Hunnypot Does...
Powered by CircleSquareLA


Written by 

On Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend, the Pete Tonti Band faithful packed the iconic Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ in anticipation of dancing away all the Thanksgiving dinner calories. They got exactly what they asked for as the band delivered the goods in fine form (and then some). With Tonti's blend of Rock, Bluegrass, Psychedelic, Jam, and Funk - everyone was getting down and rockin' out.

The origins of the PTB started in 2019 with Pete Tonti himself and drummer  Jon Crow. They have been playing together for ten years now locally here in NJ until Jon went into the Marine Corps in 2015 (much appreciate your service to our country Jon).  While he was in the Marines, Pete began playing around the Asbury Park music scene. He linked up with Kevin Cooper (the band's keyboard player), and they started a cover band called Silky Crazy Nights with local legend Sandy Mack. For the most part, they covered classic rock tunes and jam bands. When Jon got out of the Marines,  he told Pete, "let's get a band together and start playing your original material". Pete reached out to Kevin, asked him to play keys in the band, and then brought on Nigel Whitely from another local band, UFOTOFO, on bass.  The rest (as they say) is history.

As we all know in the music industry, playing in a band and getting everyone on the same page of the dream is never easy. So as with many other bands, PTB had a few lineup changes as they began to play. In March of 2020, (when the Covid pandemic hit and the band along with all musicians couldn't play gigs), Nigel left the band and was replaced by Bob Scholz on bass.  They also brought in a second guitar player,  Brian Abrecht (another local musician that was friends with the band and had been attending their shows right from the beginning). This lineup played through June of 2021, during this time the band released their debut single, "Feeling Upside Down". In June, Bob was replaced by Nick Iannelli on bass from his own band, Lemon Juice, and this is now the final and current lineup.

Right after the band had come together in this final lineup, guitarist Brian Abrecht had an unfortunate accident at Peach Fest as was terribly injured. The Asbury Music scene and the band came together with an outpouring of support for Brian and his family. They put together shows, fundraisers, artists donated work, and the family was giving the community constant updates on his recovery. It has been a long road of healing for Brian, but the band kept writing new music and playing without him, patiently waiting for his return. Brian has made almost a full recovery, he has a lot of work ahead, but to see my good friend return to the stage and live his dream is such an inspiration and I am beyond stoked he is back in action.

I learned a term in art school - Gestalt, which means the whole is perceived more than the sum of its parts. I only bring that up because I feel the current lineup (in this form)  is why they are gaining so much traction and have developed such a large fan base locally in the Asbury Music Scene. Each band member brings their own unique style which compliments everyone else's style within the band.   Pete has magnificent writing skills.  His leadership qualities shine through, orchestrating the band in and out of jams and transitions into the next tune.  In addition to melting faces with his guitar, he has an amazing stage presence and is a rockstar in the making. Jon can often be found beating his drum kit into submission, soft when needed, but bringing that dancy beat everyone needs to get down. Kevin on the keys has this upbeat, melodic, old and gritty organ vibe that really ties the band together. Nick's funky bass lines, eclectic style of play and instruments, along with a voice that can really hit the high notes, he can definitely get the party started. Brian on guitar keeps everything all glued together, he has great licks and smooth style. His influences of the jam band scene are easily recognized in his playing and his progression is incredible. All together, you get a psychedelic rock jam band that brings the house down.

For the encore of their show, they brought up a long-time friend and local guitar phenom Josh Rivera, to cover Umphrey's Mcgee's classic "All in Time". Josh has played with the band a few times stepping in for Brian while he was recovering from his injury. I have known Josh since he was a kid, always shredding his guitar. His progression over the years has astounded me. Josh's style is so versatile, he can play rhythm like none other, and has hard aggressive guitar solos. Josh rips and whatever band he lands in permanently will be lucky they have him in the lineup.

The Pete Tonti Band is emerging as one of the best to come out of the Asbury scene in a long time. They are currently putting together big plans to move forward as a band, getting into the festival scene and looking to do opening slots for larger national touring acts coming into NJ, and hopefully being on the road ASAP. These guys don't mess around, you can see right from the first tune of the show, they are polished, and poised to make big things happen in the future. I don't doubt PTB will be a staple in the jam band scene for years to come. All of my favorite bands started their careers playing small gigs, getting a local following, and then one day, BOOM, you cant get a ticket to the show because the band has exploded and they are selling out shows everywhere. I think that the Pete Tonti band is on their way to making it out of Asbury and making it big real soon. Check out their Facebook and Instagram pages below, for all the info you need on PTB, where they are playing locally here in NJ, and where they are headed in the future. But don't wait too long, or you won't be able to get a ticket when they sell out shows in your town before you know it!

Instagram - @petetontiband

The Pete Tonti Band

11/27/21 - The Wonder Bar

Asbury Park, NJ


Set 1: Everytime, Man With A Mop, Happy Hour Hero*, Try To Stand, I Will Survive^, Hyrule Castle Theme% > Trance Jam > Time Fade reprise, Hang Up Your Hang Ups+

Set 2: Lemonade, Too Rolling Stoned•, Blind Dove, Fog and Fire, When You’re Something, Tuesdays Are Rough, Feeling Upside Down, All In Time#

*moe. cover ^Gloria Gaynor cover %from “Legend Of Zelda” +Herbie Hancock cover •Robin Trower cover # Umphrey’s McGee cover (w/Josh Rivera (gtr))

Matthew Lang

Photojournalist - New Jersey

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Twitter