The Jersey Shore Music Scene Is Alive and Well

Ah, the Jersey Shore. The mere mention of it sends an shiver down the spine of the average outsider. Thanks to the hit MTV reality show, the area gets a reputation of being the breeding grounds for “gym, tan, laundry” and fist-pumping (we pump our fists, not our gas). But to the music aficionado, the shore brings to mind nostalgic images of gritty boardwalk venues and the roaring sounds of legendary acts. Synonymous with the shore is none other than the embodiment of blue-collar rock ‘n roll: Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen, or ‘The Boss’ as he’s affectionately known, cut his teeth in the Shore’s bustling local scene, packing small clubs with his powerful anthems of life, love, and the struggle of the everyday man. His voice, raw and resonant, paired with a deep-rooted authenticity, reverberated from the Stone Pony in Asbury Park and beyond, creating ripples still felt today.


Photo: Rene Huemer

But let’s not forget that Springsteen isn’t the only gem to emerge from the shore. The Jersey Shore music scene has also given us the likes of Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and more recently bands like The Gaslight Anthem and Bleachers. These artists, though stylistically diverse, share a thread of authenticity, the kind that springs from late nights, crowded bars, and a relentless passion for connection through sound. This same passion courses through the Shore’s veins, driving its evolution and keeping the scene vibrantly alive.

I spent the week back home at the shore for the 4th of July and was treated to quite possibly the best run of shows I’ve ever experienced. The fun started out on July 3rd. I went with friends and family to see Goose at the sold out Stone Pony. For me and many others, this was one of the most enthralling concert experiences to date. Not only was the music ripping, but an entire firework show lit up the sky for nearly 20 minutes (or two jammed-out Goose songs). The primal scream the entire crowd let out was one of the loudest and most powerful noises I’ve ever heard. No one knew whether to look back at the fireworks or up at the band, it was complete pandemonium and bliss at the same time. You could tell the band was feeding off the energy of both the crowd and fireworks, elevating their playing to a tier I haven’t seen before…and I’ve seen a few Goose shows (July 4th was my 20th). On top of this amazing spectacle of a performance, the percussionist of Goose (Jeff Arevalo) even rocked a shirt I made on stage, a surreal moment for me, and it was my Dad and two Uncles’ first Goose show, definitely not the last. This was just night one though, as Goose ran it back at the Pony on the 4th for another electric show. Though no fireworks this time, the band weaved in and out of originals and covers like The Grateful Dead’s ‘US Blues’, John Cafferty’s ‘Wild Summer Nights’, and a crowd-sing a long in 4 Non Blondes ‘What’s Up?’. As the crowd funneled out onto the boardwalk each night, more music was to be had at the numerous after-shows along the beach, featuring fantastic hometown bands like Fungkshui and Waiting on Mongo and even the Montana-based Kitchen Dwellers.IMG_0382.webp

Photo: Nick Codina

Although I didn’t attend, throwback pop-punk legends Yellowcard graced the Stone Pony Summer Stage on July 6th. The next day on the 7th, Trey Anastasio band came through Asbury Park; a triumphant second chance after his earlier appearance there was cancelled due to the pandemic. The day started early around lunchtime, with a very special live podcast taping from Osiris Media featuring Tom Marshall, RJ Bee, and local exploding band, Dogs In A Pile. The event featured a Q&A with the band and an intimate acoustic set at the indoor stage which included a rendition of ‘Evolve’ with Tom Marshall also on vocals. Something must have been in the air, as Trey and the band played ‘Evolve’ on the Summer Stage later that night. One surprising moment I wasn’t expecting was when trombone phenom Natalie Cressman took the mic to perform a cover of Ana Tijoux’s ‘1977’ in Spanish, throwing a twist to the typical Trey Band performance. The show rocked, and making it even better was the fact that my good friend Andrew Sax (@somesaxyart on IG) did the official event poster for the event, his first ever work for Trey Anastasio. Congrats, Andrew – your print sold out before the show was even halfway over!


But the week of music didn’t stop there, as I then hosted the second year of ‘A Long Strange Round with Dogs In A Pile’ on Sunday, an all-day golf outing with an awards ceremony and after-show at Salty’s Beach Bar in Belmar hosted by Jersey Shore music legend, Sandy Mack. The first group teed off at 9:15 AM and the music went until 9PM at the after party, filled with tons of sit-ins, local artists and vendors, and even live painting. After a full week of non-stop action and what felt like truly felt like a festival, I was completely wiped. But I’d do it all over again if given the chance. It’s encouraging to see the music of the shore still growing and evolving way beyond its roots, with young acts carrying the torch passed down from those before them. Each generation at the shore seems to pay homage to its predecessors while infusing the scene with its own flavor. The energy is palpable, a testament to a musical legacy that is continually reborn. It’s a testament to the talent and heart of the artists who call it home. And it’s a testament to the spirit of Jersey – a spirit that finds its rhythm in the crash of the waves, the pulsating beats echoing from weathered speakers, and the chorus of voices singing along in the salty sea air. The Jersey Shore music scene isn’t just a place or a moment in time; it’s a living, breathing entity, a sonic love letter to music lovers everywhere. So here’s to the artists, past, present, and future, who continue to shape its storied legacy. Here’s to the Jersey Shore.


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