Mr. LoveJoy Brings the Party to Nardi’s

Jul 26, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Mr. LoveJoy founder Richie Moscola has been jamming at Nardi’s Tavern & Grille on Long Beach Island since 1995, and the crowd, along with the familiar atmosphere, never seems to get old. After being in a successful Jersey Shore cover band called Dog Voices for many years, Moscola formed Mr. LoveJoy in 2012 with Rob Monte, who is no longer with the band.

The lineup has since expanded and now includes Moscola, who is a guitarist, bassist and singer; lead vocalist and bassist Dylan Kelehan; drummer and vocalist Jay De Ruggiero; guitarist and vocalist Mike Erianne; and keyboardist Karlee Bloom, who was not present for Sunday night’s performance at Nardi’s. Bloom joined the band last summer, and Moscola referred to her as Mr. LoveJoy’s “life force.”

Before Mr. LoveJoy took the stage for its own set, Moscola and Kelehan joined the Dave Christopher Band during its final song, “American Girl” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, for a little warm-up session. Musicians from DCB and Mr. LoveJoy have formed close relationships since both bands play consecutively every Sunday at Nardi’s. It’s basically one big, happy family, and everyone enjoys playing together. When Mr. LoveJoy began its set, attendees flocked toward the dance floor to sing along and have fun with the band.

Moscola shared that the name of the band comes from a ’90s movie called “Get Shorty,” starring John Travolta and Gene Hackman. At the time, Moscola was looking for something comical that “made no sense.” In the film, Travolta and Hackman are trying to sell a movie script titled “Mr. Lovejoy,” and the name “just stuck.” However, it technically does make sense because the band’s music brings love and joy to its listeners with hundreds of catchy, energetic melodies.

Moscola was in eighth grade when he became obsessed with learning how to play guitar. “I had a friend and his brother played in a band, and I used to sit in their garage and watch him play and was totally amazed by it, and I had to learn,” he said. “I paid $20 to get a guitar off of his brother and started playing. I remember hearing stuff like Van Halen or Led Zeppelin and thinking, ‘What is that? I need to play it.’”

For Erianne, learning to play guitar wasn’t exactly a positive experience in the beginning. When he started playing in first grade, his guitar teacher told his parents that he was “horrible” and they were wasting their money on his lessons.

“I stopped playing, and I didn’t play again until junior high. I was very inspired by Led Zeppelin during those years. I was in original bands in high school and college, and then started playing in cover bands and stopped doing original stuff, and here I am,” Erianne said.

De Ruggiero’s father took him to New York City for drum lessons when he was 7 years old, and he has been “drumming ever since.” “My dad was pretty cool. He took me to my first Kiss concert back in 1977, and I’ll always remember it. Seeing that band instilled in me that performing is about having a good time and making sure the crowd is, too,” De Ruggiero said.

Kelehan wasn’t interested in being a musician, but when his brother got into a fight with one of the neighborhood kids and injured his hand, somebody had to step in to take the guitar lessons his parents already had paid for. “I started taking the lessons, and it was great,” he said. “And then I switched to drums and learned that, too.” Kelehan later uncovered his hidden singing talent when he started off as a drummer for a different band and then replaced the lead singer.

“I never considered myself to be an amazing singer. I rehearse as much as I can. I have not been playing all of these songs for years, so, for me, it’s still a big learning curve. These guys have been doing it for 15 years longer than me, approximately, so I am still behind, and I am doing my best to catch up to them,” Kelehan said.

Mr. LoveJoy typically performs three or four times per week and travels within the tristate area for its gigs – weddings and corporate functions. But one of its favorite places to put on a show will always be Nardi’s.

“It’s a vacation destination, and I have been playing here for over 20 years,” Moscola said. “There is such a core group of people, and it’s part of their lifestyles to come out and see all the bands perform on a weekly basis, one per each night of the week. It’s the crowd that makes the place great. The staff here is awesome, and the owner treats us extremely well and keeps us here, through thick and thin.

“There are so many people you become friends with, and now their kids are coming to the shows – it’s crazy.”

“Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters said it best: ‘If you’re awesome, people will find you. They will hear about you and come seek you out,’” De Ruggiero said.

In order to succeed with forming a cover band, “do your thing and believe in what you are doing,” Moscola said. “Practice often and stop thinking that it’s about you. If you are in an original band, it’s about your music, but if you are in a cover band, you are there to entertain people and that’s it. People don’t care if you’re so great. They want to forget about their weeks and have a good time, and your job is to make that happen and enjoy the good time with them.”

Mr. LoveJoy returns to Nardi’s Tavern & Grille next Sunday, Aug 30. Visit mrlovejoymusic.com/home to see a full schedule of upcoming performances.

— Sandra Weyant

 

Set List Snippet:

“Any Way You Want It,” Journey

“Boys of Summer,” Don Henley

“What I Got,” Sublime

“Rude,” MAGIC!

“Hey Jealousy,” Gin Blossoms

“Billie Jean,” Michael Jackson

“Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley

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