Archives For Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17

Jesse McCartney stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 and chatted with me about his “Better With You” tour and single, upcoming music and past tours with New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys. Plus Jesse reminisces a bit about Dream Street and talks about his roots in Ardsley, New York and current home of Los Angeles.

Jesse Kinch won the first and only season of ABC’s singing competition “Rising Star.” The show aired in the summer of 2014 and was hosted by Josh Groban; judges included Ludacris, Kesha and Brad Paisley. Kinch was the clear favorite from the moment of his first performance and took home the top prize, which included a record deal, to no one’s surprise.

However Kinch’s journey to his debut album was far from over; matter-of-fact, it was just beginning. The Long Island native eventually parted ways with Capitol Records over creative differences and landed at Curb, where he released “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” on Friday.

The singer/songwriter stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat with me about his life post-“Rising Star” and the new album, which is available now.

In addition to a new live album that’s currently in production and slated for release later this year, Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik revealed to me that the band is also currently writing new music.

“You got to keep it going,” he told me inside Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. “You’ve got to move a lot quicker these days.”

In some sense, that’s why the Goo’s most recent body of original work was last year’s “You Should Be Happy,” an extended play rather than a full-length album.

“I had a couple new songs that I really liked, and we found some other stuff that we didn’t release and I was like, ’Well, let’s just put it out,’” he explained. “Then we went out and toured again and we had a great time.

“I’m still debating, ‘Do I do an EP? Do I do an album?’ What do you think?”

That wasn’t a rhetorical question by the way; my response somewhat echoed Rzeznik’s reasoning behind the EP, noting that amount of content and timing would ultimately be the factors. That certainly seems to have influenced the undertaking of the live album, a project that will eventually be served as a double-vinyl filled with various performances over “a couple-hundred shows.”

“It goes from places that are a thousand people up to like, 15,000 people,” he said. “It’s kind of interesting how the songs change around a little bit.”

Speaking of live performances, Rzeznik’s main reason for stopping by was to promote Friday night’s “Concert For Dreams” at Beacon Theatre, benefiting the Garden of Dreams Foundation. O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge, who received the charity’s 2018 Hero Award, personally asked him to participate.

“They’re like monsters; they’re crazy-talented musicians,” Rzeznik noted of O.A.R. “Yunno, (Goo Goo Dolls are) just a bunch of guys that learned how to play guitar in a garage.”

But hey, there’s something to be said for a couple of kids from Western New York with big dreams (ed note: I’m from Niagara Falls, New York so yes, I’m biased). And it’s pretty cool that four GRAMMY nominations and 12 million albums sold later, Rzeznik still values the importance of paying it forward.

“It’s a good thing; anything for kids is worth doing,” he said of working with Garden of Dreams, which helps kids throughout the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

Nina Nesbitt stopped by the Artist Lounge at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat about her new single, “Somebody Special,” her upcoming international debut album and how she recently scored a free meal thanks in part to… Britney Spears.

When you ask Vance Joy about the celebrities he encountered while touring with the world’s biggest pop star, the first people he brings up are Taylor Swift’s backup dancers. Then Joy will mention the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and eventually you’ll get a funny anecdote about telling his friend’s father that he once met Julia Roberts.

That is Joy in a nutshell. He’s a tall, good-looking guy with an Australian accent that can sing and play guitar; he can effortlessly command any room he’s in. The artist has a successful album with a big hit already under his belt and he played stadiums across the country with the aforementioned Swift. Yet none of it has seemed to affect Joy much. The singer, nee James Keogh, is still a kind and unassuming person who will even on occasion (and by accident) introduce himself by his birth name.

Joy is blessed with many talents, one being the ability focus on what matters and not take the rest of it too seriously.

“The most important thing is just songwriting and dedicating a lot of time and focus to the craft,” Joy responded when I asked what he learned from his first album that he’s bringing in to “Nation Of Two,” due out February 23. “It can be hard and it can be frustrating but you have to keep pushing and the songs will eventually come.”

There are four songs out ahead of the LP, including the lead single “Lay It On Me,” which he performed acoustic for us at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. Joy noted that the tracks were chosen because of how they represent his body of work, with special attention given to tempo.

“I’m proud of all of the songs, but those are probably the most upbeat,” he explained. “Those are the ones I wanted to show first, and then some of the slower songs I think will sink in to people over time.”

His fans will have a chance to hear them live as well, as shortly after our chat Joy announced a massive world tour, with dates in North America kicking off April 13.

When singer/songwriter Max created “Lights Down Low,” he wrote the song for his now wife, Emily. Max eventually proposed to her with the song before releasing it as a single. The track is now platinum and cracked the top 10 this week at pop radio. Of course it’s significant on a lot of levels to the artist, but what has its success meant to his wife?

“It’s so insane,” Emily told me after her husband performed at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 as a part of GRAMMY Week. “It’s coming up on 3 years now when I got first sent the original file. Listening to it in my bed, under my covers by myself, to now we’ve traveled the world because of the song together and met so many amazing people, shared so many amazing stories… it’s insane. I never imagined this life.”

“If a song doesn’t mean this much to me, I wouldn’t want it to be this heard,” Max added. “In that way, it’s been very healthy because yunno it’s like, ‘Oh well, maybe somebody should write your new single,’ or something like that and it makes me realize: no. It has to come from my heart because I can’t imagine spending my entire life, every day talking about a song that isn’t something that means so much to me.”

So as the song continues to climb up the chart, Max, nee Schneider, is embracing the pressure of a follow-up as he continues work on his sophomore album. The artist entered a rare stretch during GRAMMY Weekend where he was actually able to hang out at home in New York for a few days – catching up with family, hitting up the studio and even stopping by The Garden to watch his beloved Knicks.

PIX11 Entertainment Anchor Ojinika Obiekwe stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat with me about GRAMMYs week in New York City – from the cool parties and events to the local women who were nominated by the Recording Academy. A big thanks to Oji and PIX11 for having me contribute to their coverage; check out both segments below.

If you’re wondering whether artists who were once tour mates of singer Ed Sheeran’s have congratulated him on his pending nuptials, the answer is yes, at least in one instance.

“I did actually congratulate him,” Lauv told me on Tuesday before performing in front of a live audience at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. “It’s crazy. I remember him saying like, ‘I think I have the one, for real.’

“And then to see that they’re actually engaged now is beautiful.”

Sheeran popped the question to long-time girlfriend Cherry Seaborn before the New Year and then announced the engagement shortly after the first on his Instagram.

Lauv supported the “Shape of You” artist on the leg of his “Divide Tour” that stopped in Asia this past fall. He played HMH Stage 17 as the single “I Like Me Better” becomes a global hit, charting in a handful of countries and already cracking the top 10 in Australia and Germany. The singer, nee Ari Leff, has written all of his songs thus far about the four years he lived in New York City while attending New York University. Following graduation, Lauv moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of his dream.

“The weather is beautiful,” he remarked, noting that it is a cliché description of moving west to LA. “But I just feel like New York is a kind of a more ‘real’ place, if that makes sense?”

And for Lauv, that’s a good thing, as he always loves returning to the Big Apple. He’ll be back again next month as a part of his “I Met You When I Was 18 World Tour” – the first Lauv has ever embarked on as a headliner.