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Andrew Light: Press

Secret Agent Abe

CD Review: Secret Agent Abe/Canaan/Beacon Records
Opening with an analog Victrola soundbyte, then darting to raging surf instrumentalism and all points in between, S.A.A. are a cosmic musical trip leaving no genre untouched. Eclectic and intriguing, this band have the musical chops to mix Primus-like bass funk, jazzy guitar excursions, and powerfully moving vocals that jump from angst to angelic quick enough to keep pace with the restless musical explorations.
The Aquarian (Feb 11, 1998)
CD Review: Secret Agent Abe/Canaan/Beacon Records
They're on a mission from God and they play surfer rock music. And they definitely have a sense of humour! Rocking out with "Malibu Abe", it's clear from the get go that in Stingray Schneider (Andrew Light) they have a mega guitarist. Imagine the Shadows on speed and you get close to an idea of what some of this sounds like. It's also clear when the rest of the band are called Grand Admiral Throng, Cruzy Gonzales and Blanche Honeydew that they are all working under top secret aliases! The funky rock of "Gobbler's Knob" is the first chance you get to hear Miss Honeydew's excellent vocals and lyrics that clearly point to God. That funky rock style and straight ahead lyrics continue with intricately laden guitars of "Bopple Botch". The obvoius single "Atomic Bisque" is built around a sub-Led Zep riff and explosive guitar work. The "Kwong Fat" instrumental and closing epic "Arabian Surf" are both further confirmation that Stingray's guitar work deserves wider appreciation. 30 minutes of music and six songs, this is a good introduction to a band who deserve wider recognition. (rating: 8 stars ********)
Mike Rimmer - Cross Rhythms (U.K. Music Mag) (Feb, 1998)
Night Grooves
Over the past few weeks I caught up with one of the hotter bands on the local music scene, Secret Agent Abe, at their "CD Release Party" at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ. Secret Agent Abe is a Shore area band that has been making waves on the local scene. WIth just over a year of playing out together under their belts, Blanche Honeydew (lead vocals), Stingray Schneider (lead guitar), Cruzy Gonzales (bass), and Grand Admiral Throng (drums), have managed to create a uniquely infectous mix of uplifting rhythms and vibes that should serve them well for quite a long time. Add to this the all at once velvety smooth yet edgy vocals of Blanche (big time potential) and you've got a sure winner.
Kickin' things off with a gutsy a capella version of "Call To Boogie" by Blanche, Secret Agent Abe ripped off a string of impressive original numbers. The best of which included: "Gobbler's Knob" (funky lead guitar/cool lead vocals/real Chili Peppers vibe), "Kwong Fat" (band stretched out/big time funky surf guitar/crowd fave), "Atomic Bisque" (great rhythm/infectous beat/way cool vocal), "Malibu Abe" (Dick Dale would be proud/hot drums), "Filthy McNasty" (not on CD but should be/B.'s most forceful vocal), "Baba Ghanouj" (G.A. shines on drums), "Bopple Botch" (Blanche's best), "Arabian Surf" (killer groove/-another crowd fave) and "The Drebin (aka The Bryson)" (impressive closer).
Look. The only thing better than this night's performance (under difficult circumstances) is the quality of their debut release, Canaan. Hands down it is the best local CD I've heard all year.
Secret Agent Abe is definitely a band to watch. With their overall talent and a bit more experience this band's future couldn't be any brighter. Simply put, Secret Agent Abe is a keeper!
Uncle Mike, Entertainment Writer - The Two River Times (Nov 21, 1997)
concert review: Javacasa - Lebanon, PA
...Secret Agent Abe kicked off their set while people were still pouring in through the doors (a good half hour after we opened them), but quickly grabbed the attention of everyone within earshot with their driving surf-rock influenced sound. Three excellent musicians and a female vocalist with a beautiful voice, each decked out in black suits, made lots of new fans that night, many hoping to get ahold of some recorded material from this New Jersey quartet (soon, people, very soon...). Half of the songs were Dick Dale inspired instrumentals, but that didn't leave Allie out of the picture; She continued dancing with the band, adding some creative moves which got the audience dancing along with her. Secret Agent Abe is alot of fun, but their music is very tight with lyrics that have a purpose. Their material on this night demonstrated that they are a clever and captivating band, evident in the fact that so many people were buzzing about them afterward.
Doug Kline and Chuck Zook - Burnt Toast indie music magazine (Feb 15, 1997)

