Thursday, April 26, 2012

Levon & the Hawks - Summer of '65


Levon & The Hawks & THE SUMMER OF ’65

The Summer of ’65 is still a landmark, watershed year in the memory of those who were there, lived it and are still alive today to remember what happened. Of course we didn’t recognize it was so special while it was happening, it was only years later when we looked back that we recognize how significant it was.

That was the summer that Levon and the Hawks came into our lives, unobtrusively and practically unnoticed, and in fact, we probably didn’t notice they were here until they were gone. Unlike most bands Levon & the Hawks and the Band never had a top ten single, though some of their songs would hit the bottom rungs of the pop charts, and a few were hits for other people.

To put things into perspective, the top songs that fading winter were the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine,” “Ticket to Ride” and ‘Eight Days A Week,” the Surpemes’ “Come See About Me” and “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “My Girl” by the Temps, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Fellin’” by the Righteous Brothers, Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” and “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & the Playboys.

As spring came in, among the songs that hit the top of the pop charts were, “I’m Telling You Now” by Freddie and the Dreamers, “Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermit’s “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry VII, I Am,” and as the summer got underway there was The Supremes’ “Back in My Arms Again” and the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”

The British invasion also included The Rolling Stones that year, as they came in to Atlantic City to play the Steel Pier behind their hit, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Eventually these songs were surpanted by a new and unique song, The Byrd’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which unknowingly herald in what would be a new era, when folk music met rock and roll. 

While the story of  the Band has been told so many times it has entered the realm of myth, I will try to stick to the facts as best I can reassemble them. 

It probably began early in the spring of 1965 with a telephone call from Tony Marotta’s office in the little shack behind Tony Mart’s Café in Somers Point, at the New Jersey shore, to the talent booking office of Colonel Kutlets in Toronto, Canada, with Tony, in his husky voice, and between puffs of on a cigar, asking Kutlets if he had a band that would play the summer as the house band, mainly before and between sets of the main headliners. 

Kutlets, it turned out, had just the band for Tony, as they had finished playing a few years on the road behind rockabilly Ronnie Hawkins, and were tired of touring, needed a steady job, and wanted a place where they could play and settle down and not move around so much. The pay wasn’t very good to start, but they could stay in the rooms above the club and if they fit the bill they would get a raise, and if they stayed the entire summer, until the end of Labor Day weekend, they would get a bonus.  

The band was Levon and the Hawks, as they were known from their stint with Ronnie Hawkins, and Levon was Levon Helm, the only American in the quintet of Canadians that Hawkins had recruited a few years earlier.

Although young, they were seasoned musicians, and Tony liked them because, unlike the psychedelic rock groups that would come after them, they were polite, well-mannered, dressed in suites and ties and respected him.

Decades later I went looking for the local links to The Band, and went to Tony Marts, where above the door was the sign “Through these doors walk the most beautiful girls in the world.” Next to the door was a small bar where I found Anthony “Tony Mart” Marotta, sipping a drink, smoking a cigar and watching the band on stage. Did he remember The Band?

“You mean Levon & the Hawks?”

“Yea, I remember them, the Bums,” he said. “They left me without a band on Labor Day,” and then after a pause, “but they was good boys.”

How did they find their way to Somers Point?

Tony Martotta’s son Carmen Marotta later recalled, “That was the Harold Kutlets agency, out of Hamilton, near Toronto. My father met him through MCA out of New York. They were a promotions, talent, productions, booking company. Kutlets is the man who is eventually credited with picking up and representing the Hawks, Levon & the Hawks who became The Band.”

“They were with Ronnie Hawkins and were the Fabulous Hawks – that’s where the name Hawks comes from – the rockabilly, rhythm & blues singer. Then when they lost Ronnie Hawkins, they had a fight with them or something, they became Levon & the Hawks. Even though they were a Canadian group they couldn’t get any work in Canada at the time, and they were touring down south, we’re talking about the winter of 1965. They were kicking around the south, some of them were from Arkansas, and Kutlets called dad up and said he had this great band that needed a break. They would work cheap. Dad put them in in April. They played six nights a week, four or five sets a night, for $700 total, plus rooms, they lived over top of the bar. They worked their way up to $1300 a week. Now this is for five guys and a manager, a character named Bill Avis, and of course Harold Kutlets got a cut of that.”

