The 2011 Asbury Music Awards, presented by The Boardwalk’s Top Music Venue, The Saint, and hosted by The Stone Pony, is the truest indication of what our artistic community is all about.
As stated by local radio personality at 90.5 The Night, and host of the 19th annual gala, Jeff Raspe put it, “In other musical communities, you’re lucky to have four or five good bands come out of it every few years. In Asbury, you’ll have four or five good bands to see on a Tuesday.”
And that’s true, this grandiose gathering and State Of The Scene showcase is about the strength of the tunes and talent emanating from our musical hub by the sea, but more so, its about the support system that’s been constructed, the collaborative relationships that have been built, how artisans choose to express themselves, and that was on full display throughout the evening, but no more evident than when a pair of the areas best Folk-Rock outfits, Thomas Wesley Stern and Accidental Seabirds, shared The Stone Pony planks for a fireside-like rendition of the former’s “Now I Know” in which percussion was added to the four-man string band’s closing number in the form of clunking cowbells and the captivating clank of a drumstick to the brown glass of Yuengling bottle.
“We tried to keep it concise but informative of all the things we can do,” said Thomas Wesley Stern front-man Joe Makoviecki of the Top Male Acoustic Band’s performance. “You have to love The Pony, there’s so much history, we just tried to make it surprising and memorable.”
Continue reading for more on the night and a list of award winners…
Accidental Seabirds went on to perform a set of its own with music from the group’s debut full-length release, The Snow And The Full Moon, accompanied by a Psychedelia-laced light show of heavy blood colored hues and lights shades of blue, the Jesse Lee penned poetry put to music producing some of the largest sing alongs of the evening.
Asbury’s Emily Grove performed a set full of tunes from her debut EP, Way Across The Sea, as well as was awarded her first Asbury Music Award for Top Female Acoustic Act, nearly producing a tear from the overtly appreciative and somewhat emotional songstress.
“I really wasn’t expecting to win this award,” expressed a genuinely surprised Grove, “so I didn’t prepare a speech. I just want to thank everyone who helped put this night together, they’re all my friends and I love all of them, all of the nominees in this category, and everyone in this scene.”
Of the 25-plus awards that were handed out over the span of the event, maybe the most illustrious is Top Rock Band, and the group who took home the accolade, The Amboys, may have come as a surprise to some show patrons…then again, maybe it shouldn’t have.
In August, The Amboys dropped its sophomore release, an independent production recorded in a foliage engulfed cabin appropriately dubbed Led Into The Woods at Asbury Lanes. From that record emerged the Song Of The Year, as selected by a community of the group’s peers, “One Of Those Nights” and a reputation as one of best Folk bands around, all culminating in being named Top Rock Band over such area favorites as the Ocean Township Pop-Punk collective Almost There, and the Hackettstown, NJ-based Only Living Boy.
“It feels good being recognized by our contemporaries,” said the outfit’s raucous boot stomping bass plucker, and Wayne’s World enthusiast, Manny Castanon, “but it doesn’t change who we are as musicians. Frankie Sharp from Sharp records isn’t rolling up in his limo any time soon. We, along with all the other local bands, are still in this together.”
And that’s the type of attitude that allows our musical community to thrive, allowing evenings such as this to occur, making this haven of artistic expression, this mightily proclaimed musical hub by the sea, truly, the place to be.