Music Saved Asbury Park. Can It Be Saved Again?

Content provided by our partner, The Asbury Park Music Foundation ~`

50 years ago, music saved Asbury Park.  Amidst a backdrop of racial tensions and the Vietnam war, concerts and entertainment by the ocean were a peaceful respite where people from all walks of life gathered safely. Acts like The Doors, The Beach Boys and Ray Charles came through town, and these influences planted the seeds for the rock and roll, R&B-infused subgenre we now know as the “Jersey Shore sound.”  

The Asbury Park Music Foundation (APMF) has been instrumental in keeping that culture alive for nearly ten years. APMF provides under-served local youth with life-changing music education, organizes community events, and lends expertise to help members of the local music scene thrive and unite New Jersey’s diverse population through music.  With live shows and in-person programs at a standstill, APMF has had to pivot to continue providing educational programs, which are at the core of the organization’s mission. Working with local partners Lakehouse Music Academy and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, classes have now moved to an all-digital format, and the kids have adapted to the additional use of technology.  

Like many non-profit groups, APMF is serving a population that is more in need than ever; without the structure of school and after-school programs, many students can easily lose focus.  The Foundation’s volunteer board, chaired by former Asbury Park Press publisher Tom Donovan, is unwavering in its effort to preserve the Asbury Park music legacy. “Our life-changing music programs provide under-served youth with confidence, discipline, and relationships that improve their future success and economic mobility. We’re not going to let a pandemic stand in the way of our mission.”

The foundation lost a major source of funding this year due to the pandemic. “APMF exists to help kids, and the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival is our single-largest fundraising event of the year,” Donovan continued. “With that event postponed, we’re missing a $100,000 donation to the Music Foundation.”  

Other recent partnerships include one with the Asbury-based and Jersey Shore-dedicated indie record label Telegraph Hill Records, which has presented two promotions in the last month.  First, THR released the joint “Crowd Noise” live stream, which raised close to $600 via a telethon-style event showing popular local bands’ sets from past shows at iconic venues. Next up was a compilation video featuring 30 local indie artists united (virtually) on a Bruce Springsteen cover – Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.  “The song was chosen not solely for the Bruce connection, but to capture the essence of the “this too shall pass” mentality we are all relying on now—and more simply, as a reminder that summer is on its way,” explains Telegraph Hill Records co-founder and creator of the project, Joe Pomarico. “Music is not canceled.  APMF is not letting the youth programs the kids in town need more than ever go away. Whether it takes six weeks or six months before we can congregate as before, we’re adapting quickly to our virtual presence and making it bigger and better with every new project.” 

The video compilation caught the attention of Springsteen himself, who reposted the link on both his Instagram and Twitter accounts, along with a message: “Thanks to the local musicians of Asbury Park for their lovely version of Waitin’ on a Sunny Day. God bless everyone.”  That message pushed the YouTube link out to a worldwide audience, and at last count, the video has had almost 24,000 views.

For its part, the “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” compilation serves the same community and keeps the music alive on several levels; it provides the artists with a unique way to collaborate and gives viewers some insight into the spirit these musicians have and the talent the town holds.  

“We are in unchartered waters and as new challenges arise, we’ll do what we can to meet them,” said Donovan.  “We just need the community’s continued financial support so we can provide these life-changing programs to the kids.”

Want to help? Donations are gratefully accepted online at or if you’d like to refresh your wardrobe for summer, APMF sells t-shirts, bandanas, and other merchandise featuring the Music Saved Asbury Park slogan. Visit to browse the online catalog.

Waitin’ on a Sunny Day video compilation:

News 12 New Jersey coverage:    

Springsteen repost links: