Vince Neil and Matt Murray
Smithereens

TC onstage with the Smithereens at Birch Hill

TC here and the New Jersey Club Scene back in the day was amazing! Local talent, (remember Strutter, Zyris, Flossie, Bystander, Prophet, T.T. Quick, Phantom’s Opera?) National talent in clubs that focused on Metal, New Wave and Punk. There was always something to do and somewhere to ROCK.

New Jersey never gets the credit it deserves for our thriving music scene back in the day.
Whether it was the “Route 35 Sunset Strip” in the 80’s and early 90’s, or the Punk and New Wave hole in the wall hangs, The Garden State and WDHA rocked the scene back in the day!

On any given night you could rock to local rippers or jam with Twisted Sister, Billy Idol or Meatloaf.
Loud music, fog machines and the smell of Hot Dogs! Damn…..those days were fun!
Here is a look back at our New Jersey youth. As only someone actually FROM New Jersey can really appreciate!

  • The Meadowbrook- Cedar Grove

    The Meadowbrook was always cool and on trend. I remember sneaking in and dancing to some amazing new wave bands with my bestie Phyllis and we actually saw Billy Idol there before he “Rebel Yelled”! (and we snuck in)
    Big dance floor, the balcony. After it’s heyday it became a dog training facility!

  • The Fountain Casino- Aberdeen

    Fountain was a HUGE place (or so it seemed to me) and had multiple rooms. I remember seeing Twisted Sister in one room and new wave dancing in the other! Heck even Metallica played there!

    Todd Rundgren at Fountain Casino

  • Creations- West Orange

    Another place I saw Twisted was Creations. In fact that was the first time I saw them and they were still in lingerie! Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Meatloaf packed this tiny Essex County space.
    They always had really cool major label acts right before they hit it big.

  • Mingles- South Amboy

    I called the Route 35 South Amboy/Sayreville corridor the “NJ Sunset Strip” .
    There were a few short miles of clubs that were similar and were home to some great Central Jersey rock.
    Mingles was no exception.

    The Future at Mingles

  • Close Encounters- Sayreville

    Close Encounters was club band central with bands like Bystander, Zyris and a young Skid Row gracing the stage. Part of the “Route 35 Sunset Strip”, Close Encounters started as a new wave dance joint, but evolved into a fun local metal hang.
    On any given night you could see Zakk Wylde, members of Bon Jovi and Skid Row hanging and jamming.

  • The Playpen- Sayreville

    Owned by club magnate “Art Stock” The Playpen was part the Rt. 35 family as well and one of the most memorable nights was a surprise visit by Bruce Springsteen in 1994.

  • The Birch Hill Old Bridge

    Located on Rt. 9 South, The Birch Hill was home to some of the biggest bands around and host to many a WDHA show and night back in the day! Everyone from Slipknot to Coheed , Foreigner, Kings X and Weezer rocked the hallowed hall of The Birch Hill!
    Check out Ace Frehley below!

  • Club Bene- Sayreville

    Ahhhhh dinner and a show at the legendary Club Bene! Also on the Rt. 35 strip,
    Club Bene hosted rock shows, dinner theater, comedians…..EVERYONE! I remember going there thinking Bon Jovi was playing and it was Englebert Humperdinck night!
    Club Bene closed in 2004 and was torn down in 2014. Man, the stories that place could tell!

    John Entwistle Band at Club Bene

  • Studio One- Newark

    Trixter at Studio One

    On Verona Ave in Newark, Studio One was a Northern New Jersey Metal Institution.
    Mercyful Fate, Ace Frehley, Machine Head, Clutch, American Angel and more rocked this two floor hole in the wall that was just SO rock and roll.

  • Motionz - Irvington

    New Wave dancing in the 80’s, located right off the GSP, Motionz was a basement club playing the B52’s, Flock Of Seagulls and all of the early MTV New Wave jams.

  • The Dirt Club- Bloomfield

    The Dirt Club in Bloomfield was the coolest! One of the greatest places to enjoy the thriving Punk scene of the 80’s, Johnny Dirt was a legend. Born Johnny Schroeder, he opened this club in the basement in the late 70’s and it lasted through the early 90’s. The only club to give you a tiny “dirtbag” at the bar.
    The Smithereens were the house band of The Dirt Club early on and the vibe was total family.

    R.I.P. Johnny Dirt #dirtology

  • Soap Factory- Palisades Park

    Sometimes it was a disco, sometimes a rock club, The Soap factory hosted bands just emerging like Zebra, Twisted Sister and Blue Oyster Cult, who sometimes played under the name “Soft White Underbelly” –
    Check out their setlist from SETLIST FM from back in the day! And video from local band “Voices”

    Stairway to the Stars
    Dominance and Submission
    Before the Kiss, a Redcap
    E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
    Demon’s Kiss
    Power Underneath Dispair
    Take Me Away
    Flaming Telepaths
    Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll
    Then Came the Last Days of May
    Still Burnin’
    Harvest Moon
    Burnin’ for You
    Godzilla
    (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
    Encore:
    Cold Gray Light of Dawn
    This Ain’t the Summer of Love
    The Red & the Black

  • The Tradewinds - Sea Bright

    Located off the beach in beautiful Sea Bright, The Tradewinds was a super cool place and I remember DHA nights there with Blackfoot and Ace Frehley.

    Ramones at The Tradewinds

  • Obsessions- Randolph

    Located on Sussex County in Randolph NJ, Obsessions hosted club legends and national acts like White Lion and Twisted Sister! In fact a listener told me he saw TS just before they broke for 2 bucks…..YOWZA!
    Before they were Obsessions, the were The Final Exam. This place was WDHA’s home away from home and Curt had some amazing stories about shows he hosted at this Northern New Jersey institution.

    Ramones- in 1987 at Obsessions

  • L'Amour - Brooklyn

    The Rock Capitol of Brooklyn may not have been in New Jersey but no way could I not include L’Amour!
    Or as we called it….”LA MORES” it started out as a dance club, went metal in 1981 and closed in 2004.
    Metallica, Maiden, Slayer, Testament, Quiet Riot, Soundgarden all played this legendary space. I still proudly wear my L’Amour shirt!

  • Jimmy's Haunt - Morristown

    The thing I remember most about Jimmy’s Haunt in Morristown? WDHA Halloween parties, Morning show broadcasts and live WDHA concerts with new band Isle of Q and our Blues and Brews show starring Joe Bonamassa.
    Big place, super fun. And right up the road from the station! I think they are still a steakhouse or something!

  • Mother's - Wayne

    The Mother’s commercial!

    On Rt. 23 in Wayne, Mother’s was the place to be. L.A. Guns, Kix, Meatloaf…they all rocked Mother’s.
    I think it’s Condos now! *Revision from DHA listeners- It’s a NJ Transit Parking facility now!

  • Double D's - Cedar Knolls

    Matt. Murray’s FAVE club, Matt did his WDHA Nitespace show from DD’s rock nights for many years.
    Stephen Pearcy, Theory Of A Deadman, Vince Neil, (fiming and episode of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy with our very own Ralph Sutton of Tour Bus fame) all rocked DHA Low Dough shows at The D and we have some great memories of rock nights at this small, loud venue.
    Here is Matt and Vince Neil hanging back in the day at a DHA broadcast!

    Vince and Matt

    Vince Neil and Matt Murray