N.J. series pairs wine and song, with emphasis on songwriting

N.J. series pairs wine and song, with emphasis on songwriting

Pinot and punk? Folk-rock and Pouilly-Fume? Bordeaux and bossa nova?

Why not?

There’s no better pairing than music and wine, and no better venue for a series called “Wine and Song: Songwriting Series” than Downtown Jersey City’s Pet’s Shop and its intimate basement wine bar.

The next installment of “Wine and Song” happens on Tuesday, Feb. 26, when a collection of area singer-songwriters will ponder the theme “Comfort, Solitude and Peace.”

Jersey City-based musician Brendan Hartnett started organizing the “Wine and Song: Songwriter Series” in 2018 with co-promoter Mike Kuzan (of The Latest Noise); in fact, February marks the showcase’s one-year anniversary.

The event’s Facebook page describes it this way: “As a songwriter, it’s nice to have a safe environment to sing your song to a group of active listeners. Also as a songwriter, seeing another songwriter stripped down to playing on his/her own is always a very intimate and worthwhile experience, which is what we’re going for with this event.”

“Each month there’s a theme,” Harnett said. “If you’ve ever listened to The Moth series, where people come up and tell a story in five minutes, it’s kind of like that. The Moth has live events all over the world, so it’s become a pretty popular idea. So, I took that idea and applied it to ‘Wine and Song.'”

Musicians are encouraged to keep to an announced theme every month, with two original songs and one cover.

“It’s not mandatory that you stick to the theme, but most people do,” Harnett said. “And then you’re asked to do a cover song that has a special resonance to you based on the month’s theme.”

Unlike an open mic, performers at a “Wine and Song” must be invited. On Tuesday, the lineup will include Brooklyn singer/songwriter Julianna Carr, Hoboken musician/producer Max Feinstein, Heloise, Ezenwa Wosu, Benjamin Carmichael, Sidney Whelan, Paul Lombardo, and, yes, yours truly.

“Gerry Rosenthal has played a couple of times, Sean Kiely played last month, Jaime Rose, and Darryl Joo (of Hoboken’s BWQ),” Harnett said. “There are so many good people in the area, so it really hasn’t been hard finding people.”

Harnett grew up in the Montclair area and picked up a guitar around high school.

“I started playing guitar because I wanted to write and sing my own songs,” Hartnett said.

But he didn’t start to pursue music seriously until after college.

“I stepped on a stage for the first time in my junior year of high school and started playing local open mics and stuff,” Hartnett said, “but I really started playing around a lot after I got back after college.”

A year in Australia in pursuit of a romance that didn’t work out broadened Hartnett’s horizons, and he wound up moving to Jersey City about four years ago.

“I started to meet a lot of people at the old open mic at Northern Soul and started to get involved in the music scene around here,” he said.

Professional musicians, Harnett found, in large part had to play mostly covers in bars and restaurants to make any money, and he felt that a monthly showcase focused on original songwriting would find a receptive audience.

“I wanted to do something where the songs came first and would be listened to,” he said. “I really had the idea since I moved to Jersey City and eventually found that the Pet Shop’s wine bar would be the perfect place to do it. I know the people there really well — it’s basically my favorite local bar — and they had no problem with letting me do it.

“Now here we are, almost a year later to the day, and I’m happy to say it’s been pretty successful.”

If you go …

“Wine and Song: Songwriter Series” begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Pet Shop, 193 Newark Ave., Jersey City. Admission is free.

Published at Wed, 20 Feb 2019 22:09:12 +0000