New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at

90.5 Brings Christmas Spirit To The Wonder Bar

By Gary Wien

(ASBURY PARK, NJ -- December 17, 2005) -- Not only were there over a dozen people dressed as Santa Claus, but the Wonder Bar was filled with toys as 90.5 The Night's Benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County brought people out in droves. In fact, it was literally a who's who of the local music scene.

The show featured a lineup of artists who had all won Asbury Music Awards in 2005 including Matt O'Ree, Rick Barry, April Smith, Days Awake, and the Wonder Bar's own Lance Larson. Matt O'Ree kicked things off and 90.5 was right when they promoted the show earlier in the afternoon saying that if you wanted to see Matt to be sure to come early since he had another gig that night. Not only did he go on first, but if you blinked you probably missed him. His set was limited to just two songs due to a late equipment setup by another band. Matt did his best to get the most out of his limited time, but many in the audience wished they could have seen more. Thankfully, this was the only snafu of the night.

Rick Barry followed with a set largely comprised of recently written material. He was battling a problem with the stage monitor so he couldn't hear hardly anything except the crowd, which got pretty loud at times. The noise from the bar appeared to upset him and led him to ask Joe Harvard (the Wonder Bar's soundman) to turn things up a bit. It's a shame that there were those who kept talking throughout his set because he's really on top of his game right now. Rick's good when he's fronting his rock and roll band, but as a solo artist his work is something else. He makes folk music cool again in the way that Matt Witte can turn you on to bluegrass. Even if you're not a fan of folk music, Rick's lyrics and delivery will win you over. It certainly did for many of the people at the Wonder Bar who were seeing him for the first time. People were actually cheering and clapping wildly as his sang through the lyrics of "A Stupid American Song" and blasted our president. The song went over so well, in fact, that someone bought him a shot. It was the first time I've ever seen him rewarded like that for playing that song!

April Smith, who joined Rick Barry on stage for one tune, was up next and played several songs from her recent release, Loveletterbombs. Standouts included excellent versions of "The Bells", "Bright White Jackets", "California" and her cover of "Unchained Melody". While playing, a group of people dressed in Santa suits started approaching the stage illiciting a "What the fuck is going on?" from April. After regaining her composure, she said "So, while we're in the holiday season I'm going to play a stalker song. It's called PS". That was the type of night it was - anything goes.

The craziest moment of the night had to be immediately after April when the group of "Traveling Santas" got together to sing "Deck My Balls". Nobody quite knew where the group came from, but apparently anybody with a Santa suit can join.

Days Awake, the headliner, followed the Traveling Santas. They were announced by WBJB DJ Jeff Raspe as "the next band to break from the Jersey Shore. You can say you knew them when." The crowd moved close to the stage for their set and the band was in full rocking mode. They blasted through a set filled with numbers like "Magic Carpet Ride", "Day After Day", "Thanks But No Thanks" and "Living A Lie" often sticking the microphone out to the crowd to sing along.

Eric Safka, the keyboardist for Days Awake, stayed on stage (probably because his B3 takes so much time to move) and guested with the Lance Larson Band. Unfortunately, they kept the set to cover tunes because Eric didn't know Lance's originals. I'm pretty sure Eric could have faked it well, but the set was great anyway. It's always good to see Lance having fun on stage and he certainly was last night.

The Wonder Bar is quickly becoming the best spot in town for large shows as the club is big enough to hold several hundred but not as large as the Stone Pony, which can be difficult to fill. The benefit last night had a very good sized crowd - it was large enough that it got the job done (raised money & lots of toys) but not wall to wall packed to the point of annoying people. In the crowd was virtually every member of the 90.5 staff from the DJs (Jeff Raspe, Leo Zachary, Rich Robinson) to the staticians. Local musicians that came out to support the station included Janey Todd, Jay 420, Mark Prescott, Divine Sign, and Brian Saint. AERIA RECORDS was in attendence as was Lazlo of and Maureen Nevin of Asbury Radio.

It's always great to see so many people come out to support the local artists and good causes like this one. The night raised a ton of toys to needy kids. 90.5, the Wonder Bar, and all of the artists involved should be very proud.

Here are links to photos from the night:

  • Photos by Mike Black

  • Photos by Upstage

  • For more by this author, click here

    Arijit Singh's New North American Tour Will Include Single Stop In Tri-State Region At Prudential Center on April 13
    (NEWARK, NJ) -- Bright Brain Productions, the leading entertainment company based in California announced the “Arijit Singh LIVE Tour” in 12 cities all across the U.S. This is the first of its kind and largest tour done by Arijit Singh or any Indian artist. The tour beings on April 5 and travels through major U.S. cities culminating on May 5.  The tour stops at Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 13 at 7:00pm.
    Light of Day's Main Event To Be Broadcast Live at McLoone's Supper Club
    (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- If you couldn't get tickets for the fabled "main event" of the 2019 Light of Day Winterfest, you have another chance see the show.  For the first time in the 19-year history of the festival, the "main event", the star-studded “Bob’s Birthday Bash” on January 19th (a show that has long sold out), will be broadcast live via fiber optic cable at McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
    Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts To Hold Winter Open House On January 27
    (BERKELEY HEIGHTS) -- Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) will host a Winter Open House on Sunday, January 27 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The free event is open to the public and will be held at the Performing Arts School (PAS) located at 60 Locust Avenue in Berkeley Heights.
    Billy Idol and Steve Stevens To Perform At Count Basie Center For The Arts
    (RED BANK, NJ) -- Billy Idol and Steve Stevens, one of rock’s most iconic and enduring duos, will hit the road this March for their first ever tour performing as a duo: Turned On, Tuned In and Unplugged. The Billy Idol/Steve Stevens tour comes to The Count Basie Center for the Arts on Thursday, April 4th.
    McDonald's Gospelfest To Celebrate The Life of Aretha Franklin With Return to Prudential Center
    (NEWARK, NJ) -- The 37th Annual McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the Prudential Center on Saturday, May 11 for the gospel event of the year. This year's event will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin with an All-Star cast. The 5:00pm to 7:00pm portion of the evening will feature a rising stars competition for all ages and cultures in categories including Soloists, Choirs, Praise Dancers, Singing Groups, Gospel Comedians, Gospel Poets and Gospel Rappers. The gospel concert, beginning at 7:00pm, will feature some of the most renowned gospel artists in music history with the goal of spreading love, peace and joy to all races, nationalities and beliefs.

    Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
    This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
    "He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
    It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
    “Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
    Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
    Mike Davis and The New Wonders
    Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
    Ana Gasteyer's "Holiday Tipple" LIVE! at the Grunin Center
    The Grunin Center stage in Toms River, NJ is set this Saturday, December 15, 2018 with drums, a grand piano, a guitar, an acoustic bass, and various microphones for vocals. A stool and several microphone stands are bedazzled with colorful garlands of shiny red, gold, and green, and wrapped gifts are strewn on stage among the instruments. Projected white snowflakes adorn the walls, and Christmas music plays as patrons enter the theater to put everyone in the mood for tonight’s holiday show — Ana Gastayer’s Holiday Tipple!

    Event calendar
    Friday, Jan 18, 2019


    John Forster at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, Morristown - 7:30pm

    David Massengill - Folk Concert @ Christ Congregation Church, Princeton - 8:00pm

    SAL "THE VOICE" VALENTINETTI @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

    The Elvis Birthday Bash @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


    "Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm

    Annie Jr. @ The Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

    Some Girl(s) @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm


    Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


    The Jason Bishop Show to Benefit CASA @ Pfleeger Concert Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro - 7:00pm

    View all events

    New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

    Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
    If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.