Thursday, June 13, 2013

First Friday Night Somers Point Beach Concerts 2013 Preview and Jersey Gumbo Fest

First Friday Night Somers Point Beach Concerts 2013 Preview and Jersey Gumbo Fest 

By Bill Kelly []

Now in its 21st year, the free Somers Point Beach Concert series has a new primary sponsor - the Shore Medical Center, and has fostered a new event - the Jersey Gumbo Cookoff and Music Fest, what is hoped will become as popular a local tradition as Bayfest and the Good Old Days picnic.

Towards that end this season’s premier Friday night June 14th beach concert act - Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone and his New Orleans All Stars, will stick around town for a few days and also play the Jersey Gumbo Cook Off and Music Fest the following afternoon at the Somers Point #1 Fire Company Hall grounds at 447 Bethel Road.

Besides Sansone, the Music Fest part of the ten hour show will also feature Grammy winner Terrance Simien and his Zydeco Experience, former E-Streeter Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez and his band “License Tto Chill,” Mojo Mozart and the Mardi Gras Swingers and Rosie O’Reilly, the Sweetheart Songstress of Hammonton.

Nick Regine was the primary promoter of the Friday night beach concerts, as well as the founder of the Somers Point Jazz Society, and is personally responsible for bringing such great music to the Point after the end of the Bay Avenue Rock ‘n Roll era.

The pronounced New Orleans, Louisiana Bijou and Blues flavor that we’ve tasted the past decade or however, so can be directly attributed to Carmen Marotta, the former Somers Point Councilman and son of former nightclub owner Anthony Marotta.

Tony took an old Bay Avenue Ratheskeller and created Tony Marts, presenting live music, and in its heyday, had six bars, three stages and continuous live music, including a major recording act headliner and talented house bands that included Len Carey and the Krackerjacks, Full House and Levon & the Hawks (aka The Band). Carmen and his brother Tony, Jr. ran the place in its final years, featuring mainly local cover bands before it was sold and demolished and a disco built in its place. But many people who were there have vivid memories of Tony Marts, and that music spirit is still strong.

Len Carey and the Krackerjacks, the first house band, were protégés of Spike Jones, and had a New Orleans style of entertaining the crowd, and Spike Jones is even mentioned in one of the songs by Levon and the Hawks. After the demise of Tony Marts, Carmen and the late Levon Helm, drummer of the Hawks opened Levon Helm’s All-American Café in New Orleans, where many of the city’s renowned musicians often jammed after their own gigs were over. Although not financially successful, in the two years Carmen ran the place he heard most of the bands and met many a fine musician, some of whom he brought back to Somers Point to play the Friday night beach concerts, Good Old Days picnic or one of the Tony Mart Reunions.

Among them is Johnny Sansone, who made his name in New Orleans, but is actually a Jersey Guy who plays harmonica, sax, guitar, and accordion and is annually nominated for a blues music awards. After leaving Jersey to attend school in Colorado, Sansone traveled extensively and put down temporary roots in Austin, Texas, Kansas City, North Carolina and Chicago but finally settled down in New Orleans in 1989 and came into his own. Now Sansone jams with Dr. John, Cyril Neville of the Neville Bros and Tab Benoit – who played the Bubba Mac Blues Fest in Atlantic City a few years ago.

Sansone’s latest CD - “The Lord is Waiting and the Devil Is Too,” follows his “Watermellon Patch”, and 1997 blues album of the year “Crescent City Moon,” which also won accolades.

Sansone originally played the saxophone but was also drawn to the harmonica and guitar. Before clicking in Louisiana, Sansone got recognition in Chicago playing alongside guitarist Ronnie Earl with a harp style that recalled Sonny Boy Williamson II and Big and Little Walter, but he is best known for his New Orleans style.

On Saturday June 15, the day after Sansone kicks off the Friday night beach concert season, he’ll provide some of the New Orleans sounds at the Jersey Gumbo Music Fest at Point Fire Company #1, and will be assisted by Terrance Simien and his Zydeco Experience, an upbeat accordion driven experience that makes you want to get up and dance, as we know from his previous Somers Point shows.

Also on the music schedule are Rosie O’Reilly Gazarra, Mojo Mozart and the Mardi Gras Swingers, and original Springsteen E Street Band drummer, Vini Lopez and his Key West Caribbean Party Band, “License to Chill,” who have a laid back Jimmy Buffet style and sound.

Tickets for the whole ten hour show are just $20 and permits you to come and go and come back again, but there’s no reason to leave, as the Louisiana theme also includes samplings of a variety of Gumbos prepared by more than 20 local chefs, restaurants and celebrity cooks that you can taste for the price of admission.

Among the chefs presenting their Gumbo will be Richard Spurlock, whose menu at the Main Street American Café in Mays Landing specializes in the New Orleans recipes and features his chicken and ouille gumbo, Cajun style Jambalaya and Shrimp Po Boys.

In addition to all the Gumbo you can taste, guests will be allowed to vote for their “People’s Choice” for the best seafood/vegetarian and the best meat/poultry Gumbo. 

The first annual Jersey Gumbo and Music Fest; a new Somers Point tradition.

For more info about the Shore Medical Center Concerts on the Beach in Somers Point go to and for more information about the At the Shore Jersey Gumbo Fest go to, where tickets are available on Paypal or for VIP tickets call 609-653-6069.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Comets bass player Marshall Lytle dies

Comets bass player Marshall Lytle dies at 79

NEW PORT OICHEY, Fla. (AP) Marshall Lytle, the original bass player for Bill Haley & His Comets, one of the first bands to take rock ‘n’ roll music mainstream, has died. He was 79.

Lytle died at his home in New Port Richey, Fla. On May 25, said his niece, Shayna Golda.

Lytle recorded hits like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” with Haley in the 1950s. he was known for his percussive bass style, slapping the strings as he played, and his lifely performances. He would sometimes take the bass over his head or ride it like a surfboard.

“He’s known as the father of rock bass by some people,” said Michael Jordan Rush, who published a memoir by Lytle titled “Still Rockin’ Around the Clock” in 2011. “He certainly influenced rock bass more than any other individual.”

Lytle was born in Old Fort, North Carolina, in September 1933.

A birth defect made it nearly impossible for him to walk as a child. His older brother would carry him to and from school on his back. It was then that Lytle developed a love of music.

“He had been a musician from the time he was barely able to walk,” Golda said.

While Lytle was still a young boy, he had surgery that gave him the use of his legs,” she said.

In 1951, Lytle, then still a teen, joined Bill Haley’s Saddlemen. At the time Haley had a radio show in Chester, Pa., and the manager commented that the group didn’t look like saddlemen, Rush said.

He suggested they call themselves “the Comets” instead.

Several of the band’s hits are now iconic rock ‘n’ roll songs. “Rock Around the Clock,” recorded in 1954, is one fo the highest selling singles of all time. Lytle also played on hits like “See You Later, Alligator.”

Published in The Trentonian, Thursday May 30, 2013. p. A23