The Gateway Gets Clued In to ‘No Clue’

By SARAH HODGSON | May 22, 2019
Photo by: Lexi Schnell

Ship Bottom — The name of the band “No Clue” has simpler origins than one might expect. Dawn Manning, the lead vocalist of the group, recounts the story with ease. “It took four men three months to come up with a name. And every time I asked them, ‘Well what name do you have? What are we going to call ourselves?’ They said, ‘No Clue.’” And that’s how the five-piece, New Jersey-based band stumbled upon its handle.

“No cussing,” Dawn instructed her bandmates as they settled in for an interview between sets. It’s a tight-knit group, especially considering three members are related by either marriage or blood. Dawn Manning’s husband, Richard Manning, plays lead guitar along with lead and backing vocals. Richard Manning’s brother Dave Manning plays rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Rick Cahall, a friend, plays drums and vocals, while Dave Gaskill, another friend, plays bass guitar and backing vocals.

No Clue played The Gateway Restaurant & Lounge stage. It was a quiet, tame Friday night at the Ship Bottom locale, but the soothing din of patrons was soon overcome with the buoyant sounds of No Clue breaking into the evening with “I Got a Feeling,” by The Black Eyed Peas. With Dawn’s husky, powerful vocals leading the charge, it was an appropriate and proportionate start to the night.

When all was said and sung, there was no genre left unturned. The band floated from classic rock to pop to country with unmatched ease. In all black, Dawn breezed through Katy Perry, P!nk and Jason Aldean with her rocker edge. Each musician was an integral piece of the performance puzzle: Rick skillfully drove the tempo on drums in concert with Dave M. and Dave G., while Richard embellished the tunes with skillful solos and keyboard lines.

Though a leap from pop to classic rock might seem jarring, the musicians of No Clue didn’t seem to find any issues. “What we find is that regardless of what genre it is, if it’s uptempo, if it’s a danceable beat, things tend to flow one after the other and you don’t even have to think about it,” said Richard.

After all, the band is “covering” music in the loosest form of the word. “We’re not trying to imitate anybody,” said Dawn. “We’re not trying to sing like them, we’re not trying to play just like them.”

“I think at the end of the day, whatever song it is, we have to make it our own,” said Rick.

They try their best to capture the spirit of the song they’re covering, to recreate the feeling that it’s meant to evoke. For No Clue, this is accomplished by adding their own energetic finesse to the tunes they perform.

As for the setlist, the audience usually decides what’s on it – whether they know it or not. Case in point, the group of musicians said they’d grown tired of playing Tom Petty’s staple “American Girl,” but agreed that as soon as you hit the first “Oh Yeah” of the chorus, the crowd goes wild and it becomes a fast favorite once more.

“Even when you think a song might not work, you watch the crowd. If they’re singing and dancing in their seats, it’s a keeper,” said Dawn.

The three Mannings have been performing together for 23 years, while Rick and Dave G. were added in the last few years. Between sets, they’re a playful group of friends, talking excitedly over one another, teasing, reminiscing and warmly complimenting one another’s skills. Rick makes a joke about wearing tight undergarments to nail the famous, yelp-y male vocals in “Love Shack,” while Dawn and Richard muse over their first encounter at a karaoke bar. Their overlapping conversations ooze with natural camaraderie and affection.

“If you wanted a serious interview you picked the wrong band,” laughed Dawn.

“We’re serious about what we play. But for us, it’s about having fun,” said Richard.

Their goals as a group? “To live to 90,” joked Dave M.

Dawn chimed in, “We’ve been playing for so long. And when we first started, Dave was …”

“I was 40 years old,” said Dave M. “And I said, ‘We better do this now because I can’t see myself doing this when I’m 50.’ And that was 23 years ago.”

There seems to be no end in sight for the musicians of No Clue. For more information about No Clue and their summer schedule, follow them on Facebook.

 

Setlist Snippet:

 

  • “I Got a Feeling,” Black Eyed Peas
  • “Raise Your Glass,” P!nk
  • “Hot and Cold,” Katy Perry
  • “Flagpole Sitta,” Harvey Danger
  • “My Own Worst Enemy,” Lit
  • “What I Like About You,” The Romantics
  • “My Sharona,” The Knack
  • “Hicktown,” Jason Aldean
  • “Here for the Party,” Gretchen Wilson
  • “Little Red Wagon,” Miranda Lambert
  • “Cake By The Ocean,” DNCE
  • “The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World
  • “Harder to Breathe,” Maroon 5

 

 

 

 

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