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Harry Filkin – EVENT:  Album Release Party!  5/20 Showtime at 8PM The Wonder Bar – by TaraJean Harry Filkin – EVENT: Album Release Party! 5/20 Showtime at 8PM The Wonder Bar – by TaraJean(0)

Harry Filkin is a well known American singer and songwriter on the Jersey Shore. Harry Filkin has been writing songs for four decades. He will be releasing his first all – original album on May 20th. Harry is a founding member of several successful Jersey Shore bands, most notably Holme, a well-known rock band from Belmar NJ.  He has played on stage numerous times with Bruce Springsteen and Bobby Bandiera. He co-founded and performed on rhythm guitar and vocals with Cats on a Smooth Surface when it was the house band at The Stone Pony in the late 70’s through the 80’s. And he was a founding member of The Diamonds, an all original rock and soul band at the Jersey Shore.

Now Harry will be releasing his first very own original album. Harry’s smooth voice and compelling lyrics have given this album it’s captivating charm and allure. A powerhouse of songs that will surely be a hit for all generations.

Don’t miss this event! RipTide Records is hosting an album release party Saturday May 20 at the famed Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ.

The album features eleven new songs including, “ Blood of my Blood” that was written for Harry’s longtime friend and band mate, Hans Peter Schulle, after the unexpected death of his son Sean in 2012 . “ I am very close to Peter and the words and music just came to me shortly after his death,” said Filkin. “It was very different from any song I’ve ever written.”

The album was arranged, produced and mixed by veteran Jersey Shore producer/singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Ribler.Marc assembled a power house band including : The Spin Doctors ’ Aaron Comess on Drums, Jack Daley (Lenny Kravitz) on Bass, Andy Burton (John Mayer) on Keyboards, and Tommy LaBella (10, 000 Maniacs) on Saxophone. Other musicians and singers on Harry’s debut album include Graham Maby (Joe Jackson), Freedom Bremner (Screaming Headless Torsos), Rodney Howard (Gavin DeGraw), with Joel Krauss, Peter Schulle, Arne Wendt, Dave Anthony, John Martin, Steven Salcedo, Milton Vann , Layonne Holmes, Khadija h Mohammed and Lawrence Anthony.

The new album was masterfully engineered by Joe DeMaio at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch , NJ .

Everyone attending gets a copy of the album with a $12 cover charge!  Thank you Harry!

Tickets can be purchased at the Stone Pony Box Office or Ticketmaster at this link:




Posted by TaraJean:


TaraJean is a versatile journalist who has produced numerous segments for NJDiscover. She is experienced in Production and Post Production of TV Commercials, Live News Coverage, TV Entertainment Segments and Live Theatrical Events. She runs the gamut from writing to shooting to scripting to editing to post-production. She studied Communications specializing in Advertising at Fordham University, New York City, but her passion for creativity and expression moved her beyond a Bachelor of Arts degree to where she also studied Theatre and Performance at both Fordham and Roundabout Theatre. Her incandescent spirit took her ultimately to the stage and television in Metropolitan New York as an aspiring actress. Along the way, with a few blinks of an eye, TaraJean was married and raising three young daughters. Next, TaraJean harnessed that spirited energy, becoming editor of Our Town, a Monmouth County newspaper and appearing as a TV host for local Channel 77. The next perfect fit for TaraJean was to channel her unlimited energy in central Jersey working with NJ Discover as TV Host, Reporter, Writer and Producer. She consistently brought a special warmth, caring, insight and humanity to her stories and her reputation flourished with on sight reporting about Hurricane Sandy, homelessness and Tent City, pervasive hunger in New Jersey, and Jersey’s iconic music and film scene. She is the epicenter of what’s happening around the county and state. Almost evolutionary, TaraJean went on to co-host NJ Discover LIVE radio and cable TV and still manages time (quintessential juggler) to be Reporter, SpokesModel, Copywriter, Producer, Journalist and now Sr. Editor for Fashion Haunts Magazine.

