Arts & Entertainment

Randolph Library Summer Concert Sings The Blues

Credits: Ruben Gonzalez
Credits: Ruben Gonzalez
Credits: Ruben Gonzalez
Credits: Ruben Gonzalez

RANDOLPH, NJ- When the Randolph Library summer concert series avoided the rain on a recent Friday, they continued to play the blues into the night. However, that was the plan for the evening as Carlos Carlino and Straight Up were set to play their version of Rhythm and Blues music.

The audience familiarity comes easy to blues, one of the oldest forms of American music. Carlos Carlino and Straight Up try to vary the type of blues music by date, speed, and rhythm.

The band consists of Carlos Carlino on vocals and harmonica, Linda Geiger on drums, Dan Kostelnik on keyboard, Leo Jordan on guitar, and Steve Soltow who plays bass and also sings a little.

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The band has played together for several years. Individually, members have performed collaborated in duets or trios many times in previous gigs.

Some of the songs the band performed at the library came from such legendary artists as Muddy Waters, Robin Ford and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Carlino has been playing for over forty years. The power of the music comes from life, with the ability to affect any generation. 

“I really think it’s a life form music, I think it’s the classical American musical form. So, it’s got its ebbs and its flows,” Carlino said.

One of his primary influences within the decades of playing is musician Paul DeLay. Carlino said that DeLay not only  embodied the essence of the blues, but also gave it a contemporary twist.

This has also helped Carlino include his harmonica playing. 

“Harmonica is especially difficult to establish your own sound,” Carlino said. “I’m still working on that, I’d like to think I’m getting close.”

The crowd continued to listen as the blues band continued to play into the waning dusk. “A good audience they can make you better,” said Carlino. “They can make you better, they can encourage you to take chances, you can excel, you can fly.”

Blues being as old as it is has seeped into another popular musical form: Rock and Roll. Bands such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin have been hugely influenced by the likes of Sonny Williamson. The most important ones to carry on the legacy is the audience. 

“The enthusiasm with which they convey their words and emotions, just really makes you feel like ‘ok good, I reached somebody,’” Carlino said.

Randolph Township Public Library’s musical platform was set at the gazebo behind the building, a public area that includes a playground and some benches. Even with these amenities, visitors were encouraged to bring their own chairs. In all, about fifty people showed up to enjoy the evenings music.

The Library’s concert series has been going on for a few years. Both Program Coordinator Jill Harding and Library Director Anita Freeman have sought to be eclectic in their mix of music. “So, we’re trying different music and people have been very accepting of it and seem to enjoy it,” said Harding said.

It was just this year when they held their first country act. They have also previously showcased Motown, Jazz, and R&B acts from various decades. Usually, the Library looks to local talent to fill up its summertime schedule.

It takes six months minimum to book the musical acts, with the Baby Boomer generation being the main attendees, but there are also younger families that come to listen.

The concerts are also used to promote the library.

“The people that come to those frequently will come early and look through the library, see what we have and they take out material they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Harding said.

As the summer rolls on, next week will feature folk singers and there are still many more performances to view.

“We put money into our programs and we hope the public takes advantage of them,” said Freeman.

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