Status Green to compete in MEANY Fest finals
BY CHRISSY GERITY
He quit his job. Sold his car, his motorcycle and left behind his friends and family to embark on a cross-country excursion. But what he found in California and in Hilo, Hawaii, was not enough to keep him there. Instead, he returned to New Jersey to form a rock band. Not your traditional Hollywood story? Call it what you wish; it’s the true beginning of something new, something special, something green ... Status Green, that is.
It’s the story that Louis Montesano, 25, of Howell, (guitar/piano/lead vocals), shares of his newly formed “fun-loving, rock and roll” band, Status Green. The band’s other members are Chris Marino, 24, of Howell, (guitar), Russell Tolas, 25, of Holmdel, (bass), and Mike Montalto, 24, of Howell, (drums).
The band, with its 1960s influences, black suits and green shirts and ties, got its name from a discussion Louis had with his father a couple years before his dad died in 2001. “You know what would be a great name for a band? Status Green,” his father said.
Having never had a music lesson, Montesano taught himself how to play the piano.
“I used to watch my father. He had an old upright and he used to play Bobby Darin songs,” he said.
He remembers figuring out songs “one finger at a time, like sounding it out for spelling.”
“It takes dedication,” he said.
Montesano believes the start of the band in 2005 brought with it a positive energy that reunites friends and family in a non-traditional way.
“It breaks the trend of just uniting for holidays and funerals,” he said.
The band’s music appeals to people of all ages, from first- graders who go crazy over their songs like “Opus De Ocho” to those who grew up listening to bands like The Beatles.
Montesano recalled listening to his parents’ music.
“One of my first favorite albums that I can remember was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ by The Beatles,” he said, adding that his favorite song from the album was “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”
John Lennon, who wrote the lyrics for that song, got the idea by looking at a circus poster from the 1800s. Inspired, Montesano thought to himself, “That’s awesome. I’m gonna do that too.”
But he didn’t have a poster to look at.
“So I made a picture in my head and wrote a fictional story about these evil pink elephants stealin’ all my peppermints,” he said, referring to “The Elephant Song” on his band’s first CD.
Friends and family of the band members listen to their music and support the band at concerts and events.
“It’s important to know they support us and listen to our music because they like it, not because they feel like they have to,” he said.
With a positive energy about himself, it’s no surprise to Louis’ aunt, Linda Montesano of Florida, who explained, “The children in our family are all like him. I guess it was just the way we were all brought up.”
Montesano’s dream for her nephew is to have Status Green tour with a band that has made it to the top.
The Howell-based band has already had a taste of the opportunities that await. Earlier this year Status Green were chosen from among hundreds of bands to open for Bon Jovi at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The band also opened for Terry Geiger in The House of Blues in Atlantic City.
Status Green recently celebrated its first anniversary with a performance at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.
“We’re really happy to be part of the renaissance of the town coming back,” Montesano said, adding, “... everyone knows Bruce Springsteen is from Asbury Park; hopefully one day when we’re older we’ll hear people say, ‘Status Green, from Asbury Park.’ We’re really happy and proud ... to be part of what’s goin’ on down there.”
He says of the band, “Everyone is so lucky. They know they’re so lucky, including myself.”
Status Green has brought home first-place awards in many battle of the bands competitions. The band will be competing in the MEANY (Musicians and Emerging Artists New York) Fest finals on Dec. 30 at the Knitting Factory in New York.
Tickets for the band’s performance at the Knitting Factory may be purchased online at www.KnittingFactory.com.
“It’s gonna be wild,” Montesano said, adding that at least two charter buses will transport local fans to the event. “We have awesome fans.”
Montesano and the band recently took home three awards for Top Male Vocalist, Top Pop Band and Top Live Performance during the 14th annual Asbury Music Awards held at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
Montesano feels like he is “free of the chains of working” because he is doing what he loves to do.
“I don’t take work for granted,” he said. “I’m lucky. People say if you find something you love to do, you’re the luckiest person in the world.”
Louis said the band members are grateful for what they have together.
“We have a magic, a chemistry between us. Us and our fans. It’s not just us on the stage. It’s a magical feeling when we play; it’s awesome,” he said. “We have the most supportive friends and family. And our fans are like obnoxiously into us.”
Montesano said Status Green owes a lot of its success to the Howell community from which they have received “unbelievable support.”
Montesano said the band is hoping to release its second CD this spring, at about the one-year anniversary of the release of its first album, “Status Green: Greatest Hits Vol. I.”
Status Green will rock in the new year on Dec. 31 at a New Year’s Eve celebration at Red Fusion, 660 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park. Ticket information can be found at Red Fusion’s Internet Web site, www.redfusiononline.com, or by calling (732) 775-1008. Band and concert information about Status Green can be found at www.statusgreenmusic.com.