WHAT A WAY TO START 2016:   4th Annual BIG MAN’S Birthday Bash  January 9th 2016  At Bar Anticipation   bY Calvin Schwartz WHAT A WAY TO START 2016: 4th Annual BIG MAN’S Birthday Bash January 9th 2016 At Bar Anticipation bY Calvin Schwartz(0)

WHAT A WAY TO START 2016: 4th Annual BIG MAN’S Birthday Bash January 9th 2016 At Bar Anticipation  bY Calvin Schwartz 

It’s December 23rd, two days before Christmas and a week before New Years. I’m always smitten with sentimentality this time of year; where did the time go; how can all those special people in my life be gone. Sometimes I clench my fists tight trying to hold a special moment or being angry that I didn’t hold on to moments when special people in my life were here with me. Age old thoughts I know. Four years ago,  I happened upon Nick Clemons, Terry Camp and Jesse Warren and being the sentimentalist, I clenched my fist and got involved in the celebration of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons. So this is the 4th Annual Bash. What fascinates and keeps me coming back every year, is the unique palpable energy, love and spirit in the middle of central Jersey expressed in hours of music by some of the most talented people on the planet. And I marvel at all the people assembled sharing this. I’m  thinking now of the folk song, ‘Simple Gifts’ played at President Obama’s first Inauguration. Also Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger singing ‘This Land is Your Land’ at the Lincoln Memorial at the Inauguration.  I think it a wondrous simple gift to be part of this musical celebration for an iconic Jerseyan, musician and legend, Clarence Clemons.    All of which means YOU should be there on January 9th.   MERRY HAPPY HEALTHY

Calvin Schwartz      12-23-15  4:44PM  


Facebook EVENT PAGE :


THIS JUST IN (12-23-15  11:11pm) UPDATES TO LINE-UP:

Add Rock ‘Famer and former Blackheart with Joan Jett, Ricky Byrd.

Add: Red Bank Rocker lead vocal guy, the seriously soulful, JT Bowen

Add: Mike Rocket, who’s song rocked, “Gotta Get to the Jersey Shore.”

AND AND  “Ya never know what more will come!!!”

AND Tix now discounted 20% for BIG RoaD’s Christmas sale! So go get ’em and join the Annual Bash on January 9th at Bar A!!!









Lake Como, NJ – On January 9, 2016, the Jersey Shore celebrates the birthday of
the late and legendary, Clarence Clemons, with THE 4th ANNUAL BIG MAN’S BIRTHDAY BASH at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, NJ. The event presents a historic gathering of All-Star musicians and will benefit CFC Loud N Clear, a recognized 501(c)(3), non-profit organization.

This year’s show, which runs all day and night, will feature:

• The Matt O’Ree Band – O’Ree is a long-time New Jersey, blues rock guitar legend who has recently become a member of Bon Jovi.

• The Del-Lords – re-united, New York City garage/roots rock legends featuring frontman, Scott Kempner, with a new record and tour coming in early 2016

• Slim Chance and the Gamblers – New Jersey blues stalwarts celebrating the release of their new record at the show

• The BIG RoaD All Star Band – an eleven-piece BIG band of Shore All-Star musicians fronting regional stars to include JoBonanno, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Eddie Testa, Remember Jones, Pat Roddy, Joe Cartwright and more

• The Nick Clemons Band – blues/funk rock with frontman, Nick Clemons a.k.a. Clarence Clemons III, oldest son of the late Big Man

• The show, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. and is expected to run until 12:30 a.m. will also feature guest jams and collaborations that are a long-time tradition on the Shore.

Nick Clemons states, “My father always taught me to ‘give back’ and remember the less fortunate. I try to do that and CFC Loud N Clear does great work at a time that New Jersey has its worst heroin epidemic ever.”

This is the fourth year for a Big Man Birthday Bash charitable event. The show is produced by BIG RoaD, the production entity of Terry Camp and Jesse Warren. Camp recalls, “When Clarence passed, Wonder Bar in Asbury Park hosted the Sensational Soul Cruisers and The Nick Clemons Band for a memorial show in July 2011. Bruce [Springsteen] was kind enough to join us that epic night and we’ve been building on it since – selling out Wonder Bar in December 2012, packing Martell’s in Point Pleasant January 2014, and selling out Bar Anticipation last January. The show gets bigger and bigger every year.” He added, “We’re thrilled to be returning to Bar Anticipation working with Tom Jannarone and his Bar Anticipation team. That place is cream of the crop for a diverse and quality entertainment experience.”

BIG RoaD’s Jesse Warren lost his brother, Scott Warren, to a heroin overdose on March 26th, 2015. Warren states, “The heroin addiction crisis in Monmouth and Ocean Counties has been building for many years and has, unfortunately, received national note. Last year, it hit home – my home. We are all responsible to keep the issue front and center in our communities – and we’re glad to again be partnered up with CFC Loud N Clear.”

