“GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK”

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, July 10 & December 23, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> 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.

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