Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bobby Campanell RIP 1951-2019

Bobby Campanell – RIP

The Boss and Our Loss - Bobby Campanell - the Pete Rose of Rock and Roll 

Bob Campanell was the first real rock and roller who turned me on to what rock and roll is really about.

I’ll never forget the night I first met him, on a Memorial Day weekend at Mothers – an all night joint just on the other side of the creek from the Somers Point on the Longport Boulevard that put it in Egg Harbor Township. So Mothers flourished all night when the Somers Point bars were required to close at 2 a.m, just as the Dunes did a few miles up the road and the Attic and Brownies did on the backroads.

It was early in the season when I ventured into Mothers early that morning. I didn't have to pay a cover since the place was owned by a friend of mine – Andrew – who also owned the historic Anchorage in Somers Point and a popular first class Italian restaurant in the Ducktown section of Atlantic City, where his family had roots.

So I sat in and listened to the Shakes for the first time and was astonished. 

I had not heard this style of music before – where the lead singer, before breaking in to a song, would give a little story behind it – keeping up a steady drummer backbeat, a slow bass rhythm, and a little guitar melody while the lead singer Bob Campanell explained how he recently came down to Somers Point and got off exit 30 on the Parkway, and tried to get a gig on the then famous Bay Avenue Strip.

As the rhythm and the percussion stayed steady, Bobby recalled how they went first to the club that had the neon arrow on the roof – and entered the doors above which read a sign that said: Through These Doors Enter The Most Beautiful Women in the World. With the college pennants on the ceiling, it was quite clear he was refereeing to Tony Marts – The Showplace of the World!

The Shakes got an audition with the Boss – Anthony Marotta, who sat by the door at the little side bar, smoking cigars and sipping a drink. But after a few original songs the boss cut them off – cut off the electricity – and said, “Get Out-a-here! You boys are playing for yourselves – you have to play the hits!”

And at that point in relating the story, Bobby and the Shakes kicked in – the percussion picked up a notch, the bass increased the rhythm, and Bobby began to sing, what Anthony Marotta, Sr. told them, “Hit the Road, Jack, and never come back, no more, nor more…..” I was blown away.

So at the end of that set I asked Bob, whose name I didn’t even know at the time, if I could interview him about his music, as at the time I wrote a music column for the Ocean City Broadsider Magazine. And since the owner of Mothers had taken out a nice advertisement with us, I felt obligated to write about the entertainment he presented.

No problem, Bob said, motioning me to follow him from the bar to the little storage closet they used as a dressing room.

With the other members of the band sitting around us, drinking beers, I asked Bob about how he got started in music, and noticed the old tin Beatles lunch bin he said he had from his grammar school days, that he now used to keep his guitar picks and strings.

When I said that baseball star Pete Rose bore a remarkable resemblance to him, he reached over and put on a Philadelphia Philly baseball cap and grinned, that brought out the likeness even more. From then on I called Bobby the Pete Rose of Rock and Roll, as he played just as hard.

I didn’t get much out of Bob that night, but knew that we were born in the same year – 1951, and graduated from high school at the same time 1969 – him from Triton and me from Camden Catholic, both in South Jersey. So I felt we had something in common.

Later that year, on Labor Day, I requested and Bobby gave me permission to tape record their final show of the summer, that I did on two 90 minute cassette tapes. Sitting at the bar in front of the band, I set the microphone hanging from the glass racks with the tape recorder on the bar. With the tingling of the glasses, and conversations as a backdrop, you can almost smell the cigarette smoke like you can see in the original LA private detective TV series Peter Gunn, whose favorite bar was Mothers, from which the local joint took its name.

I still have the two 90 cassette tapes and occasionally play them, going back into like a time machine, to that place at that time when the Shakes ruled my music world.

Around the same time – give or take a year or so – late 1970s, the top rock radio station in the country – WMMR – put out what they called a Breakout album, a 33-1/3 rpm that included a song by the Shakes that Bobby wrote – “Pour it Out,” undeniably the best song on the LP.

And with the radio airtime they got a special gig – opening for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at a suburban Philadelphia college auditorium – just like Eddie and the Cruisers. It was their chance to breakout from being a local Jersey Shore bar band to a full blown national act with records, hits on radio and the charts.