Bash details and frequent updates are at the Facebook Event page:
Doors open at 2:00 p.m. and live music begins at 2:30 p.m. The show is expected to end by 12:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 Advance and $40 Day of Show. They may be purchased on line at:



Full line-up to date and guests are added regularly:

Master of Ceremonies
Vincent “Big Pussy” Pastore

(Day Set)
Thunder Moon
The Nick Clemons Band

(Dinner and Gift Raffle)

(Night Set)
Slim Chance and the Gamblers
Matt O’Ree Band
The Del-Lords
The BIG RoaD All-Star Band

And Very Special Guests throughout including:

Jillian Rhys Mccoy
Eryn Shewell
Eddie Testa
Remember Jones
Pat Roddy


About The Del-Lords 

The Del-Lords are an American rock and roll band that formed in New York City in 1982, founded by The Dictators’ guitarist, Scott Kempner. The band combines elements of 1960s garage rock with country, blues, and folk influences to become one of the initial progenitors of urban-roots-rock. The band members are: Scott Kempner, Manny Caiati, Eric Ambel, and Frank Funaro.

About The Matt O’Ree Band

New Jersey’s best kept secret has made some big noise in the past year. Prior to 2015, The Matt O’ Ree band did what most area bands do. They played their shows, developed their sound, released their records and very quietly built a loyal, local fan base in the process. Beyond incredible talent and showmanship, what makes this band stand out among the rest is that their local fan base includes Bruce Springsteen, David Bryan and John Popper – all of whom have volunteered to perform on the band’s forthcoming album to be released in 2016. O’Ree’s talent and presence was finally recognized globally when he got the nod to join international superstars, Bon Jovi, as the band’s new guitarist/vocalist on the late 2015, international stadium tour. When some of your biggest supporters have sold a collective 230 million units, you know you’re doing something right. Growing up on influencers ranging from Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rory Gallagher, ZZ Top, Robin Trower, Joe Walsh and Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Matt O’ Ree Band has taken all these diverse elements and forged a new iron. Matt’s writing is inspired from many life experiences and years of study from the ones that have wrote the book on how to play real guitar rock music. Not as a photocopy, but in a new light that hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Now is the time for real music and real musicianship to make a resurrection. The band takes their fans on a ride that hasn’t been heard or seen at this level since the 70’s. Their live show is like revisiting a Zeppelin concert at the Garden, and with Eric Safka on Hammond B3, Scott Bennert on Bass, and John Hummel on Drums, they’ve built a foundation that can hold up the biggest house on the block. After years of honing their craft, the Matt O’Ree Band is about to become an “overnight success.” Get M.O.B.’d up with New Jersey’s next, great export.

About The BIG RoaD All-Star Band

Created by Camp and Warren from an August 13, 2015 40th Anniversary “Born to Run” show, this 11-piece, All-Star band is backed by the best of the Jersey Shore including former Asbury Jukes, current (Jon Bon Jovi) Kings of Suburbia members and many local and national musicians and featured vocalists.

About CFC Loud N Clear
CFC Loud N Clear was developed in light of our family’s personal journey through addiction. In 2012 after many IOPs, several in-patient treatment centers and years of an uphill battle, we discovered the gaps in the system and realized a need for diverse programs of extended after care. Daniel Regan developed an after care system for himself with the help of his mother Lynn Regan. After a while people started to want to know how they did it and wanted a recovery plan set up for themselves. They decided from that point that everyone deserves access to an aftercare program and they created CFC Loud N Clear. The first year after treatment is the most crucial year in someone’s recovery. CFC will help guide you through your first year and beyond. CFC Loud N Clear believes in providing many roads to recovery thus giving our members many positive proven options that resonates with them. We also recognized the need for safe sober socialization and create a social calendar filled with fun/ laugh inducing activities. Daniel and Lynn Regan are highly involved in the field of prevention and saw the importance of giving back and preventing others from going down the wrong road. Thus CFC got its name Coming Full Circle, we are proudly more than just a recovery program. CFC provides services for Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery with a seamless integration of the three making it a full circle.



About BIG RoaD

BIG RoaD is an entertainment production company formed by Terry Camp, an attorney with Budd Larner, P.C., Short Hills, NJ and longtime member of the Shore music community, and newcomer Jesse Warren of Howell, NJ. Camp and Warren have collaborated on past, charitable events including the August 13, 2015 “Born to Run” 40th Anniversary show that sold out Bar Anticipation, last year’s “Big Man Bash 3” and the upcoming “Christmas Comes Early at Bar Anticipation on November 19, 2015.





