“GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK”

July 11, 2019 at 4:45 am

Asbury Park, once a mecca for musicians like Bruce Springsteen, fell on very hard times, but is now going through a miraculous and melodious metamorphosis. We have the story.

Aired on May 29, 2019 and July 10, 2019.

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>>> DIZZY GILLESP ELLA FITZGERA
THE BOSS BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.
MANY OF THEM PLAYED AT ASBURY
PARK.
ALMOST EVERY ONE OF THIS SHORE
TOWN'S MUSIC VENUES WERE
DAMAGED, SOME BURNED TO THE
GROUND LIKE IN NEWARK IN A
POWDER KEG OF RACIAL TENSIONS
THAT EXPLODED IN A RIOT, LEAVING
ASBURY PARK LITERALLY IN ASHES.
NOW THAT TOWN IS MAKING A
COMEBACK.
BUT IS THE MUSIC ALIVE AND WELL
AND HAS IT HEALED ITS RACIAL
DIVIDE?
THOSE QUESTIONS ARE EXPLORED IN
THE NEW DOCUMENTARY TITLED
"ASBURY PARK, RIOT, REDEMPTION,
ROCK 'N' ROLL."
HERE'S A CLIP.
>> ASBURY PARK WAS LIKE
DISNEYLAND.
>> THIS EXOTIC FEAST FOR THE
EYES AND EARS.
>> YOU JUST FLOATED A FOOT OFF
THE GROUND ALL DAY LONG LIFTED
BY THIS GREAT MUSIC.
>> THERE WAS A CERTAIN MOMENT IN
TIME WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENED
HERE THAT WASN'T HAPPENING ANY
PLACE ELSE.
THAT MATTERED.
>> ASBURY PARK'S MUSIC HISTORY
GOES WAY BACK.
>> THE TOP BLUES GUYS, BB KING.
>> THERE WAS AN EDUCATION TO BE
HAD.
>> YOU COULD CUT YOUR TEETH AND
TRY NEW IDEAS.
>> IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF
SOMETHING IMPORTANT.
>> THE JERSEY SOUND WHETHER IT
BE SOUTH SIDE JOHNNY OR BRUCE
SPRINGSTEEN, THAT JERSEY SOUND
IS DISTINCTIVELY AND UNIQUE HI
JERSEY.
>> JOINING ME NOW IS THE
DIRECTOR OF ASBURY PARK, A
FRIEND OF MINE FOR A LONG TIME
TOM JONES.
SO NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US
TO TALK ABOUT ALL OF THIS.
I WANT TO PREFACE THIS BY SAYING
I'M A JERSEY SHORE GUY.
GREW UP IN POINT PLEASANT BEACH,
A TEENAGER IN THE '60s.
ASBURY PARK WAS OUR MECCA, IT
WAS OUR DESTINATION.
I WENT TO CONVENTION HALL THERE
AND SAW ALL THOSE BANDS, THE
BEACH BOYS AND THE FOUR TOPS,
THE ROLLING STONES.
>> GREAT MEMORIES AND YOU WERE
THERE FOR THE BEST OF IT.
>> ELABORATE A LITTLE BIT ON
WHAT WE'VE JUST SEEN.
I'M GOING TO GET TO YOU IN A
MINUTE AS TO WHY YOU WANT TO DO
THE DOCUMENTARY.
LET'S SET THE STAGE FOR IT FIRST
AND TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
FOLLOWING UP ON WHAT THE FOLKS
JUST SAID IN THE CLIP.
WHAT WAS ASBURY PARK?
>> IT WAS A REAL ASPIRATION
DESTINATION.
PRESIDENTS USED TO COME TO THE
JERSEY SHORE FOR SUMMER
VACATIONS, SEVEN PRESIDENTS.
AND LONG BRANCH WAS A SPOT.
