(ASBURY PARK, NJ -- SEPTEMBER 5, 2010) --There may not have been a music festival in Asbury Park this summer, but the local music scene was still able to make waves. Over 900 people packed the Paramount Theatre on September 5th to close out the summer with a free show featuring a trio of local acts (Jerzy Jung, Outside The Box, and Rick Barry) and several guest stars hosted by John Pfeiffer of The Aquarian. Afterwards, most of the crowd headed over to The Stone Pony for another free show, this time featuring The Sunday Blues. By all accounts, the night called The Paramount Sessions, was a smashing success.
"I thought the whole day was great," said Keith Monacchio. "It was great weather, everyone was in good spirits, and the music was good all day. The night was surprising, to be honest. I don't think anyone thought 900 plus people would show up, but they did, and they seemed to really enjoy the show."
For years, local musicians have pushed for the opportunity to get the choice opening slots on major shows. Thanks to Madison Marquette, that dream came true; local artists not only had their shot on the big stage, but they made the most of it. Nine hundred people is an impressive show of the local scene's pull. More importantly, word is that Madison Marquette is interested in setting up three of these Paramount Sessions per year.
"The Paramount stage is really exciting," said Jeff Cafone of Outside The Box. "It was our third time playing there (Light of Day 2010 and Arlan's ‘Asbury Rocks For A Cancer Cure' with James Otto) and the theatre sounds and feels amazing. The Paramount Sessions was something new and exciting for Asbury Park and the music community. I think the turnout surprised and surpassed expectations, making for a great night."
The after party at The Stone Pony reminded me of the old closing night parties of the Wave Gathering festivals that were held at the club. Everywhere you looked you saw musicians and music fans hanging out and having a great time. As with the closing parties for the Wave, the show by The Sunday Blues let the music flow and provided the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
"The after party was great," recalled Lindsey Miller of The Sunday Blues (and Divine Sign). "That was the 2nd time my band The Sunday Blues was able to play a ‘Musicians Party' at The Pony. I definitely think that if a band's audience is big enough they should be given headlining shows. The after party was different as it sort had a built in crowd, but it was an amazing night and day all together."
Prior to the show at The Paramount, over twenty acts played sets at two parts of the Asbury Park boardwalk from 11am to just before the Paramount doors opened for the night. Hundreds of people who didn't attend the night show saw and heard the artists while walking the boards or lying out on the beach. Artists ranged from singer-songwriters to complete bands and included a diverse mix of the local music community.
According to Miller, the idea for The Paramount Sessions came early in 2010 when Gary Mottola of Madison Marquette said he thought it was time to begin showcasing Asbury Park's up-and-coming talent at the"Town Jewel" -- the Paramount Theater. The original intention was to showcase all of the amazing talent in the area to the tourists and the boardwalk crowd. A group began planning the event and held a meeting at the venue in which roughly 150 artists attended to show their interest and to provide their ideas and feedback as well.
"Without that meeting, and the artists themselves, I do not think this event would have been as successful as it was," added Miller.
As someone who has been a fan of The Wave Gathering festival since the beginning, I was disappointed when I learned that there wouldn't be a festival this year. Thankfully, the Paramount Sessions not only provided some of that same magic but helped the local music scene take yet another step forward.
"I think the Paramount Sessions was the perfect way to end the summer of 2010! It was absolutely successful," said Sheli Aarden. "We did exactly what we set out to do. We had a goal to create a celebration of the Asbury Park Music Scene by the Asbury Park Music Scene. I think we achieved that goal."
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.