New Tommy Allen Band Taking Southern Ocean County by Storm

By Victoria Ford | Oct 30, 2019
Photo by: Victoria Ford

Ship Bottom — The new band everyone is talking about may ring a bell to those of a certain age. The Tommy Allen Band, popular in the area decades ago, is back – but this time it’s Junior playing the cajon and singing his heart out, with his pals Ray Waller on bass/vocals and Tom Vezos on guitar/vocals.

The band made its Ship Bottom debut at the Gateway Friday night (after repeatedly impressing crowds at the Terrace Tavern in Beach Haven Terrace this summer). Family, friends and fans turned out in support, and Carmen Landolfi joined as guest harmonica player.

Curious music lovers can find the Tommy Allen Band at Nardi’s in Haven Beach on Saturday, Nov. 9, and just about every weekend at Mickey’s Port of Call Pub in Tuckerton.

Waller is a 2012 graduate of Pinelands Regional High School; Vezos and Allen graduated in 2016 and 2017 respectively, where they bonded over musical theater and clicked the first time they jammed together.

The trio formed in March or April of this year, playing private parties and gaining popularity by word of mouth. In May they played at a local baseball fundraiser event at Mickey’s. They were an instant hit, and they’ve been riding the wave of local success without a clearly defined strategy ever since. They were working on coming up with a unique name when they started playing at Mickey’s, but everyone just referred to them as the Tommy Allen Band, and it seems to have stuck. Occasionally they resurrect an old sign that had belonged to the original Tommy Allen Band.

The boys’ motto in all circumstances, be it a song, a misplaced mic cable or a marketing plan: “We’ll figure it out.” So far, slow and steady has been the right pace for them, Vezos said.

“It’s really just cool getting paid to play music,” Allen said. “It doesn’t feel like a job.”

The genre they say best fits their style is “funk rock,” according to Vezos, especially now as they begin to explore their original songwriting. For the bar crowds they have found classic rock and funk tunes go over best, and they like to pull out odd ones to keep everyone guessing.

When everything is working perfectly onstage, the feeling is “indescribable,” Allen said. The unspoken chemistry is pure magic.

Tommy Allen Sr. still fills in as needed, which is a lot of fun for him, he said, to see the boys follow in his footsteps, pulling out obscure songs they select from a generation of music before they were even born. “They stump me,” he said.

Tommy Allen Sr. and his onetime bandmate, banjo and guitar player Mark Urban, recalled how they along with Chuck Miller honed their musical chops at Pinelands Community Church, where Miller was a music director and “brought out the best in (Tommy Jr.).” One of the Allen daughters attended Westminster Choir College. Mother Jane is a singer, too. “They call us the Von Trapp family,” she said, referring to “The Sound of Music.”

— Victoria Ford

victoria@thesandpaper.net

 

 

Set List Snippet:

The Commodores’ “Brick House”

Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright”

Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel”

The Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”

Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle”

Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally”

KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight”

Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”

Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”

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