Bar Anticipation                              

703 16th Avenue

Lake Como, NJ 07719

For Press/Media inquiries and access: e-mail BIG RoaD at
Phone – (908)309-0426 Jesse Warren / (908)507-7201 Terry Camp





COMING JERSEY SHORE ATTRACTIONS: Friends for Danny  Federici Benefit at Bar Anticipation on Saturday May 9     By Calvin Schwartz COMING JERSEY SHORE ATTRACTIONS: Friends for Danny Federici Benefit at Bar Anticipation on Saturday May 9 By Calvin Schwartz(0)

COMING JERSEY SHORE ATTRACTIONS: Friends for Danny  Federici Benefit at Bar Anticipation on  Saturday May 9     By Calvin Schwartz    



When I was told about this event, it was one of those “have to be there “experiences for several personal reasons.  Of course it’s Danny Federici, a Jersey native and part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.  In 2014, Federici was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the E Street Band. Danny died on April 17, 2008 in New York City after three years fighting melanoma.  So the benefit is to raise money for Melanoma research. The Danny Fund, part of The Melanoma Research Alliance was founded and named after him.

Melanoma personally hit home for me 15 years ago when a dear friend, a powerful, black belt karate, part time bar bouncer and gentle giving soul had a small sore on his arm which became the entry point of this horrific disease. He passed away within a few months, devastating his family and friends. I had never been that close to melanoma. I saw his family unravel and his father soon pass away seemingly from the overwhelming loss and tragedy.

So the fund raiser for Danny Federici , in Belmar, close to E Street is the perfect place and time to celebrate his life and to raise consciousness and funds to fight a terrible disease.

Calvin Schwartz   April 27, 2015


For more info please check the Facebook event page:


Friends For Danny is a fund Raising Effort Featuring The Jersey Shore’s most popular bands coming together to raise monies for the Research Of Melanoma. The Danny Fund part of The Melanoma Research Alliance was founded and Named after The Late great Danny Federici,keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen’s E. Street Band. Please join us to celebrate the life of Danny Federici and support our effort to raise money and awareness for Melanoma in the hopes of someday finding a cure.


Friends for Danny Benefit at Bar Anticipation on

Saturday May 9th 1:00 pm to 9:00pm

with friends Tommy Byrne , Bobby Mahoney , Projex Band , Strumburry Pie, The Eddie Testa Band, Sandy Mack “Band” , Alex Julia, StoneBaby , The Nick Clemons Band , JT Bowen, Jo Wymer , Slim Chance & The Gamblers , Bob Polding, Dawg Whistle with Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer Vini Lopez and Ryan Maher


Produced by:

Marta Elena and Jersey Music Live Productions LLC

Associate Producer:

Jesse James Warren of Jesse James Productions

Creative Consultant:

J Robert Stanton – Creative Music Marketing Group









It’s heavy. It’s not my brother or a hard rain but the old Upstage Club in Asbury Park, NJ, USA         A Memorial?    April 12, 2015       By Calvin Schwartz It’s heavy. It’s not my brother or a hard rain but the old Upstage Club in Asbury Park, NJ, USA A Memorial? April 12, 2015 By Calvin Schwartz(0)

It’s heavy. It’s not my brother or a hard rain but the old Upstage Club in Asbury Park, NJ, USA  A Memorial?    April 12, 2015       By Calvin Schwartz




This op-ed or whatever it is, structurally, is best designed to be that stream of almost absurd consciousness that I’ve grown accustomed to these past few literary years. Suddenly, last summer, I heard The Everly Brothers singing ‘Bye Bye Love’ in a pinball amusement place on Ocean Avenue in Belmar, New Jersey. It’s 1957 and my parents rented a bungalow for August. If I behaved all week, watched my three year old sister Hildy, walked her in a stroller around the block every weekday morning, then when my father came down by Jersey Central rail train on the weekend, the family would go to Asbury Park’s boardwalk on Saturday night. My first experienced love of the city.



I’ll get to the Upstage. What I’m doing now is creating the background to suggest I am eminently qualified to deliver all kinds of coinage (two cents) about the city of Asbury Park and this special place on Cookman Avenue that launched a thousand musical ships, future careers and dreams. Well maybe not a thousand. Let’s cut to four years ago. Suddenly, during the summer of 2011, I became a journalist covering all aspects of Monmouth County life. The epicenter of that life for me was Asbury Park. I’ve covered the President visiting the boardwalk, Zombie Walk, Jersey Shore Dream Center (food pantry & kitchen), NJ Hall of Fame Induction, Light of Day, Hurricane Sandy, Asbury Lanes and Dr. Sketchy, all the historic music venues, Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation, Asbury Park Comedy Festival, Bamboozle, Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Jersey Shore Arts Center (the old Neptune High Building, hmmm?) and have spent countless days and nights, seemingly full-time becoming a denizen of the boardwalk.

