brent johnson shines a light on one of the bigger winter music festivals on the East Coast …
Over the next five days, the city of Asbury Park, N.J. — one of America’s rock ‘n’ roll meccas — will a host a sprawling music festival for a good cause. There will be concerts featuring big names and open mic shows for the lesser-known at venues all over the Jersey Shore town. There will be video presentation about the city’s music history.
And you might even see Bruce Springsteen makes a surprise appearance on stage. It’s happened many times before, after all.
The event is called Light Of Day, named after a 1987 Springsteen track, and proceeds help fight Parkinson’s disease and similar illnesses — funding research and support for patients. Last year’s festival raised nearly $300,000.
Now in its 13th year, Light Of Day has grown significantly since its conception. The idea was sparked by a birthday party and fundrasier in 1998 for noted artist manager and music industry vet Bob Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Two years later, Light Of Day held its first event: a single show at The Stone Pony, the most famous of Asbury’s rock clubs, and one of the most noted venues in the country.
Springsteen made an unexpected appearance at the gig, playing with the house band until 2 a.m. The Boss — a Jersey Shore native who got his start playing Asbury’s music scene — has guested at the event (unbilled) eight more times since then.
Other artists who have played Light Of Day: Southside Johnny, Jakob Dylan, Pete Yorn, Lucina Williams, Badly Drawn Boy, John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls, Joe Grushecky, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Nicole Atkins, Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens, John Eddie, and Willie Nile. Actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s, also rocked a guitar — a la Back To The Future — on stage one year.
There have also been Light Of Day-sponsored concerts across the world this past year — in Canada, Scotland, Wales, the U.K., Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy.
This week’s festival kicks off tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City with a show from ’60s rock star Gary U.S. Bonds — who scored a No. 1 single in 1961 with “Quarter To Three” and returned to the Top 20 in 1981 with a Springsteen-penned hit called “This Little Girl.”
The events in Asbury begin tomorrow night and run through Monday. Other performers include former Wings member Denny Laine, ’80s New Jersey rockers Dramarama, pop and soul legend Darlene Love, ’90s hitmakers The Gin Blossoms, as well as showcases featuring bands and singer-songwriters from New Jersey and around the region.
For more details and a full schedule of events, visit LightOfDay.org.
Stay tuned to Pop-Break.com. We’ll be live at Light Of Day 2013 with stories and photos throughout the weekend.