Barnegat Light singer talks about The Voice

t600-NUP_164386_4146In an interview on Thursday, December 18, just two days after he placed second on the “The Voice” TV singing competition, former Barnegat Light resident Matt McAndrew was still riding high after his lengthy run on the show.

“I’m just happy about everything,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot right now.”

The Southern Regional High School grad has been shining brighter than Ol’ Barney itself. On Monday night, he performed an original tune, “Wasted Love.” The song was on top of the iTunes charts for the competition while also picking up a ton of Youtube views. Even #WastedLove was a trending topic in Philadelphia on Twitter well into Tuesday afternoon.

He was matched up against Chris Jamison, Craig Wayne Boyd and Damien going into the show’s Tuesday night finale. Boyd won the show.

McAndrew said that in a dress rehearsal before Tuesday’s announcement of the winner, the four finalists’ names were called out in a random placement. For that random placing, McAndrew landed in fourth. He said that was the moment in which he realized that he’d be all right with wherever he placed. He further said he felt the finale had more of an awards ceremony atmosphere than the feeling being eliminated.

“I felt like it was an honor for all of us,” said the 23-year-old.

McAndrew did say as the finale got down to the final two contestants that he was hoping he would place first. Yet when that did not happen, McAndrew gave Boyd a hug because he was truly happy for his opponent. From that point forward as the result sunk in, he was just happy. He was happy for what he had been able to accomplish on the show. He mentioned the success he has had on the iTunes charts, noting “Wasted Love” in particular. He said, honestly, he may be happier about those charts than anything else.

He added as his time progressed on the show, he was able to perform better and better under pressure.

“When people are watching and it really counts, I don’t get nervous about anything,” McAndrew said. “I feel at ease.

With “Wasted Love” on Monday night, he said, “I wanted to deliver a really great performance, and I just had a lot of fun doing it.” Monday marked the first time original songs were done on the show.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” McAndrew said. “As with everything, (coach and Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine) was involved and I give him a lot of credit. We didn’t write the songs. They were found for us. So, Adam had to listen to hundreds and hundreds of emails with songs coming in.”

McAndrew said Levine was the one who selected the song for him and felt good about that selection. Levine played McAndrew a demo of the song, and his reaction was: “oh yeah, cool.” He added he was able to appreciate the tune right away because of its lyrics – something he felt comfortable singing. He was also a fan of the tune because it mixes a little bit of everything he has done up to this point. He especially noted the tune’s relation to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” because of its, as he describes, “agnostic, gospel feel.”

McAndrew added, “like everything on the show,” producing “Wasted Love” was a quick process. He explained he was in the vocal booth for under an hour. Then, the music video was produced in about four hours. Despite the fast manner in which the tune was produced, McAndrew noted that it has been really well received.

Now, he hopes to put out another tune as a follow-up to “Wasted Love.”

“I hope to get some new music out for you guys – hopefully sooner rather than later,” McAndrew said. “(I hope) people just give me places to go and things to do so I’m not sitting in my house.”

During his introduction on the first episode of the season, McAndrew pointed to his first tattoo: an empty box on the back of his wrist. If he signs with a record label, a check will be added to that box. The grand prize if McAndrew had won: a record deal. That box may not have been able to be checked on Tuesday night, as many “McFANdrews” had hoped, but it appears McAndrew has made a name for himself.

The singer also noted the “awesome” support he has had from his hometown area.

In an October interview, McAndrew said this experience was made possible with a little help from his best friend, Manahawkin resident Matthew Hillblom. Hillblom found out the show had a casting call in Philadelphia.

“He was the one who was like, ‘Dude, you’re in Philly. It’s right in your hometown. Like, you don’t really have any excuse to not do it,’” McAndrew said in October.

The Southern Class of 2009 grad made a return to his alma mater back in the fall. He said the experience was crazy, noting that the event had sold out. Yet he figured the atmosphere would be relatively mundane. It was not. In a November interview, McAndrew said the kids were filled with enthusiasm and excitement, which made the event “surpass (his) wildest dreams.”

During that November interview, he said his schedule has been jam-packed, lasting from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. at times. On that day of McAndrew’s interview with The SandPaper, he started the day early for a media tour. Then, there was a rehearsal for the show’s group song, shooting a digital short and a photo shoot. After the 4 p.m. SandPaper interview (eastern time), he had another rehearsal for a new song with Levine.

Fast forward, McAndrew said he hopes to have a schedule and experiences similar to this again in the future. He said since the live rounds, he was just trying to avoid elimination out of a fear it would lead to having a bunch of downtime where he would just worry about his future. Now he feels that his career will continue to move forward, and with decent momentum.

