CARTERET — As a finale to Carteret’s three-day Children’s Charity Carnival and annual Ethnic Day Festival, The Smithereens will give a special 30th anniversary performance at Carteret Park on Sept. 4.
The Smithereens are known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. Guitarist Jim Babjak , drummer Dennis Diken, and former bass player Mike Mesaros graduated Carteret High School in 1975, and formed the group with Scotch Plains singer Pat DiNizio in 1980. This lineup continued until 2006, when Mesaros left the band and Severo Jornacion took over on bass guitar.
The group gained publicity when a single from its first album, “Blood and Roses”, was included on the soundtrack for, and as the theme song of the 1986 Albert Pyun movie, Dangerously Close, and the video got rotation on MTV. “Blood and Roses” was also featured on the 1980’s TV show Miami Vice during the episode ‘The Savage’ (first aired February 6, 1987).
The group is also renowned for other hits such as “Drown in My Own Tears,” “Only a Memory,” and “A Girl Like You.”
The Smithereens have influenced other landmark musicians, most notably Kurt Cobain during the period he was writing Nevermind.
Along with a basic Eastern-coast roots-rock sound that owed much to the inspirations of DiNizio, including Buddy Holly, The Who, The Clash, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe, the Smithereens deployed a uniquely retro obsession with Mod, the late British Invasion pop of John’s Children and The Move, and other artifacts of fifties and sixties culture that lent its music substance. The title and lyrics of their song, “In a Lonely Place,” appear to be based on the 1950 Humphrey Bogart film of the same name, including the lyrics, “I was born the day I met you, lived a while when you loved me, died a little when we broke apart.” The title and artwork for the album 11 were a nod to the original 1960 Ocean’s Eleven film.
“As some of New Jersey’s homegrown rock n’ roll heroes, the Smithereens will provide for a very special highlight to our already popular Ethnic Day festival,” Mayor Daniel J. Reiman said “and allow for a memorable evening that will join them as a part of our local history.”
The free show will begin at 5 p.m. at Carteret Park on Sept. 4, with the Carteret High School Show Band providing opening performances. The evening will conclude with Ethnic Day’s traditional fireworks spectacular.
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