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The S.O.A.P. Stars Shine Once Again

By Gary Wien
Photo by Mike Black

(ASBURY PARK, DECEMBER 9, 2006) -- They were the pioneers. The first musicians to play rock and roll live in clubs, dance halls and shopping malls around the Jersey Shore area. It was through their blending of rock, blues, R&B, doo-wop and soul that the sound, which would become known as The Sounds Of Asbury Park (S.O.A.P.), was created. On December 9th, many of the creators returned to Asbury Park for a very special performance at the Stone Pony. It was a fitting tribute to a lot of artists whose place in history was somewhat overshadowed and overlooked due to the success of Bruce Springsteen.

The tribute began at noon when a monument listing the names of 35 artists and people who played major roles in creating the Asbury Park sound was dedicated. There is space on the plaque for a few more names and people are already debating about who might be added. The plaque is to be replaced anyway since it contains a misspelling of Southside Johnny Lyon's name! Unfortunately the error was noticed after the plaque had been created.

A crowd of people and media from around the country came to the monument's dedication and got the chance to hear and meet several of the artists at the monument unveiling. While the monument will forever stand on the boardwalk next to Convention Hall, the show promised to be a once in a lifetime event and it certainly delivered.

The evening began with a blues set by Billy Ryan to warm things up as the crowd began to gather. From there it was full speed ahead with an all-star lineup of musicians crammed on stage doing their takes on classic hits from the 50, 60s and 70s. The lineup contained such artists as Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez (the original drummer for the E Street Band), Garry Tallent (bass player for the E Street Band), Popeye (original Asbury Juke), Billy Ryan, Nicky Addeo, Doc Holiday, Lisa Lowell, Norman Seldin, and Patsy Siciliano. Special guests included artists like Craig Krampf (Drummer for Journey & writer of Steve Perry's hit "Oh Sherri" and Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes") and Caron Patrice. Behind the artists where the Stone Pony logo resides was a photograph of Johnny Shaw, the founder of the Jaywalkers who passed away earlier this year. The night was largely dedicated to him as most of the musicians were not only friends with Shaw, but former bandmates as well.

With the cast on stage, the creators launched into "Feeling Alright." Seasoned professionals, the band was tight, singing was dead on, and the musicians all appeared to be having fun on stage. This was like a rock and roll high school reunion of folks who grew up together in bands and on the same stages but hadn't been together for decades. You could just tell it was going to be a magical night at the Stone Pony.

One of the highlights of the night came when David Sancious (one of the creators) made a special appearance on keyboards during "Expressway To Your Heart". As they got ready for the song, Doc Holiday said, "It's in the key of C David, that's all I have to tell you and you're good to go!" Doc was right. Sancious' keyboard came alive during a solo in the song and it was very cool to see Eric Safka (the keyboardist for Days Awake) watching the master from just outside the stage with a huge grin on his face. Now that's what the night was all about!

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Other highlights from the all-star lineup included Nicky Addeo showcasing his wonderful voice during "Gloria", Lisa Lowell tackling Fontella Bass's classic "Rescue Me" (also done by Aretha Franklin)", a blistering version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good" led by Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez on lead vocals, and "Listen To The Music" by the Doobie Brothers with Doc Holiday on lead vocals.

A very special tribute to the artists that could not be at the show from the west side of town ("the soul side" as they put it) took place during a take on Georgie Fame's "Sitting In The Park." As names of several artists were read Nicky Addeo changed the lyrics and softly sang "Sitting in Asbury Park, waiting for you."

Later in the evening Steel Mill Retro led by Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez played a set of songs Bruce Springsteen wrote in the late 1960s. This was the period of time when Springsteen was writing music in the hard rock / Led Zeppelin / guitar-based frame. The band also included Bill Kacerek on keyboards, Bernie Brausewetter on guitar, and Ed Piersanti on bass.

"People always say Bruce doesn't do instrumentals," said Lopez. "But it's not true." The band then kicked off their set with "Sherlock Go Holme" - an instrumental that featured solos by Brusewetter and Kacerek to provide the tone of the set.

After the instrumental, Steel Mill played "Cowboys Of The Sea" which was one of the treats of the evening for me as I had known about the song but never heard it before. It's always fun for me to hear a Springsteen song for the first time. Cowboys reminded me of the lyrics found on the story based songs Bruce wrote for his demo given to Columbia Records. As an additional treat, the song contained an ending featuring Lopez on flute! Steel Mill followed with "The Judge" and "The Wind and the Rain" - one of Springsteen's lost classics that Steel Mill thankfully has brought back to the Shore.

Following Steel Mill was Lance Larson backed by the guys from Days Awake. Lance made his official debut with this band the night before at the Wonder Bar and blew the crowd away. Kicking off with the Warren Zevon classic "Lawyers, Guns & Money" Lance showed why he was one of the most entertaining front men in Shorehistory. The highlight of the set was Lance's own "Angel With Broken Wings" which sounded beautiful behind the talented guys from Days Awake who held their own during a night full of world-class musicians. Another Lance original "Song For The Soldiers" followed before the group finished with the classics "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf and the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place."

Before his last song, Lance thanked everyone for coming to Asbury Park and mentioned the redevelopment. He urged people to remember to "keep music and art in Asbury Park because without it it's not Asbury Park." The band ran out of time before getting into "With A Little Help From My Friends" which was going to be their closing number, but it was a great set nevertheless.

