Asbury Park Music In Film Festival – April 10-12 Citywide

            Asbury Park has long been home to many different events aimed at uniting music with other industry offerings, including a previous film festival. But the Asbury Park Music In Film Festival is the first to bring all ingredients together under one big successful roof of visual and audio-based interaction.

The inaugural APMFF kicks off on April 10 and will run through the weekend. Featuring an interesting mix of original music and independent visuals, the festival serves as a vibrant vehicle for artists and aficionados focused on everything related to musical creativity and the format of film.

Asbury Park has always been the hotbed destination for music, and the April 10-12 weekend raises the proverbial bar with citywide shows and performers at every live music zone in town. From local heroes to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, there is sure to be something for everyone when it comes to the variety offered by APMFF. Venues as of press time will be The Asbury Lanes, The Wonder Bar, The Saint, and the legendary Stone Pony. The Pony will be rolling out the red carpet for Robby Krieger’s “Doors 50” shows on April 10 and April 11. That show will also serve as the setting for “Funk That Bass,” a night of bass-driven music performed by an all-star band of funk and rock heavies and headlined by bass impresario Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads, Parliament Funkadelic).

One of the interesting highlights of the weekend will be the film Do You Remember? 15 Years Of The Bouncing Souls, directed by Jeff Alulis. Alulis takes the viewer on a wild, punk rock ride through the early days of the New Brunswick turned Asbury band with all the passion of a bona fide hardcore fan. From the group’s early years, right up to How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Alulis paints a vivid picture of an important band on the rise. That viewing will take place at The Asbury Lanes at 9 p.m. on April 10.

The festival’s crown jewel features JACO, a film by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo. Produced by Trujillo and Jaco’s son Johnny Pastorius, the film features artists such as Joni Mitchell, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Flea, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins and several other musical icons.

JACO tells the story of Jaco Pastorius, a self-taught, larger-than-life musician who single-handedly changed the course of modern music by redefining the sound and the role of the electric bass guitar. The film will be shown Saturday, April 11, at 8:30 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre. Following the film will be an exclusive question and answer session with Robert Trujillo, Paul Marchand, and Johnny Pastorius.

The Asbury Park Music In Film Festival also covers many others subjects and filmmakers that include local and national submissions. Over 50 music-based films will be offered including Salad Days, A Band Called Death, Take Me To The River, Riot On The Dance Floor, Rye Coalition: The Story Of The Hard Luck Five, Made In Japan, multiple short films from director Danny Clinch, and a short film and performance by the legendary DMC and his son Dson. Screenings will also feature unique opportunities to speak with the directors and producers concerning their work.

And speaking of the Inquisition of knowledge, the festival offers a vast collection of experience to up-and-coming filmmakers looking to get a head start in the industry. A screenwriting competition will be included and will be judged by Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman, writers from the Amazon Studios hit Transparent. Interactive and training-based sessions will include a two-part screenwriter workshop led by former television screenwriter/producer Ed Ferrara. There will also be a literary agent panel and a session with the directors of concert documentaries and music videos for bands such as Aerosmith and Metallica.

The APMFF is supported by the Asbury Park Press in partnership with the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation with the goal of bringing music awareness to the children of Asbury Park. “Music is an incredible gift. We want to raise awareness of the power of music, and there is no better compliment to the art than film,” says Matt Hockenjos, Executive Director of the APMFF. “Our goal is to provide music education and opportunities to the youth in our community. They are the future.” Sponsors of the festival include Barnabas Health, New Jersey Natural Gas and ShopRite.

For more information on festival details and locations and times of specific performances, head over to


AJ Pero – 1959-2015

Drummer AJ Pero was much more than an everyday skin basher. A bona fide jazz drummer, Pero got his start at the ripe old age of three. By the age of four, he had already moved up to a professional set of sparkling Ludwigs. As he continued to find his musical voice, Pero received legendary instruction from jazz monster Gene Krupa, who he studied with extensively during his formative years. Krupa infused Pero with a rebellious sense of style and the ability to see things differently than most contemporaries, and he turned Pero into a proverbial prodigy. AJ took to the drums with a magical affinity, appearing on the Mike Douglas Show as well as the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon by the time he was 10 years old. By the following year, he had also achieved the prestigious honor of winning three gold medals at the Paris Jazz Festival, grabbing gold accolades usually reserved for musicians over twice his age.