That never happened, and I didn’t find out until years later when I got off a train from D.C. in Philly and caught a bus to Ocean City. Pulling in to the Camden bus station at the old Parkade building, across from City Hall, I reminisced about picking up my father there every Friday to drive to Ocean City for the weekend. I wondered if there was anyone around town who I knew, and Bubba (real name Ansen Cooper) – the drummer for the Shakes got on the bus and gave me a big toothy smile and joined me in the back of the bus.

That’s when he told me the story about opening for Southside at the college auditorium. They had a regular bar gig the night before, and he picked up some chick and got drunk and woke up late, and by the time he got to the gig, Southside was playing and the Shakes had canceled, they couldn’t go on without a drummer. And he was crying just telling me the story of how he blew their best chance to make the big time. But Bobby forgave him.

The Shakes continued to play Mothers and the Attic after hour joints, then moved on to Margate, where they were the house band at Merrals for a number of seasons. Merrals was open until the wee hours of the morning, and the Shakes didn’t take the stage until midnight but played until closing – long and tiresome sets, but no one was ever disappointed. The Shakes were tremendous, and filled the joint to the rafters, the dance floor was packed, and a line to get in ran across the street to Lenny’s Hot Dogs.

Afterwards I occasionally joined Bobby and the Shakes in an extended tour of some of Atlantic City’s all night establishments.

Then one day Bobby pulled up on the alley outside the River Rat Club – the three car garage behind my parent’s Ocean City home that had a 9 foot regulation pool table with leather net pockets that came from our friend’s home in Camden. As me and Bobby played a game of  8 ball, he began to get emotional and said that he just learned that his girl of a few years had betrayed him had another lover. Bobby said that he felt that he had wasted years with this girl, years he had invested in her that was now down the drain. I tried to consul him, as he would counsel so many others over the next years. I said that he should consider it a learning experience, and move on from here.

And then, thank God, he met Linda, who I think was a waitress at Egos, the disco that was built on the old Tony Marts site. And she didn’t let him down. No more ventures into Atlantic City after gigs, he went straight home, and loved it.

When Southside Johnny and the Asbury Juke were billed to play a cancer benefit at the front ballroom of Convention Hall – now Boardwalk Hall, I hired Bo Higbee to video tape part of the show and allow me to do on camera interviews with some of  the band. Afterwards we went to Merrals and filmed the scene there – including a walk around the dance floor and stage as Bobby and the Shakes performed “Hollywood Boulevard.” It was a memorable experience, except Boo later informed me that at Merrals, he had failed to turn on the audio tape and we had no sound.

In any case, I stayed friends with Bob and the Shakes were my favorite band of all time.

One day, sitting on my front porch in Ocean City, Bob gave me advertisements – photos and reviews of their Asbury Park days and I prepared a good story on the Shakes Asbury Park days for the Atlantic City Sun weekly. I wrote it and submitted it, but the newspapers offices had a fire and all was destroyed. I felt really bad telling Bob the memorabilia was lost, but he just shrugged, and was very forgiving, as he always was.

It wasn’t long after that when I drove up Highway Nine to Tuckerton to a small sleazy bar where Bob was playing a solo gig. As I walked in he smiled and winked but didn’t miss a beat.

I had seen Bruce Springsteen play the Spectrum the night before, and when Bobby was on a break, hot and sweaty he said that he was at the show too. Springsteen’s secretary, who he knew by her first name, called him and said there were front row tickets for the show waiting for him, and when he picked them up there was an invitation for him to go backstage where they renewed old ties.

Bob said that Bruce invited him to attend that night’s show as well and when I asked incredulously - Why didn’t you go?, Bob said, “Because I had to work too.”

I thought, but didn’t say, how ironical it was that both Bruce and Bob were playing so hard, for the same length of time, and just as entertaining, but Bruce was playing before tens of thousands of fans for hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Bob was playing just has hard for a hundred people and a hundred bucks.

The last time I saw Bobby play was a solo gig at Tyson Merriman’s Tuckahoe Inn. As Billy Walton said in his tribute to Bobby, it didn’t matter if he was playing for a packed house or just a few people, he always played just as hard, and with a meaningful passion. I requested his original “Pour it Out,” and while he said he hadn’t played that in a long time, he really poured it out.