Ted Shall did the display advertising for the Press of Atlantic City and wrote an entertainment column called Nightly Whirl, in which Shall wrote: “Don’t forget that tonight is going to be a big one in Somers Point, and at Tony Mart’s in particular. The renown Conway Twitty arrives at the offshore nightspot to join a Canadian group that has rated plaudits for a number of weeks – Levon and the Hawks.”

“Then, as the story goes, and its been corroborated, that they became such a legendary talent, that Dylan himself came here. The way it was told to me was that people from Boston to Georgetown, D.C. were coming here just to hear Levon and the Hawks, and hear Richard Manuel sing Ray Charles and Ottis Redding and James Brown, and see Garth Hudson play the sax and do Junior Walker and the All-Star’s “’Shotgun.’”

Playing six nights a week, three or four sets a night, they kept the house in the house when the main act – usually Conway Twitty, was on a break. Bay Shores across the street and Steels Ship Bar next door, as well as a number of other clubs in the area, also featured live bands, so when the most popular act was off stage, many of the people left. The job of the house band was to keep the people from leaving, and the Hawks did their job really well.

In fact, after a week or so, they had earned their keep, were given a raise and moved into a house down the street.

Carmen: “I was only nine years old at the time, fourth, fifth grade, but I remember The Band. I remember The Band being great. I remember hearing them play. They had two keyboards, there was a railing that ran along the stage and they had Richard Manual on the left hand side, looking at it. It was the center stage, which the L-bar was built around. On the right was Garth Hudson’s organ, a B-3, and all his saxophones and accordions – he was always playing different instruments. In the middle was the drum riser with Levon Helm, and Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson were out front.”

“I remember how great they were. I remember the soulful blues they played. I think that Richard Manuel was the greatest blues singer to ever sing at Tony Marts. I think he was one of the greatest under-rated white blues singers, and he was known for that, as was their music, their jamming, their diversity. They would do, “Little Lizza Jane – I got a girl and you got none….” That was unusual to hear a hillbilly song being played with a rock beat in Tony Marts. They also played, “They Call Me Mr. Pittiful,” “Please, Please, Please,” “Shotgun,” “Blue, Swede Shoes,” “Memphis,” and a lot of the songs on their album, “Moondog Matinee” they played at Tony Marts. Richard Manuel and Levon Helm used to do some of the old southern stuff.”

Before the summer was out people were coming from Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York just to see Levon & the Hawks, the house band at Tony Marts, and others were taking interest, including some music industry heavies like Albert Grossman and Bob Dylan.

There’s three versions of how the Hawks hooked with Bob Dylan. One has Levon and Robbie Robertson going to New York to record and meeting or running into bluesman John Hammond, Jr., whose father was the talent scout for Columbia records and is credited with discovering and signing Billy Holiday, Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, among others.

Another version has Dylan coming to Somers Point and sitting in the audience to check out what he heard was the best rock & roll band on the east coast.

The most likely version however has Dylan visiting the New York city officers of his manager, Albert Grossman, and explaining to Grossman how he wanted to break out of his folk music shell, plug in his guitar and “go electric.”

The Byrds had made a popular hit of his “Mr. Tamborine Man,” and Dylan felt that he needed to go in that direction. Dylan said he needed a rock and roll band to back him up, did Grossman know any?

Grossman may have had a few band in mind, but his secretary, Mary Martin, a Toronto girl, having overheard the conversation, spoke up, and put a plug in for the band she saw back at home in Toronto, the Hawks, who she said were a very remarkable group who played the blues, rockabilly and rock and roll. It didn’t take her long, a few phone calls, to track them down at Tony Marts in Somers Point.

Dylan himself mad the call, and got Levon on the phone. “You want to play Hollywood Bowl?” Dylan asked.

