The Human Element @ The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ – 08.19.1986

  • Thursday / December 10, 2015
The Human Element @ The Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ - 08.19.1986 1

The Human Element @ The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ – 08.19.1986




Let me tell you ’bout a place
Somewhere up-a New Jersey way
Where the people are so gay
Skankin’ the night away …



The Human Element @ The Stone Pony - Asbury Park, NJ - 08.19.1986

Once upon a time, there was a Jersey shore band called The Human Element. Born in a garage in Keyport, NJ — or at least the seed was planted that day – a group of friends met to audition a guitar player and vocalist. The sounds were very garage, white boy reggae, ska, post punk, in nature. And the vibe felt good. A young man by the name of Joe Streno strapped on his gray Strat Elite and started to play the chord changes of one of his original reggae songs. The rest of the guys, Fred Bennet, on drums, Chris Melvin, on bass, and another guy on guitar fell right into place. We played for a while. It felt like we had played together for forever — it felt so comfortable and right.

Long story short — Chris, Fred & Chris’ brother Dennis (on synth-keyboards), minus the “other guitar player”, started practicing in my Bond Street store front in Asbury Park. We woodshedded for several months, for several nights each week. We worked on all my originals, getting as tight as we could. We also added a ska-ed up cover version of “Midnight Confessions” — the old Grass Roots hit — and I sure loved playing and singing it too!

Once I felt we were ready to perform in pubic I got us booked into a Chris Barry showcase at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. To play our first gig at the Pony — WAS HUGE! At least for this Jersey boy!

At the time my friend Cande Braught AKA Cande Roth was writing in a local NJ rock publication and becoming a New Jersey celebrity doing traffic broadcasts for Shadow Traffic in the NJ/NY metro area. She offered to introduce The Human Element at our very first gig, at the Pony. It was a magical night.

All our friends were there to cheer us on. Even my good friend Gary Crosslin AKA Junior Smoots of Junior Smoots And The Disturbers was there. Gary was not only a close friend, and former house-mate — he was a mentor. He was the one who made me realize I needed to follow my passion for music and encouraged me. Gary made a point of not ever coming to a T.H.E. rehearsal. He just wanted to see the “finished product” and let the music speak for itself.

We were the second band up that night. It was a good spot to be. Not early enough, the place was empty, and not late enough — on a work day evening — when people needed to leave. The place was packed! Cande introduced us. Fred counted us off and we launched into our opening number “Freedom”. The first time I heard my voice boom out over the Pony PA — I was HOOKED! No drug could EVER make me feel THIS good! We were so tight, the song so hard hitting, I think we stunned the crowd. There was a momentary pause, as the last chord rang out, and the crowd processed what they just heard, and start wildly clapping and cheering. Yeah — no drug can make you feel THAT good! Damn!

We ran through our set, as tight as tight could be. The feeling was indescribable. It was so good … I wouldn’t want to have followed us after that set! After talking to and being congratulated by a multitude of people, my friend Gary Crosslin comes to me and says, “… you done good kid. You guys were tight. Now let me buy you a beer.” Those 4 words coming out of Gary’s mouth “you done good kid” — were like being praised by your sensei, your guru. Knowing Gary, he’d have told me if it was shit — straight out. He also told me he was proud of me. That too still sticks with me. That show and everyone’s positive energy has become — one of those “life moments” — I will carry with me forever.

he Human Element: Multi-Date Flyer

The videos below — sadly — are not from that first Stone Pony gig. I WISH! They were from a Stone Pony gig on August 19, 1986. I’m still amazed that we have any video from that time. It may have been recorded by Colin Love — it may have not. I’m sure someone will know and comment below.


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Joe Streno

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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