And then Patty Blee, who also plays in a band with a red head named Patty Scialfa, announced on Facebook that they were doing a benefit show for Ernie T. – presenting him with an award indicting – err inducting him into the New Jersey Blues Hall of Fame, I knew Bobby would be there.

And he was, playing two songs at the end of the night, Canned Heat's "Lets Work Together," and Curtis Mayfield's “People Get Ready,” – “ People get ready, a train is commin’ – you don’t need no ticket – just get on.”

Then he died in the arms of his wife. What a way to go.

Bobby finally made the Big Time – he poured it out and broke out and is now on that train with all of his Hollywood Heroes. Hold on Bobby, I’m commin’ to catch that train too……






















Friday, May 17, 2019

The 1969 Parkway Murders - 50 Years Later - Did Ted Bundy Do It?

A COLD CASE HEATS UP
Ted Bundy & the 1969 Parkway Co-Ed Murders
By William Kelly
billkelly3@gmail.com 
(609) 346-0229

As this is the 50th Anniversary of the 1960 Parkway Murders - I will be reposting some of the articles I have written about it over the years. 


Whenever the bodies of young women are discovered and there's a suspected serial killer on the loose, it's easy for anyone who was at the Jersey Shore in the summer of '69 to remember the Memorial Day weekend Parkway Coed murders.

None of the original investigators on that case are still active. Those who have been assigned the Susan Davis and Elizabeth Perry cold case file have had to start from the beginning.

For most people, it was a typical Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of another summer season at the South Jersey shore. Then on Monday-Memorial Day-a parkway maintenance worker named Elwood "Woody" Faunce discovered the bodies of Susan Davis and Elizabeth Perry in secluded underbrush off the Garden State Parkway.

The two 19-year-old college coeds had been missing since the previous Friday when they failed to return to Pennsylvania after a few days at the Jersey Shore. They had stayed at an Ocean City rooming house on Ninth Street. They'd toured the Boardwalk, they'd gone to the beach, and after dark they hit the Somers Point nightclubs. 

Returning to their rooming house about two o'clock in the morning, when the bands went off, they packed their bags and said goodbye to the rooming house owners. Stopping at the Circle Diner in Somers Point, they sat with two young men who bought them breakfast. 

As they were leaving the diner, an off duty policeman was leaving the Jolly Roger bar across the street. The policeman later said that he saw the two girls leaving the diner in the blue convertable. They stopped for a young man with his arm in a sling, who got in the car. 

Perry and Davis and their passenger then drove onto the Parkway never to be seen alive again.

When the girls failed to make it home on Friday night, their parents notified the authorities. Police searched for their car, a powder blue 1966 Chevrolet convertible. After a few days, the fathers of the missing girls rented a plane and flew over the route they knew they would have taken, looking for the car in the weeds off the road in case they'd had an accident.

Then Howard Blazer of Blazer's Garage on Tilton Road returned from an out-of-state fishing trip and learned about the missing girls from news reports. He had towed the convertible off the Parkway on Friday. It was found with the top down on the side of the road around mile marker 31.9.

A New Jersey State Trooper, Louis Sturr, had found the car abandoned early Friday morning when he first went on patrol. He'd called the tags in but there was no report of the car being stolen, so Blazer was called to have it towed to his Northfield garage. Blazer then went fishing and Trooper Sturr left the area for the weekend.

Everyone forgot about the towed car until the following Monday when the bodies were finally found. The delay gave the killer a three day lead before the investigation officially began. Despite a massive effort that lasted the entire summer, the case remains unsolved.

As the years stretched into decades, there were periodic peaks of media and public interest when a new suspect emerged or a mass murderer confessed to the crime. Both Gerald Eugene Stano and Ted Bundy, two of the most prolific mass murderers in history, claimed credit for the Parkway murders. The police took the Stano confession seriously enough to send two detectives down to Florida State Prison to interview him, but he didn't know any of the specifics of the crime. He had the murder taking place on the wrong side of the road.

As for Bundy, after being caught in Colorado for the murder of a number of young women and escaping twice, he moved on to Florida where capital punishment laws remained in effect. Captured again after going on a rampage of murder there, Bundy settled into Florida's death row. Before being executed on January 24, 1989, Bundy went through a series of taped counseling sessions with a court-approved forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Art Norman.