As much as four or five times a week, I absorbed music all over the city; even a collection of indigenous drummers, percussionists and hula-hoop purveyors on the boardwalk, before police would chase them away, all reveling naturally in self-expression before a setting summer sun. Yes, the ingredients of a real music city.


A few years ago, I got off a tour bus in Asbury Park, part of the Springsteen Symposium at Monmouth University, and heard local historians/journalists(Jean Mikle and Stan Goldstein) talk about Bruce, Convention Hall and the Stone Pony. Later, we stood in front of a building signed ‘Extreme,’ (back in 2001, the first floor was a shoe store) the top two floors, windows extant but covered over with concrete, like deliberately sealing a part of its past; a sarcophagus perhaps. They explained the hidden floors were the old ‘Upstage Club,’ founded by visionaries Margaret and Tom Potter, where Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Little Steven Van Zandt, Vini Lopez, Garry Tallent and Danny Federici were all regulars from 1968 to 1971 until it closed permanently. The door was padlocked and the last four decade history was explained to the group. Actually there is no history just endless abandonment and rumors that it might be torn down for condos. Back then, it was an almost all night (no alcohol) club where creative young musicians performed and explored until early morning hours. It was all for music’s sake; a brilliant concept and launching pad of expression and destiny. How synchronistic; the granddaughter of Margaret and Tom  Potter, Carrie Potter Devening, published this wonderful book, ‘For Music’s Sake’ giving the history of the Upstage Club.  I was haunted standing there, looking up, imagining what it must’ve been like all those years ago with incredible musical talent that has gone on to the global stage. This was my first ‘Upstage’ exposure and the early particulates of the molecular energy that birthed my love affair with the building, its history, founders and supporters.

I was smitten with sentimentality and history. On several occasions, over the years, around midnight,(like the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere)  I went to Asbury Park on a meditative sojourn, stood outside the Upstage Club, looked up to a snow flurry or a starry summer sky and dreamed what was and what could be. I took pictures of the silence of the building and posted on social media. That’s when Carrie Potter Devening saw my posts, pictures and we became friends.



My dream collection process was accelerated; why couldn’t Asbury Park take its place as an international music destination so that one day it would be impossible to find a parking space on Cookman Avenue in the dead of winter; the city would be frenetic and alive with the sounds of music and the Upstage Club would again become that creative purist musical mecca. If you want to make it in New York, you have to make it at the Jersey shore first. If the club was crowded, I’d even sit on the floor, stare at vintage art on the walls and dreamily listen to music until 4 am, with just a cup of espresso. The music closed my eyes to dreams. I remember Robert Kennedy’s quote, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” The streams of consciousness remind me of a scene from Henry Fonda in ‘Mister Roberts.’ What’s this I hear, that so many in the Asbury Park concentric circles of commonality, are letting the concept of Margaret and Tom Potter, musical creativity and even the brick and mortar of the Upstage Club disappear.



More streams. There’s a skeleton of a building, concrete pillars and a make-shift fence surrounding the massive property; a project started and quickly abandoned years ago. It’s on Ocean Avenue, a few blocks from Convention Hall. Of course, it’s an eye-sore, but for me it dramatizes a part of the Asbury Park experience. On several occasions, I conducted tours of Asbury Park and explained to foreign visitors, this was actually a commissioned sculpture depicting the future rising of Asbury Park. I can’t remember if I ever finally told them the truth. It doesn’t matter. The only truth is there are so many circles (‘interest’ groups) that want Asbury Park to finally arrive, but with so many different agendas on pastel brick roads.

It’s really not my place here to talk about the haunting history and emotional evocation of this magical place, The Upstage Club; so much has been said, written, talked about on radio or in restaurants up and down our Jersey shore. It’s the lighting of a fire, somewhere (someone) and installation of commitment to keep the concept within the city alive (or perhaps a block away?). Carrie Potter Devening has been tirelessly working for the past ten years to keep it alive; perhaps make it a museum and night club (without alcohol) again. There are efforts to raise money to buy the building, petitions to all those circles rolling around.





