Corrections or additions?
This article Jesse Fisher was prepared for the May 25, 2005
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Juicebox Squeezes Out the Funk
In 1995, a group of Pennington teenagers got together to rock out
under the name Grass. Ten years later, these 20-somethings have
returned home and picked up where they left off, forming the group
Juicebox out of old friendships and new experiences.
Juicebox, a high-energy funk band that draws from the rock and blues
canons, will appear Sunday, May 29, at Triumph Brewing Company in
Princeton. This performance will be the kickoff of the new name, new
sound, and new material, but playing together is old hat for the five
members of Juicebox.
"We have such an incredible musical relationship with each other,"
says lead singer Jesse Kaminski. "It’s uncanny, because we all grew up
playing together." Kaminski, 27, was raised in Pennington, but spent
the last five years in northern California. After moving back to New
Jersey last August, he met up with his old friends from Grass, who had
meanwhile been playing in the successful rock band, Sage. Juicebox is
the result of remolding the high-school rock band with 10 years of
musical and life experience thrown into the mix.
The son of a hardwood floor refinisher and a state employee, Kaminski
says he has always been a music nut. "I used to listen to everything
from Gene Ween to Joe Cocker," says the part-time glass artist and
mason. "Then I got into the Who, Hendrix, the Beatles, then hip-hop,
classic rock, the Dead, and Phish." Kaminski also notes his affinity
for 1970s jazz fusion like Miles Davis and Weather Report, although
those singerless groups have a less obvious influence on Juicebox’s
sound. Kaminski remembers picking up music from his father, the
flooring contractor, who is also a guitar player.
While music was always a way for Kaminski to have fun, it wasn’t until
he learned the art of glass blowing that he was able to express
himself to his satisfaction. Now that he has returned to the stage, he
says he is able to take his compositional techniques and attitudes and
apply them back to music. Kaminski compares Juicebox’s current
creative process to that of its previous incarnation, Grass. "It’s a
lot easier," he says, now that the band members have grown on their
In addition to the salty and sometime sultry vocals of Kaminski,
Juicebox also features Rob Cortina on guitar, Shady O’Grady on
keyboards, Gabe Rohmann on drums, and Dave "Tree" Ryden on bass.
Somewhere between raw and polished, the group’s sound evokes the New
Orleans funk legends the Meters, as well as classic blues-inspired
rock groups such as the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers. The
original material shows a considerable depth of understanding in the
funk/rock genres, as well as obvious experience in live performance.
All in all, Juicebox presents an exuberance that is in no hurry to get
anywhere, a funkiness that is happy right where it is.
When asked about his goals for the band, Kaminski says, "We just try
to expose ourselves, express ourselves, really put it out there for
the audience." He also says that the group is focused on being "in the
pocket, being super-tight." Despite their tendency to indulge in open
improvisations, he says they always stay "on-point rhythmically."
Bottom line? Juicebox is a solid funk band with catchy songs and a
– Jesse Fischer
Juicebox, Sunday, May 29, 9 p.m., Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau
Street, Princeton. 609-924-7855.
If you are a history buff and enjoy poking around old cemeteries, the
Princeton Cemetery, right across from the rebuilt Princeton Public
Library, is a must. Tucked under the boughs of ancient trees and
well-worn paths are the graves of a remarkably diverse slice of four
centuries of American history, including Nobel Prize winner Eugene
Paul Wigner, four Civil War generals, escaped slave Jimmy Johnson,
author John O’Hara, and pollster George Gallup. In his 1878 history of
Princeton, John F. Hageman called the cemetery "the Westminster Abbey
of the United States," because of all its famous graves.
The traditional free public tours of the historic Princeton Cemetery,
which spans almost 19 acres, take place on Sundays, May 29 and June 5,
at noon, and are led by semi-retired engineer and historian George H.
Brown, Jr. "We have Grover Cleveland; Aaron Burr, who killed Alexander
Hamilton in a duel; and Moses Taylor Pyne, a huge benefactor of the
university," says Brown, rattling off the names of just a few of the
55 notable graves in the cemetery.
Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Baby Ruth, is also buried here, as are
the son and grandson of Declaration of Independence signer Richard
Stockton (who is known to have been buried in the Quaker Cemetery at
the Quaker Meeting House in Princeton); Sara Agnes Pryor, founder of
the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; and
Barbara Boggs Sigmund, the highly respected Democratic mayor of
Borough from 1984 until her untimely death from cancer in 1990, whose
epitaph refers to her "passion for beauty and justice." In the
Presidents’ Plot, table tombs commemorate all but four of the former
presidents of Princeton University, including the cemetery’s oldest
monument, dated 1757 (Aaron Burr Sr., former president of the
There is even a bit of humor hidden amongst the sobering, time-worn
headstones. The epitaph for William H. Hahn Jr. (1905-1980), buried in
his large family plot, says, "I told you I was sick." Thought to be in
failing health, he ordered the inscription shortly before his death.
Tours of the Princeton Cemetery, Sundays, May 29 and June 5, noon.
Free. No registration necessary. Meet just inside the gate at the
entrance at the end of Greenview Avenue, which is off of Wiggins
Street. Families with children are welcome. For more information call
George H. Brown Jr. at 609-924-3358 or visit
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