CHATHAM, NJ - With summer coming to a close, Chatham Borough’s gazebo offered a place for townspeople to gather for a pilot concert that could lead to a series of musical performances next summer.
Local band, Kings Road, performed covers of songs from a variety of genres with the gazebo as their stage as couples, families, and people of all ages gathered to fill the lawn on Aug. 30.
“They’re a very Side-B band. I like that, it’s pretty refreshing,” said Doug Ahrens, who came with his wife, Sandi. “We’d love to come to more concerts like these. We found out this was happening coming to and from the train station, I saw the signs near the Cottage Deli.”
“I also love how this is great for local businesses,” Sandi Ahrens said. “I saw that there’s a tent set up with menus from local restaurants and families are having meals delivered while they watch the concert."
The event was the idea of resident Maggie Grady and made possible by the organization of Janice Piccolo, the director of community services in Chatham Borough.
“In order to gain approval from the Borough Council, residents came to board meetings and advocated for the concert,” Piccolo said. "Involved residents such as Maggie Grady were eager to bring music to everyone and have more fun, public events like this one next summer.
“We advertised for the concert mainly through social media platforms. We used Facebook and Chatham and Madison public community forums as well as set up a couple of signs around town.”
King’s Road is a band made up of five members, all from nearby towns. The name itself comes from the road in Madison that four of the members all had lived on at a certain point. One interesting aspect of King’s Road is the diversity in music taste between members.
“They all like different kinds of music,” Piccolo said, “and they all support each other when they perform in different styles.”
Chatham resident, Diane Smith-Kirsh, performs lead female vocals and minor percussion. She is a teacher at Elephante Music and loves what she refers to as “message songs.” “I love when songs have that perfect balance of message and fun.” Her favorite songs to perform are ‘Hurts So Good’ by John Mellencamp and ‘What Love Really Means’ by JJ Heller.
Ron Besser from New Providence is on bass guitar. He defines his style as “90s alternative rock,” but is not afraid to stretch beyond that. “I love the non-pop vibe of Sheril Crow and Counting Crows, but it’s also awesome to perform oldies like ‘Secret Agent Man’ by Johnny Rivers and newer songs like ‘Down by the Water’ by the Decembrists.”
Doug Owen is from Morris Plains, plays lead guitar, and loves classic rock. He likes to experiment with style, especially when it comes to specific songs. “When we perform songs like ‘Wagon Wheel,’ two times are never the same.” he said. “Sometimes we lean towards a country vibe, but other times it comes out with much more of a classic rock edge.”
Mike O’Keeffe leads male vocals and plays both rhythm and acoustic guitar. His favorite genre is alternative rock– bands like Counting Crows and the Decembrists. “Their songs have good structure while also allowing us to develop unique sounds and arrangements.” The Madison resident sees being in the band as “a really unifying experience. We’re really active in Madison even though we don’t all live there, so it’s really fun to come to Chatham.”
Last but certainly not least is Keith Goellner, who plays the drums and other major percussion elements. He’s from Morristown and loves ballads and classic rock from the 60s and 70s. Just like his audience members, he really appreciates the Side-B vibe of King’s Road.
"I really like how we focus on the songs that maybe weren’t the most popular, but are still interesting and memorable," Goellner said. "Sometimes the most popular songs can be a bit overdone, so it’s nice to remember those songs that might have gotten overlooked.” His favorite bands to perform are Mercy and The Zombies as well as more “crossover tunes” like ‘What Love Really Means.’
The fluidity between music genres did nothing to deter the audience from enjoying themselves. Younger kids were gathered in the blocked-off streets, dancing to the music and playing with beach balls.
“I don’t really know all these songs, but they sound really good and it’s fun to come out,” said one of the kids.
Wendy and Dean Caphos, Chatham residents born and raised, got up and danced together on the lawn. “We love concerts like these,” Wendy said. “At the beginning of the summer, my husband always makes a list of all the local concerts––like the ones in Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, and Madison–– and we go to all of them. I’m excited that now we’ll be adding Chatham to our lists!”
The event’s sponsors included MACC (Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams), and Weichert Realtors, Mary Weichert and John Tunny.