McAndrew’s hometown appears to still be on his mind, though. He feels the area can be sort of secluded and tight-knit, things he really appreciates. He loves the scenery and people. As for the latter, he again thanked everyone for their support. Heading into Tuesday’s finale, Southern Regional High School’s front sign was hyping McAndrew and the halls were filled with signs reminding students and staff to support him.

Now he said he looks forward to returning to the area during the winter. When doing so he hopes to catch up with some folks. However, for himself, he is looking forward to being on a deserted beach to take time and reflect on what has transpired.

“It’s what I used to do growing up,” McAndrew said.

In that October interview, McAndrew said he spent much of his childhood figuring out who he was as a person. To do so, he would indulge himself in music and walking the beach by himself. He did these things with the hope he would be the “one anomaly” that would live his dreams. Reflecting on these moments, he called the Island beautiful and a great place to grow up.

“Now, living in Philly, I appreciate it in a different way,” McAndrew said in October. “It’s just so beautiful. As beautiful and serene as it is, it obviously doesn’t afford you the same opportunities musically and culturally as living in a major city does. But it was a great, isolated place for me to dream and build on things.”

Now, he will have the opportunity to build on his experiences with “The Voice.”

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/19/14 

Pottery Barge in Ship Bottom is closing December 30, 2014

Pottery Barge SoldThe Pottery Barge will be closing its doors for the final time on Dec. 30, 2014, confirmed executors of the property, who provided the following statement on behalf of the owners, but could not comment beyond that on Dec. 16 because the sale of the building is not yet final, they said.

The store and building at 2101 Long Beach Blvd. are owned by the estate of the late David O. DeWitt, and the DeWitt family has operated the gift shop for the past 23 years. It had been an Island icon for many years before that. The name comes from the fact that the business was once located in Loveladies on a barge.

“Many customers will be saddened to learn of the store’s closing, but the family feels that it is time,” said the statement provided this week.

“We wish to thank all of our customers for their business over the years. We appreciate the wonderful comments about our comeback after Superstorm Sandy.

“We hope to see you before we close, especially since we are having a 50% off sale on most items. We wish everyone a happy & healthy new year and a wonderful summer on LBI.”

The store had re-opened nine months after the October 2012 superstorm, which had broken through the plate glass windows and destroyed 4,000 items. Four feet of water inundated the previous inventory.

At that time, the family had decided to restore the building and re-open for business. All during renovations, passersby would knock on the windows and ask when it would be open again.

Generations remember browsing through the two large front rooms of glassware, pottery and shore-themed merchandise, and the extensive line of kitchenware in the rear.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/16/14 

Oyster Creek’s Siren Test & Emergency Procedures

Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township performed its twice-yearly, full-volume siren test Tuesday, as it does on the first Tuesday of December and June each year. For three minutes, everyone in Barnegat, Stafford, Waretown and on Long Beach Island should have taken note of the high-pitched monotone sound as an important reminder, but not as an indication of anything out of the ordinary.

Suzanne D’Ambrosio, communications director for Exelon Corp. (Oyster Creek’s parent company), explained that in a real emergency, the sirens notify everyone within a 10-mile radius of the plant not to panic or evacuate but simply to turn on the nearest radio or television for important information from the Emergency Alert System. Tune to AM radio 1310 or 1160; or FM 95.9, 98.5, 92.7 or 100.1. All 42 sirens were replaced this year with new state-of-the-art units with battery backup. The total project, in excess of $11 million, involved the replacement of 400 sirens at all of Exelon’s mid-Atlantic sites, including Limerick Generating Station, Three Mile Island Generating Station and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.

Locally, the power plant has one siren in Barnegat Light, one in Harvey Cedars, two in Long Beach Township, five in Stafford, six in Barnegat and three in Waretown. An informational pamphlet about safety procedures is periodically sent to residents within the impact zone and is also available online to download and print through the Ocean County Sheriff’s Officeand the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 12/3/14 

Jersey Shore braces for flooding, strong winds

New Jersey will face wide-ranging weather threats from a strong nor’easter Tuesday, and Shore area officials are gearing up for it.

The coastal storm is expected to spawn moderate coastal flooding, dump heavy rain that could cause inland flooding and whip up strong winds, according to the service.

A coastal flood warning was in effect, along with a wind advisory. The strongest gusts were expected to be around 45 mph in coastal areas. A gale warning was in effect for coastal waters, with seas of 9 to 14 feet forecast, according to the weather service Mount Holly Office.

A flood watch was also in effect, with rainfall totals expected to approach or top 2 inches.

