Like the Virginia Slims cigarette ad used to say, “You’ve come a long way baby.” And that’s exactly what the Asbury Music Awards have done since their humble formation back in 1993 at a little dive on Main Street called T-Birds Cafe. Ah yes, 1993, back in the days when I was still in my early 30s and Telly Savalas was still rasping, “Who loves ya baby?” The innocent days when the gang from Cheers ended their 11-year run while Prince changed his name to a symbol that stood for the artists formerly known as Prince…
And right in the midst of these heady days was the entrepreneurial team of Pete Mantas and Scott Stamper, who, after pondering the long asked question, “How do we honor original music here in the town?” came up with the Golden T-Bird Awards. Two years later, Adam Weisberg joined the fray, designing an idea for an original music club on a cocktail napkin and coming up with a long-standing and successful club concept with Scott under Asbury Music Company, adding more fuel to the proverbial fire started earlier.
So as most long-standing events go, what started with a simple question has led to a grassroots evolutionary happening that’s grown wild and tall as it sprouts hundreds of bands, entertainment personnel and industry insiders throughout not only Asbury Park, but also the state of New Jersey. And sometimes that can be a frenzied undertaking.
But what makes the night a true success is watching the contortions of glee from first time winners. New blood and enthusiastic participants are what makes you feel good about an awards show like this. Some of the night’s high points were seeing Scott Liss and the Sixty-Six wow the crowd and seeing George Wirth accept a well-deserved award for his work.
In summation, I have to agree with Scott Stamper who told me, “This year’s true moment was watching Jo Wymer accepting her Top Blues Band award. We all saw how truly moved she was to be receiving her first Asbury Music Award. Special moments like these carry me forward to the next year. We do it all to give back to the local music community and its most important members, the musicians. That’s the most direct understanding of why we have come back year after year to be here at 18 years old.”
For a complete list of the winners for the 2010 Asbury Music Awards go to thesaintnj.com.
A very special thanks goes out to all of our friends that voted the Aquarian “Top publication” and gave me “Journalist in support of live music” for the fourth unbelievable year in a row, it’s an extreme honor and I’m humbled by your vote of confidence in my abilities.
The Musical Heritage Kickoff And A Saintly Return
Thursday, November 18 was a busy night. Down Route 35 and Eastbound to the boardwalk the circuit bustled with activity. The boardwalk eateries never stop, The Stone Pony had the long-awaited Musical Heritage society kick off featuring Glen Burtnick and friends, and The Saint had national alternative darlings Red Wanting Blue, along with No Wine For Kittens and the illustrious Joe Miller.
A consummate acoustic performer, Miller kicked things off at The Saint with his bare bones acoustic and eclectic soul session, utilizing powerful vocals on songs such as the dynamic “Johanna” and the fresh, cool twist of “The Last Supper,” featuring the poetic complexities of Klass Jones, who lent his visionary rhymes to Millers melodically posed questions. Klass and Emily Parsowith were also featured together on Alarm as well as Wooden Nickels, which will be Joe’s upcoming CD title. Even with the fair sized crowd clucking away like loud chickens during his set, Joe miller proved to be a strong musical convincer and a class act. Look for new CD info coming soon over at reverbnation.com/joemiller.
I also had a chance to catch a couple of No Wine for Kittens songs before heading to The Stone Pony and all I can say is that they keep getting more focused every time I see them. Songs such as AMA award winning “Emily Part 1,” as well as “Henrietta” and “Bipolar Girl” off the latest, self-titled EP kept the loud mouths quiet throughout their set. The perfect “oddfellow” choice in contrast to the Midwestern rock sounds of Red Wanting Blue. Check ‘em out at myspace.com/nowineforkittens. While I didn’t have time (due to prior commitments) to catch Red Wanting Blue, you can go online to theaquarian.com to see my recent review of their continuing musical journey.
Moving on over to the Stone Pony and a fundraising event for the Asbury Park Musical Heritage 2011, we witnessed the concert that kicked off what will be a year-long celebration of the city’s rich musical heritage happening in conjunction with New Harmonies, a Smithsonian exhibition, coming to Asbury Park in March 2011.
Glen Burtnick was the perfect choice for the city of Asbury to position as host for a show celebrating the city by the sea. Burtnick’s back-lined band was a veritable who’s who of local players like Eric Safka (King Of The B3) the pristine sound of Joanna Burns and Emily Grove, and the voracious rhythm team of Sarah Tomek and Jeanette Jones as well as national “Nashville” guitarist Mark Mueller (Shania Twain.) Glenn and company made for an unstoppable force behind special guest like George Wirth, Christine Martucci and the illustrious Anthony D’Amato, who got by with a little help from their friends as well as several of Glens own songs.
In addition to this, former mayor Kevin Sanders and his band The Mayors Players, took the stage along AMA “Top Rock Band” Outside the Box and Victory Gin. If you spoke with anyone that night you would have heard the same opinion: the show was a great coming together of musicians and fans that love this city and respect what music has done and continues to do for Asbury Park. To me, a show like this also acknowledges the new level of attention that the city is paying towards the local players who continue to shape the real sounds of the Jersey shore.
This show also marked the U.S. notification (Shows have already been produced throughout Canada) of the Light Of Day series. Light of Day co-founder Bob Benjamin sums it all up as he told me, “It is gratifying to see how both artists and fans are helping Light of Day to grow from its one small party in Red Bank. The artists selflessly donating time and talent year after year insures that we have top flight line-ups for every show of the upcoming weekend. We have witnessed the comeback the Asbury Park beachfront has made in our 11 years of Light of Day events, and we are proud of our eleven years of fighting Parkinson’s disease. Light of Day is honored to be the kickoff concert event of Asbury Park Musical heritage year 2011.”
In 2011, the city of Asbury Park will be the first urban city to display New Harmonies, a traveling Smithsonian exhibition. In conjunction with the exhibition, Asbury Park will create a yearlong series of events that embrace the rich musical heritage of the city. The celebration is expected to include concerts, plays, art exhibitions, educational programs, lectures, films and more. To learn more, please visit asburyparkmusic2011.com.
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities makes the New Jersey tour of New Harmonies, a Smithsonian exhibition, possible. To learn more, please visit museumonmainstreet.org. Light of Day breaks out on January 14, 2011. For more info please go to lightofday.org.