Liquid Lines

Every Season Has Its Song and This Is Summer’s Mix Tape

Plus Pulses of Swell and a Coquina Jam Pre-event BBQ
By JON COEN | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Johnson No one can say there wasn’t waves last week. Eric Hance exhibits a legit off-the-top in some legit waves. You have to wonder what song was in his head.

There’s something about driving over the bridge in the summer. For many of us, it’s a feeling of anticipation, that wondering what the surf is going to be like, what the beach day will bring or even what’s in store for a rowdy night or a sand-covered summer romance. And as you ascend that Causeway anytime between May and October, there are certain songs that just feel right.

There’s different music that fits with each season, perhaps subtler, darker, more bleak in the winter; or faster, more uplifting for summer. Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” is a specifically September song that rings true in any beach town after the crowds have left. The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin” is a winter, or at least a late fall, song.

It could simply be that a record came out, or you and your crew first heard it, that particular year and it became the soundtrack for the season. Just think back to what you listened to when you first got your license and you had an old truck or hatchback full of knuckleheads and boards. Maybe there was an album that dropped right before an epic string of fall swells that you listened to over and over on your way to surf, after you surfed, and you had those songs in your head through the whole session. Or maybe someone first turned you on to a band during late winter when you were working on a project that had to be ready for Memorial Day. That one record uplifted you as the warmth and sun began to win out over the rain and cold.

But summer could be the season we associate most with music – summer friends, beach, surf sessions, late night, fishing trips, going to shows, working long hours or whatever it is we’re doing. There are songs or records that we hear and we’re instantly transported back to a particular summer, singing along in the car to the 8-track, the cassette, the CD, the iPod or, as nerdy as it sounds, today’s streaming technology.

These are the sounds of summer, just as much as the squawking of a seagull, the ice cream truck or the yells of drunken teenagers on bikes leaving the weekly free concerts around LBI. So this week I decided to put together a summer playlist, perfect for this most fleeting season. It’s a collection of old classics and new material, some with New Jersey connection, some that appeal to a wide audience and some that – well, some that I just like, damn it. Sorry, Kid Rock and Jimmy Buffet don’t make the list. I mean, I know Kid Rock wrote a song called “All Summer Long” and everyone associates Jimmy Buffet with the beach and that atrocious song about a cheeseburger, but we gotta have some kind of standards here.

So here goes, the Liquid Lines Summer Mix (click here for Spotify Playlist on Spotify):

Bruce Springsteen “Thunder Road” – Springsteen is the ultimate storyteller of any age. The fact that he’s from the Jersey Shore area and has threaded so much blue collar tapestry into his songs makes him the patron saint of working class people everywhere, but specifically to anyone who lives near our coast. We could spend days unpacking all the meanings and metaphors like “hide ’neath your covers and study your pain/ make crosses from your lovers/ throw roses in the rain,” so there’s no need to examine all the lyrics. But the screen door slamming, your front porch, Mary’s dress and all outdoor nighttime driving all say summer. Without getting too deep, it’s the ultimate anthem for everyone who’s struggling with a life they didn’t expect for themselves, and how to understand your own level of greatness. It teaches us not to “waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets.” Everything about this song is just amazing.

• Toots & the Maytals, “Pressure Drop” – This list wouldn’t be complete without a solid Jamaican reggae ditty. “Pressure Drop” came out in 1970 on the record Monkey Man. The literal lyrics are barometric pressure dropping, the way that weather was often forecasted in the Caribbean and it meant rough tropical weather on the horizon. But the deeper meaning is justice being served in the form of karma. It became known worldwide in 1972 when it was put on the soundtrack to the film “The Harder They Come.” With a classic upstroke, it’s a quintessential summertime jam.

• Face to Face, “You’ve Done Nothing” – Maybe not much of a summertime connection to this one but LBI surfers and youth culture have long been in love with Face to Face, driving three-chord punk from Southern California with all the background “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” that we love. “Disconnected” is played out so I picked this song. The record Don’t Turn Away came out in 1992, but Face to Face would become a staple of surf video soundtracks in the mid-’90s, and every time the band played Philly or Asbury Park in the last 20 years, half of LBI was there. It had the perfect blend of aggression and melody to simply get you amped for a session or a long, hot day of work.

• The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “May This Be Love” – Released in May of 1967, I have to imagine that Are You Experienced was the album of the summer at the beach that year. Coupled with so many epic songs like “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Fire” and “Foxy Lady,” this song was kind of the sleeper. It's the ballad that showed Hendrix’s wild guitar range and there is no question is stands the test of time.