In 2012, on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, was the Asbury Angels first induction ceremony. The Angels are people who’ve passed, but contributed much to the rich musical history of the city going back way before Margaret and Tom Potter, who were also inducted that September day.  Music came to Asbury Park basically from the day it was born in 1871. From John Phillip Sousa and the city’s own Arthur Pryor, one of the greatest trombone players, to the clubs along Springwood Avenue on the city’s Westside where the likes of Billie Holiday (who would’ve turned 100 as I’m writing this) Count Basie, Lionel Hampton and many other jazz and blues greats performed, to the Upstage, and right up to today, music is Asbury Park.






I met Carrie at the Angels Induction Ceremony, after her book, ‘For Music’s Sake’ signing in Convention Hall Arcade and later she facilitated my first visit to the Upstage Club. The building owner had graciously opened (for a few) the top two floors, left absolutely intact since 1971, with the walls still replete with unique psychedelic art. In the men’s room, I saw scrawled on the wall, ‘Steel Mill 1971.’(Springsteen’s early band).  There was a strange silence walking around; one of those hard to explain moments. I stopped in front a brightly painted psychedelic wall and posed for a picture by a photographer who took the same picture of Bruce Springsteen just a year earlier, when he stopped by for ostensibly the last time. Sentimentality crosses barriers of time, space and people.







Walking around in the sounds of silence of the Upstage, I asked questions of a few who were there when it mattered. Tom Potter wanted a place with no peer pressure, where you can refine your skills and play music if you were too young to play at bars; the beauty of a non-alcoholic stage and the fact the Upstage was never a business just a club. I wonder who wrote the book of love and if all the ‘circles’ realize this. Jam sessions would seemingly never finish. Vinnie Roslin once started a song and it lasted 140 minutes. Things happened fast at the young club. Sometimes before a band could come up with a name, the band broke up. But those days are long gone. Things are different now; sound, technology, smart phones, fracking and internet.



My impulse as a sentimental journalist (oxymoron?) is to find a way to save this part of Americana and musical history. ‘You Can’t Go Home Again,” by Thomas Wolfe rings in my ear like a troublesome tinnitus. Perhaps you really CAN get home despite his admonition; so I’d like to believe. That’s why I’m doing this writing. Then slowly I turned around, came full circle and an epiphany (it was that strong) slapped sense and sensibility which means inevitability and probability. I heard what one of the E-Street Band members said that The Upstage is only brick and mortar and the memories last forever; some truth and maybe not an evasion. But what’s really important is the future of Asbury Park, NJ, USA. The concept of the Upstage Club must never fade away like an old general. The spirit must endure so today’s young musicians have something to propel Asbury Park into the future and a place where they are nurtured. And the future is slowly getting there. I have that dream of seeing Asbury Park as a global musical destination. Another ingredient is a first recording studio which is now here.  So to my ‘now’ epiphany, if its only brick and mortar, that’s alright ‘Mah’, we just have to keep the concept alive. The Upstage could find a different format if or when all the ‘circles’ decide to let the old tired walls come down.





Sometimes I ask myself, whom I’m going to call now. Ghostbusters or all those ‘circles’ I know of? A few weeks ago, I received an invite to presumably the last walk through of the Upstage. Then the best; I went back to the future when Vini Lopez, Paul Whistler, Joe Petillo, Rich Gulya, Jon Sebastian Brice and Sharon Lasher took the stage with all the holes behind them, paint was peeling from ceiling and walls and they jammed for a last time like there is a tomorrow. A box of plaster pieces for souvenirs rested to stage right; we stuffed our pockets with history; a Berlin wall?  I closed my eyes for a few seconds while the band played on. I dreamed again. Being there fueled my writing this piece. I’ve now said my peace.  One final thought as the clock on my computer approaches 4:44 AM Sunday morning. There’s a wonderful historic building a block from Asbury Park that used to be the old Neptune High School a long time ago. Now it’s the Jersey Shore Arts Center.  I wrote a feature article about them for NJ The Shore Thing last September. Yet another Calvin epiphany hit me a year ago; a new Upstage Club? And I wonder who really wrote the book of love.


Post script:  Watch for acclaimed director Tom Jones’ film about The Upstage Club to be released next year

Carrie Potter Devening book link:

GoFund Me to raise money to buy the building:

Sign the Petition at to save The Upstage Club:


‘THERE’S STILL CHRISTMAS’   Clarence Clemons’ Christmas Song and the story behind it. AND Clarence Clemons 3rd Annual Birthday Party Jan 10, 2015  By Calvin Schwartz   November 29 th 2014 ‘THERE’S STILL CHRISTMAS’ Clarence Clemons’ Christmas Song and the story behind it. AND Clarence Clemons 3rd Annual Birthday Party Jan 10, 2015 By Calvin Schwartz November 29 th 2014(0)

THERE’S STILL CHRISTMAS’ Clarence Clemons’ Christmas Song and the story behind it. AND Clarence Clemons 3rd Annual Birthday Party Jan 10, 2015 By Calvin Schwartz November 28th 2014



A Clarence Clemons Birthday Celebration to Benefit Hometown Heroes

January 10th 2015  at BAR ANTICIPATION, Belmar, New Jersey
Doors Open 1:30pm Show Starts 2pm
Tickets $25 for Show
$50 VIP Dinner,Show,Meet & Greet.






Two years ago and last year I published the essence of this article on my blog ( and here at NJ Discover; some things at holiday time are timeless and classic; movies and songs that fill your spirit with warmth and sentimentality.  The story of this Christmas song richly recorded by the legendary Clarence Clemons is special and enduring and on its way to joining such classic holiday offerings as “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the history of the movie reminds me of how “There’s Still Christmas” is evolving. This Christmas song becomes part of Clarence’s legacy; that audio gift at holiday time.

Two years through the magic of synchronicity and holiday spirit I came to interview Dennis Bourke(melody) and Jim Nuzzo (arranger) who helped  bring the Clarence Clemons Christmas song “There’s Still  Christmas” to our radar screens and Youtube etc. Yes, Clarence Clemons recorded this amazing song back in 1981. So a few years after he passed, he is still giving magic and his ‘bigness’ to us; the makings of another holiday classic; just like all the holiday Christmas movies I’ve talked about. Here is my article telling the story of this song. And please check out the link to listen to “There’s Still Christmas.”




A long time ago in another state, in another city (which has alternate side of the street parking), I was aimlessly flicking television channels with an antiquated remote when I caught the black and white beginning of a movie that I’d never seen, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  It was early autumn. Within a few minutes, I was drawn into the mystique and charm of this movie; throw an angel into storyline and I’m hooked for the long haul. I loved the movie’s message; about friends, family and dreams. The movie became a Christmas classic but not for many years after it was made in 1946. It was actually released in the summer that year and bombed at the box office.

When I finished watching the movie, I wondered why this wasn’t a classic with its timeless message of Christmas spirit, incredible cast and storytelling. Over the next few years, Ronald Reagan became President and the movie began surfacing on television during the holiday season with uncanny frequency. I said to myself, “I knew it would find itself holiday time;” and did it ever. Back in the Garden State, in the early eighties, a few weeks before Christmas on a Saturday afternoon, I was flicking channels again with a more modern remote and stumbled upon “It’s A Wonderful Life” on  six different channels at the same time, staggered so that you could see the ending if you were so moved; six times. “Atta boy Clarence,” Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey) says near the end; witness to the multi decade birth of a Christmas classic movie. Television stations today conspire to only do one showing per season; but it’s still a certifiable classic.  Segue to the title of this article, ‘Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song.’ By the way, I find it particularly haunting in my microcosmic synchronistic world that the angel in this movie is Clarence, and I’m writing about Clarence (Clemons). Hmmm!!




I told the story of this movie because in our crazy mixed-up, digital, smart-phone, fast food world, we’re likely to be witnessing the birth of yet another classic; this time an incredible Christmas song with such a moving emotional voice, the late ‘Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons. If you want to get in the mood before reading on, here’s the You Tube link to ‘There’s Still Christmas.’ Go listen and come back here.

I love angels and synchronicity. A few years ago, I came to know Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke (and the late Stevie Betts, lyrics) who created this song with Clarence Clemons back in 1981. I’m a story teller so here goes.

Back in 1981, Stevie Betts (lyricist) and Dennis Bourke (melody) wrote this song, ‘There’s Still Christmas’ and teamed up with Jim Nuzzo (arranger, producer) and got manager Matty Breuer (assistant tour manager for Springsteen back then) to approach Clarence Clemons. They all met at Clarence’s Sea Bright, New Jersey home, had some wine and presented the words of the song to the ‘Big Man.’ Being on hiatus from touring with Springsteen, Clarence wanted to do it. He loved the message of the song; when things look down, there’s still Christmas; simple yet poignant. And Clarence’s rich baritone voice that is silenced now; propels this to classic status.  At the first recording session in October 1981, Clarence arrived wearing a cowboy hat. The next day he was wearing a Santa Claus hat and red vest exposing a chubby belly. He had Christmas lights put on the music stand; he was so in the mood to do this song. They rehearsed the song at ‘Big Man’s West’ in Red Bank; Clarence’s club. Jim and Dennis both told me about getting chills being in the same room with him when he performed. “He was a gentle down to earth guy,” Jim said.  To relax during the recording sessions, they played video games. To prepare for record company submission, Clarence recorded the other side on solo sax another Christmas classic “The Christmas Song.” The record company never picked up the song so it’s been sleeping all these years waiting for classic beams of particulate historic energy. Last year the song was released but like the movie, so few of us knew it existed. I listened and was blown away; his voice and persona holds me in a suspended state; like I’ve known him all these years; like it’s a special legacy to all of us to have him back in our lives at Christmas this year.

