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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Asbury Park's Rockers Fight To Keep The Music Alive

Why is it that when a developer tries to "revitalize" a community, they bulldoze some of the very things that made it appealing in the first place? The latest potential victim is Asbury Park, NJ's Wonder Bar, one of a handful of great live venues in town that have, for years, comprised the only reasons one would set foot in the town, if one didn't already live there to begin with. And so, Upstage Magazine, once again valiantly fighting the good fight, has stepped up to the plate with a day of exciting times in the once and future Paradise By The Sea.

The simple info is thus:

12noon-2am (that's 14 hours, folks! And it's actually 3am because of the time change and, well, y'know.)
at The Wonder Bar
5th and Ocean
Asbury Park, NJ
(732) 502-8886

And here's the press release, for the gory details. Drop in and help out by gracing us with your presence, willya?

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) - Few were watching as New Brunswick's thriving original music scene of the 1980s came crashing down when club after club closed leaving the Court Tavern as the only game in town. History may be repeating itself in Asbury Park, as the shore town's legendary music scene is now very much in the hands of one company - Asbury Partners - the company in charge of the oceanfront redevelopment plan. Nearly 60% of the venues providing original music in town - and all of the largest venues - are now under their control. An online petition was created to show interest in keeping one of their latest acquisitions alive as a music venue and now an all-day concert/rally will be held on Saturday, March 10th as well.

The Wonder Bar is scheduled to close for good after St. Patrick's Day. The club is a victim of eminent domain and speculation is that the property might become another condominium building. Over 1500 people from around the world have signed a petition to keep the Wonder Bar alive. The petition can be found online at or signed in person at the Wonder Bar.

Upstage Magazine is presenting the all-day rally in an effort to show just how important the Wonder Bar is to music fans and to the local community as well. The concert begins at noon and runs until closing time at 2am. In between, 13 bands and seven solo artists will perform. The lineup includes such local favorites as Joe D'Urso, Maybe Pete, Jon Caspi Band, Cool Days End, Michael Patrick & the Suburban Hillbillies, Anthony Fiumano, Agency, Tony Tedesco & Damnaged Goods, and the Danny White Band. It also includes rare Asbury Park appearances by Postmark Twain and Frank Thewes of South Jersey and Wiser Time, Sounds of Greg D, and Souls Release from North Jersey. Rounding out the bill is Keith Monacchio of The Commons, Freddie Fry, George Wirth, Nik Everett, Causeway, and Lone Shark.

"Nearly all of Asbury Park's musical history is in the hands of Asbury Partners now," said Gary Wien, Managing Editor of Upstage Magazine. "They own Convention Hall, Paramount Theatre, The Stone Pony, Fastlane, Baronet Theatre, Club Deep, Tiki Bar, the Casino, and soon will own the Wonder Bar. This basically means that they can either make the music scene thrive or they can kill it. We're hoping that the petition and concert shows them that thousands of people think music is vital to Asbury Park's future. This is not just a piece of the town's past; it is very much linked to its present and can play a major role in its rebirth. People around the world have heard of Asbury Park because of artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Most towns would do anything to have something like that to use for its marketing and we're trying to show Asbury Partners just how valuable the properties they own really are in terms other than real estate value."

"Asbury Park's redevelopment plan suggests that music and entertainment will play a role, but it's difficult to take that serious when Convention Hall and the Paramount Theatre are hardly used at all," added Wien. "If they cared about entertainment they would have found a way to bring events back to those venues on a regular basis. As it is, they are probably the two least used performing arts centers in the state. And if condos are placed across the street you can bet that it will only make things worse."

The Wonder Bar is located at 5th & Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park, NJ directly across from Convention Hall. The club will be open early on Saturday, March 10th for the show with music beginning at noon and running throughout the night. The club's restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and people will be able to leave and return with their ticket stub. Tickets are available for $10 from the artists performing as well as online at Tickets have already been sold to music fans from Virginia to Boston, so those interested in attending are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.


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