Origin Story Part 3 – The Second Festival

By Charlie Wuth and Larry Adelman

The JSJBF team decided that since the 1988 festival was a success and the feedback from venues, vendors, attendee’s and bands was very positive, a festival should be held again in1989. 2,400 people were estimated to be in attendance at the first festival. Below is the introduction written by Bob Santelli.

“Welcome to the 1989 Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Festival. This event was conceived last year and was the first of its kind on the Jersey Shore. Through it, we hope to showcase the area’s best jazz and blues talent and to introduce you to selected artists from Philadelphia, Northern New Jersey and New York. More than 20 bands and some 150 musicians are participating in this year’s festival. On behalf of them we’d like to welcome you to tonight’s show. We certainly hope you enjoy the music, and we do appreciate your support.”

Nobody knew if the festivals would continue to be successful. However, we all know that from these beginnings, the JSJBF became a non-profit 501c3 that has grown over the years into what it is today. The festival was free, however money was needed to continue to host these events. Sponsorship and resources were sought. It took a few more years to procure the funding required. The festivals survived the early days with the help of the NJ Friends of Clearwater Organization, whose volunteers filled in the staffing gaps. Without that, it is doubtful the festivals would thrive.

This ’89 festival followed the model used in the first festival. Venues throughout the area housed the blues and jazz bands and all bands performed for free. The venues were:

The Stone Pony
The Deck House
The Café Bar
The Rum Runner

What is important to note is the level of support provided by the blues venue community and in the musician community. Without a “home base” for the festival, this idea worked well, until they eventually teamed up with Red Bank and held the festival in Marine Park, and The Count Basie Theater. John Fernandez, JSJBF VP, noted that it is the same model that the Light of Day uses today.

In Bob Santelli’s welcome (printed above), we can see reflected the feelings of the time. It was the second festival. You can feel the hope, optimism and gratitude fueled by over 20 bands comprised of 150 musicians from the North Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and local areas. There is a genuine humility in Bob’s words. He had no idea of what lies ahead and the future successes and growth that laid the foundation of JSJBF that has existed since 1987.

Below is the schedule printed up in the 1989 program.