Pero eventually morphed from his jazz roots to the viable commercial sounds of the day, trading lounge-laced super chops for the alluring blitzkrieg of rock and roll percussions. His fusion-fueled attack placed him into the pathway of the bands of the day. Groups like Black Sabbath and ELP drew him in like a moth to a flame and by the beginning of the ’80s Pero was already on his way to an established destiny in rock and roll history.

Pero made his first professional move by joining the New York-based group, Cities. Logging countless stage and studio hours before joining an up-and-coming local band in 1982, Pero was already a local legend by the time he joined his next group. That group, as we all know today, was Twisted Sister. AJ’s time in Twisted Sister saw him share in the glory of 32 Gold, Silver and multi-Platinum records including the group’s 1984 triple-Platinum debut, Stay Hungry.

AJ Pero remained the backbone of Twisted Sister until 1987, when he went on to pursue other musical interests. In the 1990s Pero returned to the fold and remained up until the time of his passing. Pero also logged time with the heavy action of Adrenaline Mob. He was out on tour with the band promoting their Men Of Honor album when he died, allegedly passing in his sleep on the bus sometime during the night. AJ Pero lived and died making music, and his bandmates are devastated beyond words at the all-too-soon passing of one of the industry’s best percussionists.

AJ left an indelible impression on all who knew him. From musicians to industry support people, Pero is remembered fondly as a great human being and a vital contributor to the sounds of New Jersey rock and roll.

Frank Pallett, owner of The Chance in Poughkeepsie, had this to say about AJ: “I was fortunate to become friends with AJ back in 1992. We played some shows together with Big Guns and remained friends ever since. I am forever grateful for the John Falcone benefit which AJ and I coordinated back in 2012. All the guys in the Twisted Sister camp are not just friends but are a class act, especially AJ. I speak for everyone on my behalf here when I say, RIP brother, we are thankful for everything you have done for us and the community. Your friendship was both inspiring and precious to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to AJ’s family.”

Promoter and longtime music scene friend Sammy Boyd also weighed in: “I began working with the group in the late ’70s. AJ joined the band soon after that. AJ was an extremely talented drummer and a hell of a nice guy. I had the band in my club, Park Place in Asbury Park, and many of Art Stock’s venues. I booked the band for about five to seven years, working with their primary agent Kevin Brenner. As the band grew in popularity and experienced success, I never saw it go to AJ’s head, as you saw happen to other rockers. In an industry where sex and drugs went hand in hand with the industry, these guys were all business, staying away from the temptations and remaining focused on the music. AJ’s death is a great loss to his family and the music community at large.”

Bobby Pantella from Monster Magnet had this to say: “I was playing in a metal band called Chalice and we were opening for Fates Warning. I was hanging backstage and in walks AJ, he grabs my sticks and starts playing paradiddles at lightning speed, gives me the sticks back and smiles at me. I knew I had a long way to go as a drummer after three seconds of seeing that! So through the years we had run into each other here and there. We had both played the Bonzo Bash at the Bergen PAC in Jersey in 2014. Then about a month later, I was playing at the Download Festival in the UK with Monster Magnet, as was Twisted Sister. Our dressing rooms were right next to each other and I finally got to hang and have a real conversation with AJ. AJ, me and the bassist for MM [Chris Kosnik] got to talking about music, drums, gear, etc., and eventually Staten Island, New Jersey and the good ol’ days of the music scene. The topic of money came up and we discovered that AJ also had a little construction company and was doing some work near where we lived in Jersey. So Chris got to thinking that maybe we could get some house painting work when our Euro tour was over. We exchanged numbers, took a photo together and that was that. Never saw him again. I’m glad that I had a chance to finally have a real conversation with him even if it took 25 years for it to happen. Rest in Peace, AJ. God bless!”

“The members of Twisted Sister are profoundly saddened to announce the untimely passing of our brother, AJ Pero,” the band wrote on their official website. “The band, crew and most importantly the family of AJ Pero thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time.”

AJ Pero passed away of a heart attack on Friday, March 20. He was 55 years old.

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