Shoreworld: The Songwriters Circle at the Strand Theater

The Strand Theater in Lakewood has been churning out quality shows and events for several years now. I’ve seen many up-and-coming artists as well as bonafide stars there and have never had a bad time. From the theater’s construction—which gives every seat a perfect view—to the bar and diverse crowd it attracts, I can safely say that the Strand is one of New Jersey’s most beautiful venues for live music. In 1922, during Lakewood’s heyday as a resort, world-renowned theater architect Thomas W. Lamb designed and supervised construction of the Strand Theater. The Strand was built to exacting standards of beauty and functionality, with unobstructed sight lines and ear-pleasing acoustics. Back then, producers would try out shows at the Strand before moving them to New York City.

Today, you are invited to sit back in a plush seat, enjoy the magnificence of your surroundings, and let the Strand entertain you, your family, and friends in the air-conditioned environment of the historic theater in downtown Lakewood. Broadway quality shows, dance, symphonic and popular music, famous entertainers of stage and screen, and many classic children’s programs will captivate you and add a touch of grand theater to your shore-area visit. A total renovation of the theater began in 1993 and was completed in 2003. The Strand is on the NJ Register and National Register of Historic Places and serves as the Ocean County Center for the Arts.

The Sound Gallery is also a functional highlight. The new reception gallery includes a catering facility, a dance floor, and restrooms. The room holds up to 250 people seated in chairs or standing, or just over 100 people if seated at tables. The reception gallery provides a venue for more diverse programming, smaller events, and gala receptions.

Some of the acts that have played the Strand include Amy Mann, the Outlaws, the Strawbs, Artimus Pyle Band, Jay and the Americans, Ian Mathews, Beatlemania, and many more. The Strand also supports local music and highlights many New Jersey original bands from all over the state. Yours truly even played there several years back as part of the Winter Hours celebration.

One of the latest mainstays for the theater is the much-celebrated Songwriters Circle, an event hosted by Brookdale Radio and 90.5 “The Night,” and orchestrated by DJ Jeff Raspe. Raspe is one of the area’s top music aficionados and has personally been responsible for several bands going on to their next rung in the musical ladder.

March 17 will greet the next installment of Songwriters Circle with a veritable bevy of talented stars. Jeff Raspe will host the event and the show will feature musical luminaries such as Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, Scott Terry of Red Wanting Blue, Anthony D’Amato, Davy Knowles, and Lefty & Zeek (aka Glen Burtnik & Bob Burger), with special guests Jocelyn & Chris Arndt. There will be a special pre-show gathering with the artists at 6 p.m. before the show starts at 7p.m.

I have included some information on the musical guests of the evening below:

Mathew Caws: Best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist of the alternative rock band Nada Surf.

Scott Terry: Since 1996, he has fronted the Americana rock ‘n’ roll band Red Wanting Blue. Terry is best known for passionate and often emotional live performances, an autobiographical writing style, and a rugged baritone singing voice.

Anthony D’Amato: D’Amato grew up in Blairstown, NJ and attended college at Princeton University, where he recorded his first album Down Wires in a dormitory during his senior year. He released the record independently in 2010, catching the attention of NPR, which called his song “My Father’s Son” a “modern folk gem.”

Davy Knowles: Blues guitarist and singer Knowles currently tours as a solo artist, but is formerly of the blues rock band Back Door Slam. With Back Door Slam, he played lead guitar and sang on their debut album, Roll Away. Knowles drew his musical influences from blues musicians that he grew up listening to such as Dire Straits, Peter Green, and Cream. Due to his home country’s proximity to Ireland, Knowles has stated that his music also is influenced by the Celtic genre.

Lefty & Zeek (aka Glenn Burtnik and Bob Burger): Singer, songwriter, entertainer, and multi-instrumentalist best known as a former member of Styx, Burtnik is originally from North Brunswick and currently lives in Asbury Park. Burtnik has written hit songs for Randy Travis, Patty Smyth, and Don Henley. Burger grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania where music was always front and center. Bob’s dad, a music teacher and high school band director, pushed Bob and his siblings in musical directions from an early age. In the late ’80s, Bob’s songwriting career got a boost from Burtnik, who enlisted him to co-write several songs that were subsequently recorded by Burtnik and other artists. Together they often perform as Lefty & Zeek Weekling of The Weeklings.

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt: Sibling blues-rock music artists from Upstate New York. Jocelyn sings lead vocals and plays piano, while Chris plays lead and rhythm guitar.

Tickets for The Songwriters Circle are now on sale at or