Not having heard of Dylan before, or knowing that he could draw a crowd that could fill the Hollywood Bowl arena, Helm asked, “With who else?”

“Just us,” said Dylan, who Rick Danko, in the background, tried to explain, was a big folk star.

So when they had a night off, Robertson and Helm drove up to New York and met with Dylan and jammed with him a little, enough to convince Dylan he wanted them to back him at his Forest Hills concert on Labor Day weekend.

The only problem was Tony Marotta, the boss, who they not only promised to play for until after Labor Day, they had signed a contract they had to fulfill. But they would try to get around that.

Back in Somers Point they told Tony their predicament, and Tony called Col. Kutlets, who said he had another hot band who could fill in for them - … who had a hit song on the charts, “Devil with the Blue Dress.” 

Carmen notes that,“Dylan took them from dad the week before Labor Day. But dad still loved them and even gave them a cake and party for them on their last night, but he was mad that they couldn’t stay that last week of the summer. But of course Dylan didn’t care about that, and he took the band. But dad was able to get Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels to finish the last week of the summer. It was big times in those days.”

So Tony said okay, he would let them out of the contract, and even through a farewell party for them, complete with cake, on their final night.

While only Levon and Robertson played behind Dylan at Forest Hills, where they were roundly booed at first, they both insisted that the rest of the Hawks be included in the world tour that Dylan had booked, and Dylan agreed.

But Levon had a hard time with the folk purists who booed Dylan at every stop, so he left and took a job on a gulf oil rig rather than be booed.

Then Dylan had a motorcycle accident, and began a lengthily recuperation at the rural home of his manager, Albert Grossmann, in Woodstock, New York, in the Catskill Mountains. A century old artist’s colony, Woodstock was quite familiar with interesting characters, so when the Hawks arrived they didn’t garner much attention. Dylan kept them on the payroll, and three of them leased a pink spit level house where they lived with their friends, families and hangers on. Setting up a place where they could jam in the basement, a typewriter on the dining room table was frequently used to type out verses for songs they made up on the spot. Dylan came around more and more frequently, as he got better, and after dropping the name the Hawks, began being referred to by their friends and neighbors as the Band.  

While Garth had recorded many of the Big Pink basement sessions on a reel to reel tape recorder he kept behind the oil heater, later widely bootlegged and later released as the “Basement Tapes,” when they wanted to record an LP, they wanted to do a live show, but the local town counsel was afraid of an influx of hippies and out of towners, so they nixed the idea. The same counsel also refused to permit others from holding a festival nearby a year later, so while the festival became known as “Woodstock,” it was really held about thirty miles away in Bethel, New York. But the fact Dylan and The Band lived in Woodstock and The Band was booked to play the festival set the stage for the myth of Woodstock even before it happened.

On to fame and fortune, they released their own LP “Music From Big Pink” and their masterpiece second album, “The Band,” and went on to back Dylan on a number of tours, released a number of original albums and then recorded and filmed “The Last Waltz,” which was supposed to be their final, parting shot.  All of this is well documented so I won’t rehash it.

As Robbie Robertson put it, they were tired of touring and the whole music industry, at least he was, and for him, that life was over and he parted ways with the Band. The rest of the group wanted to continue playing however, and after awhile, playing and recording solo and with others, they regrouped, without Robbie Robertson.

Robertson, it seemed, was sadly vindicated when keyboardist and vocalist Richard Manual committed suicide while they were on tour in Florida.

Around the same time Tony Marotta and Albert Grossman also passed away, though like Hubert Sumlin and Dick Clark, they had both lived long, and fulfilling lives, while Richard, the soul and primary voice of The Band, had left life too early.

Levon, Rick Danko and Garth Hudson continued The Band with a wider variety of new sidemen, and they returned to Somers Point to play a Tony Marts Reunion show at Egos, a new disco nightclub that had been built where the old Tony Marts had one stood. 

