Barnegat Leader

Barnegat Teacher’s Summer Filled With Piano Gigs

By ERIC ENGLUND | Jun 21, 2019

Barnegat — With summer recess here, Allison Stella will be able to devote more time to her love of playing live piano music. Since 2015, she has taught poetry and broadcast journalism as part of the English department at Barnegat High School. But now until September, her regular audience will not be students, but music lovers.

A graduate of Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Stella developed an interest in playing the piano at a young age and set out to be a classical musician.

“But when I was in college, I became more interested in jazz and popular music, so I moved in that direction,” Stella recalled. “Then I started singing while playing, and that got me to where I am now.”

Currently, Stella plays Thursdays at the Daymark in Barnegat Light  from 6 to 9  p.m., Sundays at How You Brewin? in Surf City from 7 to 10 p.m. (where she runs the open mike night) and Saturdays at the Local Market and Kitchen from 5 to 8 p.m. Beginning  in July, she’ll be at Mickey’s Port of Call Pub in Tuckerton every other Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m.

On her electric piano, Stella said, she churns out plenty of keyboard-driven songs made popular by Elton John and Billy Joel.

“But what I like doing mostly are my own arrangements of popular songs, like ‘Mr. Brightside’ by the Killers or ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga,” she said. “When I’m doing them, people might not recognize the song right away, but then when I get to the chorus, it’s like ‘OK, now I know that song.’”

Stella said she is also a fan of Ben Folds and Josh Ritter, and includes their songs in her set list.

The musician said she is looking for other gigs, but wants to perform “where she can be part of the atmosphere.”

“I don’t feel comfortable playing on a stage,” she said. “I feel a lot better when I’m blending in.”

People can check out her Allison Stella Music Facebook page for appearance updates and other items. —E.E.

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