Dean Friedman is yet another example of the depth of New Jersey’s talent pool. This native son of Paramus has eight albums, more than four decades of experience, multiple hits and a zest for making music that many of today’s artists lack.
March 29 Friedman will return to Jersey when he performs an 8 p.m. show at Tim McCloone’s Supper Club located at 1200 Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park. Although for many others the allure of the Jersey Shore is strong, Friedman has not made the area a mainstay of his tours.
“This will be my second time there. I had done a Light of Day concert a few years back for Bob Benjamin; who I’ve known since his Crazy Eddie days and I shared the stage with Pat Guadagno. Pat suggested that we book in Asbury Park again because he knew that I have a loyal New Jersey following. I mostly tour in the UK, not so much in my own country; so I jumped at the invitation and we did a gig last year together and it went really well. He’ll be out of town for this gig but I’m going to be doing it solo and I’m looking forward to it.”
A current resident of New York State, Dean has bumped around between northern New Jersey and parts of New York City before settling down, “Deep in the heart of suburbia.”
“I grew up in Paramus New Jersey and when I was 15 I moved to the Bronx and started going to City College and from the Bronx I lived in Manhattan for about six years and then right before our kids were born I moved up here about 33 years ago.”
Friedman rarely performs in the U.S., not necessarily by choice but because circumstances often dictate and he feels his strengths lie elsewhere; such as in the overseas markets.
“Most of my touring happens in the United Kingdom and Ireland,” he said sounding somewhat perplexed himself. “So in a way these are kind of warm up dates but they’re close to my heart because they’re in my own backyard. I’ve sold as many records in the United States as I have in the UK and Ireland but for whatever reason I have a higher media profile across the pond so the bulk of my touring is overseas. I’ve had a lot of hits over there and even though “Ariel” was a Top 20 hit here in America I’ll still tour in the States; just not as extensively. So I’ll do a couple of gigs a year in the New York Tri-state area and also out on the west coast in Los Angeles. I keep in touch with what is a very loyal and enthusiastic international audience.”
When asked why that is the case that bands and solo artists have more good fortune in foreign countries than right here at home; he did not hesitate with his response.
“Well, there are a lot of theories about it; I think part of it is cost of entry based on scale. I’ve sold just as many records in the United Kingdom and Ireland as I have in The United States but if I want to take out a national add to promote a tour as I’m doing this and every year, it costs me about a thousand pounds to take out an ad in the UK and I can reach a national audience with that one ad; to do the same thing in The United States it’ll cost me 10 times that much money. To take out a national ad in The New York Times or USA Today or a magazine is 10 times the amount to advertise. Another factor is the cost and logistics of touring. I can hire a car for eight weeks and pretty much tour every major and most of the medium sized cities in the United Kingdom and Ireland in a car by myself without stepping on a plane except to cross the Atlantic Ocean. To do a similar kind of tour in The United States and to just hit major cities you have to spend a lot of time in airports. So there again the expense of touring in the States, even though some things are higher in London; the logistics of promoting and executing a national tour are exponentially more difficult in The United States. I can’t say why that is exactly but that’s a factor for someone in my situation; unless you have ready access to the national media which can absorb a lot of those costs. Also for me the difference is that I have more hit records in England and Ireland. I’m just better known there; more name recognition, more access to national media, press, print, radio and TV. Where as here it’s more anecdotal; for example I just recorded a segment for a syndicated TV show on PBS broadcasting television called, “Articulate” that will air in October. It’s a lot easier for me to get those kinds of promotional broadcasts in The United Kingdom than it is in my own country; why I don’t know. Ask Loudon Wainwright he’s got the same problem (laughs). Logistics, cost and ultimately access are the issues that every musician has to deal with.”
So now that we understand the logistics of why; what about the crowds?Are they receptive? Does it vary from town to town? Friedman feels that his strength as a lyricist helps his cause; especially on the Emerald Isle.
“On one hand audiences are the same anywhere; they’re appreciative of a performer working hard trying to entertain them. I would say that Ireland in particular is a country that really values writing. You walk into any pub in Ireland and there’s not so much sports memorabilia on the walls but there are quotes from famous poets and novelists. They have a real heartfelt appreciation for lyric and to turn a phrase and so I always feel especially embraced when I go to their country; plus they’re just a bunch of friendly folks.”
Other than March 23 in Peekskill, NY, the Asbury Park show is it before he heads overseas to start the first part of his tour. So what can we expect from one of the best known yet unknown artists of our time?
“I plan on doing a mix of old and new and familiar radio hits; a lot of which people don’t even realize that they know until they hear it and say, oh hey I know that tune (laughs) and some fan favorites from over four decades of performing and recording from my eight studio albums. I’ll do new stuff from my most recent album, “12 Songs” and stuff from when I started out as an innocent naive teenager writing songs and playing coffee houses in Paramus New Jersey.”
Yes, you heard that right, a new album; his first one in seven years and as always with new releases there is a degree of uncertainty. Dean says that he’s quite happy with the way things are progressing with his latest effort.
“It’s been really well received, it’s satisfying because typically fans will always lean towards your early work but I’ve had a lot of folks say that this is one of my best albums,” he stated with confidence. So that’s gratifying to hear because every time you go out and do a new project like that; over 40 years you establish some kind of watermark in terms of what you’re trying to achieve creatively, you try to equal your previous efforts if not surpass them but yeah there’s a lot of stuff on this new album that I’m real proud of.”
Armed with a new album he is readying to hit the road with intermittent dates through the UK and Ireland and upon his return he’s hoping to make some inroads right here at home.
“I head off to Ireland in mid April because the tour kicks off in Belfast and then south to Dublin and then I catch a ferry to the UK and start the first leg of my annual tour over there. I used to do it all in one stretch and be gone for two months but these days I break it up in the middle. I’ll play mid-April to the end of May and come home for all of June then go back mid-July and August and wind up in Scotland which isn’t a bad place to be in August as opposed to sweltering hot New York City. Then I’ll come back and I’m hoping that will sort of re-introduce me to my American audience and allow me to do a little more touring in my own backyard. I’m slowly gearing up to put together the pieces to work on a new album next year or at least get started on one but as you know that will be a massive effort to find the time, space and means to do it.”
To discover more about Dean Friedman, his tour or to purchase tickets to the March 29 show; please go to www.deanfriedman.com.