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Recap: 2012 Winter Solstice Show at The Saint
By Gary wien
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Every year I'm simply amazed at the amount of talented musicians in the Asbury Park area. Events like Cook Smith's Annual Winter Solstice Show help bring otherwise overlooked artists to the forefront. On Wednesday, December 19, the annual event returned with over 30 different artists performing holiday tunes in a rapidly moving show at the Saint in Asbury Park. While some of the artists were well known veterans of the local scene, many were artists just starting out or open mic regulars getting the rare opportunity for a true stage performance.
The Annual Solstice Show always features a great blend mix of traditional chestnuts, Christmas rarities, and the occasional original. It's one of those wonderful holiday traditions that could only happen in a music scene as special as Asbury Park. And, of course, in the spirit of the season all proceeds went to benefit the Atonement Lutheran Church Food Bank. Great music for a great cause; it doesn't get any better than that.
"Is there a drink discount, I'm playing tonight," was overheard by a musician at the bar. "Everyone here is playing tonight," was the reply. At one point Cook could be heard saying from the stage, "we've got like 37 guitars up here... It's like the 38 Special Christmas Special."
The Annual Winter Solstice show is kind of like a smaller version of the Asbury Music Awards in the way that wherever you turn you bump into a musician. More than a hundred people attended the show, which featured a house band consisting of Matt Wade on Keys, Danny Coleman on drums, Fred Doward on bass, and Jim Sickles on Percussion. Classic Christmas videos like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer played behind the stage as artist after artist came on to perform their favorite holiday tune. While Cook was running around all night, keeping the performances moving as close to schedule as possible, Brenda Wirth and Diana Kloza were busy ensuring that there was enough food for everyone. As is usually the case, Brenda spent several hours cooking for the show and put in enough overtime to deserve her own Asbury Music Award.
Performers included names like Michael Brett, The Wag, Matt Kay, Sibling Rivalry, Moon Motel, C.M. Smith, Jenny Woods, Peter Prasa, Laura Crisci, and Bobby Strange.
Highlights of the night for me included the incredibly talented and beautiful trio of Jerzy Jung, Cat London, and Deirdre Forrest on "Winter Song". Having all three share vocals for one number is simply amazing. Lo Kloza's powerful pipes alongside Matt Wade's almost Schroeder-like keyboard made "O Holy Night" something special as well. Mitch Stevens and Sondra Huth did a great version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and Don Lee absolutely killed with his solo take on "You're A Mean One Mister Grinch". Chuck Lambert brought out sharp guitar and sax solos for "Merry Christmas Baby", while Cook took lead vocals for the modern classic, "Fairytale of NYC". But, for me, nothing can top those first few moments when I realize I'm hearing the opening chords to John Lennon's "(Happy Xmas) War Is Over". That's my all-time favorite Christmas tune and always puts me into the right frame of mind for the season. No matter what your favorite holiday tunes are, you're bound to hear a few of them each year during this show.
If you're looking for a great way to pass the time just before the holidays, this is the place to be. Thanks again goes out to Scott Stamper and the Saint for allowing shows like this to exist in town.
Photo of Cook Smith, courtesy of Bob Yellen.
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!