Driving a leased car down Route 9 from Woodstock, Garth Hudson drove around town and down Bay Avenue, looking for some landmarks that he could remember – Dicks Dock, Dolfin Dock, the Anchorage, Gregory’s and Charlie’s were familiar, but for the most part, the old Somers Point that he knew – Bay Shores, Steels, Gateway Casino, were gone. All of the old nightclubs that used to feature live bands were now mostly discos or restaurants, and they were the only live show in town that night. A remarkable night it was though.

Hooking up with Carmen Marotta again Levon and Carmen entered into a partnership in a New Orleans nightclub, Levon’s All American Café, which featured live music and was known for its jam sessions and as the place where musicians would frequently meet.

Levon also found an acting career, playing most famously as Loretta Lynn’s father in “Coal Miners Daughter” and as a test pilot in “The Right Stuff.” 

In his autobiography “This Wheels On Fire,” Levon set the record straight about “The Last Waltz,” in no uncertain terms, and made pubic the personal feud with Robbie Robertson, who had copyrighted many of The Band’s songs as his own, including “The Weight” and “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down,” both of which feature Levon on vocals and, in Levon’s view, were jointly written by the whole band, though Robertson did write the lyrics.  

I wondered if their stay in Somers Point had any affect on their most creative period, and found a few hints in some of the lyrics.

On their first album, both “The Weight” and “Chest Fever” offer possible clues. When Griel Marcus tried to analysize what their songs really meant, he was warned by Robertson, that he was way off, but there are some interesting, apparent connections.

Although riff with biblical images, Robertson says that the line in the Weight, “pulled into Nazareth, feeling about half past dead,” doesn’t refer to the Nazareth in the bible, but to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where the Martin Guitar factory is located, and where he once visited, possibly I wondered, when they were living in nearby Somers Point.

Then there’s the line in “Chest Fever,” which is primarily known for Garth Hudson’s grand, electric organ solos, but includes the line, “going down to the Dunes, with the goons,” – that some say refers to the old Dunes, after hours all night nightclub, which was located on a sandbar on the bay between Somers Point and Longport, and where the tough bouncers were known to be “goons.”

The Band also played Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City one summer, and Levon and Garth Hudson were part of Ringo Star’s All Stars when they played the makeshift theater they set up in the Bally Casino parking lot on the Boardwalk one summer.

Then Levon and his daughter and friends from Woodstock came down to play the Bubba Mack Shack in Somers Point on more than one occasion.

Then Levon, while he was still recuperating from cancer and didn’t sing, went on a limited tour with and opened for the Black Crows in Atlantic City, a show that I caught, before finally Levon got to headline his own show at Borgata.

More recently Levon had been holding Midnight Ramblin’ shows in his Woodstock barn, where he recorded Dirt Farmer and then Electric Farmer, both earning him Grammy Awards. The World Café’s David Dye, out of WXPN in Philadelphia, visited Levon at the barn and did a show about it that should still be archived in the internet.

As for Tony Marts, 30 years ago – in the spring of 1982, they filmed a major motion picture Eddie & the Cruisers at Tony Marts, which effectively caught the spirit of the legendary nightclub on celluloid, but shortly thereafter it was purchased by Harris Berman, Esq., who had earlier purchased Bay Shores across the street, and tore that down and built The Waterfront. He also demolished Tony Marts to make room for Egos, then billed as the East Coast’s most lavish disco.

The Rock & Roll era was officially over.

“You can’t spend what you ain’t got and you can’t lose what you never had.” 
       - Levon Helm

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three Aces - Mesterhazy, Clark and Helm

Hubert Sumlin and Levon Helm both passed away this year.


At first, I was to resume my weekly music column for the summer of 2012 with a preview of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center benefit at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and I wanted to go to the show, get some photos and report on what happened.

Then came the tragic news that the great jazz pianist George Mesterhazy had died quietly in his sleep in his room above Cape May’s Merion Inn, where he played piano downstairs in the historic bar and restaurant. A memorial funeral service, probably New Orleans style, was to be held in Cape May Court House at the same time as the Stone Pony benefit. I would make neither.