The storm will peak Tuesday morning during high tide, Mount Holly meteorologist Mitchell Gaines said.

The nor’easter was expected to be slower moving once it reaches our area and to the north, and precipitation could last through Wednesday, particularly the farther north you go, according to a Monday briefing by Gaines.

Snowfall in Monmouth and Ocean counties could range from zero to a couple of inches through 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to experimental snow forecast maps.

Emergency responders throughout the Shore, including areas hit hard by superstorm Sandy, are preparing for the brunt of the storm.

In Mantoloking, local authorities will be monitoring Route 35 in case of any flooding from rainwater drains, said Robert McIntyre, coordinator for the Mantoloking Borough Office of Emergency Management. Drivers should plan for detours in some areas and avoid driving through roads with heavy flooding.

The Mantoloking beaches from Lyman Street South to Brick are closed, according to the Mantoloking Police Department’s Facebook page. The beaches were already closed after the storm in October due to the beach erosion that resulted, McIntyre said. Still, residents are advised to steer clear of the area, especially during the high tide.

Moderate coastal flooding is projected. In Mantoloking, which has not yet fully recovered from Sandy, a 3.5-mile sea wall was placed in the Mantoloking beach earlier this year as part of efforts to rebuild beaches. McIntyre said the major repairs are expected this summer, when the borough starts the Army Corps of Engineers’ beach nourishment program.

The police department contacted private contractors with construction permits in the borough, urging them to secure any materials that could float or be blown away.

Union Beach is making automated calls to residents who signed up for the reverse 911 service, encouraging them to move their cars to the former Bradlees parking lot at 1105 New Jersey 36, borough administrator Jennifer Wenson Maier said.

Sea Bright notified residents of expected coastal flooding beginning with Monday night’s high tide at 10:30 p.m. The town added an alert telling residents that the track of the nor’easter may exacerbate those flooding issues.

The Toms River Office of Emergency Management is handing out free sandbags at the East Dover Firehouse at 629 Fischer Blvd. and at the Third Avenue parking lot, an administrator said. Residents are also encouraged to clean out their storm drains.

Gaines said the rain is expected to let up briefly Tuesday night, but rain showers could continue Wednesday with a chance of showers Thursday. As temperatures drop to freezing, inland areas could see rain turn into snow Tuesday night or Wednesday as the storm moves out of New Jersey.

Analysts said they don’t expect much beach erosion in Monmouth County and most of Ocean County. Stewart Farrell, director of the Richard Stockton Coastal Research Center in Port Republic, said Mantoloking likely will see more beach erosion and flooding.

- Reposted from The Asbury Park Press, 12/9/14 

Seismic Testing & Neighborhood Safety

Congressman Frank LoBiondo, will be at the Barnegat Light Borough Hall to discuss the planned seismic testing of the seabed floor.  This testing is planned to begin next summer off of our shores.

Please try to attend this very important information session on November 21, 2014 at 1pm.


Neighborhood Safety

At the Borough Council meeting of November 12, 2014, it was announced that the Long Beach Township Police Department informed Borough Officials about the break in of two homes — one on 14th street and one on 15th street.

The Long Beach Township Police maintain a vacant homes form that you can fill out online and they will check on your house while you are away.  Please follow this link to their web page where you can locate the and complete the required information.

Barnegat Light Tourism & summer plans

The Barnegat Light Tourism Coalition outlined a successful first year and plans to expand on that momentum at its annual meeting at Kubel’s on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

The open public meeting afforded Barnegat Light residents and merchants the chance to learn more about what this organization was able to accomplish in its first year, as well as what is planned for 2015, officers said.

Scott Sharpless, coalition events coordinator, reported that the first annual “Discover Barnegat Light Day” was a success, and that the event will be held again on July 13, 2015. Plans are in the works for aspects to be expanded, potentially to include a street fair, he said.

The organization launched a website,, designed to highlight all that makes Barnegat Light a unique travel destination on LBI. The site’s listings are still being expanded.

A Beautification Committee has also been added, the coalition announced.

“We continue to strive, as an organization, to market tourism and commerce to our town, which has so many unique aspects to offer both to locals and traveling visitors alike,” said Dan Malay, coalition president.

A Facebook page is online under Discover Barnegat Light.

The website’s “About Us” page says: “The Barnegat Light Tourism Coalition exists to ‘promote and stimulate tourism and commerce’ in our special town. We seek to do this through marketing efforts and by building a membership of like-minded business, civic, and individual community leaders.”

