It’s 90 minutes before show time, and music lovers already have their chairs planted in the sand this Friday, July 22, 2022 evening in Somers Point, NJ for a free concert on the beach starring five-time Grammy nominated pop, folk, and blues singer Maria Muldaur.
Before the performance begins, we take a moment to chat with 2022 Concerts On the Beach producer, Carmen Marotto. According to Marotto, “This is the 29th year of concerts here in Somers Point, a town of only 12,000 residents, but which is steeped in music history.”
Marotta reveals that his father was the owner of the legendary Jersey Shore music club, the Tony Mart Café. He says the venue featured sounds of the swing era through the golden years of rock ‘n roll, and also served as the setting for the classic music cult film, Eddie and the Cruisers.
According to Marotta, “In its heyday, Tony Mart’s presented live performances by such artists as Bill Haley and his Comets, Del Shannon, Joey Dee and the Starliters, Duane Eddy, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and Conway Twitty, not to mention a summer residency by Levon Helm and the Hawks, a group which was ultimately chosen by Bob Dylan as his backup group and became known as The Band.”
These days, Marotta explains, “The Tony Mart legacy lives on with the current season of musical concerts in Somers Point — in addition to a second series of Mardi Gras AC shows presented every Wednesday night at Kennedy Plaza on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.”
Whereas future concerts this season here at William Morris Beach in Somers Point will present Gary U.S. Bonds, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, and The Cowsills, tonight’s show stars Maria Muldaur.
Following our chat, Marotta takes to the stage to thank the many sponsors supporting tonight’s show before introducing Maria Muldaur, exclaiming, “I can’t help but love this woman!”
“How are you all doing?” inquires Muldaur as she takes a seat center stage. Backed by musicians on guitar, keyboard, and drums, Muldaur begins tonight’s program with her rendition of Elvin Bishop’s “I’ll Be So Glad When I Get My Groove Back Again.” Her voice sounding bluesy and strong, Muldaur cries “Love hit me like a kick in the head,” and the crowd claps along before she belts out “Lord have mercy!” to avid audience applause.
“It’s so great to sing real live music for real live people!” exclaims Muldaur. “Last year, after getting my vaccination, I felt exhilaration, relief, and joy, and I started singing at the top of my lungs. I called up my guitar player and told him I had a hook to a song and we wrote it together.” Audience members happily join in singing the catchy refrain to their original composition, “Vaccinated and I’m Ready for Love,” a timely blues number with a strolling rhythm.
Following her interpretation of The Pointer Sisters’ funky 1973 hit, “Yes We Can Can,” Muldaur declares, “I’m gonna be 80 years old in September!’ To celebrate, she and the band perform Allen Toussaint’s “I’ve Got Those Optimism Blues,” a happy-go-lucky tune which features a lyrical electric guitar solo.
Moving onto a number which blues singer, Blue Lu Barker, recorded in 1942, Muldaur croons the suggestive lyrics to “Loan Me Your Husband.” Purring, “Loan me your husband and I will loan you mine,” Muldaur has fun interpreting this swing blues number featuring a tasty piano solo.
Announcing, “I dare you to be depressed after you hear this song!” Muldaur and Co. perform. “Let’s Get Happy Together.” After she sings the humorous “I got the finger/You got the ring” lyric, the audience is treated to a crisp percussion solo played on the rims of the drums followed by precision rolls and syncopated rhythms.
Muldaur sings the blues as the sky paints a sunset in the west on “Cajun Moon.” As she scats various melodies, she’s echoed by guitar, the pair’s musical duel bringing applause from audience members who clap along to the song’s bluesy groove.
She follows up with the “bluesiana” gospel tune, “Please Lord, Please Send Me Someone to Love.” Holding out the notes to emphasize her feelings on this gospel number about love, the arrangement continues to build until Muldaur cries, “Send me someone to love!” Audience members clap and cheer for her performance and Muldaur confesses, “I don’t know if you could tell that I really meant that one.”
Up next is “I Got a Bowlegged Daddy,” an up-tempo rhythm and blues number which features fast-fingered piano playing.
Muldaur plays tambourine on the song as she watches a group of women happily dance in the sand in front of the bandstand.
Following the swing style jazz/blues number, “Bessie’s Advice,” Muldaur pushes the envelope with her bawdy rendition of “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion.”
She follows up with her best-known recording, explaining, “I’ve never heard another song like it — it’s in its own little ‘song planet.’ It was good for me, and I hope it was good for you.” Audience members get up for a dance party on the beach as Muldaur performs her Top 10 Billboard hit, “Midnight at the Oasis.” As she croons, “Midnight at the oasis/Send your camel to bed/Shadows painting our faces/Traces/Of romance in our heads,” the song sounds as fresh today as it did when it was recorded in 1973.
The crowd cheers and Muldaur concludes tonight’s show with “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” a cut from her 1973 debut recording, Maria Muldaur. After she sings, “Oh, don’t you feel my leg/Don’t you feel my leg/‘Cause if you feel my leg/ You’ll want to feel my thigh,” the audience stands, cheering and applauding. As she exits the stage, Marotta christens her “a true American diva” before Muldaur exclaims to the crowd, “We love you! Pray for peace!”
While audience members ready themselves for a second set of music by 18-year-old pianist and blues singer Veronica Lewis, we chat with various music lovers on the beach who share their opinions of Maria Muldaur’s performance this evening.
Declares Joanne from Atlantic City, “I loved Maria, and I loved her show!” declaring, “She sounds pretty freaking good for her age!” before acknowledging, “I come to most of the concerts here at Somers Point. Both the shows and the setting are amazing!” Joanne’s friend, Miriam from Long Beach Island, agrees, adding, “I come every Friday for the concerts, and Maria Muldaur was just fabulous tonight!”
Dianna from Estelle Manor asserts, “Maria Muldaur’s voice is just beautiful! She sang such fun songs and made it such an enjoyable evening,” before noting, “I felt like I was in New Orleans.” Lisa from Linwood concurs, adding, “It feels like we’re at a jazz fest!”
Suzanne from Seattle calls Maria Muldaur’s performance this evening, “Wonderful,” exclaiming, “I loved it! I loved her provocative songs — and there’s nothing more perfect than sitting on the beach listening to great music.” Gayle from Northfield agrees, commenting, “I come to many of the shows here, and there’s always a great variety of music. Producer Carmen Marotta does a wonderful job putting these shows together.”
Thomas from Mays Landing reveals, “My fiancé and I came down to Somers Point tonight to celebrate our anniversary and our Lyft driver told us about this concert. We walked down here to the beach and have not only been enjoying the music, but the entire beach vibe, as well.” Thomas’ fiancé, Grace from Mays Landing, concurs, adding, “Maria Muldaur certainly has a lot of energy! She’s my grandma’s age, and she really reminds me of my grandma, who just happens to be my soul sister.”
Lastly, we chat with Joe from Ventor who remarks, “I love that they continue to have live music on the beach here in Somers Point — the talent is really great!” before asserting, “Maria Muldaur sounded really amazing tonight. I love how she paid homage to all of the great singers who came before her. To me, she’s not only a music historian and a great singer — she’s a legend!”
To learn more about Maria Muldaur, please go to mariamuldaur.com. To learn more about future free Concerts on the Beach performances in Somers Point — including Gary U.S. Bonds on August 5, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band on September 2, and The Cowsills on September 9 — please click on somerspointbeachconcerts.com.
For information on free Mardi Gras AC concerts on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at Kennedy Plaza — including Dana Fuchs on August 3, Rare Earth’s Peter Rivera on August 10, and guitarist Stanley Jordan on August 17 — please click on tonymart.com.
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