Because of patient-doctor confidentiality issues, Norman couldn't reveal what Bundy said until after Bundy was dead. Norman reported that Bundy had told him what it would have been like to have been the Parkway killer. Talking in the third person, Bundy spoke about leaving Philadelphia for California when he "decided to go back home to the west coast, sort of like a defeated state of mind. But before he does, he decides to take a little bit of a jaunt to what they call the Jersey Shore."

Bundy told Norman, “This is early summer. So after being more or less detached from people for a long period of months, he didn't have many friends, didn't go anywhere, just more or less had school and walks on the beach. And he just gets a (mumble) sees young women lined up like a vision. Like, you know...eventually he found himself tearing around the place for a couple of days. So without really planning anything, he picked up a couple of young girls and ended up with...the first time he had ever done it. Sort of a spontaneous kind of something he hadn't planned, but something that had been building. That was the edge...SO when he left for the coast, it was not just getting away; it was more.ke an escape."

"Is this just an amazing coincidence?" Norman asked at the time of Bundy's execution. "That he just happened to be there on Memorial Day before he went back to the west coast and two girls disappeared in that area at the time? I believe this is where he really started! ‘

Robert N. McAllister, Jr., the Atlantic County Prosecutor at the time of the murders, kept the case open while he was in office. The next prosecutor, Jeffrey Blitz, took over in 1972 and he periodically reviewed the case over the course of two decades. He was in office when Bundy was executed.

Blitz said, "I spoke to Dr. Norman. He had come to the conclusion that Bundy was responsible for the (Parkway) coed murders. 1 asked him if Bundy said he did it and Norman said no. But based on what Bundy said, Norman believed he could draw the conclusion that Bundy was responsible. That's not satisfying."

What is convincing to a psychiatrist is not as satisfying to a lawyer. But according to Norman, more specific details did come out of his interviews with Bundy.

Bundy was a Temple University student in 1969 who said that instead of taking a professor's car to California right away as he had promised, he drove to New York City, visited the sex shops off Broadway, then drove down to Ocean City and looked at the girls on the Boardwalk and the beach. Most of the other girls Bundy murdered fit the same profile as Perry and Davis, and they were also found in the woods just off major highways.

 While Bundy's fingerprints on the car or his DNA evidence at the crime scene could prove conclusive, the New Jersey State Police and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office are both reluctant to pin him to the crime. If it was Bundy, then their failure to Drawing on details of the crime, Barth has developed a plausible catch him led to the deaths of 50 more beautiful young women.

No investigators from New Jersey even attended the Bundy Conference, a meeting of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who met at Quantico, Virginia to review unsolved crimes that could possibly be attributed to Bundy. Yet after local police were publicly criticized for the "tragedy of errors" that occurred during the initial phase of the investigation, Elizabeth Perry's father wrote a letter to the editor of local newspapers saying, “I comprehend their abilities quite more clearly than other residents who presume to criticize them. This is not to suggest that every last man on the force is a Sherlock Holmes, but it was apparent to me, and I’m sure I can speak for Mr. Davis, that they are dedicated and competent people trying to do a job against great odds.”

While few officials today actually recall the details of the 1969 Parkway murders, the still unresolved nature of the case stands out as a reminder to local police detectives and state and federal investigators as they continue to pour over the evidence in other, similar crimes. The Parkway coed murders, if solved, could eventually lead to the resolution of other, similar cold cases.

The case has already served as a basis for more than one book. Christian Barth, a Cherry Hill attorney, wrote a novel based on the 1969 Parkway coed murders. The plot presumes that Bundy was the perpetrator and tries to get inside his mind. The synopsis states that the book is “based on a true story.” Barth’s book, The Origins of Infamy, tells of Ted Bundy’s alleged involvement in the murder of two coeds at the Jersey Shore on Memorial Day, 1969.

Ocean City historian Fred Miller has said, "Barth's novel is a spellbinding re-imagination of one of the more disturbing cold cases in local history."

"Though I considered writing a non-fiction book," Barth said, "I felt that the story would be more realistically portrayed through Bundy’s viewpoint, utilizing now-extinct Jersey Shore nightclubs such as Tony Marts and Bay Shores CafĂ© for a backdrop so as to maintain an accurate degree of historical authenticity.”

“Drawing on details of the crime, Barth has developed a plausible scenario as to what really happened. But did Bundy do it? 