Well, a review of the benefit was put off in favor of a proper tribute to George Mesterhazy, that would have been my column this week, but then something terrific happened – my former Ocean City, NJ friend and neighbor Dick Richards Boccelli was nominated, indicted and officially inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and took his 19 year old grand son and protégé with him to Cleveland for the formal induction services on the night before the Stone Pony benefit and Mesterhazy memorial tribute. If I had known earlier, I would have tried to make the Cleveland gig too, but I’m sure Dick will come back with some great stories and his grandson will have a few photos of the experience.

Then, while trying to decide which story to write about, while I was listening to a recording of an impromptu traditional Irish jam session in McReynolds Pub in Dungiven, Ireland, I got word from across the pond that Tony Summers and Robbyn Swan, who live in Ireland, were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in History for their book The Eleventh Day. As I worked as a research assistant with Tony on his book Not In Your Lifetime, and helped them as I could on The Eleventh Day, I was honored to get their email thanking friends and associates for assisting them.

One friend inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and another associate nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, if good things happen in threes I was waiting for some more good news, and still am waiting.

While I was waiting, and before I could even begin the tribute to Mesterhazy, Dick Clark died, and I thought, utt-oh, that’s not what I was expecting.

Being so close to the Hall through Dick and knowing Tony nominated for a Pulitzer, I really believed that good things were happening and great things were on the horizon, but the tide suddenly changed, and the recognition for past deeds was suddenly swamped by death – of Mesterhazy, of Clark, and here I wait for the third shoe to drop. And it didn’t take long.

As I type these words, the Public Broadcasting News reporter, at the top of the hour, announces that Levon Helm, the drummer and voice of the Band, had died of cancer.

George Mesterhazy, Dick Clark and Levon Helm – There’s Three Aces for you. Each made music their passion and left their mark on the music and the Jersey Shore.

They were each great in their own way - Mesterhazy for being the master pianist, Clark for recognizing and promoting the music, and Levon Helm for being the leader, drummer and voice of the best rock & roll band to play the Jersey Shore, and they will be remembered as such.

More to come on all these people. - BK

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Charlie Grace Interviewed on Radio Times

Charlie Grace in England.

April 15, 2012 – WHYY Marti Masculane Radio Times Interview w/ Charlie Grace

Charlie Grace: …I was always a performer. In my particular case I wasn’t just a rocker’ like some of the guys were, I was a performer. I grew up in the nightclub industry. I saw people like Louie Prima, you know what I mean? Great movie stars, some of the best, Jack Teagarden, great musicians at the Old Latin Casino – Nat King Cole – just to mention a couple of them, and there were hundreds. You sit and you watch and emulate and you learn. It’s unfortunate for these young kids today because there’s nobody left to learn from. That form of entertainment is gone.

But I think I’m one of the last guys. I’ll tell you what happened….I did Nick & …, 5,000 people, you want to perform, that’s what you want. I was there in the afternoon, guy says, “Charlie can you do me a favor?” I said sure, anything you want. “I got fifteen hundred people in the park sitting in folding chairs, can you do a couple numbers?” Give me a mike and an amp. So I did an hour an half for the guy – music, comedy.

Most entertainers are one dimensional. I don’t care if the audience is a hundred years old or nineteen years old, I’ll entertain them.

MM: It sounds like you live for the stage.

Grace: Absolutly, when I’m off for a week my wife says “Go get a gig, you’re driving me crazy.”

MM: Do you practice a lot?

Grace: I never practice at home at all. I can’t play the guitar in a room by myself, it bores me to death. I need an audience. And I learned on stage. You never stop learning on the guitar, it’s infinite. There’s a guy named Pacini, a great violinsts, but he mastered the guitar first, and nobody knows that. And he said there’s no end to the guitar. I thought I knew every cord ever written and I got a book with 1400 more. I was way behind. But you learn as you play. I studied. A lot of guys learn four or five cords and make a living doing it, which is fine, but I wanted to be perfect, and I’m not perfect and I’m not the greatest. There’s guys who can play me under the table. But give me a microphone, give me an audience, and most of the time I think they go home audience.

MM: We’ll be right back. We’re with Charlie Grace, today on Radio Times. He’s had a long career as a guitarist, performer, entertainer, as he days, he’ll be turning 76 in May, and he has a new album called “For the Love of Charlie,” and a hit song, “Baby Doll.”

