Back in April of 2017, I attended the premiere screening of the film Asbury Park: Riot Redemption Rock & Roll at the Paramount Theater with my wife Joanne and two of our close friends and JSJBF members, Roberta and Raleigh Truitt.
The event was part of the recently-formed Asbury Park Music & Film Festival which chose this film directed by Tom Jones (not THAT Tom Jones) as the centerpiece for the Festival. A two-hour concert comprised of the musicians of the era was to follow.
Having grown up in the area, graduated from Asbury Park High School, worked summers on the boardwalk, and frequented many of the places shown, I was eager to see the film. I was in the service when the riots took place but would bring my wife and daughters there in the ’80s and ’90s to tell them some of the rich musical histories I was a part of in the ’60s. Of course, they surveyed the area in its rundown state and looked at me as if I had three heads!
As we watched the film, I was surprised that while Asbury Park’s most famous son was mentioned, he was not interviewed. At the film’s end, there was a short discussion with Tom Jones about the film, and our friends said they were going to take a break and headed for the lobby. At that moment the curtain began to rise and there was Bruce, front and center. They quickly returned to their seats and for the next two hours, we were transported back to the Upstage for a 1969 late-night jam session with many of the musicians who were there. Most people know Bruce, Little Steven, and Southside Johnny but some like Gary Cavico, Paul Whistler, and Tommy LaBella are locals who remained true to their local roots and have become members of the JSJBF and played our events. Fast forward to 2019 and the recut version of the film, including interviews with Bruce at the Upstage right before it was sold to be turned into condos, and footage from the concert two years earlier had been included. The film had a very limited release last year but is now out for all to see.
Since you can’t go to the movies, I have included a link below. For those of you who were there, it will bring back some great memories, as well as some more difficult and unpleasant. For those of you who weren’,t it will inform you of the rich musical history and heritage of the city, both before the 60’s and during the next three decades when only the Stone Pony kept the musical torch lit until the rebirth of the last twenty years took place.
Tom BaldinoClass of ’65
This is the full video – 1 hour and 29 minutes.