Produced by Andrew Light

CD Review: Joe Finn/My Old Man/produced by Andrew Light
Finn’s Tristate Blues
“HELLO Joe!”

That greeting might be pretty generic in most circles, but when you live in the affluent Jersey Shore communities that have been nicknamed “The Irish Riviera,” they take on a whole new meaning.

Since 1963, those two words are shouted enthusiastically at the start of each Joe Finn show. Finn, the beloved Irish American balladeer and local treasure in this popular summer vacation spot for the Irish in the tristate area, has just released a collection of his favorite songs called My Old Man.

The album, his first in over 20 years, came together when music and images came together. “I found this picture of my father, who died in 1955,” explains Finn. “He’s there holding his family, and I just thought it would make a great album cover. I have been doing Phil Coulter’s ‘My Old Man’ for sometime, and I just love that song. So, I decided to record it.”

So, what else has gotten this Jersey City native back in the studio after all these years? “Well, I started taking guitar lessons recently,” he says with a sheepish laugh as he points to the decades of pub gigs he’s played for decades.

“There’s a guy who has a studio where I take lessons, and we just decided to go for it.”

Like his live act, My Old Man has something in it for everyone. He gently strums melodies from the likes of Coulter, layering his well-worn voice atop the strumming to create a great keepsake of the bar hopping you did in the warmer months.

“Our Lady of Knock” and “Dublin in the Rare Old Times” will make the rice pudding go down a bit better for the older set, while the playful version of “Unicorn” is thrown in for the wee ones who think chicken fingers are fine dining.

“People have been on me for years to record that one,” he says with a laugh.

“The tears have all been shed now/we said our last goodbye/his soul’s been blessed he’s laid to rest/and now I feel alone,” he sings movingly on the title track.

Coulter’s “My Old Man” follows in the Irish tradition of telling vivid stories of ordinary life, a custom that Finn knows all too well, judging from his impeccable taste in songs.

“Kilkelley Ireland” is a melancholy track of letters from home set to music that announce the births and deaths to a family member stuck across the pond.

Finn is working hard as he keeps the storytelling tradition alive in pubs that have very little in the way of Celtic selections on their jukebox. “A lot of the Irish bars in this area are Irish in name only,” he laments.

“On the weekends, the younger crowd comes into these Irish bars and they want to hear rock music. There is still a great sense of being Irish down here. We have one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the state here in Belmar. But there was a time when you could find work seven nights a week playing music like this, and those days are over.”

While a typical Joe Finn show might have its share of sentimental nods to those who have gone before us, he also borrows more contemporary stories to liven things up.

“It’s just me and an acoustic guitar, so I really don’t do much in the way of Celtic rock,” he says. “But I think these Saw Doctors songs are marvelous, and the younger crowd seems to love them.”

On My Old Man, three of the 14 tracks belong to Tuam’s favorite sons — he does a great job on “Green And Red of Mayo,” “Same Old Town,” and “Claire Island.” While he has his ear pressed against the current crop of songs to draw in the younger crowd, there is something else at play behind his popularity with all ages.

“One of my favorite gigs all year is at St. Rose High School here in Belmar,” he explains. “I do a show in front of the entire assembly, and the energy is great! When these kids turn 21 and make their way into the bars, they remember the concerts and get into the music again.”
- The Irish Voice (Jan 5, 2005)