Spending time with singer/songwriter John Alberici was an eye opening experience. We picked a day for filming that ran the gamut: an early afternoon gig at a car show, followed by an evening performance at a showcase cabaret.
A guy with an acoustic guitar blends into the scenery at fairgrounds and muscle car get-togethers. You hardly notice him on your way to get a corn on a stick. Your dog doesn’t break stride, taking a crap inches away from the microphone stand. Still, the guy with the guitar carries on, smiling.
What compels people to stop and text their friends right in front of someone singing their heart out? Or ask for directions from someone while they’re belting out a Bill Withers classic? At least Buster, the local team mascot, asked before wrapping a blue arm around John for a photo op.
Alberici held his own through it all like a professional. I think he sees this type of gig as a chance to get his lyrics stuck in someone else’s head. If a word or a melody finds it’s way to the front of someone’s brain, then it’s all worth it. But the Bon Jovi requests? I’ll leave that one alone.
Apart from being a top-notch musician, John is a business owner, husband and dedicated father. All three of those things usually mean your weekends are spoken for until your body goes cold. It isn’t easy for anyone with those kinds of responsibilities to play and sing for hours at a time, twice (sometimes three times) a day. I have a world of respect for this guy.
For the second half of the day, I went to the venue early to get the vibe of the place. Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen, NJ is the illegitimate child of a traveling carnival and a vaudeville house. It oozes with borrowed nostalgia and honky-tonk attitude. Cindy, the waitress, gives off the impression that she might have tended bar at a wild west saloon in another life: quick with a smile and possibly quicker with a Smith & Wesson. Lovely girl.
As the other bands poured into the room, I got the feeling this might be one of those disaster gigs for a solo guitarist: large amplifiers with preset walls of distortion. After a few sets of cover bands, John took the stage and did his job.
He played thoughtful originals, atypical cover songs and instrumentals that turned everyone’s head. Perfect set.
What always amazes me about these kinds of days is the stamina of the guy who just wants to play his songs for people. It takes 12+ hours to make a 40 minute set happen. It becomes a job. For John, it’s a labor of love.