If there is one main thing that anyone here at The Aquarian could say about the late Chris Barry, it would be that he was extremely passionate. Chris was adamant about the music scene, civil rights issues and freedom of speech. And he never had a “slow down” button, even when he could have hit the brakes. More than once he sent readers into a tailspin over his defense of someone or something that didn’t cater to popular opinion. But Chris also knew the value of positive praise, and went out of his way to nurture many budding bands that got their start right here on their gritty climb to the top.
I can remember when I first met Chris. At the time, he worked as a staff writer for a magazine called Pipeline, and he was in high demand. I couldn’t have been any more than 19 or 20, and we used to bring our demos to the Brighton Bar, anxiously awaiting our turn to speak to the gruff local legend in the black, silk Pipeline jacket. And while Chris was not our first (our first amazing interview was actually written by fellow Pipeline writer Kat Waverley) when we finally received our very first Barry review, it was something we at first really didn’t understand. Chris wrote in a beatnik “Wavy Gravy” style, and was infamous for making up his own words. I remember reading his review of my band In Between Dreams and looking at the other guys like, “What did he say?”
But once the translation was done, pride, elation and a small amount of credibility flashed across our minds like a Times Square billboard screaming headlines at night, and I’ll never forget it.
This writing marks the eighth anniversary week of Chris Barry’s passing, and on behalf of the paper, the musicians and the members of our competitive press, I just wanted to say, “Thank You, Chris.” Thanks for giving many of us an introduction to a scene that still carries on and nurtures new music and amazing artwork. Thanks for the hard slaps when needed, and the emotional praises when deserved. And thanks for the comedic jaunt through life. There were some hilarious times and many instances where you would be saying, “Did that just really happen?” Oh yes, it happened. It happened a lot. In a world gone mad with war and political upheaval, it’s nice to fondly remember simpler times and the local group scene that Chris was part of.
Gruff, unkempt and eccentric in an Albert Einstein meets Rasputin sort of way, Chris was an intelligent friend and well read writer who spent his last decade right here at the Shoreworld. The fact that the torch was passed to me through the confident nod of my editor, JJ Koczan, is an ongoing honor that stays with me through each and every article I write.
But I’m definitely not the only one who realizes this, and as noted in past articles, Chris has been immortalized as a part of an exclusive and highly revered group of individuals that, while they may be gone, will stay in our minds, hearts and community actions for the unforeseeable future.
The Asbury Angels is the brainchild of musician/industry legend Tony Pallagrosi, and has quietly been rising into the mainstream media, honoring musicians and entrepreneurs who were parts of this mighty “city by the sea.”
The Asbury Angels’ ongoing exhibit (it started May 4) runs in conjunction with the Asbury Musical Heritage Foundation over at the Where Music Lives headquarters. Asbury Angels honors Chris, along with other iconic inductees such as Kevin Kavanaugh, Big Danny Gallagher, Bobby Williams, Phil Petillo, Clarence Clemons and so many other innovators that put legend and life into Asbury Park’s rich community. The exhibit is called Asbury Angels: The Spirit Lives On.
The exhibit features various rare photographs and memorabilia of the 2012-13 inductees. It freezes moments in time with grandeur and exceptional respect from friends and fellow music lovers that understand that we are the new generation of caretakers, the guardians that set the tone and, the ones who will someday be replaced by the next generation of musical sentinels.
The exhibition list is a smart and introspective look at some wild historical timelines. The list goes from Arthur Pryor, Asbury’s very first musical star, to the community contributions of Upstage pioneers Tom and Margaret Potter, two people that helped light the musical fuse, and so many more. It’s a fascinating look into the very area that so many of us belong to. Out-of-towners will also learn new and interesting facts about the individuals who built this famed city, and find out details about how tiny backroom seeds sprouted into international rock and roll sequoias. The exhibition will run to June 2, with possible extensions to be announced in the future.
Where Music Lives is a celebration of all things Asbury Park. Enveloping performance, exhibition and journeys through history, they open their doors and exhibits to everyone who lives and breathes this cultural phenomenon. I recently took part in the viewing of producer Susan Pellegrini’s immensely interesting film, Asbury Park: Musical Memories, and was amazed at the vast number of people that humbly helped change the way our nation came to know about this shore town.
The Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation wants everyone to know that its message is simple: “Preserve and promote Asbury Park’s rich musical heritage: past, present and future.” Their youth initiative brings music and opportunity to young people, which in turn transforms lives and invests in the future of Jersey Shore tradition. It’s a grand message and one that I truly believe in.
Standing here, looking over the city from the balcony of Convention Hall, I’m amazed at the journey this little town has had so far. The stories of how legends evolved and changed the area (some have changed our musical world) swirl among golden visuals of clubs and happenings—some long gone, others freshly growing—that continue to shape this area in new forms each and every day.
So take some time to come say hello to the folks at the Musical Heritage Foundation as well as the people that brought us Asbury Angels: The Spirit Lives On. This exhibit is open to the public on Saturdays from 12-7 p.m. and on Sundays from 12-6 p.m.
The exhibit space is located on 708 Cookman Avenue (the old Cinema space) and it also encompasses the photography work of John Cavanaugh and his Rocktography series. We will discuss more of that segment as things roll on.
For more information on The Asbury Angels, visit them at asburyangels.com and check out the other fine exhibits and performance ideas brought to you by the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation over at asburyparkmusiclives.org.