New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

BIG NEWS! Here's the latest Issue of NJ Stage Magazine -- Click here

AMA's Graduation Policy: Good or Bad?

By Gary Wien

(OCTOBER 21, 2008) -- It's to be expected that there will be grumblings each time the Asbury Music Awards are announced. Some very deserving artists are bound to get left out while some artists nominated leave you scratching your head. One topic that seems to have been on many people's minds is the idea of the "Beyond Asbury" category given to those who are deemed to have graduated from the nominations.

In case you aren't familiar with it, the "Beyond Asbury" category is a name for those who are no longer considered for AMA nominations. I helped throw out the name for this category, but had little to nothing to do with how artists get deemed as having graduated. Basically, the process had been going on for years, so I suggested there be a section in the program guide to highlight those artists who are no longer up for the awards. I figured that would help people understand why a certain artist was not nominated - especially in cases when they were probably the best for a category.

Instead, I think the category made things worse.

I've heard people say they had little desire to go to the awards show because they were a graduate. I'm not sure if I buy that though because I think 80-90% of the people attending the awards show go just to have fun and hang out with everybody (especially artists they never get to see due to playing shows on the same night all of the time). It's hard for me to believe that people were solely interested in going because they had a chance to win an award. I would hope the night is thought more of as a celebration of the local scene, but I could be wrong.

The idea behind graduating artists (as I take it) stems from the idea that the Asbury Music Awards are supposed to represent an ever-changing, always growing music scene. Many of the people in the area (artists, music fans, music industry folks, etc.) really do hope that the artists move on to bigger and better things. Let's face it, Asbury Park is a hard place to make a living as a musician. I suppose if an artist wanted to just live around here and play NYC, Philly, Hoboken and Asbury Park they could be rather successful. In fact, I believe several artists do such a thing; however, they are in the minority.

If the AMAs were created to show that the local music scene is vibrant, doesn't it make sense that seeing the same artist win for a decade goes against that argument a bit? I can see how people could feel that the nominations should be open to every musician - regardless of how many years they've been on the scene, but the AMAs are not just for the artists, they are for the music scene as a whole. Clubs like the Saint, Asbury Lanes, Stone Pony, Wonder Bar - they really need the AMAs to help promote up-and-coming acts.

In the end, aren't all award shows created to recognize those who deserve recognition as well as serve as a promotional tool?

I've been in the clubs during weeks in January when the club owners are lucky to get a dozen people in the room. Now imagine if the artist playing is a great new act that NOBODY has ever heard of. Both sides are going to lose. In a way, it's kind of like the same argument we're going through with the financial crisis. Do you take money from some to help others survive and hopefully thrive? Well, in this case, the established or veteran artists probaly do get shafted a bit in order to let the next generation survive and have a chance to thrive.

It's not a perfect situation and I don't think there is one. If you had everyone who performed in Asbury Park over the past year eligible for an award in their category than you're minimizing the importance of the nominations; if you say everyone is eligible but we're only going to have 10 nominees per category, do you really think it'll be easy to kick a guy like Sonny Kenn off the blues category in favor of a newer act like Eryn Shewell? The AMAs would most likely be full of the same artists in each category year after year. While some people would argue that if those are the best artists they should be getting the nominations, you really have to look at the big picture. Everyone is in this together. If you don't want to help out the clubs (by promoting the next generation of artists) than the clubs will struggle more and ultimately some clubs will fail.

I agree with the 5 year rule, but I also think there should be a veterans area where everyone who has played Asbury Park is eligible to gain a nomination. That way the up-and-coming acts still have a chance for promotion but nobody gets left behind simply because they've been banging around in the area longer than 5 years.

What's your thought on the issue? Email me at

Reponses will be confidential unless you wish for them to show up on the website.

From Christine Martucci

1) yes the Asbury Music Community should be ever changing, and grwoing and we should introduce new acts, that is why I thought the voting range went beyond Asbury Park and included New Brunswick and Toms River

2) just becuase an act is "new" doesnt warrant them a prestigous spot on a voting ballet, when you do this you cheapen the awards in my opinion some of the acts on this year have yet to pay their dues and probably are being done a diservice to think that they are ready to be granted a nomination, maybe in a few years..but some of these acts arent even ready to headline a place let alone be "best of anyhting"

3) while some of the "graduated class is warranted there is still a double standard..with Status Green sweeping the awards last year dont you think they are "beyond" Asbury too, I thnk they would agree as well, it reeks of hypocrisy.

4) the "beyond" asbury is a joke I think the committee didnt want to piss anyone off, so they lumped all that werent nominated, mean really Christian Beach? How is he "beyond Asbury?"

Again I cannot stress enough how awesome it is to even have an awards show to showcase new talent, but that talent SHOULD BE THE BEST OF THE BEST..not just a band that filled a nomination slot, again it cheapens the award show.

For more by this author, click here

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.
Bickford Theatre Presents Herb Gardner's Groundhog Jam
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The great Groundhog Jam has a long history of prying jazz fans out of their warm burrows and into the chill of February weather in order to welcome the advent of spring.  The Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum continues a tradition of hosting this event on Monday, February 4 at 7:30pm. Herb Gardner, who plays both trombone and piano, is assembling a stellar group of musicians from the New York, New Jersey, and New England areas including: Fred Vigorito on cornet, Joe Licari on clarinet, James Chirilloon guitar, Mike Weatherly on bass and Robbie Scott on drums.  Daughters Abbie and Sarah Gardner will be handling the vocals and guitar.

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
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


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


AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 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.