The Tide Table Group and the importance of fostering local music.
Ty Mares was 19 years old when co-owner Eric Magaziner hired him to work in the kitchen at Mud City Crab House. He was home from Berklee School of Music and spent the first summer doing food prep, learning how to open clams and oysters.
During that summer, he put out a demo tape and handed one to Magaziner, who liked the album and asked Mares to play the Mud City patio on a Sunday.
“He said I was pretty good. I started there. Within a year I was playing clubs all over LBI. I owe a lot to Eric and Mel,” Mares admits.
Mares, now an established local blues/rock/soul artists, has played all over LBI, including Bird & Betty’s and was one of the headliners at this year’s Maker’s Fest at Manahawkin Lake. He has put out three full length albums and a few singles and had a weekly show at the Black Whale all summer. Mares plays some of his favorite artists’ work, but he’s constantly evolving more originals into his set.
“My ultimate goal is to play venues and do only original music, so I always try to incorporate my own music if the audience is willing to listen. I make a living being the guy that doesn’t play the same stuff as everyone else.”
His biggest performance to date was at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where he traveled down with his band and made the semi-finals.
Mares is just one story of local musicians finding more opportunity to play shows, specifically their original music, in our area. And that’s a goal of the Tide Table group, to help foster those creatives.
Our longest running relationship with a musician is Todd Raupp of The Pickles. Raup is a former line cook at Mud City as well. For the past 15 years, the Pickles have been one of the biggest local party bands. He and Boose Rutledge continue to play every Monday night at the OC as The Pickles Duo. He also books all of our acts at the OC, Mud City, the Whale and Bird & Betty’s.
“Eric and Mel were always incredibly supportive, especially early on when I was a line cook at Mud City. I was in an original band and Eric created a shift just for me. I’d open up in the morning, then split before my show - usually right in the middle of dinner rush,” Raupp laughs, “Now with the expanse of their business, it’s great to see these amazing new properties with a strong music scene, Bird and Betty’s being the newest with a healthy mix of national touring acts and local musicians alike, playing on the same, incredible stage. They show the same dedication and thoughtfulness to their musical acts that they do to their establishments. It really shows, and it makes for an ideal environment for musicians to play.”
Last summer, we opened Bird & Betty’s, which was historically the Acme Hotel and home to some legendary local shows including The Clarence Clemons Band, the Hooters, Widespread Panic and Fishbone.
This year we decided to bring back that tradition of original music and great touring bands by having G Love, the Skatalites, Asher Roth, Talking Dreads, Tunnel Vision, and the Long Beach Dub All Stars come through with a lot of help from Raup who did the booking. We really enjoyed the energy created around town when a national act comes through.
But we also had some amazing nights where we welcomed homegrown talent to the stage, a bunch of our favorite cover bands, but also acts like Chevy Lopez and the Danksters who record and play their own original music. Chevy bring their self-described “gnar-n-b” sound with a lot of originals that the crowd has been singing along to. They recently headlined Maker’s Fest. The Danksters play Island reggae (Long Beach Island, that is) with an edge. These two acts will play our Halloween Party on Oct 26.
Some of our other employees are so talented that they’ve played for us too. Gaten Matarazzo’s brother and sister work for us in Beach Haven and his Work In Progress band played Bird & Betty’s. Nikolas Daze and Tony Guice, two of our hard working kitchen staff opened up or Asher Roth’s Besphrenz this summer as well.
Another major player at Bird & Betty’s this summer was DJ Meatball. Aka Mike Varner. Varner is a DJ from Manahawkin and plays everything from top 40 hits to hip-hop, rhythm & blues, funk, soul, disco, world music, electronica to old school throwback. He’s a hustler and has DJ’ed clubs up and down the East Coast and even Mexico.
Music in a night club is everything. He proved time and time again that he could get the crowd moving and became a staple of late night weekends. He livened up a few Teen Nites and when he was booked elsewhere, slotted others like DJ Stanley Stylez.
Every Friday and Saturday night at the Old Causeway, we have a live band. We have musicians play the patio at Mud City on summer Sundays, happy hours at the OC and late night at the Whale. Live entertainment has simply become part of who we are.
Our most recent initiative is Acoustic Open Mic Night at the Old Causeway, hosted by Chris Fritz, who fronts the Impulsives and Fritz Electric, both of whom play our venues.
“If you look into it, you’ll see that there are open mics all over New Jersey, almost exclusively on weeknights and earlier than a regular band gig. They provide musicians from almost all walks of life with a forum to perform,” says Fritz.
Fritz was a police officer for 25 years with the Stafford Township PD. He recently retired very young and one of his goals is to foster new musical talent in the area.
“I expect that open mic night will attract musicians of all ages and genres. I truly hope that it brings out the younger musicians – college kids just starting out, high school, even middle school. The first week we had an eighth grader from Southern Regional Middle School come out and just murder two originals on piano and a cover on a mandolin. Minds were blown,” said Fritz.
We’re already lining up a fantastic summer of touring bands for next summer but for now we have a busy offseason of great local acts and a growing open mic following.