Sunday Fun-day at The Sea Shell with Shorty Long & the Jersey Horns

By SANDRA WEYANT | Jul 05, 2017
Photo by: Grant Kelly

Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns proclaims itself “the Jersey’s Shore’s hottest party band,” and with thousands of tracks in its song bank, including more than 30 originals, the dynamic 10-plus-person lineup really knows how to get a crowd moving and grooving.

The Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club in Beach Haven is one of the best places on the Island to kick back and relax and listen to some great music. Sunday Fun-day with Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns was the perfect ending to a beautiful, sunny weekend. The pool was packed with people of all ages, the drinks were flowing and guests were loving the variety of hits, everything from Janis Joplin and Garth Brooks to Tina Turner and Bruno Mars.

Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns formed in 2002, and in the last 15 years, the band has opened for or performed with famous musicians including Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney and Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few. The eclectic lineup includes founder and vocalist/keyboardist Ricky (Shorty Long) Tisch, founder and bassist/vocalist John Kern, guitarist Matt Kahn, drummer Devin Stryker, lead vocalist Dee Farace, trombonist Neil (Perkilator) Perkins, trumpeter Danny Kern and saxophonists Nick (Waldo) Clifford, Frank Benjamin, Richie Taz and Kyle Kern. Before acquiring the horns, the group started with five members and added the others due to “no reason other than good alcohol,” Tisch joked.

Having performed in venues small and large with crowds upwards of 20,000 people from New York to the Florida Keys, The Shell still remains the band’s preferred spot to jam. “For outdoor settings, this is definitely number one, in terms of our favorite place to play. This is the only place where you can sit in the pool, enjoy the band and have a drink. The atmosphere is great,” Tisch said. “Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City and the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa., are also up there for my favorite places to play. Bally’s Beach Bar in Atlantic City is off the wall, too. Our shows are so much fun wherever we go.”

Kern echoed Tisch’s sentiments. “The Shell is, by far, the most picturesque place, and the owner, Tom Hughes, gave the band a chance. He had adversity through Hurricane Sandy in 2013, and he could have done something different with this venue. It’s great that we can play live music here. A lot of people would have just built condos instead. We have so much respect for Tom and his incredible staff. I can’t thank them enough for giving us the opportunity to entertain their clientele.”

Tisch developed a love for music early on in his life, and began playing the keyboard at age 5 “all by ear,” but it wasn’t until he was 14 that he found the first music teacher who “reeled him in.”

“He told me I had a good ear, but he taught me music theory. When I was 22, I moved to Florida and had another music teacher, Ray Capri, who just passed away last week. He was the one who taught me the fundamentals, how to play a solo, how to play the lefthand bass,” Tisch said. With these two musical mentors and a love for artists such as Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and Elton John, Tisch had many role models to emulate throughout the years while honing in on his craft.

When Tisch created the band in 2002 with best friend Kern, he never expected it would flourish beyond his wildest dreams. To credit his success, he explains that the band “doesn’t take anything too seriously” and never has a set list. Each show is different because of the crowd, and age range is an important factor when it comes to selecting songs. “If it’s a 20 to 30 age range, it’s one set. If it’s a 30 to 50 crowd, it’s another set. If it’s a mix, it’s a different set. We want to make everybody happy. You can’t just play what you want to hear. I think that is every new band’s biggest mistake,” Tisch said.

In terms of his bandmates, Tisch feels lucky and blessed to have found “really brilliant people to play with.” Drummer Stryker signed on last February when the previous drummer relinquished his role. Stryker worked at Beachwood Music, owned by Kern, and decided to relearn how to play the drums to be in the band.

“I haven’t played drums since I was 12, but I picked it up again for these guys and I love every minute of it,” Stryker said. “If everyone is having a good time, then I’m having a good time.”

Kern remembers receiving devastating news at age 14 that put his love for football and other contact sports on hold, but when one door closes, another one opens. Due to several concussions, it was too dangerous for him to continue to play sports, so in the 1980s he switched gears and started taking music lessons. He chose to play the bass because “every band had a guitar player and no one had a bass player.”

His advice for anyone who is trying to learn a new instrument is to practice, take lessons and never give up. “Find the gorilla in the room, the baddest cat out there on your instrument and study with him or her and become that person,” Kern said. He admires local artists such as The Amish Outlaws or The Nerds because “they set the mark,” and as far as national acts, he feels that no one can really top The Rolling Stones or Van Halen.

“If you build it (the anticipation), people will come. We’re very much reaping the benefits of that philosophy. We just think about how we can do a better show, year after year, week after week. You have to think of it as being in a competition and trying to wow people. Good is good, but it gets old after a while,” Kern said.

