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Statement From Chris Rockwell Regarding
2018 Asbury Music Awards

By Chris Rockwell

originally published: 04/10/2018

Statement From Chris Rockwell Regarding 2018 Asbury Music Awards

The Asbury Music Awards will take place on Thursday, April 12 at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.  Every year fosters discussions; some of which get pretty heated. Chris Rockwell, one of artists nominated this year, believes there is an important issue that needs to be raised this year.  The following is a public statement he made on social media that he has provided to us as well.

It's been over ten years since I first started out performing in Asbury Park. My first performance there was during the Wave Gathering, when Rick Barry invited me to do a show with him at Twisted Tree Cafe. I felt very welcomed since day one, even though I was a poet who rapped with a band. Nobody was really sure what to do with me, but they still took me in. We all know how much things have changed in the elapse of that decade. We were doing poetry on Cookman Avenue when most of the buildings still had wooden windows, and Langosta Lounge was a shady dive called Club Deep. Now, there are bigger venues with better sound systems, and more money being poured into it all, but one thing has not changed. All the venues are still being booked by straight white people, and mostly older white dudes. 

So I'm here asking myself why I'm even shocked right now. Why I'm surprised that the Asbury Music Awards, a local beacon of light illuminating the best of our talent pool, is mostly just shining on the white people. Why, out of the literal hundreds of nominees, there are roughly ten black people. Why there is no rap category, despite the fact that rap music has been dominating the charts for the past five years. Despite the fact that rap acts had played to sold out and capacity crowds all over Asbury Park last year. Despite the fact that rappers have done more for charity in the past year than most of the names on that list of nominees. 

Mychal Mills is the only person hosting a regular poetry event in Asbury Park, donated his time and talent to benefit multiple charities, and was the only poet to speak at the Stand Against Hate Rally last year, and he didn't even get nominated for Poet Laureate. For those of you who don't know him, I'll let you guess what color he is. Juice has been the Remember Jones drummer for a year, and he's arguably one of the best drummers in our scene, and he was overlooked. Joe College was named one of the 31 Artists You Need to Hear in 2018 by NJ.com. New Star is one of the most significant rappers in our community, played Asbury Park six times last year, and released a record IN Asbury, and he was overlooked. Avery Rose Puryear is an unbelievable singer and keys player, and she was overlooked. Johnathan Stamper is an incredible singer/songwriter and he was overlooked. All of these people are black. Too many for this to be a coincidence, I'd say. This is what racism looks like.

I refuse to believe we're not encouraging rap music because of drugs or violence. I've seen more violence at all white punk shows than I've seen at local rap shows. I've seen knives pulled, and fists swirling in a crowd of white faces. I've seen all the drugs your little heart desires at literally every venue in Asbury, and at all white shows. When people say they don't like "the element" rap brings in, they're talking about black people. Plain and simple. This is on all of us. We're not taking them in enough. We're not making them feel welcome enough. 



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Rap and poetry matter, both locally and globally. The LA Times published an article saying that rap music has influenced pop music even more than The Beatles and the British Invasion. It's the voice of an underrepresented people. So, since these people are apparently going to continue to be underrepresented, I'm out. What kind of a friend would I be if I don’t show up when my friends need me? For the first time in ten years, I'm not going to the Asbury Music Awards. 

Sincerely,

Chris Rockwell

 

For more on Chris Rockwell visit his Bandcamp site.

Photo by Alyssa Ciervo




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
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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
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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


MUSIC


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


THEATRE

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


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

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