Monday, August 11, 2008

The JB story “Burnin’ Up” newsstands

For those of you not lucky enough to have picked up Sunday's Poughkeepsie Journal, which will surely become a collector's item (my tongue firmly implanted in cheek as I write that), I proudly present my story about the Jonas Brothers, set to play the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts this Thursday...

Jonas Brothers: Band popular with adults, too

By Sean T. McMann
Poughkeepsie Journal

As the arena's lights dim, it's like standing on the runway as the engine of a 747 revs up, the roar from the packed house steadily increasing.

Standing among tens of thousands of screaming tweens, the volume becomes deafening when pop music's biggest sensation, the Jonas Brothers, hit that first note of the night.

"Yes, being in the audience is one thing. You should try being in the other direction when it's coming at you," 20-year-old Kevin Jonas told the Poughkeepsie Journal during a recent conference call to promote the group's "Burning Up" tour, which stops at Sullivan County's Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Thursday, and its new album, "A Little Bit Longer," which comes out Tuesday.

He and his younger brothers — 15-year-old Nick and Joe, who turns 19 the day after the Bethel Woods show — have sold out arenas across North America since their current string of concerts began July 4 in Toronto.

Last August, the Jonas Brothers played an intimate show at The Chance in the City of Poughkeepsie before receiving a large boost by opening up for Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus on her "Best of Both Worlds" tour.

Along the way, they've attracted millions of devoted, young fans, from Newburgh to Newport Beach, and from Portland to Poughkeepsie.

"I love them," said 13-year-old Danielle Arasim, who will be a freshman at Spackenkill High School next month. "I like them because one of them is around my age, and one of them is talented at that age ... and because they're cute, too!"

But it's not just the preteen and high school set that's packing the arenas.

While the majority of the band's fans are young girls, parents in the crowd won't be left out on this tour, Kevin Jonas said.

The brothers' concert is designed to be enjoyed by everyone — from Mom and Dad, to brothers and sisters, he said.

"Sure, there are some that can't drive themselves," he said of the group's younger fans, "but what's good about the opportunity of the venues is, it's a family show. It's made for everyone, so everyone can come."

Angie Arasim, Danielle's mother, took her daughters to see the Jonas Brothers in Bridgeport, Conn., in March. She said it's heartwarming to watch parents and children enjoying the brothers' music together.

"It's great to see this, the kids there with the parents," said the mother, calling Nick, Kevin and Joe "wholesome and sweet kids" she's happy to see her daughter support. "It's good that my kids want me to go along with them. It's really a good, family concert. It's nice to see."

"I'm not alone," she added.

Indeed, Holly Nenni will be among the parents enjoying the music and atmosphere Thursday. The mom will be part of a six-person contingent traveling from LaGrange to Sullivan County for the show.

A mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 12, Nenni thought it would be a nice treat to bring her friend with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and her two daughters to the group's Bethel Woods performance.

"It's definitely going to be a special night for all the girls to go out," said Nenni, who is hoping her friend and her daughters could meet the boys before the show. "We saw they were coming to Bethel Woods — I've been there before for concerts and it's beautiful — and I thought it would be a nice place to take them."

Nenni said she wanted to surprise her friend and their daughters with the idea of going to see the Jonas Brothers, and the girls have been excited about the show ever since.

"They've been working very hard on making posters — 'I Love Nick' and 'I Love Joe' — and I think they're very excited," she said, adding she enjoys the guys' music, too. "I hear the songs all the time. My daughters always listen to their CDs."

Music is only the beginning of the Jonas Brothers brand, which is quickly turning into an empire.

In addition to guest-starring alongside Cyrus in an episode of her Disney Channel hit show "Hannah Montana," the guys co-starred in the network's film "Camp Rock" in June. Fans can watch Nick, Joe and Kevin this summer on cable's "Disney Channel Games" competition, and they've also been featured in a series of short "Living the Dream" documentaries on that network.

Despite the rigors and demands of stardom, the guys said it's easy to motivate themselves for this summer's nightly gigs.

"We really love what we do," Nick Jonas told the Journal. "I mean, at the end of the day, when we get to play a show and be with our fans, it's all worth it — the late nights, whatever it may be — it's all worth it at the end of the day."

The Aug. 14 concert, in particular, is of special interest to the brothers.

With the upcoming Bethel Woods show taking place on the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Kevin Jonas said it's "an amazing opportunity" for him and his brothers to play on historic ground.

"It's humbling," he said, "because you know you would have never thought you'd be able to be in places like that."

No matter where success takes them — either on the charts or geographically — Joe Jonas said being surrounded by family is something the group embraces.

"We have a great family and we have each other," the singer said, "so we're always watching out for each other, and we're just doing what we do and having fun."

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