Kate Gardner of the band Green Light Go seems way bigger on stage than
she does when she’s right next to you. She sounds it, too. When the
pixie-ish 21-year-old sat down at my booth during a break in a gig at
Finnegan’s Pub on Route 130 in East Windsor, I, at a mere 5′ 3",
towered over her. I could not believe that this tiny thing was the
husky-voiced lead singer for the opening band of the evening.
You might not expect the angsty folk rock sound of Green Light Go from
the daughter of an environmental scientist who works for the DEP.
However, growing up in East Windsor with parents who listened to Jimmy
Page, Genesis, and Peter Gabriel whetted an appetite for an edgy vibe.
Gardner also found a taste for the mellower feel of Joni Mitchell, and
later, Ani Difranco and Sarah McLaughlin. Two years of voice and
violin study at Mercer College introduced her to classical music –
Schubert and Vaughn Williams – and fostered an eager appreciation for
jazz and blues. As she completes her music degree at Monmouth, we can
only assume that an even wider variety of influences will be added to
Throw in a healthy dose of hardcore rock, courtesy of drummer Ryan
Fisher and electric guitarist (and Kate’s fiancee) Ken Vaughan, with a
little bit more folk from acoustic guitarist Sean Meurle, and we get
the pumped-up-yet-poetic Green Light Go. Think 10,000 Maniacs with a
Jaegermeister aftertaste. And Kate’s electric violin.
On this summer night at Finnegan’s, it is plain to see that Green
Light Go has already earned a loyal following since it first formed in
January of this year. The audience consists of mostly older clientele,
here to watch the Pilly-Cincinnati game while shooting the breeze over
the beer and free popcorn. However, the band’s regular concertgoers,
college-aged peers of the band, are contagiously enthusiastic. Those
new to the band who aren’t singing along are at least applauding
between pool shots. This evening is a comparatively quiet one for
Green Light Go.
The band has had an impressive journey in the short time since
January. Having performed its first gig at Trenton’s 449 Room just two
months after its first rehearsal, the band gained traction and a
supportive fan base. Winning the semifinal competition at the Stone
Pony’s "The Break 2006" earned them a spot in the lineup at the
Bamboozle when it came to East Rutherford. By that time, it was barely
The band now performs regularly, often with help from concert promoter
Capital City Concerts (CCC). Founded by Kevin Swider and Kerry Roche
in spring of 2003, CCC produces 550 shows a year, working with more
than 20 clubs and bars in the tri-state area, including Trenton’s
Conduit, Asbury Park’s Wonder Bar, and the Trocadero Theater in
Philadelphia. Finnegan’s, however, has become the promoter’s main
venue, welcoming and promoting local bands since CCC’s inception. The
show this evening runs smoothly, as CCC runs the sound, handles press
and promotions, and helps with the transitions between bands,
providing structure to what is usually a long, cumbersome, and fairly
As instruments, amps, and microphones are shuttled out the door,
Gardner talks about the future for Green Light Go. The first project?
A full-length record, already in the works. Three tracks already down,
the band is saving up to record the rest. They would like to see all
12 tracks completed by the end of the year. Some finished tunes (which
really do sound finished, unlike those of many MySpace bands) are
available on the band’s MySpace page, www.myspace.com/greenlightgonj.
I especially like "Separate Ways." In addition to the record,
according to Gardner, the band would like "to be signed!" If their
brief history is any indication, they’ll probably have a label by
Green Light Go,NJ 609-448-8012. www.myspace.com/greenlightgonj;