Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Light of Day - Asbury Park (Part I - Thursday and Friday)

Thirteen years ago at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, a benefit for Parkinson’s disease was first held. Since then, the event run by the Light of Day organization has grown to include thirty-five shows in twelve countries in the US, Canada, and Europe. 

The iconic Tilly was reproduced for the Chevy Corvette’s
50th anniversary advertising campaign and has now
become a permanent part of the building.
Photo courtesy of the Wonder Bar

On January 17, 2013, a three-day event took over the whole town of Asbury Park, bringing a welcome boost to this part of the Hurricane Sandy-battered shoreline. While evidence of the storm remains, attention was focused on the entertainment and the joy of supporting a good cause. Hotels were booked and restaurants were filled with delighted music lovers. Everywhere you turned, musicians and fans alike were all checking out bands and old friends; the green room at the Wonder Bar was a virtual magnet for everyone, including notables Matt O’Ree, Eric Safka, Joe Grushecky, and Garland Jeffreys. 

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects between one-and-a-half million and two million Americans. There is no known cure at this time. If left untreated, the disorder gets worse until a person is totally disabled, and may also lead to loss of brain function and an early death. Parkinson’s may appear at any age, but it most often develops after age fifty and in some cases runs in families. This disease occurs in all parts of the world, affecting both men and women.

The Light of Day Foundation's mission is to fund research into possible cures, improved treatments and support for Parkinson’s patients, their families and their caregivers. In 2012, the Asbury Park shows raised nearly $300,000. “I believe in helping the cause for finding a cure. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease that needs to be stopped,” said Matt O’Ree, whose band, the Matt O’Ree Band, is just one of the acts who volunteer their talents each year. 

With ten venues, twenty-five events, and well over one hundred musicians from all over the country, there was something for everyone. Many shows ran simultaneously, and blues, rock, covers and original music, mixed with the unusually warm salt air on a beautiful January weekend. Click here for a full schedule and list of artists.  

James Dalton and Joe Miller at The Saint. January 17, 2013
Thursday, January 17 started at The Saint with First Note, featuring the Heavy Halves, and the Ben Arnold Band. James Dalton, who has been involved in the Light of Day Benefit since its inception was once again involved in everything from playing on stage to manning the doors of the Saint. His rendition of “Come Back to the Jersey Shore” (Frankonia, 2012) fit in perfectly with the post Sandy vibe. Written pre-Sandy, it captures the spirit of summer at the Jersey Shore. James’ deep voice and soulful harmonica – combined with Joe Miller’s guitar talent – conveyed songs about Sandy that stirred the heart. James noted, “The best thing about this event is the wonderful people it attracts. Everyone has such a great time and the musicians have a chance to visit each other and play for a good cause.”

Asbury Lanes hosted its “Rockin’ Bowl-A-Thon” featuring Mike Marino, NJ’s “Bad boy of Comedy” who is also a Tonight Show regular. Other acts on the bill at the Lanes were Jessie Malin & the St. Marks Social, and Willie Nile. Professional bowler Tony Bilello was also in attendance.

Sonny Kenn at the Wonder Bar
Down the street, The Wonder Bar featured “Mixed Bag One,” presenting local favorites like the Sonny Kenn Band and The Laura Crisci All Stars. Owned by Lance and Debbie Larson, the Wonder Bar has been an Asbury Park staple for as long as most of us can remember. The Wonder Bar was recently renovated, and now sports two stages, so during the weekend the live music never stopped. Local blues legend Billy Hector, who played at the Wonder Bar on day two, will be holding his CD release party on at the Wonder Bar on March 23. Not only does the legendary venue present great talent, the bartenders are polite and efficient, and the hamburgers are known to be some of the best in the area.
Denny Laine at McLoone's Supper Club

On Friday, January 18, Denny Laine, guitarist with Wings and the Moody Blues performed a sold-out show at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, with special guest Peter Asher, iconic producer and former member of Peter & Gordon. They performed The Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety as well as songs from Wings and The Moody Blues. Kate Taylor (sister of James Taylor) joined them. This newly renovated venue boasts a full restaurant, stunning oceanfront views and is centrally located on Ocean Avenue directly across from the Paramount Theatre.

Asbury Angels Induction at the Stone Pony

A special treat allowed the crowd to become part of the music by taking part in a live recording of Marc Riblers “Asbury Angels” theme song, recorded live at the Stone Pony after the 2013 Asbury Angels Induction show. A special appearance by teen idol Bobby Rydell performing with Boccigalupe & The Badboys kicked off this special event.

Inductees are memorialized with special placards placed on benches along the Asbury boardwalk. "The mission of the Asbury Angels is to honor and memorialize the lives and history of members of the Asbury Park musical community, including but not limited to musicians, tech support persons, DJs, journalists, club owners, record company personnel, managers and promoters."  

Open Mic Night at the Wonder Bar

Rob Dye and Cook Smith hosted an Open Mic on Friday that showcased over forty musicians in one evening. Anyone with a song in their heart was able to sign up for a spot to rock the stage. A good time was had by all.

* * *

For the old school fans, LOD Remembers the Fast Lane at Asbury Lanes was hosted by “Anything, Anything’s” Rich Russo. Dramarama and The Red House (who reunited especially for Light of Day benefit) performed. Located next to Asbury Lanes, The Fast Lane was a popular venue featuring the best in original rock. It closed in 2007.

Rock fans were treated to a special event when Godspeed took the stage at The Saint with their blend of hard rock and heavy metal. Godspeed toured with Black Sabbath and Dio before breaking up to do individual projects. The 2012 reunion and upcoming tour promise to bring back some of the heavy metal magic this band is known for.

Thursday and Friday were an exciting prelude to the fabulous music to come on Saturday and Sunday. Watch for Part II of the 2013 Light of Day Benefit next week! - Debbie Miksiewicz (Special Nightlife and Dining Correspondent to Inlets and Outlets)

Photographs © 2013 John Posada except where noted.

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