Shoreworld: Asbury Park Music & Film Festival – April 20-23

As the weather gets warmer in New Jersey, festivals start appearing in the Garden State. From music to art and film, festivals are the Jersey Shore mainstay once the snow goes away. And one of the fastest growing festivals is at the door now.

The 2017 Asbury Park Music & Film Festival (the third so far) begins on Thursday, April 20, and runs through Sunday, April 23. Combining movies and music, the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival looks to be the party of the springtime. Having said that, I wanted to mention some of the highlights and discuss details with one of the festival kingpins.

The festival has announced that the House of Independents will host two very special events on Saturday, April 22. Beginning at 3:00 p.m., Dylan Archives II, rare Bob Dylan archives from the University of Tulsa, will be screened. Then at 4:45 p.m., Bob Santelli Presents, A Conversation with Max Weinberg, an intimate conversation with the E Street Band drummer moderated by the Executive Director of the Grammy Museum.

The Dylan Archives screened at last year’s Asbury Park Music & Film Festival was widely regarded as the highlight of the entire Festival. Volume two of the exclusive Bob Dylan archival footage is already highly anticipated with many unique gems expected.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and E Street Band member Max Weinberg will sit down with historian, author and Executive Director of the Grammy Museum, Bob Santelli, to discuss his career as a member of one of the most successful bands in rock history.

Other scheduled performances at the festival include Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul (April 22 at the Paramount Theatre), the Upstage All-Star Jam (April 21 at the Paramount Theatre), Robert Randolph and the Family Band with opening performance by the Matt O’ Ree Band (April 21 at The Stone Pony), Preservation Hall Jazz Band (April 23 at the Paramount Theatre), and more.

The film documentary, Just Before The Dawn, directed by Tom Jones, will make its world premiere on April 21 at the festival. The film focuses on the legendary Upstage rock club and will include exclusive interviews with many musicians who helped create the aura of the venue. It will also take a unique look at Asbury Park in the 1970s and how race riots would impact the city for years to come. The Upstage was a historic rock club located on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park from 1968-1971. The club, opened by Tom and Margaret Potter, would become the venue where young artists such as Steven Van Zandt, Southside Johnny Lyon, Bruce Springsteen, Garry Tallent, Danny Federici and others would jam together for hours lasting until dawn.

Other events are to be held throughout town including VIP parties at The Asbury on Friday, April 20, from 5-7 p.m., The Paramount on Saturday, April 21, from 5-6:30 p.m., and an awards brunch back at The Asbury from 11:30-1 p.m. on Sunday.

I spoke with Asbury Park Film Festival board member Adam Block about his history, his involvement, the festival and what he recommends to see for this upcoming citywide event.

How did you get involved in the music business?

I started my career as a summer intern at Atlantic Records when I was in high school and college. I was initially paid in vinyl. And I couldn’t have been happier about it.

What are some of the outstanding label projects you’ve worked on?

They’re almost too many to mention. Certainly, the very first I did—a Fats Domino box set—will always have a sweet spot in my heart. On the other end of the spectrum because a new recording project representing the band’s incredible new tradition is the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s new album. But, for me, the greatest blessing of my job is the amazing breadth and depth of the Sony Music catalog that Legacy is responsible for managing and mining. It’s both thrilling and humbling to be able to be involved with more than 100 years of music in virtually every genre.

I heard you had been working on a new Johnny Cash project, is that now available?

Can neither confirm nor deny (winks).

How did you become involved with the Asbury Park Film Festival group?

My colleague and friend, Tom Bernard, told me about it and asked if I’d be interested in helping out. When I learned that it was only going into its second year at the time, when I understood what was going on in Asbury Park at the time, when I learned of the festival’s commitment to supporting kids in music programs in underserved schools, it became an irresistible invitation. Tom is also a very persuasive guy.

A lot is going on at the festival—last year Don Cheadle’s directed film Miles Ahead was a huge deal. What are the highlights for 2017?

            I particularly love the stuff that blends both visual and musical content and is complemented by interview or panel discussion. That, to me, is one of the aspects of this festival that distinguishes it from most others. So, to have the Beatles programming of the Dylan archive, or the legendary photographer, Mick Rock, come down and talk about the documentary on him, or to get a preview of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s film and then have them perform…those are the kinds of multidimensional events that I find particularly compelling and enjoyable.

What is the primary purpose of the film festival?

The weekend will comprise of incredible live music, world-premiere movies and exclusive panel discussions with some of the biggest names in music and film business. Festival will benefit the underserved children of Asbury Park by providing music education, instruments, and social connection opportunities. Specifically, the funds raised from the Festival will support three programs: Hope Academy, Hip-Hop Institute, and the Asbury Park Summer Recreation Music Camp.

What musical acts will be high on the “must-see” list for 2017?

            You can’t miss Preservation Hall Jazz Band. If you’ve seen them, you know what ridiculous fun they are. If you haven’t? They’re sure to be a revelation. They are pure joy! There’s also a young artist named Mikaela Davis who’s playing who’s interesting. Morricone Youth scoring Mad Max should be great fun. And of course, Little Steven, rock royalty.


            Join Adam and a town filled with local and national music lovers for the weekend of April 20-23 throughout the downtown and Ocean strip of Asbury Park.

The 2017 Asbury Park Music & Film Festival will be presented by Founding Partners RWJ Barnabas Health and the Asbury Park Press. The festival would also like to thank Two River Community Bank for their continued partnership.

For more information on the festival and complete schedule of all films and participating musicians, head over to