Black Flamingos Go Surfin’ On Broad Street

May 19, 2017
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Members of Black Flamingo will perform and celebrate their album release at Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank on May 21. From left: Robbie Butkowski, Declan O’Connell and Vincent Minervino.

By Mary Ann Bourbeau |

RED BANK  – To celebrate the release of their first full-length album, the surf music band Black Flamingos is having a record release show on May 21 at Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank.

“I used to live in Red Bank and I’ve known Tim (Jack’s Music Shoppe manager Tim Cronin) a long time,” said drummer Vincent Minervino. “I used to go to Jack’s at least once a week to browse through the records. Record stores like that are hard to come by these days and we want to support them. We’re excited to launch this album with a local party.”

Black Flamingos was formed in the summer of 2014. Minervino came up with the band name and invited his brother-in-law, bassist Declan O’Connell, and guitarist Robbie Butkowski to a mid-week rehearsal, where they started combining elements of instro surf, spy and spaghetti western sounds.

“It was the first time Declan played that kind of music,” said Minervino. “He had more of a jazz influence. But when we put everyone in the room together, it just kind of worked out. It was quite a mix of inspirations.”

The three had each played in bands for years and were looking to form a band that was different from the rest.

“I’ve played in rock bands since I was in high school,” Minervino said. “I didn’t want to be a 50-year-old guy playing angsty rock music.”

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He started to explore the sounds of the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, the bands his parents listened to when he was growing up.

“I didn’t think my parents’ music was cool until I got older,” he said. “Not a lot of people realize they enjoy surf music until they hear it and they instantly connect with it. It makes you feel good.”

It wasn’t long before word spread about Black Flamingos and soon they were making a name for themselves along the East Coast. They released a self-titled EP in 2015 through Little Dickman Records. The band’s latest album, “Neon Boneyard,” will be released on May 19. It was recorded at Retro Media Sound Studios in Red Bank and is comprised primarily of original tunes. It’s a collaboration between Little Dickman and Hi-Tide Recordings, a label owned by Minervino and his wife, Magdalena O’Connell. The couple also owns a hair product company and they started the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival three years ago.

“We were talking about honeymoon ideas,” he said. “We wanted to go to a surf music festival in Italy, but we couldn’t do it financially. So we decided to start one ourselves. We thought Asbury Park would be the place to do it.”

Minervino’s bandmates are both musicians. O’Connell plays in several other bands, and Butkowski is in a band called Plato Zorba and also gives guitar lessons.

Since word has spread throughout the surf music community about Black Flamingos, they have been invited to play at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival in Livorno, Italy next month.

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“The surf music community is pretty small,” Minervino said. “We made friends with the people who put the festival on. It’s starting to open up quite a few opportunities to travel and play perfect great music. It’s kind of a dream come true for the band and for my wife.”

Black Flamingos opened for surf legend Dick Dale at the Wonder Bar last summer and have supported bands such as Agent Orange and Messer Chups. In January, they will tour the West Coast with Volcanic. But for now, they’re looking forward to the record release show at Jack’s Music Shoppe, a 6,000-square-foot store that sells new and used CDs, vinyl and music equipment. The shop has been on Broad Street, albeit in several different locations, for 48 years.

“We almost never have concerts but every now and then someone comes along and it makes sense for the store,” said Tim Cronin. “I like surf music and they’re really good at it.”

Black Flamingos will perform the free record release show at Jack’s Music Shoppe at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 21. For more information and other tour dates, visit the band’s Facebook page or www.blackflamingosnj.com.

Arts and entertainment reporter Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at mbourbeau@tworivertimes.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnBourbeau.


This article was first published in the May 11-18, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

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