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Makin Waves with Dave Vargo: 'Better Than Before'

By Bob Makin

originally published: 09/14/2023

Makin Waves with Dave Vargo:

The Makin Waves Artist of the Month for September, Dave Vargo has shows coming up Sept. 14 at The Asbury hotel’s Salvation Roof Top Bar in Asbury Park; Sept. 15, Colts Neck Inn; Sept. 17, Pattenburg House in Hunterdon County with Brian Molnar & the Slow Rolling Live, Sept. 19 and 26 during his own “2forTuesday” Facebook Live show, and Sept. 30 at Asbury Park Porchfest, which he helped organize. PHOTO BY ANDREW HOLTZ

Jersey Shore-based Dave Vargo not only is a great songwriter and musician, he’s also one of the most charitable talents within the local music scene.

Right now, Dave has been working as part of the team that annually puts together Asbury Park Porchfest, which returns Sept. 30 to the porches of participating City by the Sea residents. Dave also will perform with dozens of other local acts in an effort to raise funds for Mercy Center, a nonprofit guided by the social justice tradition of the Catholic women’s organization Sisters of Mercy to alleviate generational poverty in the Greater Asbury Park area with services, programs and education, and Asbury Park African-American Music Project, a volunteer-run, community-driven project that celebrates the stories of Springwood Avenue through historical research and interviews, educational outreach, and public events.

Dave also is a board member of Musicians on a Mission (MOAM), a nonprofit that produces several fundraisers each year. Coming up will be an Open Mic on Oct. 1 at Belmar Arts Center that will collect food for Fulfill, formerly The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, which will split donations with the Arts Center.

MOAM’s annual piece de resistance, “Come to Your Senses,” is a sensory feast that features not only music for the ears but also an art exhibit for the eyes, food and drink for the taste buds, sales of soaps and candles for the nose, and reiki and massage therapists representing touch. All to raise funds for Special People United to Ride (SPUR) on Feb. 25 at The Gallery at Thompson Park in the Lincroft section of Middletown. SPUR provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve personal goals through therapeutic horsemanship at Monmouth County Park System’s Sunnyside Equestrian Center also in Middletown.

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While Dave readies to record his fourth solo album and a follow-up to the debut EP for Project 18, a collaboration with friends from his East Brunswick High School days, he will continue to present his weekly “2forTuesday” show on Facebook Live. On Sept. 19, his guest will be fellow Jersey Shore singer-songwriter Gorilla Bob, while Sept. 26 will feature righteous Ohio tunesmith Max Davey.

In person, Dave also will perform Sept. 14 at The Asbury hotel’s Salvation Roof Top Bar in Asbury Park; Sept. 15, Colts Neck Inn, and Sept. 17, Pattenburg House in Hunterdon County with Brian Molnar & the Slow Rolling Live.

The September Makin Waves Artist of the Month, Dave chats about his upcoming plans of music and charity in the following interview.

What is your role with Porchfest?

I am on the team/committee for Porchfest and help organize the musicians.


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How does Porchfest raise money, who benefits, and what do they do with the funds?

We raise money from sponsorships, T-shirt sales and donations. A majority of the donations are collected the day of from the audiences at each porch.

This year we, are proud to support Mercy Center and Asbury Park African-American Music Project.


Where will you be performing during Porchfest?


We are just starting the tedious process of mapping out the schedule for the 125 musicians/bands that will be performing on 25 porches around town.


What other charities do you actively participate in, why, and what are you most grateful for their work?

I am actively involved with Musicians on a Mission (MOAM). They are a small nonprofit that raises funds and awareness for other small local charities by hosting planned musical events using local musicians.

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What fundraising events does MOAM have coming up?

The next event will be an Open Mic on Oct. 1 at Belmar Arts Center. We will be collecting food for Fulfill, formerly The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, and splitting the donations between Fulfill and the Arts Center.

What was the greatest accomplishment your latest LP, ‘Crooked Miles,’ led to?

I've been lucky that each of my albums have done a little better than the one before. My song ‘Nobody's Fault’ from’ Crooked Miles’ actually reached No. 41 on the iTunes UK Rock Chart.


When will you be releasing the first single for your fourth solo album?

I haven't started recording the next album yet. I am trying to book some studio time for late October. 


How and why did you hook up with Project 18?

Scott Rubine, a friend of mine from high school, reached out to me. He had written a few songs with Jay Weiner, another East Brunswick alumnus. He asked if he could send me some songs to listen to and give some feedback. I liked what I heard and that ultimately led to an EP of four songs.


Will there be a follow up to their ‘Pomona’ debut EP?

We plan on recording two more songs while I'm in the studio working on my next album.


For both your solo recordings and ‘Pomona,’ you like to work with producer-engineer Tim Pannella. What do you like most about working with Tim and why?

Tim and I work really well together. No egos. No agendas other than trying to best serve the song that we are working on.


Are you writing songs with and/or producing any other artists?

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Just for me and Project 18 at the moment.

‘2forTuesday’ was a means for you and friends to stay connected to your audiences on Facebook during COVID. What do you enjoy most about ‘2forTuesday’ that keeps you committed to continuing to present it every week?

‘2forTuesday’ has become a great vehicle to not only showcase my music but also the talents of other local and nationally known songwriters. I really enjoy being able to introduce these songwriters to the ‘2forTuesday’ audience.


When and where will you be performing through the new year?


Is there anything I didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?

Thanks for all that you do to support local music and musicians!


Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at



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