Pat Lawall thinks so, and she may have some photos to prove it.

The fortieth anniversary of the crime in 2009 sparked the publication of a number of news and feature articles, and as so often happens, the media publicity generated some new witnesses.

Pat Lawall came out of the woodwork and said, “I read an article on Bundy and the Parkway murders and I absolutely believe that Ted Bundy killed those girls. I’m from the Philadelphia suburbs and I stayed in Ocean City with my best friend and her family who owned a summer home there. We spent a couple weeks each summer beginning in 1968."

"One summer we spent our time at the Ninth Street beach by the jetty because that was the most popular spot. There was a guy who hung out at the beach each day who constantly tried to get us to go with him. The three of us were all scared of him because he looked strange with his bushy hair and beard and he was the only one who wore long jeans to the beach. He never wore a bathing suit or shorts and he looked very out of place. He had his arm in a sling. We would occasionally see him getting into his car which he parked on Ninth Street. It appeared as though he was living in his car. He seemed to have a ton of things in there. He drove a Volkswagen Bug. He told us he was from California and his name was Ted Bluchell and that he used to be in the band The Association.”

“While we certainly knew The Association, we had no idea who the band members were. We all found him extremely creepy. His eyes were shifty. He did seem to favor talking to me and I found many excuses to get away from him. At that time, I had long brown hair parted in the middle, which was the style.”

“It wasn’t until 20-plus years later when I was watching a show on Ted Bundy and they showed a picture of him with bushy hair and a beard that I knew it was him. You don’t forget someone who really scared you. In this same show, they mentioned the New Jersey coed murders. They said Bundy may have been involved and I was convinced at that moment he was.”

“It finally made sense, the way he was at the beach in jeans looking so out of place, and so determined to get someone to go with him. Everyone else was just hanging out enjoying the sun with friends. He was all alone. It also explains why he would tell us that his name was Ted Bluechel and that he was in the band The Association. I think he was making that up to impress us to go with him. But he used his real first name.”
There is, in fact, a real Ted Bluechel who actually was with The Association. If Bundy was impersonating Ted Bluechel of The Association, a photo would certainly nail it.

Wayne Miller, who now works at Pleasantville Schools and sells insurance, also read the fortieth anniversary news coverage. He wonders if an accident report filed by the murdered girls a few days earlier was properly investigated.

Miller's office used to be on Tilton Road in Northfield, just down the street from Blazer's garage. He recalls that on Thursday, the day before that Memorial Day weekend, he handled a car insurance claim for a fender bender between the two girls in the convertible and two young men in a blue and cream-colored Volkswagen van with New Mexico tags.

Miller said that he notified the New Jersey State Police at the time and sent the accident report to their Absecon barracks. He told them that he saw the girls talking to the men across from his office, then they drive south on the Parkway, back toward Ocean City and Somers Point. Miller later saw the VW Van in Ocean City.

The New Jersey State Police said that while the Absecon barracks no longer exist, they have an investigator assigned to the case, the files are being reviewed, and any new leads will be pursued.

When Jeffrey Blitz retired and Theodore F. L. Housel took over the Atlantic City Prosecutor's Office in 2008, Housel assigned a new investigator to review the Parkway coed murders. Because of a heavy case load, they've had to give more recent crimes priority. Forensic science has developed new investigative techniques and types of evidence, such as DNA, that didn't exist in 1969. So who knows if new evidence, a new witness or additional clues could lead to the perpetrator?
I


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ocean City Music Pier Concerts Summer of 2019

Ocean City Music Pier Concerts – Summer of 2019


JUNE 24 BUDDY GUY

JUNE 25 RICHARD THOMPSON and JOAN OSBORNE

JUNE 29 BRUCE IN THE USA

JUNE 30 HAPPY TOGETHER 10TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR FEATURING THE TURTLES, 
CHUCK NEGRO OF 3 DOG NIGHT, GARY PUCKET & THE UNION GAP, THE ASSOCIATION, 
CLASSICS IV. AND THE COWSILLS, 

