Virtual screening on Facebook & You Tube
Hoboken has a colorful musical past. Composer Stephen Foster wrote “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” while living here in 1854. It’s the birthplace of singers Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Roselli. Gerome Ragni and James Rado wrote the book and lyrics to the iconic Broadway musical Hair while living here in the 1960s. From the late 1970s thru the 1990s, it was home to the infamous, metro area rock venue Maxwell’s, spawning ground of a thriving indie music scene, as well as home to Bar/None Records. The stories are numerous and the music eclectic.
“A Mile Square of Music: 1960 to 1970”, a 30-minute film produced by Branding Shorts, includes interviews with Luke Faust, Julio Fernandez, Jim & Beverly Hans, Patrick "Jude" Petrullo, Dorothy Blackwell McNeil, and members of the local band The Vee Jays, Ed Kwedar, Omar Mesa, and Frank Musumici, sharing exciting their stories about the music scene in Hoboken at that time.
The producers spoke to many others, but due to funding constraints and a shortage of time were limited as to what could be included in this project. We encourage anyone interested in Hoboken history to do their own research. There are so many wonderful stories that need to be discovered, documented and preserved.
“A Mile Square of Music: 1960 to 1970” will be presented as a Live Stream on the Hoboken Historical Museum’s Facebook - hobho.me/musicdocfb and YouTube - hobho.me/musicdocyt pages on Sunday, Jan. 30th starting at 5pm. This is not an in-person event. Watch at home from the comfort of your living room.
Live Q & A with special guests to follow the screening of the film. Transcripts and audio files of the complete interviews will be made available through the Hoboken Historical Museum and Public Library at a later date. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to all of the participants for sharing their stories, The Hoboken Historical Museum, Tony Parente, Micki Pagano-Parente, Grace Hill, Chrissy McLarty Whisler, Irwin Chusid, Rob Harari and Jack Silbert.
This program is made possible by a grant from The New Jersey StateHistorical Commission, a Division of the Department of State, and administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive and the Board of County Commissioners.
Luke Faust was born in Manhattan. In 1963, at age 27, he moved toHoboken. Playing harmonica, banjo, electric piano, and fiddle, Luke became a key member of musical group, The Insect Trust, whose ranks included RobertPalmer (later a famed music critic for the New York Times), vocalist NancyJeffries (who later became a prominent A&R executive for RCA, Electra &Virgin Records), and others. The InsectTrust released two albums, a self-titled LP in 1968 and Hoboken Saturday Night in 1970 (reissued in 2005). Faust also played jug with The Holy Modal Rounders.Until recently, Faust co-ran the Monroe Street Movement Space in Hoboken with his wife Dena Reynolds.
Julio Fernandez was born in Cuba and came to Hoboken in 1961. He picked up the guitar at age 9 and played in his first band a year later. Around that time, he opened for popular Hoboken band The VeeJays and met Omar Mesa at a local performance venue. While a student at Hoboken High School, Julio and his music buddies put together the band Flight, which later became Top-Flite, playing gigs all over the tri-state area. In 1984, Julio was invited to audition for the jazz-rock fusion band Spyro Gyra and has been working with them for 37 years. When not touring the world, he continues to perform locally in Hoboken, most notably each summer at Sinatra Park with his all-star band,Julio Fernandez and Friends
Jim Hans arrived in Hoboken at age 30 in 1966. He and Beverly married that year and opened the antique store, the Hoboken Calendar Shop of CurrentEvents, on Newark Street. They successfully ran it for 8 years. The shop attracted so many local musicians, inspiring Jim and Beverly to organize music and theatrical performance events at the Grand Hotel on 3rd and Hudson Street.Jim also co-founded the Hoboken Historical Museum in 1986 and was its president until 1991. He is the author of 100 Hoboken Firsts, published in 2006.
grew up in Hoboken. She was recognized in 2010 by The Board of ChosenFreeholders of Hudson County as a Woman of the Year for her work at Hoboken’sClub Zanzibar, where she served as business manager, hostess and bartender from1971-1981. The club was founded in 1961 by her husband Charles McNeil. ClubZanzibar was an important theatrical venue on what then was commonly known as the “Chitlin Circuit”, a series of performance venues throughout the eastern & southeastern United States that primarily served African American audiences. It was the first stop in New Jersey on the return trip south, following a successful performance at New York’s famedApollo Theater, which was the most prestigious stop on the circuit. The club hosted African-American entertainers such as Wilson Pickett, Kool and the Gang,Millie Jackson,The Platters, The Coasters, Rufus Thomas, and other successful recording artists of the time. In 2018 McNeil, along with fellow Hoboken women trailblazers, photographer Dorothea Lange and sportswoman Maria Pepe, was honored by having her image included on a large (150’ by 35’) exterior mural located at 14th & Grand St.
Born and raised in Hoboken, Patty Petrullo’s early musical influences include seeing his uncle Val Valente perform on the Ed Sullivan Show and hearing the Beatles on the radio. His first public performance was at theHoliday Inn on River St. in Hoboken with a group called The Poor Souls. At age13 Pat joined the most popular Hoboken band at the time, The Vee Jays, performing at local clubs and high school dances. At age 16 he joined TheBottle Brass, who gigged a lot at the Jersey Shore. That group later became Pat and the Bottled Brass. When the band recorded their first single in 1969, the record company changed the name of the band to The Student Body. At age 20, Petrullo changed his name to PatrickJude and in 1973 landed the role of Judas in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
After seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964,Hoboken friends Omar Mesa (lead guitar) and Ed Kwedar (drums) decided to form a band, soon joined by Frank Musumici (lead vocals/bass) and Peter Romano (rhythm guitar). (Keyboardist Ray Bryn was a later member.) The Vee Jays performed atHoboken High School, parties, hotels, bars, and a Battle of the Bands at thePalisades Amusement Park, which they won! The VeeJays released a single,“Gloria” (a cover of the Them hit) and “Twine Time” (first recorded by AlvinCash) on the Clarity label.
was born in Havana,Cuba, in 1948, and at age 6 moved to Hoboken with his family. After his time in The Vee Jays, Omar was an original member of the Latin-funk band Mandrill, playing guitar on their first four albums on Polydor Records. With Mandrill he toured major venues nationwide and appeared on TV shows such as Soul Train andDon Kirschner’s Rock Concert.
was born at Hoboken’s St. Mary’s Hospital in 1949 and lived above theClub Zanzibar in his youth. He was drafted into the army in 1969, ending the original lineup of The Vee Jays. Ed then played in bands in California andPennsylvania before landing in Connecticut in 1981 to work for IBM. He stopped performing live when his son was born in 1985, but has never stopped playing music at home.
was born in New York City. His family moved toHoboken when he was 2. Frank left The Vee Jays when he was drafted in 1967 but returned to the band months later after being discharged with bad eye sight. Post-Vee Jays, Frank worked with comedian Rodney Dangerfield and performed at Dangerfield’s club in Manhattan.