By Jim Lambert
Ed Gardella and Steve O’Neil, Union Catholic graduates and lifelong friends, took center stage on Sunday afternoon and electrified the huge crowd that gathered at LaGrande Park for the highly anticipated Music Festival, one of the highlights of the first ever Fanwood Summer Fan Jam.
Gardella and O’Neil were playing with The Broadcasters, a highly popular local band that entertained the packed house with its great mix of classic and current rock music, including some Aerosmith and Tom Petty hits. (Note-Gardella is pictured in the black shirt and cap and O'Neil is pictured in the pink shirt).
The multi-talented O’Neil, a member of the original Broadcasters that formed in 2004, actually jumped in to play bass for John Haussman, who couldn’t play due to recent surgery. Gardella was playing guitar and handling some vocals. The other two members of The Broadcasters are lead vocalist Mike Novello and drummer Nino DiFabio, who both grew up in Scotch Plains
It was just like old times for Gardella (UC Class of 1978) and O’Neil (UC Class of 1979), who have been energizing crowds ever since they started jamming together during their UC days when they played in a band called “Thunder’’ and rocked the UC gym at the school dances.
“It all started at Union Catholic,’’ said Gardella, who grew up in Scotch Plains and now lives in Fanwood. “Steve’s older brother, Kevin (UC Class of 1978), knew I played guitar, so one day he said I should come over their house in Plainfield and play. The next thing you know we were playing at the school dance. We’ve all been friends ever since. Where else could a guy from Scotch Plains meet some guys from Plainfield and become friends except Union Catholic. In turns out that the vast majority of my friends are from Union Catholic. I love how I’ve stayed friends with so many people from my childhood.’’
Gardella praised event organizers of the Fan Jam and said The Broadcasters, one of five bands that played, loved being part of the Music Festival.
“We all grew up around here and love playing locally,’’ said Gardella. “It’s always great to play in front of so many people we know, and it always great to play with Steve. Aimee (Cantwell) did a great job organizing things, and I hope they continue to do this. I thought it was an awesome event, and we’d love to go back there and play again.’’
The next gig for the Broadcasters will be on National Night Out on Aug. 1 at the Scotch Plains Municipal Building. They also play often at the Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains, do occasionally shows at The Crossroads in Garwood and the Tap Room at the Somerset Hills Hotel in Warren, and they are regulars each Labor Day Weekend at the Italian Festival at St. Bartholomew’s in Scotch Plains.