Thursday, August 18, 2022


Click here to sign up for our newsletter!

The premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and announcements in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Aug 05, 2022

Holmdel Natives Start Recording Label, Perform on Area’s Biggest Stage

By Lauren Lavelle

For the residents of Holmdel and New Jersey towns beyond, PNC Bank Arts Center is an iconic staple that has housed some of the greatest artists in history. With its vast lawn and ample seating, the legendary amphitheater fosters a sense of camaraderie that it has carried with it throughout the years, opening the area to a swinging door of amazing music and culture.

Joe Pomarico, founder and president of Telegraph Hill Records, also plays in a band called Foes of Fern.

Little do many know though that just minutes away, on Telegraph Hill Road, two young Holmdel residents were creating a music culture of their own that would one day turn into something even bigger than they imagined: a record label, aptly named Telegraph Hill Records. 

“My parents moved to Holmdel when I was 7, and they got a spot right off of Telegraph Hill Road,” said Joe Pomarico, founder and president of Telegraph Hill Records. “I started recording in the basement, which became the central spot where we would do music. I had the name Telegraph Hill Records early on as a recording name, and it felt different. I wasn’t sure what it would ultimately be.”

Telegraph Hill recording artist Natalie Farrell recently opened for George Thorogood and Sammy Hagar at PNC Bank Arts Center.

As Pomarico began to get more serious about his recording career, he dug into the history of music in Holmdel and discovered Telegraph Hill Road had ties to one of the most influential musicians in New Jersey’s history, The Boss himself.

“I found out Bruce Springsteen used to live around the corner from my parents’ house, and I’d always drive by this spot that he used to call his ‘Telegraph Hill studio’ that he demoed The River album on,” he said. “It parallels a little bit of what we’re doing too, and it’s funny that we had the name before all of that and then we discovered this, and we stuck with it.”

Matthew Fernicola started Foes of Fern, which now includes more than a dozen local musicians.

Since its official launch in 2014, Telegraph Hill Records has found its home in Asbury Park where it supports about a dozen local artists as they rise through the music scene. Pomarico’s childhood friend and fellow music lover, Matthew Fernicola, serves as vice president of the label. He credits Pomarico with coming up with the idea for the company.

“[Pomarico and I] sat on the bench on the baseball team together,” Fernicola said. “I just wanted to record people and myself and put it out, but [Pomarico] said, ‘Let’s take the next step. Let’s distribute it and try to be a support system for independent artists.’”

Members of Foes and Fern perform in Asbury Park.

Both Pomarico and Fernicola attribute their label’s success to the unique variety of talent that comes in and out of their studio. A few of their signed artists include Des & the Swagmatics, Malibu, Alexander Simone and WhoDat? and Fernicola’s own band, Foes of Fern. 

“I’m really proud of the work that we do,” Fernicola said. “There are these young artists that just want to do it, and we’re older artists that are still trying to do it, and it’s nice to have that commonality and, at the very least, get their project recorded.”

Pomarico added, “I wouldn’t have dreamed of some of the artists I’ve been getting to work with today. I didn’t know them before I started this and some of them have come from the area, but I think I’ve attracted the right people and that’s the best way I can say we’re doing the right thing.”

Fernicola has also found success as a musician himself. Along with leading Foes of Fern, he recently found himself serving as the opening act for musicians George Thorogood and Sammy Hagar with his friend and fellow Telegraph Hill recording artist Natalie Farrell. They performed at PNC Bank Arts Center on a stage he once only dreamed of playing on. 

“I used to sneak into PNC when I was in high school and just wish I could be on that stage. I did my high school graduation on that stage, and I was like, ‘Well, this isn’t what I meant,’ but the universe works in different ways,” he said. “Natalie got the call because [the act] that was supposed to open canceled the day of, so they needed someone. They called somebody who was unavailable, who recommended somebody who was unavailable, who recommended us, so we got really lucky.”

Although recording music is Pomarico’s sole focus, he also finds himself playing it from time to time as a member of the Foes of Fern. 

“I’m lucky enough to be part of Foes of Fern and lend whatever energy I can to it,” he said. “[Fernicola] started it after one of his other bands broke up, and it was really just me and him figuring out what to do next with his music, and it’s now evolved into this huge group of 13 plus people. I show up at the shows and play some cowbell.”

The Foes of Fern play their next show on Friday, Sept. 16 at The Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park. 

Despite their success, the two Holmdel natives hope to continue to serve as a beacon for local artists looking for a space to expand their creativity. 

“We’re all independent, but at the end of the day, there’s a lot that can be applied for musicians at any level,” Pomarico said. “We wanted to jump out and be a platform for some artists in our area that we really liked and that we felt needed a platform to stand on in the local scene.”

Fernicola added, “We’ve been consistent, and we’ve put out a ton of music. We’ve done some things that have gotten a ton of views and notoriety, and we’ve done some things that have gotten not so much, but I’m really proud of the work that we do.”

For more information on Telegraph Hill Records and to check out their summer playlists, visit TelegraphHillRecords.com.