Friday, July 6, 2018

Music That Made Tony Marts Famous

Friday July 6


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

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