JULY 1- BOZ SCAGGS

JULY 8 - ALLMAN BETTS BAND W/ SPECIAL GUEST JACK BROADBENT 

JULY 15 - KILLER QUEEN

JULY 22- TBA

JULY 29 - JON ANDERSON OF YES

AUGUST 5 - LOU GRAMM THE VOICE OF FOREIGNER AND ASIA FEATURING JOHN PAYNE

AUGUST 12 and 13 - GET THE LED OUT

AUGUST 19  - THE ZOMBIES

AUGUST 20 - WALTER TROUT and VANESSA COLLIER


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Somers Point Beach Concerts - Summer of 2019

SOMERS POINT BEACH CONCERTS – Summer of 2019

[BK NOTES: Many thanks to Carmen and Nancy Marotta for putting these shows together. I will also be posting the schedule for the Atlantic City Boardwalk shows, as well as the local Jersey Shore bar bands.So stay tuned.]

Image result for Somers Point Beach Concerts
Billy Walton at the Somers Point Beach
(Hey, Today is Billy's Birthday! - May 7)

June 21: Kick-off with Jethro Tull's Martin Barre Martin Barre, Jethro Tull's founding lead guitarist, celebrates Tull's 50th anniversary. For more information, visit www.martinbarre.com.

June 28: Grammy Nominated Victor Wainwright and The Train From Southern Hospitality to Boogie Woogie Rock & Roll. For more information, visit www.victorwainwright.com.

July 4: 4th of July Spectacular Featuring Billy Walton's Jersey Shore Rock and Soul Revue, starring Michael "Tunes" Antunes from Eddie & The Cruisers. Also performing is Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez from Springsteen's E Street Band, and the Billy Walton Band.

July 5: 'Eagles Country' Tribute to The Eagles with Hawkins Road With their premier performance of "Eagles Country", the Hawkins Road Allstars will pay tribute to the Eagles, with special guests Dan Burke, "Big Bob" Ernano, Rosie O'reilly, Heather "Lil' Mama" Hardy. For more information, visit www.hawkinsroad.com.

July 12: Bobby Campanell's "Summer of Love" Bobby Campanell will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock with his "Summer of Love" concert from 1969. The evening will also mark the debut performance of The Deck Band. www.facebook.com.

July 19: Pittsburg's Queen of Blues Jill West and Blues Attack. Additional artists TBA. For more information, visit www.jillwestandbluesattack.com.

July 26: Will Power Tribute to Tower of Power and the hit songs What is Hip?, Down to the Nightclub,andStill A Young Man.

August 2: Multi-Grammy Award-Winning Phantom Blues Band Premier appearance by one of the world's greatest ensembles, who have performed with Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, and Taj Mahal. For more information, visit www.thephantombluesband.com.

August 9: The Jeremiah Hunter Band Featuring original members of The Soul Survivors and Full House. For more information, visit www.kennyjeremiah.com.

August 16: New Orleans' Funky Brassy Rock of Bonerama Performing a Led Zeppelin Tribute.

August 23: The Dane Anthony Band A premier Northeast party dance band. For more information, visit www.daneanthony.com.

August 30: "BEGINNINGS" A world-class tribute to Chicago, this is BEGINNINGS premier performance at the Somers Point Beach Concerts.

Sept. 1: Labor Day Weekend Holiday Show Performers TBA.- To Be Announced.

Sept 6: Living Legacy of Louisiana Zydeco Multi-Award Winning aritists CJ Chenier and The Red Hot 

Lousiana Band. For more information, visit www.officialcjchenier.com.


Friday, July 6, 2018

Music That Made Tony Marts Famous

Friday July 6

THE MUSIC THAT MADE TONY MART'S FAMOUS"  http://www.somerspointbeachconcerts.com/


The Somers Point Beach concerts tonight feature the Music that Made Tony Marts Famous. 

From Conway Twitty, Bill Haley to Mitch Ryder, Bob Dylan and The Band, "The Music That Made Tony Mart's Famous" by The Tony Mart All stars...Bob Campanell, Danny Eyer, "Ernie T" Trionfo, Howard Isaacson, "Old School" Jimmy Glenn, Greg Pordin and Rich "Megahurtz" Kurtz, Musical Director.

Certainly Tony Marts was the center of the Rock and Roll universe at one time – and the music that came out of there is fantastic. Beginning with Spike Jones style and New Orleans schitck, through the Bill Haley and the Comets early rock and roll years, both before and after their fame. Then there was Levon and the Hawks ("The Weight," "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up on Cripple Creek") who were taken out of there by Dylan when he “went electric,” and they were replaced by Mirch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels ("Devil with the Blue Dress") for that memorable  Labor Day weekend, 1965, one of the greatest summers on record.