• The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer” – If we’re talking about storytelling, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady can spin some folklore. Writing about varied themes, he brings characters and situations to life over their rousing indie rock melodies. On the band’s fourth album in 2004, Stay Positive, he takes the voice of youth inspired to ”build something this summer.” These are our own voices and characters we’ve known. “We’ll put it back together, raise up a giant ladder … With love, and trust, and friends, and hammers.” That’s the kind of song you need for summer.

• Beyoncé, “Crazy in Love” featuring JAY Z – OK. I’m into pop music about as much as I’m into 17th century Russian poetry or gas station sushi. But there’s something about this song. I’m not sure what qualifies it as a summer song, but I don’t ever picture Queen B in cold weather. From the horns to the rousing buildups, Jay Z’s hip-hop, the vintage soul and the backup vocals to that hook, it’s just a well done song and it makes you want to move, even played between “Celebration” and “Brick House,” at every single wedding of the last 15 years.

• The Bouncing Souls, “True Believers” – The record How I Spent My Summer Vacation came out in May 2001, full of melodic punk anthems and right before summer. This is another regional favorite as the Souls are a NJ staple who transcended punk in the ’90s to a much wider audience with life-affirming songs of positivity and friendship. This one happens to be about holding fast with the people who believe in you even if it’s contrary to society’s norms. “We live our lives in our own way, never really listen to what they say. The kind of faith that doesn’t fade away …” The timing of the release, the sound, and the fact that they play a raucous show at the Stone Pony Summerstage each summer make them a summer classic for our coastline.

• Sahara Moon, “Summertime” – It’s right there in the name. Who doesn’t love the classic “Summertime” by George Gershwin? Originally written in 1934 for the opera Porgy and Bess, this song has been covered more than a toddler in sunscreen, most notably by Billy Holiday, Sam Cooke and even hit on by Sublime. But this is our local version by the talented Sahara Moon of Tuckerton. Moon, who writes, records and plays her own folk/pop material (she plays countless local shows all summer), did her own lovely cover of “Summertime” on her 2017 EP East Coast Girl.

• Public Enemy, “Fight the Power” – The ultimate party with a message song and the last track on Fear of a Black Planet, PE cemented themselves as revolutionaries of hip-hop when this came out in 1989. Featuring sax by Branford Marsalis (how’s that bit of trivia?), the song was created for the Spike Lee film “Do the Right Thing,” which is set in a blazing hot Brooklyn summer. Sadly, the social commentary from 30 years ago is still relevant today, but powerful and angst-ridden, it still makes you want to get up and make a change (while shaking it).

• The Gaslight Anthem, “American Slang” – This song doesn’t just get the nod on its New Jersey connection, but that is a bonus. The Gaslight Anthem is a product of the storied New Brunswick basement scene and carved a niche out for themselves in Asbury Park. Most were already familiar with their catchy nostalgia from The ’59 Sound. “American Slang” was the title track of their third album and came out in June 2010, at the start of what turned out to be a fantastic summer. Summer is a great time for that urgent guitar sound and nostalgia. Plus, it had Old Barney on the album cover.

… AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: No sooner had I submitted last week’s column about how bad the surf has been than we saw a little uptick in rideable waves. Maybe I need to complain that we haven’t had a week of 6-foot swell and by next week I’ll be writing about it.

Our luck turned around Tuesday, June 9. What was forecasted to be a tiny bump turned out to be stomach-high swell with apparently some chest-high sets up in Harvey Cedars. The incoming tide may have bumped up the swell a tad, as it was the first legitimate day you could ride a shortboard pretty much all summer. We had warm water, light offshore wind and fun, fast little bowls that stayed really good all morning and remained rideable all day. And with no waves forecasted, there was very little crowd. I’d say that on most of LBI you could have surfed by yourself.

And if that was a surprise, last Wednesday was even more so with a tiny leftover and glassy conditions in the morning. It was smaller, but I still saw guys surfing on shortboards. Eric Hance, in particular, was throwing two and three turns per wave on little peelers in Surf City.

Last Thursday was one of the more vicious summertime storms we’ve had in recent memory, putting a whole lot of water on an Island that has unfortunately been developed with too much impervious surface in a short amount of time, closing the Boulevard and claiming several cars. At one point, the wind went ripping south, but that burst didn’t last long enough to build swell. By morning, the weather had been replaced by a cool, dry northwest wind, but the surf was barely worth it.

But somewhere out in the ocean some fetch had formed and by mid-day there was a 1- to occasionally 2-foot wave. Don’t get me wrong, it was small, but now that the sandbars are set up for summer, they are ideal for handling such days on longboards. On much of the Island, the sand is set up close to the beach and the inside trough is still there, but has filled in, allowing a wave to peak and peel. When it hits the inside hole, it slows down so that even if there’s a closeout, you continue gliding, just a little slower. It’s really perfect for families and beginners. I saw three separate dads riding the same wave as their kids on Friday afternoon. What more could a surfing parent want? Those conditions lasted until dark, too.