AND OCEAN GROVE WAS A METHODIST
ENCAMPMENT.
AND THE FELLOW WHO FOUNDED
ASBURY PARK, JAMES BRADLEY, HE
WANTED A BUFFER BETWEEN OCEAN
GROVE AND LONG BRANCH.
HE BOUGHT ALL THE SAND IN
BETWEEN AND HE SET UP ASBURY
PARK AND HE SPENT ALL HIS MONEY
ON THAT SO HE NEEDED SOME SORT
OF A REVENUE SOURCE AND HE CHOSE
MUSIC.
ASBURY WAS A MUSIC MECCA.
ARTHUR PRIEN SET UP THE
BANDSTAND ON THE FIFTH STREET
ARCADE.
FROM THE ABSOLUTE VERY FIRST
DAYS, ASBURY PARK MUSIC WAS ITS
THING.
>> WE SET THE STAGE FOR WHAT IT
WAS LIKE.
WHAT THEN DREW YOU AS A
FILMMAKER TO WANT TO TELL THE
STORY IN A DOCUMENTARY.
>> WELL, WHEN I WAS IN HIGH
SCHOOL IT WAS POST RIOT SO IT
WAS REALLY ON ITS WAY DOWN.
MY SUMMER JOB WAS I WAS THE
PEPSI GUY.
I USED TO DELIVER PEPSI UP AND
DOWN THE BOARD WALK AND ALL
OTHER JERSEY.
MY SUMMER JOB WAS I WAS THE BEER
TRUCK GUY.
YOU WALK AROUND AND SAY HOW CAN
THIS BE, IT'S AN HOUR FROM YORK
AND IT'S REALLY ON ITS WAY DOWN.
I'VE ALWAYS HAD THIS DEEP LOVE
OF THE TOWN.
FLASH FORWARD A LIFETIME AND WE
HAD GIBSON GUITARS, THE CHAIRMAN
OF GIBSON GUITARS GOT A PICTURE
OF BRUCE PLAYING A GIBSON.
HE'S OBVIOUSLY FAMOUS FOR
PLAYING A FENDER.
A LITTLE HANDWRITTEN NOTE SAID,
WOULDN'T THIS BE GREAT, YOU
SHOULD TALL ME.
IT WAS TOM POTTER'S
GRANDDAUGHTER WHO HAD A
COLLECTION OF PICTURE NOS ONE
HAD SEEN IN OUR HOUSE IN WACO,
TEXAS.
WE LOOKED AT THE PICTURES AND I
SCANNED THEM FOR HER.
NEXT TIME I WAS IN ASBURY PARK,
I WENT TO WHERE THE CLUB HAD
BEEN.
IT WAS ON THE THIRD FLOOR ABOVE
THE TOM McCANN SHOE STORE.
>> I REMEMBER IT.
>> I TALKED TO THE GUY.
THEY WERE TURNING IT TO CONDOS.
WE ENTER UP THIS ENDLESS FLIGHT
OF STAIRS AND IT WAS STILL 1970.
NOTHING HAD HAPPENED SINCE THE
RIOT.
THE STAGE WAS STILL THERE, THE
DAYGLO PAINT WAS ON THE WALLS.
WE DIDN'T TOUCH A THING.
WE DID A SHOOT.
THAT'S WHAT REALLY GOT ME INTO
THE STORY.
BUT I JUST THINK IT'S A GREAT
PLACE TO TELL A STORY.
IT'S A METAPHOR FOR A LOT OF
OTHER THINGS.
MOST IMPORTANT HI FOR US IS THAT
MUSIC IS A CONNECTOR.
IT'S A TOWN SPLIT RIGHT DOWN THE
MIDDLE BY RAILROAD TRACKS.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.
TALK ABOUT THEN THAT ERUPTION
THAT TOOK PLACE IN 1970.
>> IN THE FILM WE'RE PROUD THAT
WE TALKED TO MUSICIANS.
WE TALKED TO PEOPLE WHO WERE IN
THE RIOTS, NOT PEOPLE WHO COVER
THE RIOTS.
TO A PERSON, THEY CAN'T REALLY
TELL YOU WHY IT HAPPENED.
THE POT JUST BOILED OVER.
BOOM CARTER WHO WAS ONE OF
BRUCE'S EARLY DRUMMERS, HE LIVED
RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO NICKY ADDIO.
BOOM'S FATHER WAS THE GREAT
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE WEST SIDE.
