Riot Redemption & Rock n’ Roll
The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival was in town last weekend and with it came a host of films and musical performances to enjoy. The festival began on Thursday evening with the premier of Echo In The Canyon and culminated on Sunday afternoon with the screening of Riot Redemption and Rock n’ Roll. After each film there was a short Q&A session. In some cases people who were in the film would appear on stage afterward to talk about it, like Jakob Dylan in Echo In The Canyon.
The Bruce Springsteen Archives, which premiered on Saturday afternoon, produced the Boss himself, showing up on stage after the film. Each event concluded with a musical performance.
Of the three films I saw, the one that impressed me the most was Riot Redemption & Rock n’ Roll. This film was mostly about the former Upstage Club; the legendary coffee shop, music venue, and after-hours club, located at 700 Cookman Avenue.
Although, the film didn’t just talk about the club and the musical history of Asbury Park; it told the entire story of Asbury Park’s history. Beginning with its founder, James Bradley in 1817 and his inspiration for creating this quaint little seaside community. The film talked about the people who vacationed at this glorious beach resort. And it talked about the division between the east and west sides.
The film highlighted the sounds of Jazz in the clubs on Springwood Avenue: Cubas, The Orchid Lounge, many of which were mentioned in the Soul of Asbury. They expressed with reverence how the music and the musicians united the two sides together. There was no segregation in music, it was just music, with no race attached to it.
Redemption: they summed it up with what’s happening in Asbury Park today and the driving force behind the creation of the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival; to bring music back to Asbury Park’s youth and provide opportunity to discover their talent.
They gave a detailed account of why and how the riots began and how it affected the entire community afterward. Henry Vaccaro talked about the past redevelopment efforts. Former Mayor Ed Johnson spoke openly about the corruption in government back in those days (which were before his time).
The film was extremely well done. All of the films I saw were. Riot Redemption & Rock n’ Roll was hosted by Bruce Springsteen with many guest cameos in the film. It was fun to look up at the big screen and see familiar faces of people in the community like Don Stine, Tom Gilmour, Kay Harris, and Jill Potter, talking about what it was like back in the glory and not-so-glorious days of Asbury Park. They were honest, forth coming and knowledgeable.
And of course, all the musicians that shared their stories: Vini Lopez, Little Steven, Southside Johnny, Richard Blackwell, and many others, talking about Asbury Park’s rich music history. It made you wish you could go back in time.
Riot Redemption & Rock n’ Roll was a great representation of Asbury Park’s past with more than a glimmer of hope for the future.
“There are a lot more things that pull us apart than bring us together. Music is our connector… It’s a movement. A moving religion.”Tom Jones, Founder and Director of APMFF
The Beat Bus
Outside the Paramount Theater on Sunday sat The Beat Bus, open for tour to the public. The Beat Bus is a mobile recording studio classroom. This new initiative is in partnership between the Asbury Park Music Foundation and Lakehouse Music Academy. The program is part of the Music Saved My Life youth education initiative.
According to Ryan Gaumond, who drives the bus, “close to a dozen kids have been discovered in some way through the scholarships for music education at Lakehouse Academy and The Beat Bus.” He said that the scholarships are funded by grants and donations from the entire community: Jersey Mikes, RWJ|Saint Barnabas, just to name a few. The Asbury Park Press donated $25,000. for a generator so the bus could have power.
The bus is fully equipped with a state-of-the-art recording studio. There are 10 modular workstations, a sound booth, pianos, guitars and drums.
Students are also learning how to use technology as part of the program. The concept is to bring the classroom and opportunity to kids who can’t get to them.
There’s also a new recording studio at the Boys & Girls Club in Asbury Park. It’s called the Hip Hop Institute. “We find kids through events and other exposure type opportunities, then bring them to the Hip Hop Institute where we work with them one on one and create mentor type relationships.”
“At the Hip Hop Institute students are creating their own music. They’re forming bands and beginning to book shows. The goal of the Music Foundation, in partnership with Lakehouse Academy, is to spread seeds throughout the community, by bringing kids together to cultivate unique raw talent. Hopefully, being the source for turning out a music prodigy.”Ryan Gaumond
The Mobile Recording Studio travels in and around Asbury Park, as well as communities throughout New Jersey. It offers both in-school and after school sessions. You can also ‘book the bus’ for your community event or school program. For more information go to The Beat Bus.
This article was edited on May 6, 2019 to include resource credits.