Saturday was smaller but again rideable on the big boards with onshore winds. The wind was offshore all day on Sunday, again making for some tiny but clean conditions.

The water has been up and down with the wind direction. When it’s been onshore, it’s mostly been near tropical water temps. But with some of the offshore winds, we’re still getting some upwelling. This hasn’t been as bad as the upwelling earlier in the summer when we had southerly blows. Those were downright cold. This has merely been chilly, where a light wetsuit is maybe advisable but not necessary.

The late week isn’t supposed to be too active for surf; however, keep an eye on this weekend. Our second named storm of the year, Hurricane Barry, hit Louisiana over the weekend, dumping major rains on the Gulf coast but sparing the populated area of New Orleans. The flooding wasn’t as bad as expected, although floods like that do give larger reptiles a lot of rein to move around, which is unsettling for folks there. Barry then moved inland.

We could feel some of the remnants of the storm as they move east and into the Atlantic, which could potentially bump us back into some rideable surf. We’re also going to be looking at our hottest temps of the year so far, so a 1-foot offshore wave may look more appealing than usual.

Surfline is also hinting that we may be getting some groundswell from a very, very distant storm. It’s currently winter in the Southern Hemisphere and some of the seasonal storms in the South Atlantic Ocean are getting particularly fierce. One that raged this past week could send us some swell by the weekend. These are more of a novelty than good swell, but if they do reach us, you can occasionally be out on a 1-foot day and a wave over 2-foot pops up. It’s more interesting ocean science than solid swell, but Surfline’s models do a good job of picking up this long period energy.

WHAT HAPPENED/WHAT’S HAPPENING: Last Saturday South End Surf ’N Paddle had a nice race with minimal wind at Bayview Park in Brant Beach. The winners for the short course were as follows: 12’6 SUP and over-35 male – Joe Harris, under-35 male – Dylan Tiver; 12’6 SUP under-35 female – Cassie Neubauer, over-35 female – Michelle Dempsey; 14-foot under-35 male – Don Finn; Surf Style over-35 female – Tammy Tiver, under-35 female – Julia Colicchio; and SUP under 14-years – Rebecca Kessles.

Winners for the long course were as follows: 12’6 SUP over-35 male – Kenny Balcerski, under-35 male – Matt Booth; 12’6 SUP over-35 female – Erica West; 14-foot SUP over-35 female – Kate McBride, under-35 – Emma Engle. Hugh Shields won the under-35 Prone race and Bob Highly won the over 35.

This Thursday evening, July 18, Jetty will host the Coquina Jam pre-event BBQ at Jetty Headquarters in Manahawkin. While there has always been a nice pre-party from 6 to 10 p.m., this one will feature a panel discussion with local Coquina surfers Mary Tantillo, glassblower and owner of SwellColors Glass Studio in Surf City; Devon Taylor Karvan, fitness instructor and owner of Black Sheep Studio; Sammy Jo Alvarez, a world traveler and bartender at Bird & Betty’s; and 11-year-old Manahawkin surfer Amalie Werner. The ladies will discuss what it means to surf this contest, the charitable aspect for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and how they balance their busy lives with surfing. The event will also include food, drinks and music.

This year the field has been expanded and all the surfers will be raising money ahead of the event with the total raised in each bracket being matched by one of the four main sponsors: Fantasy Island, the Wright Law Firm, the Tide Table Group and Farias.

The actual contest is Sunday July 28 starting at 8 a.m. at 68th Street in Brant Beach with women’s surfing, cold clams, a live band, food on the beach and a mid-day surf clinic for families affected by cancer. There’s literally something for everyone and it’s always a good time.

Those with a deep concern for the environment can meet on Tuesday, July 23 at the Mainland for a bi-monthly “Green Drinks” event. I am told the discussion is green, not the drinks. It’s a chance for like-minded individuals concerned about a sustainable future to network and bounce ideas off of one another. This is actually an international organization, but this is a gathering of locals. It’s free, and while RSVP is not required, it’s asked that you email Barbara Reynolds at barbreynolds123@gmail.com and let them know you plan to attend.

The next big beach-related event is the Hurley Rip My Shred Stick on July 24. This is Hurley bringing back a much loved annual tour with surfing and beach games for the kids from 9 a.m. to noon. Then everyone is invited back to the shop in the evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for awards and a chance to win a Pyzel surfboard.

Beyond that, the Alliance for a Living Ocean Longboard Classic is Aug. 10 and registration is now open at LivingOcean.org.

So keep on enjoying this July that’s going way too fast. Download the playlist or make your own. I’m sure you have some great summertime jams.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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