MM: Charlie, we’ll play “Guitar Boogie,” which is recorded live at the Stockholm Globe, going back to 1975, and will show off you’re guitar playing.

Grace: Let me say this before you play it, that particular night, I didn’t know this man was recording it – old reel to reel, and after the show he gave it to me as a memento to take home with me. But I had a broken string, and that happens sometimes, you know? So I couldn’t get into the high strings, so I’m playing mostly rhythm and I want people to understand that. Usually goes down the tubes when that happens, you know you have a few thousand people out there and you’re alone on stage, what do you do?

MM: Well, we’re all ears, let’s hear “Guitar Boogie” by Charlie Grace.

[“Guitar Boogie”]

MM: Charlie Grace playing “Guitar Boogie” with just five strings. Not bad.

CG: The show must go on. We didn’t have two or three guitars to change back then. They didn’t even have an amplifier, I had to bring my own amplifier. They didn’t have amplifiers.

MM: Do you ever get nervous before a show?

CG: I was never nervous in my life before a show until I did a TV show. I was fine until the guy said, “Five minutes, Mister Grace,” and I said I’m ready. He said, “Tonight sixty-five million people are going to see you sing and play kid.” When he said that all the saliva dried up in my mouth, and I said how am I going to sing with my tongue clinging to the roof of my mouth? And it was live. If you make a mistake…. And I went out and I was perfect.

MM: Now what year was that?

CG: I was 21 years old, March or April of ’57, I was on TV with Wilt Chamberlain, the great Philadelphia basketball player, a wonderful guy, Don Ameche, Henry Fonda, Ben Blue and Senior West (/?). “It’s alright, It’s alright.”

I went home and the next day my grandmother, she was still alive, God bless her, she saw the show and you know what she says to me? “Don’t get a big head.” How do you like that for wisdom from a women who never went to school and worked all her life. “Don’t get a big head,” I’ll never forget it till the day they bury me.”

MM: Now we go to the phones, Gary from New York.

CG: I work with Charlie Grace and this is the only way I can contact him because he wasn’t returning my phone calls yesterday, and I wanted to tell him that his song “Baby Doll” is the number four CD single in New York this week….

Saturday, April 14, 2012

George Mesterhazy RIP 1953 - 2012

George Mesterhazy RIP 1953 - 2012

The first time I saw George Mesterhazy play piano was on the stage at the Club Harlem. I was sitting with Chris Columbo, the leader of the house band that played out front in the lounge. We were the only white guys in the house, George on stage and me in the audience, and Chris Columbo was saying in his deep, husky voice, “That’s George, he’s the best, self-taught too.”

Around the same time I saw his name up on the marque at Arthur Prysock’s on Atlantic Avenue, and also caught him playing guitar in a band in a small Atlantic City club. Then when the casinos came in, Mesterhazy was everywhere, playing or sitting in with all of the bands who played behind the casino headliners.

Chris Columbo was the head of the Atlantic City musicians union, which was run out of a building in Pleasantville, and Chris was complaining that the casinos didn’t want to have to hire local musicians like him and Mesterhazy, but wanted to have recorded music at shows instead. Recorded music didn’t “push” you like real live music does, but Chris lost that battle before he died (at age 100), the casinos got what they wanted, the musicians hall was closed and boarded up, and many of the musicians left town.

When the Princess Grace Ballet Troupe of Monaco came in, they asked me why there wasn’t an orchestra and they had to dance to recorded music – it was something that they had never experienced before, and I couldn’t explain it to them.

In any case, I met up with George Mesterhazy again in Cape May, where I was living at the time and he came in to play with the Jazz Vespers at the church on Decater Street. The Vespers are a diverse lot of jazz musicians who convince the pastors of various churches to allow them to play jazz in church and with such great acoustics, its really a spiritual experience. I think George also was hired to play for the church choir but after playing at the church, he wandered across the street for a drink and get something to eat at the venerable Merion Inn, which has been on Decater Street for as long as anyone can remember. There he met the owner, who hired him to play the piano, and they hit it off so George moved in upstairs and helped manage the place.

