars — the reason why they were so good was ’cause they were better than the bands they were copying.

“You guys don’t even know that [Led] Zeppelin was deteriorating so badly that by 1975, you couldn’t go to a Zep concert without throwing up. They were so bad! You couldn’t give tickets away to Zep concerts, but if you came to see Zebra playing Zeppelin on Long Island, you heard perfect Zeppelin — perfect Led Zeppelin. If you saw Rat Race Choir, you saw perfect Pink Floyd, you saw perfect Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

“It really mattered. I get that. I do understand it. It’s a cover band. And that’s what a lot of these bands are. Foreigner is a complete cover band; there’s nobody left in Foreigner.”

How do the reader’s blogs feel about French’s stance? Is he full of hot air? Do you agree or disagree? Or perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle? Let me know. I’ll be happy to publish fan reaction.

Have a story or idea for Under the Radar, or want to get your band noticed?  Please contact me at the email below.


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The Good Rats – “The World’s Most Famous Unknown Band”

April 26, 2018

Yup. That’s exactly what Rolling Stone Magazine labeled this Long Island band:

the Good Rats

Although the band was described this way by the prominent music magazine, here on Long Island the Good Rats have been known for ages, and even earned an induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

The Good Rats will be playing at The Big Kahuna in Huntington on Saturday April 28th. After that show, the band will be performing at various locations, about once or twice a week all over the metropolitan area.

For a complete biography, gig schedule, and downloads, visit their website. The site even has merchandise to purchase!

And speaking of websites: For those of us who strive for recognition in the music field, the Good Rats website is a perfect example of how to market your band and what a well-functioning website should contain.

While some band websites have more sizzle, such as graphics, and video, the Good Rats site shows the important elements needed for fans (and perhaps booking venues) to learn more about the group and stay in touch with them as well.

So if you feel your website needs improvement, or you’re looking to launch a website, the Good Rats site is a great example and well-done. If you don’t have a website, or worse, you’re not even thinking about creating one, stop relying only  on facebook or twitter; you need to rethink this matter ASAP.

Here’s the link to their website:

Have a story or idea for Under the Radar, or want to get your band noticed?  Please contact me at the email below.


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Newsday Details the State of the Local Music Scene

April 24, 2018

In a comprehensive article, Newsday details what’s going on with local bands and the music scene. The group Sunflower Bean, shown below, is an example of the challenges original-music-bands are having locally:

under the radar with sunflower bean

Today’s blog is going to be very short – yet incredibly important to the local Long Island bands and musicians who are trying to build followings and get better known.

The reason the blog will be so brief is because Newsday and story-author Glenn Gamboa, did a much better job than I could in researching and writing about how difficult it is for local bands playing original music to remain on Long Island.

Illustrating the challenges, Newsday detailed the band Sunflower Bean and how they realize they can’t stay on Long Island if they want to succeed in promoting their music.

Here’s the link to the must-read article:

Again, kudos to Newsday and Glenn Gamboa for shedding some light on this important topic.

Have a story or idea for Under the Radar, or want to get your band noticed?  Please contact me at the email below.


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The Organization to Know if You Want to do Open Mics on Long Island

April 23, 2018

OOMPA (Organization for Open Mic Performing Artists) is a loosely organized group of friends and their families that originally met at open mics. This group gathers regularly and frequently to play music and organize events.

Long Island's OOMPA - Organization for Open Mic Performing Artists

I recently had a chance to interview Frank Imburgio, a key member of OOMPA.

UTR (Under the Radar): What is the main purpose of OOMPA?

Frank: To promote live music. There is nothing better than seeing someone learning and enjoy music and sharing it with other people.

UTR: What level of musicianship is expected at an OOMPA event?

Frank: We welcome people of all skill levels. We also welcome poets, comedians, musicians, you name it. We are all about inclusion, fellowship and FUN!

UTR: How did OOMPA come to be?

Frank: A few of us were having dinner at an open mic and remarked that there were many open mics on the area, but they compete with one another, rather than cooperate. A member Kenn, came up with the name, another member Christy, created the logo and made some tee shirts. Originally the idea was – just come to one OOMPA mic (support someone else), and your open mic is an OOMPA open mic! So, by helping each other, each of our open mics would grow.

We also have a way we think open mics should be run. For instance, we don’t allow people to call up and reserve spots on the list. We don’t do karaoke. We allow everyone the same amount of time, regardless if you are a pro or a beginner. The food drives and other events came later.

UTR: For those that want to get involved and/or perform during an open mic event, which open mics are run by OOMPA?


  • Every Wednesday 7 PM Village Lanterne Lindenhurst
  • Every Sunday 7 PM Peoples Pub East Northport
  • Every Thursday 7 PM Soul Brew St James
  • Last 3 Fridays of the month 6 PM Urban Coffee, Greenlawn
  • First Friday The Rock Underground, Commack
  • Some Fridays 7 PM (check for scheduling) Viking Pub, Islip
  • Some Saturdays 2 PM (acoustic) Mills Pond House, St James

    UTR: How does one join OOMPA?

    Frank:Technically, if you attend just one event, you’re in OOMPA. There are no dues and we are not a formal organization with a membership structure.

    UTR: This blog is about Long Island’s under he radar bands and artists. How might being an OOMPA member help a band or musician gain exposure?

