NY Punk Icon Hits Acoustic Virginia Stage
Douglas K. Barclay, Tower Staff
September 7, 2012
Filed under A&E
This coming Friday, for barely an hour’s time, in the back of a coffee shop in Northern Virginia, time travel will be possible. It won’t be possible for everyone present, and nothing will actually change amongst the surroundings. However in my world, I will be in the not so far away year of 2007. When Vinnie Caruana, lead singer of alternative-punk staples “I Am the Avalanche” and “The Movielife”, hits the acoustic stage at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA this Friday, the room will transform. Instead of a strip-mall coffee shop located alarmingly close to a Safeway, I will be in any one of the many basements, firehouses or mock venues that were steady haunts of high school.
My hometown of Red Bank, NJ, located only miles from the home of Bruce Springsteen and the iconic Jersey Shore Sound, has always been tuned into a music “scene”. When I first got to college, it was strange to hear stories from fellow students who hadn’t grown up surrounded by art. At the time, the small coastal NJ town had over a dozen popular “venues” for local high school and college aged kids to try their making sense of life through music. Interspliced between local spots like “Club Krome” and “M&M Hall” were the smaller “ Internet Cafe” and a variety of VFW and community centers. Shows run put on by and put on for idealistic teenagers and young adults looking for ways to hear their heroes sing and make memories with their friends.
The headliners of these small shows would be bands or singers from the tri-state area who were signed to a major label but still had strong roots back home. It wasn’t uncommon to see Nate Ruess(FUN, the Format), Anthony Raneri(Bayside), Jesse Lacey (Brand New) or Vinnie Caruana headline one of these smaller shows. For ten dollars you could see a friends band and half a dozen other local kids play for a few hours time. At the end of the night, the headline act would walk in from the parking lot, strap on an acoustic guitar and play the songs that at the time were all that mattered. After the show was over, everyone would huddle around the merchandise label, often buying CDR copies of the bands newest demo songs, or screen print t-shirts made in the parking lot before the show. Everything about it brings back fond memories of a youth is not so far passed.
Chief among any of these shows or bands was the music of Vinnie Caruana and his band I am the Avalanche. As a lyricist Caruana has always been deeply in touch with not just his often pressed emotions, but what cadence is required to express those emotions. On stage he is often nervous, struggling to find the perfect tuning of his guitar, or aclimating to a new venue. However once he begins to play, the listener is transported to a special place, where their emotions can free and any joy can be further celebrated, any pain soothed. The music of Vinnie Caruana, and the house shows of Red Bank NJ, may not be for everyone, but they are certainly worth a chance.
Vinnie Caruana and Matt Embree of the RX Bandits are playing Jammin Java Coffe House Saturday September, 8th. Doors open at 7:00pm. Price of Admission is twelve dollars. Jammin Java can be reached a short walk from the Vienna metro station on the orange line. See their website jamminjava.com for details.