The Merion soon became known for not only its good food but for the music, and all of George’s music and entertainment friends would stop in and occasionally jam with him, especially during the twice-yearly Jazz Fest.

Although George was often off touring with a jazz singing diva or recording with some superstar in New York, more often than not he could be found at dinner time playing the baby grand piano at the Merion in Cape May.

Press of Atlantic City

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2012 3:07 pm | Updated: 5:28 pm, Fri Apr 13, 2012.

The southern New Jersey music community was in mourning Friday over the passing of well-known and Grammy nominated jazz pianist George Mesterhazy, who died Thursday.

Friends said Mesterhazy had died in his sleep of natural causes.

A jazz musician for the past 30 years, Mesterhazy, 59, was known for being the pianist and manager at the Merion Inn in Cape May.

Mesterhazy was born in Austria and his family came to America in 1959. He moved to Somers Point when he was a teenager and developed his love of music while he attended Mainland Regional High School. He was a self-taught pianist.

Mesterhazy’s piano playing was first heard in public at the now defunct Club Harlem in Atlantic City. He performed at every Atlantic City casino except the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Revel.

Mesterhazy composed his own music and has done records with different jazz singers, including Paula West. In 1998, he accompanied jazz singer Shirley Horn on “Loving You,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

The pianist also was a familiar face at the Cape May Jazz Festival, where he played multiple times. He also frequently performed in Somers Point, where played at the first annual Somers Point Jazz Society Benefit Concert in 2009.

A celebration of George Mesterhazy will be held on Sunday at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center, 212 Bayberry Drive, Cape May Court House. Doors open at noon for friends and family to gather. The celebration starts at 2 p.m.

Vincent Jackson:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Marine Mammal Stranding Center Stone Pony Benefit - Sunday

Marine Mammals Rock!
Marine Mammal Stranding Center Benefit at: Stone Pony

Date:Sunday, April 15 2012
Time:4 pm
Stone Pony
913 Ocean Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Box Office: 732.502.0600

Benefit Event for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center

Bob and Sheila have been doing great things at the MMSC for many years now, and there certainly isn't a more worthy charity that musicians and entertainers can support, especially those at the Jersey Shore where the Stranding Center has been maintaining their watch.

At one time Bob trained the dolphins to jump through hoops at Steel Pier in Atlantic City and recognized the need for such a service and facility and they have selflessly provided it for the past few decades, supported primarily through donations, sales of t-shirts, golf tournaments and the occasional fund raiser - and hell raisers like this one.

The Stone Pony is a great and historic venue for such a show, but I what I want to know is how come all of the acts scheduled to perform are from North Jersey and none, as far as I can see, are from the South Jersey Shore where the Center is located? Hopefully someday the South Jersey Shore bands will recognize that they too should contribute some of their time and talent to such a great enterprise.


featuring Lisa Bouchelle, Jimmy Leahey and Joe Bellia
and acoustic performers
Poppa John Bug, Dave Miller
Doors at 4 pm
Tickets: $20 in advance. $25 at the door

More info at
Event Details
Date:Sunday, April 15 2012
Time:4 pm
Age:All Ages
Best Parking:913 Ocean Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712

We have scoured the planet and brought together a collection of the most talented and amazing musicians the Jersey Shore has ever seen.

More importantly, these bands have all donated their time and their great talent to help raise awareness and funds for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center.

Bobby Bandiera
Bob Burger
Jonny B and the Blue Blazers
Nick Clemmons
Lisa Bouchelle
Jimmy Lehey
Pappa John Bug
Pat Guadagno
Dave Miller
Ray Anderson Trio

The Center, located in Brigantine, NJ is dedicated to responding to marine mammals and sea turtles in distress along all of New Jersey’s waterways and to the rehabilitation of these animals for release back into the wild.

In situations where animals may not be re-released, every effort is made to secure a proper, enriching facility to provide lifetime care. They are further committed to the well-being of marine mammals and to inspire responsible stewardship of our oceans through educational programs and collaboration. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a private non-profit organization based in Brigantine, New Jersey.