The organization is currently led by: President Dan Malay, How You Brewin’ Coffee Co.; Vice President Ernie Panacek, Viking Village; Secretary, Arlene Morrison, Kubel’s; Treasurer Jennifer Begonia, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences; Membership Chair Ed Wellington, Barnegat Light councilman; Events Chair, Scott Sharpless, borough councilman; Marketing Chair, Kris Panacek, Off The Hook Seafood.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 10/28/14 

LBI beach replenishment project out to bid

beach-nourishmentAccording to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project for Long Beach Island is now out to bid.

Steve Rochette, spokesman for the Corps Philadelphia District, explained, “The solicitation notice is out and prospective contractors are preparing their bids. We are now holding bid opening on Oct. 28.”

A contract is typically awarded approximately two weeks after bid opening, Rochette added.

Beach replenishment will span from the north end of Loveladies south to Holgate. The recently restored beaches of Harvey Cedars, as well as a mile of Brant Beach and all of Surf City except 22nd Street north to the North Beach line, are excluded in the upcoming project.

The estimated time to pump the sand on the beach is 525 days, with additional time needed to construct beach accesses, install storm fencing and plant dune grass. Inclement weather could also play a part in the timetable.

This week, the Corps began conducting routine annual project monitoring on LBI’s beaches, consisting of a survey sled towed through the surf zone to collect topographic data – elevation and position – describing the shape of the beach.

As a sign from Ocean Surveys Inc. posted on the trucks involved in the beach profiling explains, “Sled data (collected using a precision GPS) is merged with hydrographic data collected by a boat, offshore (sonar and precision GPS), and topographic data describing the dunes. The merged data gives the Army Corps of Engineers a continuous topographic profile of the beach from the landward side of dunes to a point about a mile offshore. Profiles are created on offset lines spaced at 500′ to 1500′ intervals along this beach and others on the Jersey Shore.

“The Corps of Engineers will compare data from this survey to data collected on past and future surveys to determine the rate of beach erosion or deposition. The Corps of Engineers will use this data in making engineering decisions about, among other things, beach replenishment.”

Pre-construction surveys will also take place after a contract is awarded and before beachfill work begins.

- Reposted from The Sandpaper, 10/23/14


BL chips in for summer shuttle vans

Barnegat Light Borough Council voted to approve a $10,000 payment for the past year’s shuttle bus service through the town, and committed another $10,000 for the 2015 summer.

The resolution to appropriate the money came at the October council meeting, where the vote was unanimous after some discussion pro and con over the past several months.

The shuttle, free to riders, is administered by Long Beach Township as a joint project with the Long Beach Island Chamber of Commerce. It has now operated for two summers.

“The general public in Barnegat Light loves the thing,” said Mayor Kirk Larson. “Every parent of a 15- or 16-year-old loves it. Plus, it takes so many cars off the road. It’s a great idea, and I hope it works.”

In another seasonal matter, Barnegat Light has a different way of handling trick or treat for children’s safety, and that sign-up method will be continued this year.

Residents can sign up at borough hall if they plan to give out candy. They will be put on a list of “Halloween-Friendly” homes. Parents of trick-or-treaters can pick up the list at borough hall.

“Sign up at borough hall and receive balloons to mark your house ‘Halloween Friendly’ and ready for trick-or-treaters,” says the notice on the post office bulletin board and at borough hall.

The list of homes will be available on Wednesday, Oct. 29 and Thursday, Oct. 30 at Barnegat Light Borough Hall, 10 East Seventh St.

Reposted from The Sandpaper, 10/23/14 


Barnegat Light singer shines on ‘The Voice’

t600-NUP_164386_4146On Oct. 6’s primetime television, Barnegat-Light-born Matt McAndrew was the first contestant shown on NBC’s “The Voice.” During his introduction, McAndrew pointed to his first tattoo: an empty box on the back of his wrist. If he signs with a record label, a check will be added to that box.

Then, the episode shifted over to McAndrew’s performing at a blind audition. The judges, “Happy” artist Pharrell Williams, Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, singer Gwen Stefani and country artist Blake Shelton, had their seats turned away as McAndrew performed. If a seat turned back, McAndrew passed the audition. If not, McAndrew’s clichéd “15 minutes of fame” would be more like two minutes for the time being. If multiple seats are turned, the judges would have to pitch McAndrew to be his coach for the season. If McAndrew wins “The Voice,” he and his coach would be dubbed the winners, making it different than every other talent show. The potential grand prize for McAndrew: a record contract.

Got all of that? Yeah, it was a lot for McAndrew to handle, too.

“I thought I was confident and ready to go, but as soon as the doors opened and I started walking out …” McAndrew said before pausing.

