By Maryanne Christiano Mistretta
It was the 1960s British Invasion all over again Sun., June 3, when New Jersey rock outfit Carnaby Street performed at the Borough Park Gazebo in Mendham. More than 200 people, of all ages, and all areas, gathered together to enjoy Mendham’s picturesque park setting.
The band executed spot-on recollections of British artists such as Herman’s Hermits “Something Good,” The Zombies “Time of the Season,” The Kinks “Well Respected Man,” The Rolling Stones, “Out of Time,” and an epic rendition of The Who’s “See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You,” which had about a dozen happy kids dancing and doing gymnastics on the well groomed lawn in front of the pergola.
After a 90 minute set, Carnaby Street ended the show with a magnificent tribute of Simon and Garfunkle’s “America” in honor of Independence Day.
“That was my favorite,” said five-year-old Fiona Carty, enthusiastically. “It made me feel good.”
Ten-year-old Lexie Hammel added, “That was my favorite too. I liked the music and it was fun to dance.”
After the show, excitable children ran to the stage asking the band members for autographs. But this is nothing new to Carnaby Street singer and guitarist, Chris Roselle, of Bordentown, who has been playing professionally since 1982, right after he graduated high school.
His first band was The Characters. “We played in New Jersey doing covers then went to all originals,” said Roselle. “We played the Dirt Club and were on the original circuit.”
In 1986 The Characters had an opportunity to perform at the 20th Anniversary Monkees Convention, which coincided with The Monkees reunion tour – which helped skyrocket The Characters popularity. The Characters also cut an album with Chip Douglas from The Turtles, who also produced The Monkees.
Roselle officially stayed with The Characters, fronted and led by Danny Solazzi, until 1987. Today The Characters still perform regularly on the NJ club circuit, as well as at The Monkees Conventions and other retro conventions such as The Brady Bunch conventions. On occasion Roselle will resume his original post in the band to help out.
In addition to playing lead guitar/vocals in Carnaby Street, Roselle also plays lead guitar and sings with Rave On, a Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison tribute band.
Carnaby Street has been around since 1995, with Roselle joining the following year. The band is based around the British Invasion music and other artists of the 1960s. “It’s just a love for that music,” Roselle said.
In addition to Roselle, Carnaby Street is made up of Dino DiMartino of Madison, on drums and vocals; and Pete Bremy of Stanhope, on bass guitar and vocals. Chris Breetveld of Maplewood was the substitute bassist for Sunday night’s show.
Roselle’s love for music began as a child. He started out listening to old school country music like Johnny Cash and Buck Owens. “My intro to music was what my father was listening to,” he said. “Then I found Elvis and The Beatles.”
He got his first guitar at 12 and started playing with guys in the neighborhood doing Beatles songs. “Not singing,” Roselle said, “learning the instruments.”
Roselle was raised in a musical family. His father played guitar and his mother played piano. But Roselle was the only one that took it to a professional level.
Though Roselle put out a solo project 10 years ago, he feels he’s better at interpreting other people’s songs rather than writing his own. He said, “Johnny Rivers was notorious for that; Elvis too. Not to put me on those guys’ levels. I’m not a songwriter, that’s all.”
He continued, “My purpose of doing Carnaby Street and Rave On – this is my way of carrying the torch. Even though we did a CD of Roy Orbison, I want people to listen to the original songs.”
For more information on Carnaby Street visit: https://www.carnabystreetband.net/.
For more information on Mendham community events visit: https://mendhamnj.org/.