Even though Kern considers Tisch to be his family, Kern’s actual family members – his two sons Danny and Kyle – are current bandmates. Both boys only play with the band on a part-time basis because they are high school students with active social lives and other responsibilities. Kyle Kern learned how to play the tenor saxophone in fourth grade and subs in as many weeknights and weekends that he can (the band often performs six nights a week).

His older brother Danny, now a junior in high school, also learned how to play the trumpet when he was in fourth grade. With a strong desire to learn as many instruments as possible, he picked up guitar and drums around the same time, taking influence from classic rock idols Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham and punk rock singer Ben Barlow. But no one was more inspiring than the boys’ very own father, John. John Kern wanted his boys to play music from a young age, and Danny Kern explains that their house was always filled with “tiny musical instruments – drum sets and guitars, record players and CDs” and pictures of the boys playing their favorite instruments.

“There was so much musical influence, and that is all we knew growing up,” he said. “I play every weekend with the band, pretty much. I take off whenever I want, though. I have school and a girlfriend, and my dad respects that. I thank him for that every single day,” Danny Kern said.

As if being in the high school band and Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns wasn’t enough, Kern is also a lyricist and drummer for another band, and has a passion for writing poetry, as well. He enjoys spending time with like-minded people who influence him in the “right way.”

With its extensive lineup, there is definitely one band member who clearly stands out from the rest of the group, and it’s not because she is the only woman. John Kern describes lead singer Dee Farace as “the sweetheart of the rodeo or the belle of the ball.” He believes every band needs a little “sweet and sour, hot and cold, sugar and spice,” and Farace represents “one of the best things about Shorty Long.” Kern speaks for the rest of his bandmates, as well, when he says that he is grateful Farace devoted the best years of her life, talent-wise, to the band and she “kills it every time.”

Kern wasn’t the only one doling out compliments. Farace shared her appreciation and admiration for Kern. “He is a great teacher and he gets all the kids to jam together at the studio, and that’s what makes it so much fun. He does the same thing on stage and calls audience members up to play or sing with us. The energy is contagious.”

Being a part of an all-male group can be difficult, but Farace says her bandmates are the greatest guys to work with. “Most other guys are trying to be cool and compete with an ego, and I don’t like that, but these guys are just who they are. They are real on stage and they are goofballs. It’s comfortable,” she said.

Outside of the band, Farace is married and the stepmother of a 10-year-old boy and a Siberian husky, and she also enjoys writing lyrics. Her son just started playing the trumpet and has already performed with the band (John Kern’s idea). Kern believes the best way to teach is to get right out there and learn on the fly.

For Neil (Perkilator) Perkins, learning to play the trombone proved to be very difficult, almost like “learning Chinese.” Luckily, when he began playing in 10th grade, one of his brother’s friends, David Pete, also played trombone and showed him the ropes. Pete wrote scales for Perkins and he practiced for “hours and hours and hours.”

In 1976, Perkins played with a couple of others bands and devoted his time to a lot of home practice. He met Shorty and the band in 2003, and was grateful for the opportunity to join, however the busy schedule was tough to get acclimated to, and still is challenging from time to time.

“I wasn’t used to playing as often as we do, so I had to rearrange my sleeping habits and I wasn’t used to driving home so late after an event. I live in Asbury Park and everyone else is mainly from Beachwood, Bayville or Toms River. So now I can go to sleep at any time of day if I have to. I have children, too, so it’s tough, but I love it.”

Perkins said it is rewarding to see how much the band has grown throughout the years and how much support they have gained. He remembers starting with smaller gigs and then the following got bigger and bigger, and more opportunities opened up.

“Eventually, we played at Nardi’s Tavern and Surf City Hotel, and then things took off from there,” he said.

Tisch feels that it’s not about the size of a location for a gig, but about the exposure and connection with a new group of people.

“Never say no to a gig. When we finished opening for Paul McCartney, we went to a small club on Long Beach Island with 200 people two hours later. I don’t turn down a small gig just because there is a big gig around the corner. It takes a lot of time to do it the right way, but it’s worth it,” Tisch said.

In the future, Kern hopes to create anticipation around the arrival of the band, much like the big names in the business.

“I hope and pray someday the band gets big enough to have a curtain that drops or a blacked-out room where we go on and then turn the lights on and everybody is waiting with anticipation,” he said.

Visit shortylongrocks.com to view a schedule of upcoming events.

 

Set List Snippet:

“Proud Mary,” Tina Turner

“Free Bird,” Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Bobby McGee,” Janis Joplin

“Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond

“Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & The Waves

“Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen

“Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks

“Shape of You,” Ed Sheeran

“You Can’t Hurry Love,” The Supremes

“Uptown Funk,” Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars

 

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