That’s right, it’s our weekly roundup of highlighted happenings in and around Asbury Park! Check this selfsame space for our feature on this weekend’s DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN Springsteen Symposium…and check the printed pages of THE COASTER for the most comprehensive listings of music, movies, theater, art and special events in town!
Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, April 12 2018
SOUNDS: Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony
“As crazy as it gets, I’m committed to these awards…and a lot of people look forward to them,” said Scott Stamper, ringmaster of rock’s downtown boxcar berthplace The Saint, and the patron producer behind the peer-reviewed promenade that is The Asbury Music Awards. Back for its 26th annual edition, the “gala night of celebration for our music community” returns to the Stone Pony stage (having long since outgrown the Main Street musicbox and its original home at the long-gone T-Birds Café) for a glittering tribute to “the men and women who put their self-respect, their solvency and their sanity on the line for our entertainment, day and night.” Returning host and Asbury Award-winning comedian Taylor Allen (pictured up top) emcees the affair that features mini-sets by Waiting On Mongo, Dentist, Black Suburbia, The Double Negatives, Billy Walton and the proverbial many more. It’s all ages admitted for $20; 21 to drink, with nominees (of which there are many, in some 50 separate award categories) admitted free. Check thesaintnj.com/asbury-music-awards.php for a full list of nominees — and catch Allen on the bill with Derek D and Friends Who Are Funny, Friday at House of Independents. April 12, doors at 6:45 pm; $20
“The songs are all about me,” John Easdale told us several years back in reference to “Work For Food,” the timely-again anthem he recorded with his alterna-powerpop band Dramarama. “If I’m doing my job right, then people will see a bit of themselves in the song.” A native of Wayne, the singer/ songwriter and specialist in such “violent and twisted” ditties like “Anything, Anything” and “Last Cigarette” remains a perennial presence here on the Shore (thanks to heavy rotation on the old WHTG-FM); a rockstar in his adopted home of LA; a respected artiste in France and, well, somewhere south of Falco on everyone else’s radar screen. But hey, that means more Easdale for us — and on Saturday, the Drama-tist transitions from his rock club roots; movin’ on up to the de-luxe penthouse that is McLoone’s Supper Club. Last seen on the boardwalk at a recent Light of Day event, he’s joined by co-founding bandmate Pete Wood and Billy Siegel for “33 1/3 Years of Dramarama;” a rocking retrospective of radio favorites in a more intimate (though no less intense) style. Opening set by The Mylars. April 14 at 8:15 pm; visit timmcloonessupperclub.com for more info.
It’s said that if the devil had a theme song, it would be Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” the spaghetti-western skulker whose ominous bells toll in favor of all those whose Goth sensibilities can’t simply be bought off the clearance rack at Hot Topic. A “cult” favorite for decades, the onetime frontman of Aussie band The Birthday Party has written several books and screenplays, scored major motion pictures, and duetted with Kylie Minogue, Debbie Harry, and no less a man in black than Johnny Cash. All this while continuing to record and tour with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and on Thursday evening, a select group of cinemas worldwide — among them Asbury’s own Showroom — will be exclusive screening spots for Distant Sky, a filmed record of an October 2017 concert in Copenhagen. Directed by David Barnard, the one-night-only presentation mixes selections from the band’s 2016 release Skeleton Tree with “essential catalogue” songs that drip with the moody master’s novelistic imagery and brooding baritone. April 12 at 7:30 pm; 732-502-0472 or theshowroomap.com for tickets.
SCREENS: THE INHERITANCE at the Crane House
The ongoing series of FREE literary-themed film screenings continues Sunday at the historic Stephen Crane House (508 Fourth Avenue); one of Asbury Park’s best-kept-secret cultural treasures, and a place to enjoy rarely seen presentations among your fellow film fans. On the traditional “tax day” of April 15, the Crane House takes a less taxing view of the season, with a look at a very early work from the 19th century American writer Louisa May Alcott. The author and activist best known for “Little Women” and its sequels was herself a little woman of 17 when she wrote her first (unpublished) novel in 1849…and in 1997, The Inheritance was finally issued, and almost immediately adapted as a made-for-television production.
Cari Shayne stars as Edith, an orphan who’s brought into the home of a wealthy family, but barred from entrance into high society. When Edith’s help is enlisted in the potential matching of a family cousin with a handsome young gentleman named Mr. Percy (Thomas Gibson, familiar from many seasons of the network drama Criminal Minds), things get, how you say, complicated. Tony winnerr Tom Conti co-stars as Edith’s wealthy benefactor…and of course, no TV movie would be complete without the presence of Meredith Baxter, as the haughty Mrs. Hamilton.
Doors open at 2:30 pm for Sunday’s 3 pm matinee (or arrive earlier during weekly open house tour hours); as always there is no charge for admission, and complimentary refreshments will be served in our reception room. Donations by cash or check are always welcomed on behalf of the Asbury Park Historical Society, and our friends at the Asbury Park Little League.
SCENES: TEDx Open Rehearsal
The theme is Passion; the admission is FREE — and in advance of the May 19 TEDx Asbury Park event, the public is invited to join a group of the 2018 speakers on the Paramount stage (with overflow seating in the auditorium) as they practice their presentations, with feedback welcome. To volunteer or even participate as a speaker in this year’s event, visit TEDxAsburyPark.com. Paramount Theater, April 12 at 7 pm; cash bar available.
