James Wiener always wanted to be a star. Instead, he became a dentist. But that doesn't mean he's giving up on his dream.

The 45-year-old former Longport resident will get a taste of what being a rock star is all about Friday when he opens for George Thorogood at the House of Blues in Atlantic City under his stage alias, Jimmie Lee - The Jersey Outlaw.

The Voorhees, Camden County resident, whose father Irv Wiener, 80, still lives in Longport, said his group of dental practices in the Cherry Hill area earns the money to support his family as well as his hobby.

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Although he played in many bands over the years, his musical career started to take a serious turn 10 years ago, when he hired Philadelphia producer David Ivory (The Roots, Patti LaBelle) to give his music a makeover.

"He liked what he heard, but he made my music much more commercial and marketable," said Wiener, who describes his music as country rock-infused blues. "A musician friend of mine told me, ‘You're so passionate. Get a real producer.' And that's what I did."

The Mainland Regional High School graduate said gigs such as Friday's - he also has opened for the Kentucky Headhunters and Kenny Chesney - can hopefully get him some exposure and lead to bigger things. But he knows he won't be giving up his day job anytime soon.

"I look at this as a hobby, and I basically pay to play as a struggling musician," said Wiener, who has released six albums. "Music was never about the money for me. I always wanted to be in the limelight and be a star. But I am not delusional. I realize I'm middle-aged, so I'll take what I can get at this point."

Short Stories

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Short Stories compiled by Emily Brill.

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