Since the Center’s founding in 1978, staff and volunteers have responded to over 4,000 calls for whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that washed ashore on New Jersey beaches. These animals range from a five pound Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle to a 25-ton Humpback Whale (both of which are endangered species).

Latest News
Chuck Wagner will be Hosting!
Hi Friends! I have some very exciting news!The very talented Chuck Wagner has agreed to Host/M.C. this wonderful charity event, and he'll be supplying the appropriate (or not so appropriate) amount of stupidity!

There will also be door prizes and silent auctions--a wonderful evening of great rock and roll for a great cause--The Marine Mammal Stranding Center!

Hope you can join us!
Iconic Musicians at an Iconic Rock Club
This event promises to be one of the hottest events of the season, and the best thing about it is that it is all for a great cause!

Come to The Stone Pony on Sunday, April 15th to listen to music from Bobby Bandiera, the Bob Burger Band (featuring Lisa Bouchelle, Joe Bellia, Jimmy Leahey, John Rogers), the Nick Clemons Band (Nick is the son of legendary Clarence Clemons of the E-Street Band), world-renowned blues band Jonny B and the Blues Blazers, The Ray Andersen Quartet, Pat Guadagno, Poppa John Bug, Dave Miller, Gunsmoke, and MDMG.

We will have a silent auction, featuring prizes that include a month membership to The Atlantic Club gym, sailing lessons, DJ services for a private party, a day fishing expedtion, fine wines, a Mercedes pedal car, drum skins from Southside Johnny, a day scuba expedition, photograph canvases from Mike Black, paintings by Megan Heath Gilhool, Carolyn Roche seaglass jewelry, website design with hosting for a year, jewelry by Donna Nova Diamond, eco-friendly gifts and a free home energy audit, a basket of goodies from Shore Chic...and so much more!!!

And if that isn't enough, you will get to hear Bob Burger perform original songs from his newly released CD, 'The Day After'. Five years after the release of his award-winning album, 'Surprise Party', Bob has released his fourth solo record on his independent BIG BRAVE MUSIC label and will be performing tunes from his latest album. If you are a Bob Burger fan, and who isn't, you can listen to samples from the CD, as well as purchase MP3's--and the CD at as well as on, itunes, and at Jack's Music Shop in Red Bank.

Sponsor Info
Please consider sponsoring this event.
Various options are listed below, or contact us with your unique idea!
Sea Turtle
($250 - $499) Sponsor
Benefits Include:
MMSC quarterly printed newletter The Blowhole
A Seal Adoption kit
20% Discount at MMSC Gift Shop
Harbor Seal
($500 - $749) Sponsor
Benefits Include:
"Cupid the Seal" T-shirt
Acknowledgement in MMSC Newsletter
The Dolphin
($750 - $999) Sponsor
Benefits Include:
Special Invitation to accompany staff members to a beach release of rehabilitated animals back to ocean.
The Whale
($1,000 - $2,500) Sponsor
Benefits Include:
Private Tour of Rehabilitation Facility for up to 6 people.
Sponsors NAME / LOGO prominently displayed in MMSC Museum. (17,000 visitors a

Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Mission Statement
Rescue, Rehabilitate, Release, Preserve

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is dedicated to responding to marine mammals and sea turtles in distress along all of New Jersey’s waterways and to the rehabilitation of these animals for release back into the wild. In situations where animals may not be re-released, every effort is made secure a proper, enriching facility to provide lifetime care. We are further committed to the well-being of marine mammals and to inspire responsible stewardship of our oceans through educational programs and collaboration.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a private non-profit organization based in Brigantine, New Jersey. Since the Center’s founding in 1978, staff and volunteers have responded to over 4000 calls for whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles Jersey beaches. These animals ran from a five pound Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle to a 25-ton Humpback Whale (both of which are endangered species).

3625 Brigantine Blvd. Brigantine, NJ 08203

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dan Fogel

Jazz Organist Dan Fogel at the Jockey Club