SCENES: Arc of Monmouth 5K Walk/Run
Convention Hall is the registration and starting point as The Arc of Monmouth (the nonprofit that supports and empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities) presents its annual fun-raiser, with Saturday’s 5K run beginning at 9 am (awards ceremony at 10 am), and the Walk commencing at 11, followed at 11:45 am with free BBQ, live music and carnival games inside the Hall. See arcofmonmouth.org for full details. Convention Hall, April 14 at 8:30 am.
SCENES: Bullypalooza at the Wonder Bar
Bring your healthy, leashed, well-behaved canine companion out to the Yappy Hour Deck at the Wonder Bar, for a Saturday matinee fundraiser benefiting the rescue pets of Belmar-based MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue. It’s a social occasion for more than one species, with food and drink available to human handlers (entry to the deck limited strictly to those 21 and older), and a stipulation that all dogs must be spayed or neutered, with exceptions allowed for age/ health reasons. April 14 from 1 –4 pm; $10 (rain date April 21); wonderbarasburypark.com for details. STAGES: Rock Wilk’s BROOKLYN QUARTET
“When I got to Asbury Park I didn’t know anybody; I had to learn about the city and the people who lived there,” says Rock Wilk of the nearly three years he spent here a decade or so ago. “ I got interested in what the Arts Coalition of Asbury Park was doing, although to me there was a real disconnect between one side of the town and the west side; my intention was to kind of bridge the gap a little.”
It was in such offbeat venues as the Stephen Crane House, the original Showroom, and the city’s High School that the Brooklyn-based poet/ playwright/ producer/ performer fine-tuned the project that would become Broke Wide Open — an autobiographical solo (inspired by the search for his birth mother, and evolved from his music album of that same name) that mixed soliloquy, song, and self-reflection into a unique creation that would go on to an acclaimed Off Broadway run, tour coast to coast, and garner rave reviews from national media like the Huffington Post and NPR.
Equally in his element whether sharing a studio with the likes of Nile Rodgers and Patti Labelle, or sharing an inspirational G train subway ride with a carful of potential characters, the multi-tasking singer, scribe and spoken-word sensei returns to Asbury town this Friday, April 13 — this time taking on a bevy of vivid characters in the full length, one man play Brooklyn Quartet.
Originally entitled Privilege when he workshopped the project in cities across the USA, Quartet is described by its creator/star as “a beautifully tragic love story that exists around four main characters (all residents of Bed-Stuy) and explores how life treats each, and how race and gender plays into each of their existences in the most fundamental ways.” Laced with the author’s perspectives on race, privilege, gender, gentrification, guns, PTSD, and the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell, the project was developed under the direction of reg e. gaines, the poet who wrote the lyrics for the Tony winning Broadway musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.
Despite the fact that the script features “no songs… and very little poetry,” Wilk maintains that “it reads like a symphony, like a beautifully tragic opera,” thanks to its hip hop-infused verbal rhythms, and its solid storytelling sense that renders the neighborhood epic accessible to audiences of all stripes. Despite having performed to thousands of fans and supporters throughout North America and Europe, the playwright is just as jazzed at coming back to “one of my favorite places and former stomping grounds,” where he’ll deliver an intimately dynamic “tune-up for a big show in LA” to a small-room audience.
That room is Joe Borzotta’s Palette ArtSpace on the Cookman Avenue “arts block;” the visual-art venue that’s stretched the parameters of what a downtown gallery can be, whether it’s hosting comedy nights, classes, Asbury Underground musical offerings, or (for a while there) a space-sharing sub shop. Showtime for Brooklyn Quartet is 7:30 sharp; first-come-first-served admission to Friday’s one-night-only event is a ridiculously affordable five bucks at the door, and the experience is one that you won’t soon forget.
STAGES: THE FANTASTICKS at the Women’s Club
Sure, we all know it as the show that your school staged when they had nothing in the budget for scenery — but The Fantasticks is more than just sawhorses and screens. The longest-running success in Off Broadway history, the whimsical Schmidt-Jones musical that introduced the romantic ballad “Try to Remember” (and the young Jerry Orbach) goes up for one weekend as the latest project from the rebirthed Premier Theatre Company. See it on the real-deal stage of Asbury Park Women’s Club (actually at 57 Wickapecko Drive in Wanamassa); April 13, 14, and 15 at 7 pm. Tickets ($22-$28 adults) can be reserved at 732-774-STAR.
STAGES: SPELLING BEE at Monmouth U’s Woods Theatre
The students are taking over — and for their annual self-produced springtime musical, the cast and crew of the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at Monmouth University go back to school with a lightly poisoned-pen paean to those traumatizing trials of young nerdhood. Boasting songs by William Finn, a Tony-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin, and some vividly memorable kid/ adult characters, The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee includes an interactive element for at least one lucky audience member. See it at the unique and historic Lauren K. Woods Theatre (on the eastern end of campus); April 13, 14, 16 at 8 pm; April 15 at 3 pm. Tickets ($20; free for MU students) reserved at Monmouth.edu/arts.