Lance truly seems to be having the time of his life with these guys (and gal) backing him. Rumors are swirling about an upcoming big news announcement that could involve both artists working together in the future!

The all-star lineup returned after Lance's set for a couple more songs before closing with a beautiful version of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away." As the song neared its close, a creator's name was announced and that artist would leave the stage while the rest sang the magical chorus:

"Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away"

In the end it was just Doc Holliday and Nicky Addeo left on stage before Doc took his leave. Nicky did another bar or two and then said "good night" and left as well.

It was definitely a good night. In fact, it was just about everything you could ask for - except, I guess, for the fans of Bruce Springsteen who paid anywhere up to $1500 for a ticket and expected him to play! There were a few people grumbling as the lights came up, but for the true music fans this was a night to always remember. I think Bruce Springsteen knows that this night was about all of the artists from the Jersey Shore music scene that he was part of but if he had played the news reports the next day would have made the story about Bruce. He understands about giving others their due and tonight that was what the show was all about. Doc Holiday did an incredible job putting everything together. Long-time fans of the Jersey Shore got to see artists they hadn't seen in years while younger fans got a rock and roll history lesson. The show, which had been sold out for months, was perhaps the hottest ticket of the year and showed why Asbury Park is known throughout the world for music.

The monument is located on the boardwalk next to Convention Hall. The creators listed on the plaque include: Johnny Shaw, Billy Ryan, Bruce Springsteen, Garry Tallent, Steve Van Zandt, Mickey Holiday, "Stormin'" Norman Seldin, Vini "Maddog" Lopez, Fast Eddie "Doc Holiday" Wohanka, Billy "CherryBomb" Lucia, Clarence Clemons, Nicky Addeo, Donnie Lowell, Jim "Jack Valentine" Cattanach, Ken "Popeye" Pentifallo, Jay Pilling, John "Cos" Consoli, Gary "A" Arntz, Larry "The Great" Gadsby, Steve "Mole" Wells, Ray Dahrouge, Johnny "A" Arntz, David Sancious, Margaret Potter, Tom Potter, Sonny Kenn, Tom Wuorio, Rick DeSarno, Southside Johnny Lyon, Leon Trent, Buzzy Lubinsky, Danny Federici, Bill Chinnock., Patsy Siciliano, Sam Siciliano.

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The concert was a benefit for "The Mercy Center" and "Interfaith Neighbors" - two charities located in Asbury Park. In addition to the S.O.A.P. concert raising thousands of dollars (total unknown at press time), the Backstreets BTX group raised $4400 at a special pre-party for the show and presented the check at the end of the night.

You can view photos from the monument dedication online at: http://www.upstagemagazine.com/asburymusic/backinblack/photos.php?directory=soap

Set list for the night:

1) "Feeling Alright" - Traffic (as done by Joe Cocker)
2) "Honky Tonk" Instrumental by Bill Doggett
3) "Stormy Monday"
4) "Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay" -- Danny & the Juniors
5) "Gloria" -- Cadillacs (Nicky Addeo on lead vocals, Popeye assistanting)
6) "You're So Fine" -- The Falcons (Nicky Addeo on lead vocals)
7) A Motown tribute with "Ooh Baby Baby" -- Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
"Sitting In The Park" -- Georgia Fame (Nicky Addeo on lead vocals)
8) "Everyday I Have The Blues" -- Joe Williams (Mickey Holiday on lead vocals)
9) "Oh Happy Day" -- Edwin Hawkins Singers (Mickey Holiday on lead vocals)
10) "Expressway To Your Heart" -- Soul Survivors (Doc Holiday on lead vocals)
11) "I'm a Hog for You" -- The Coasters (Lisa Lowell on lead vocals)
12) "Rescue Me" -- Fontella Bass (Lisa Lowell on lead vocals)
13) "A Whiter Shade of Pale" -- Procol Harum (Norman Seldin on lead vocals)
14) "Johnny B. Good" -- Chuck Berry (Vini Lopez on lead vocals)
15) "Sunshine Of Your Love" -- Cream (Vini Lopez on lead vocals)
16) "Rockin' Chair" -- Robert Johnson (Norman Seldin on lead vocals)
17) "Change Gonna Come" -- Sam Cooke (Nicky Addeo on lead vocals)

Steel Mill Retro with Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez on lead vocals
18) "Sherlock Go Holme" -- instrumental
19) "Cowboys Of The Sea"
20) "The Judge"
21) "All Man the Guns for America"
22) "The Wind and the Rain"

Lance Larson with Days Awake; Lance Larson on lead vocals
23) "Lawyers, Guns & Money" -- Warren Zevon
24) "Angel With Broken Wings" -- Lance Larson
25) "Song For The Soldiers" -- Lance Larson
26) "Magic Carpet Ride" -- Steppenwolf
27) "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" -- The Animals

All-star cast returned
28) Speed Limit 25 members performed "Whole Lotta Shakin'" -- Jerry Lee Lewis (Donnie Lowell on lead vocals)
29) "Way Down In New Orleans" ??? -- (Donnie Lowell on lead vocals)
30) "Respect" -- Aretha Franklin (Caron Patrice on lead vocals)
31) "Mustang Sally" -- Wilson Pickett
32) "Listen To The Music" -- The Doobie Brothers (Doc Holiday on lead vocals)
33) "Drift Away" -- Dobie Gray

originally published: 12/13/2006



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