When lawyer Harris Berman purchased Bay Shores some two deacedes later and razed it in 1982, he built the Waterfront, a restaurant that didn’t have live music on the menu. Then Berman turned his eyes across the street and purchased Tony Marts, but not before Eddie and the Cruisers hit town. By then Tony was getting old, and the club was mainly run by his two sons Tony and Carmen and their sister.

Of all the songs that made Tony Marts famous I recall “Fire On the Water,” that the bands played so loud it echoed down Bay Avenue and across the bay waters.
Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock,” the first rock & roll song to make number one on the Pop Charts during the summer of 1955, had been released a year earlier as the B side to another forgettable song. But the ten year old son of actor Glenn Ford liked it and played it over and over on the little 45 rpm record player in his bedroom. When the director of  the movie The Blackboard Jungle visited actor Glenn Ford, and heard the song, he made it the opening song during the credits of the movie, about teenage juvenile delinquents.

With the release of the movie that summer, the song went to the top of the charts, as they “like a bullet,” and Bill Haley and the Comets went from the Hofbrau nightclub in Wildwood to Ocean City Convention Hall, the Dick Clark Show, Ed Sullivan, fame and glory.

But after a few other hits, and many popular world tours, Bill Haley and his Comets found their way back to the Jersey Shore and Tony Marts and played often.

After the costumed Comets and the suit and tied Hawks, the music took a decisive psychedelic twist and the bands discarded their costumes and jackets, grew their hair long, and preferred t-shirts to ties, like the Monkey Men.

By the time the last summer at Tony Marts came around, Tony had pretty much retired to his classic, eclectic house next door  (That was recently torn down), while the new generation ran the show at the club.

And just as a movie made “Rock Around the Clock” a hit, a movie came in to preserve Tony Marts, if only on celluloid.

The soundtrack for “Eddie and the Cruisers” included three hit songs that are on the Tony Marts hit list – “On the Darkside,” “Wild Summer Nights” and “Tender Years,” all performed by The Beaver Brown Band, who Carmen brought in to play the Somers Point Beach.

Once Tony Marts was gone, and Egos disco – no live music – was built in its place, it appeared that Somers Point “Rock and Roll” era had come to an end.
But then Nick Regine and others put together the Somers Point Beach Concerts, to keep the live music tradition going and Carmen Marotta leades the team that books the bands, as well as the free Wednesday night concerts at Kennedy Plaza on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

While both concert venues will host some really terrific major touring acts – Marchia Ball, Taj Mahal and others, it is truly refreshing for the best local musicians and entertainers to perform on the same stage.

The music that  made Tony Marts famous is a great opportunity to feature these locals – the Tony Marts All-Stars – led by Bob Campanell, and featuring guitarist Danny Eyer, the guitar doctor Ernie “T.” Trionfro, drummer Greg Pordin, “Old School” Jimmy Glenn, smooth sax man Howard Isaacs and Rich “Megahurtz” Kurtz, who is described as the music director.

I know Bob Campanell played Tony Marts because the first time I saw him lead the Shakes at Mothers all night joint, he did a song that led into a short monologue with a steady back beat – telling the story of playing an audition at the place on Bay Avenue, where the boss took his cigar out of his mouth and said, “Youse Fired!” – then kicking into a splendid, hard hitting “Hit the Road Jack!” – and never come back no more, no more.

Bob and the Shakes came down from Asbury Park to the South Jersey Shore, something that the other singer-songwriter from Asbury Park never did, at least to perform.

With his band, that includes the incomparable guitarist Danny Eyer, Bob will blow you away on the beach and boardwalk. Solo, he plays often at happy hour at the Tuckahoe in at Beesley's Point. He still keeps his solid and flowing guitar riffs and smooth vocals to play many of the same songs – the songs that made Tony Marts famous, and the Jersey Shore the epicenter of the rock and roll universe, at least at one time.

For more on Somers Point Beach Concerts see: Somers Point Beach Concerts - William Morrow Beach

For more on the Memorable Summer of 1965 see:




Here's pix of Bob, playing guitar, and with that other guy from Asbury Park. 
Image result for Bob Campanell