    Frank:The best way to learn about venues and opportunities is to get out of the house and meet people! Once you attend a few events and meet people, you’ll see what I mean. I’m playing an event for a group called PeaceSmiths in a few weeks – specifically because an open mic friend thought I would be a good fit and hooked me up. This happens frequently. I have been in so may musical projects over the years because I met people at open mics it is hard to count.

    UTR: What are some of the events organized by OOMPA?

    Frank:We have food drives during the warmer months, coat drives and toy drives around the holiday season. We also organize events purely for fun – camping trips, bar-b-ques, parties for Halloween, New Years, etc. There is always live music and everyone is encouraged to PARTICIPATE!

    Long Island's OOMPA - Organization for Open Mic Performing Artists
    A recent OOMPA food-drive event

    UTR: What does OOMPA have lined up for the future?

    Frank:This spring we’ve already had our first food drive, and have the first weekend camping trip planned. We have food drives planned about every three weeks. We also have regular open mics at bars, restaurants and coffee shops a few times each week. There’s always something fun to do!


    Frank:If you’re on Facebook, search for “OOMPA MUSIC” and join our group. If you are not on Facebook, you can get weekly email updates – just send a request to

    Thanks Frank, and keep up the great work!

    Have a story or idea for Under the Radar, or want to get your band noticed?  Please contact me at the email below.


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  • Bitters and Distractions Release Their Debut EP – “Black”

    April 22, 2018

    In an usual gesture, the artists are offering a free copy of their EP. Be sure to check them out:

    Bitters and Distractions debut Black EP

    If you are not familiar with Bitters and Distractions here’s the scoop:

    Bitters and Distractions is a punk band right here from Long Island, and consists of Jeremy Quitko and Travis Johnides.

    The lyrics of their songs are written by Jeremy, and they reference a time when he was traveling across country and eventually settled in Arvada, Colorado. While working in Arvada, he met another musician named Charles Jeffrey Fields.

    He and Charlie formed the band We Glew. We Glew wrote and recorded music embracing the idea of living like a nomad, and they cleverly categorized their style as “Hobo Rock”. We Glew existed as an art project more than just a rock band, producing graphics, stickers and t-shirt designs even for more than just promoting music. He and Charlie eventually moved away from each other but continued to record music and make art long distance.

    In 2005, Jeremy decided to focus on a career as a teacher and slowly he and Charlie lost touch besides random snail-mail communication back and forth that was more abstract then informative. By 2017, Jeremy had lost touch with Charlie despite numerous attempts to contact him. The absence of a dear friend inspired Jeremy to revisit lyrics he had written years ago and compose new ones about his missing friend.

    When Jeremy sent the lyrics to Travis, Travis was inspired by the stories and quickly interpreted them into songs on the guitar. After years of touring the country with his former band, The Goodwill, which consisted of releasing albums nationwide and touring with and opening for bands such as My Chemical Romance, Fallout Boy, AFI, The All-American Rejects, fellow Long Islanders Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, and more, Travis started a band with his sister called We’re All Just Passing Through. After 6,000+ album downloads for this completely DIY brother/sister duo, coverage on television and in The New York Times, and more, he’s thrilled to be composing and making music with his friend, Jeremy, under the band name Bitters and Distractions.

    Jeremy and Travis were kind enough to let this blog interview them:

    UTR (Under the Radar): Please tell us the names of the band members and their musical roles.

    Jeremy: Jeremy Quitko is the lyricist, and Travis Johnides is the composer.

    UTR: How long has the band been around?

    Jeremy: The band started as a simple idea between two friends in the summer of 2017. The idea was for Travis to add music to Jeremy’s lyrics.

    UTR: Unlike bands I’ve been in, where there are matching names around the country, yours is brilliantly original. What’s the origin of the band name?

    Jeremy: The band name comes from our song “We Were Once Waitstaff.” The exact line from the song is “create an army full of bitters and distractions.”

    UTR: What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?

    Jeremy: As a long time Hot Water Music fan, I find myself frequently listening to Chuck Ragan’s solo work which seems to have evolved right alongside where I am in my life now. My favorite lyrical song writers at the moment are Craig Finn(The Hold Steady), Ezra Furman, & Frank Turner, but have never lost hold of my love for Jawbreaker and Guns N’ Roses.

    Travis: I find my taste in music to be quite eclectic. My favorite songwriters are Dave Pirner, John Prine, Laura Jane Grace, Conor Oberst, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Gram Parsons. I am currently drawing inspirations from all of them to form a sound I find unique to Bitters and Distractions.

    UTR: If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?

    Jeremy: A former version of myself would have loved to say Guns N’ Roses, for the stories of epic tours and concerts. Now in his life, he wants to play with bands that I can learn from and inspire me musically, like The Hold Steady.

    Travis: I’d love to tour with Conor Oberst, whether it be solo Conor Oberst shows, Bright Eyes shows, Desaparecidos shows, Monsters of Folk shows, or Conor Oberst and the Mystical Valley Band shows. I’d love to get into Conor’s head and get a sense of how he goes about writing his songs. He has such a vast catalogue of amazing music, and he’s the same age as me.

    UTR: Are you really offering a free copy of your EP – Black?

    Jeremy: Yes, and to download a FREE copy of our debut EP Black, click here:

    UTR: If someone wants to stay in touch with the band or learn more about Bitters and Distractions, what are the best ways?

    Jeremy:Here are the best ways:

  • Our website:
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter:
  • Instagram

    Thanks guys and keep up the great music!

    Have a story or idea for Under the Radar, or want to get your band noticed?  Please contact me at the email below.


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