NICKY'S FAMILY LIVED RIGHT NEXT
DOOR.
BOTH OF THEM H SAY THEY FEEL IT
WAS OUTSIDE AGITATORS CAME DOWN.
>> NEWARK HAD ERUPTED IN RIOTS
BEFORE THAT.
>> NOT TOO LONG BEFORE.
A YEAR OR TWO BEFORE THAT.
>> THEY TALK ABOUT GUYS COMING
DOWN FROM NEWARK.
WHO KNOWS.
IT WAS RIPE FOR THAT SORT OF A
PROBLEM.
THE WEST SIDE HAD A GREAT
CULTURE.
IT WAS A GREAT MUSIC DESTINATION
TO ITSELF.
IT WAS THE STOP ON THE WAY
BETWEEN PHILLY AND NEW YORK.
BIG BILLS.
>> THE ORCHID LOUNGE, CUPID'S.
>> I'VE BEEN SOME OF THOSE
PLACES.
SO MUCH OF THE DAMAGE HAPPENED
ON THE WEST SIDE.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
>> WHAT WAS IT THEN THAT STARTED
THE RESURRECTION OF ASBURY PARK?
>> FIRST OF ALL, I THINK IT SANK
TO AN ALMOST INDESCRIBABLE LEVEL
AND THINGS BECAME VERY
AFFORDABLE.
THE HIGH SCHOOL HAD TO BE TAKEN
OVER BY THE STATE.
A JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF SCHOOLS
IN NEW JERSEY --
>> AND THE PHYSICAL PLANT IS
STILL SO IMPRESSIVE.
THE STADIUM IS LIKE A LITTLE BIT
OF THE 20s.
REALITY BECAME VERY AFFORDABLE.
THE BONES OF THOSE GREATHOUSES
WERE STILL THERE, BOUGHT THEM
FOR A SONG.
>> WONDERFUL RESTAURANTS
STARTED.
>> AND THEN BUSINESSES STARTED.
IT'S A.
>> Reporter: ORGVERY ORGANIC
DEVELOPMENT.
IT WAS A GREAT PLACE FOR SOME
PEOPLE.
FOR EVERYBODY ON THE OTHER SIDE
OF THE TRACKS, NOT SO MUCH SO.
NOW YOU CAN COME BACK AND
EVERYONE CAN COME UP AT THE SAME
TIME.
THERE WAS A REAL CONSCIOUS
THOUGHT PROCESS GOING ON BEHIND
THAT NOW.
>> THERE'S A GREAT FACILITY
THERE CALLED THE LAKE HOUSE.
IT WAS FASCINATING WHAT THEY'D
DONE.
DESCRIBE WHAT THEY'RE DOING
THERE.
>> FIRST OF ALL, IT'S A WORLD
CLASS RECORDING FACILITY.
IT'S GOT A VERY SPECIFIC SOUND.
THE GUY WHO STARTED IT LOVES
AND FOUND MIXING BOARDS.
IF YOU WANT TO RECORD THAT
SOUND, THAT'S THE PLACE TO GO
ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
ON A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL IT'S
FANTASTIC.
JOHN AND HIS RIGHT HAND ARE
COMPLETELY DEVOTED TO THE
COMMUNITY.
THEY'RE RUNNING OUR OUTREACH
PROGRAMS BRINGING MUSIC TO KIDS
THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN'T GET IT.
SO THE FILM FESTIVAL NAUNDS AND
THE PROCEEDS OF OUR MOVIE GO TO
FUND THAT.
WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE IT A
VIRTUOUS CIRCLE.
>> ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.
GLAD WE WERE ABLE TO RECONNECT
HERE.
JUST A WONDERFUL JOB PUTTING
THIS TOGETHER.
I THINK PEOPLE ARE GOING TO
THOROUGHLY ENJOY IT.
>> THANKS.
§

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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