Rod Picott, Joe Whyte @ The Strand Theater 5/1/10
Review by: Lazlo
Photos by: Naomi
A “Backstage Series” concert with singer-songwriters Rod Picott, and Joe Whyte, was what finally brought me to the Strand Theater in Lakewood. Over the course of the last few years I have heard of shows at the Strand, but one thing or another caused me to not make any of their previous shows.
The Strand is an absolutely beautiful venue with a classic look, and yet from the way some of the seating sections are tiered, I suspect more seats give you a better view there than other similar theaters I have been to in New Jersey.
I had to qualify that last sentence because for these unique, “backstage series” shows, the audience gets to sit on the stage facing the regular seating, and the performer stands at the front of the stage facing the audience (and therefore gets to see the back of the stage). The 100 or so chairs set up on the stage around the performer, set up a really nice environment to see a show.
The show began with Jeff Raspe of 90.5 The Night (one of the few radio stations I will actually listen to), introducing Joe Whyte. I have known Joe and his music for years, and his folk-rock/Americana songs, have always been impressive. Generally, I have seen Joe in bars or coffeehouses where the audience is there to drink and the music is secondary. Often I have had to move as close to the stage as possible to take in Joe’s music, but not at the Strand. The audience was quiet and attentive, so we could all take in the musical and lyrical prowess of Joe Whyte. There are a lot of great singer-songwriters in New Jersey, I would definitely put Joe in the upper echelon of them.
After a brief intermission, Jeff Raspe returned to introduce the headliner of the night, Rod Picott. If you haven’t heard of Rod Picott, well I’d blame that on the music industry by and large promoting crap instead of the real deal. Rod is more than just a clever singer-songwriter a great repertoire of upbeat songs and ballads. He’s a real performer. For the nearly 90 minutes that he played he enraptured the audience with not just his music, but also his amusing anecdotes, and his stage presence. While I hope Rod can return to the Strand Theater and face forward at a sold out crowd of 1,030 people there to see him, it’s really special to be able to see him play in the more intimate “back stage” setting.
This was an amazing night of music by two great singer-songwriters, and the Strand Theater was the perfect venue to see them. The sound in that room was warm and wonderful. It’s not often I get to comment on how great the sound is in a room, but I can’t remember the last time I heard a venue that sounded that good. Credit has to go to Billy who was running sound, as well as Ray, who put this wonderful bill together, and all the other fine people who keep the Strand running. In a day and age when modern theaters all look the same, and generally don’t sound as good, it’s nice to see a classic theater still in operation.
The Strand Theater (shot from the back of the stage)
(L to R) Lazlo, Joe Whyte, Jeff Raspe, & Rod Picott