As McAndrew mentions in an interview on “The Voice” website, his knees locked and his confidence dwindled. He said because there had been so much hype leading up to this television appearance, the build-up made the 90 seconds seem much longer.

McAndrew chose the song “Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, a fellow graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He wanted a song he could connect to on an emotional level. He felt the song is beautiful overall, noting the piano and string arrangements. He figured if he could first lose himself in the song, then – hopefully – the judges, audience and everyone else would follow.

About 20 seconds into McAndrew’s performance, Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine turned his chair, indicating that McAndrew had passed this blind audition.

“It stopped being a show, and it turned into something I was thoroughly enjoying,” Levine said during the show after giving a standing ovation following McAndrew’s performance.

Despite his passing this audition within seconds, McAndrew’s nervousness increased as Levine stared him down. Once McAndrew hit the chorus of his song, Pharrell and Blake Shelton also turned their chairs in approval.

“I’ve been waiting for a voice like this,” Pharrell said, pitching himself as McAndrew’s coach following the performance.

From the moment Pharrell and Shelton turned their chairs and McAndrew was singing the chorus, his nerves finally subsided, and he later could describe the moment only as “surreal.”

The Path To ‘The Voice’

“The whole ‘Voice’ thing kind of came out of left field for me,” McAndrew said.

He admitted that during various performances, people would come up to him and suggest trying out for the show. He would shrug off these suggestions mainly because he lacked the confidence to go out on television and kick ass. He also felt the show wasn’t “his scene” because he had a true passion for creating his own music.

However, things have obviously panned out differently for McAndrew. He said the show is, for now, the center of his music career, and he is thrilled to be a part of “The Voice.”

This was possible with a little push from his best friend, Manahawkin resident Matthew Hillblom. Hillblom found out the show had a casting call in Philadelphia.

“He was the one who was like, ‘Dude, you’re in Philly. It’s right in your hometown. Like, you don’t really have any excuse to not do it,’” McAndrew said.

Auditions were held in Philadelphia back in January. Now in October, folks are seeing the benefits of that little push. He stood in front of four stars, three of whom were pitching themselves to be his coach. He selected Levine.

McAndrew could easily list the reasons why he selected Levine as his coach: He’s a “phenomenal” vocalist with a high range, a masterful falsetto and more. All of these are elements that McAndrew wants to work on. He also felt a connection to Levine because of the star’s musical background with Kara’s Flowers, the alternative band that eventually became Maroon 5. He noted the “Beatles lineage” Levine had with Kara’s Flowers.

McAndrew also appreciates what Levine is now – a commercial success with a more pop style.

“He represents what I would love to have as an artist,” McAndrew said. “He has a lot of artistic integrity, but his music is also accessible and reaches a lot of people.”

Levine also had some praise for McAndrew’s singing during the show, saying, “It is genre-less, and I think that’s it’s best quality.”

All kind words aside, we’ll now have to see how far McAndrew makes it.

“The Voice’s” current episodes are not live; we don’t know how far McAndrew makes it. Yet there is one certainty: The show will end. He hopes life doesn’t go back to normal.

McAndrew has put out a debut album, View of the Pines, and he believed it would be his big break after years of effort. He said the album hasn’t been dominating his life – “The Voice” has. But after the show is over, he wants to simply keep writing and performing.

McAndrew’s aspirations have always been high, creating a relentless motivation. While he’s currently sharing an apparent with his mother and sister in Philadelphia, their roots are on the Island.

“I’m from Barnegat Light. I grew up on LBI for my whole life before I went to college,” McAndrew said. “There wasn’t much of a music scene or culture much at all growing up. As you know, it’s pretty dead right now until summertime.”

McAndrew said that for much of his childhood, he tried to figure out who he was. He would just listen to music and walk the beach alone. He also wrote songs and hoped he would be the “one anomaly” that would live his dreams. Looking back, he calls the Island beautiful and a great place to grow up.

“Now, living in Philly, I appreciate it in a different way,” McAndrew said. “It’s just so beautiful. As beautiful and serene as it is, it obviously doesn’t afford you the same opportunities musically and culturally as living in a major city does. But, it was a great, isolated place for me to dream and build on things.”

He wants young people in the area who have similar aspirations to his to keep writing and pursuing those goals and hopes this can build the area’s music culture. He added that he didn’t realize how close Philadelphia and New York City are until he entered college, and he wants kids to realize those cultural hubs aren’t as far away as they appear.

“It’s easy to feel like you’re trapped in the middle of nowhere, but it is easy to get out and do something,” McAndrew said.

Reposted from The Sandpaper, 10/15/14