The Mark La Rochelle Youth Open Mic Lives On

Just like the spirit of its namesake, The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic will live on!

Mark LaRochelle

The Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic Presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation was started in the Summer of 2016 by our dear friend and late Board of Trustees member Mark LaRochelle.

Mark LaRochelle – Founder of the Youth Open Mic Night

The event in its inception was to occur one Friday night a month as an outreach program, providing the musical youth community a forum to perform in a fun, supportive, friendly, and inviting environment at the Red Bank Women’s Club in the Anthony Reckless Estate at 164 Broad Street Red Bank NJ. The event instantly began building momentum and quickly became the local youth musicians and their supporters favorite night of the month.

Joseph Vincent Riggio – Youth Group Committee Chair

Joseph Vincent Riggio
Joseph Vincent Riggio

Sadly Mark succumbed to a several- year battle of cancer in the Spring of 2018, but not before asking his friend and fellow music lover, (at the time event volunteer) Joseph Vincent Riggio, to succeed him and keep the event going. Under Riggio’s guidance (now a board member himself) and the support of the foundation, the event continues to thrive and build enthusiasm.

We worked through many challenges as they came up like securing equipment and more volunteers when needed, as well as finding local sponsors of the event. Mark and Joseph spoke for hours about the open mics’ direction and future, always finding a way to continue forward for the sake of the youth who so enjoy It and need a place to show and grow their talents.

Continuing in that spirit it should come as no surprise that we have found a way to continue the event even during this global pandemic. First, the event continued on Instagram as online live event, where the enthusiasm was felt with a full 3 hours of performances happening once a month throughout the Spring, when all indoor events were forbidden. Then in the Summer, when safe and distanced indoor gatherings were allowed, Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation venue, The Chubby Pickle in the Highlands, NJ stepped up and became our new temporary home until the Women’s Club is again able to accommodate our performers and supporters. The original vibe and Mark’s spirit is still felt even at this new venue, and with a new home comes new opportunities to showcase this incredibly talented crew to a whole new group of otherwise unexplored spectators who have embraced them with full hearts and open arms.

A $5 donation to perform or attend is greatly appreciated with proceeds going to a scholarship fund that the foundation proudly gives out each June. In 2020 between those proceeds and the proceeds from our Reckless Steamy Nights performances (another one-Friday-night-a-month event, usually held at the Woman’s Club, presently on hold but now surviving as an outdoor afternoon event) and some generous personal donations we were able to provide $1000 scholarships for four local youths.

3 scholarship recipients
the 2020 scholarship recipients are Jacob Fisher, Ruby Riggio, Clay Kunego, and Zachary Doberentz (not shown)

A highlight of each event is when former scholarship alumni return from school and take time out to perform. Many refer to it as “coming home”. Riggio always gives newcomers and their families a hearty welcome and invites them “into the family”.

Being part of this group truly is coming into a family. As these talented young performers move on to showcase at other venues, often the crowd is composed of fans associated with the Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic, and the performers feverishly follow and support each other on all social media platforms.

Come check this special event–it is a guaranteed good time.

The signup list opens at 6:30pm. Music happens from 7 PM – 10 PM

All ages are welcome to enjoy. A full backline is provided. Music is not limited to Jazz and Blues; all genres are encouraged and supported.

For further information about the Mark LaRochelle Youth Open Mic nights contact Joseph Vincent Riggio at 732-670-2157

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