Imagine, after all these years; this song comes to us from Clarence at this holiday time of year; part of his enduring legacy.

Here’s some links to this wonderful life song/info:


Available for purchase on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and

You can also find ‘There’s Still Christmas’ on Facebook.

Bottom line. Please go listen and fall in love with the song. Purchase it. Sit by the fire place with a glass of wine or egg nog. Enjoy the Happy Holidays. Listen to his wondrous voice.

Thanks again to Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke for their passion and time. And to Stevie Betts for his wonderful lyrics and words.

And Clarence.

Calvin Schwartz



and book trailer:

SPECIAL MUSICAL COMING ATTRACTION: Vini Lopez, Acoustic Lounge,  Freehold, Thurs. May 29th 7 PM   By Calvin Schwartz SPECIAL MUSICAL COMING ATTRACTION: Vini Lopez, Acoustic Lounge, Freehold, Thurs. May 29th 7 PM By Calvin Schwartz(0)

 SPECIAL MUSICAL COMING ATTRACTION: Vini Lopez, Acoustic Lounge,  Freehold, Thurs. May 29th 7 PM   By Calvin Schwartz   





The Acoustic Lounge has become a musical magnet in downtown Freehold with all its history and obvious links to rock and roll and now they are bringing, most appropriately, Vini Lopez, recent inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, original drummer in E-Street Band to host a very special night. For me, the consummate music groupie, when  Vini Lopez shows up with his band ‘License to Chill’ it usually foretells amazing music, friends, that certain special central Jersey palpable electricity conducting musical guests,  surprises and a priceless night.






Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and me and Vini Lopez. more hanging out




Admission is simply bringing a can or box of food for St.Peter’s  Food Bank. And with the pulse of what’s happening and purist energy and creativity, the night is aptly co- sponsored by ‘Big Rooney Productions” and Freehold Recreation.  Not to be missed!!    Calvin Schwartz








“Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Party!!! Vini (from Bruce & the E Street Band) w/his band “Licence to Chill” and many, many special guests will be on hand to celebrate his award and his willingness to give back to the community. Admission is a can or box of food for our St. Peters (Freehold) Food Bank. Event co- sponsored in part by BigRooney Rooney & our Freehold Recreation (Olde Freehold Day staff) volunteers.”





NJ DISCOVER LIVE RADIO: In Case  You Missed It! CARL ‘TINKER’ WEST: UCLA, Engineer, Surfboard shaper designer, Ancient surfer, Musician, Promoter, Audio Engineer, Bruce Springsteen’s first manager. With hosts Tara-Jean Vitale and Calvin Schwartz. NJ DISCOVER LIVE RADIO: In Case You Missed It! CARL ‘TINKER’ WEST: UCLA, Engineer, Surfboard shaper designer, Ancient surfer, Musician, Promoter, Audio Engineer, Bruce Springsteen’s first manager. With hosts Tara-Jean Vitale and Calvin Schwartz.(0)

Interview with Carl Tinker West 1/14/2014

NJ DISCOVER LIVE RADIO:  TUES JAN 14TH 8PM:  VERY SPECIAL GUEST: CARL ‘TINKER’ WEST: UCLA, Engineer, Surfboard shaper designer, Ancient surfer, Musician, Promoter, Audio Engineer, Bruce Springsteen’s first manager, Food connoisseur, Award winning (Newport Boat Show) wooden boat restoration, Sailor,  Global warming assessor, Incandescent spirit and Quintessential conversationalist.  SO THERE IS A LOT TO TALK ABOUT with hosts Tara-Jean Vitale and Calvin Schwartz. 











SPECIAL SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:  INTRODUCING A  NEW SONG “Mary” BY PAOLO PREITE,  a  young Italian singer, songwriter, composing his own music since he was 15. He’s 29 now and recording his first album “Don’t Stop Dreaming”


LIVE Performance by BRIANNA EVE & VICTORIA TAYLOR tonight 8pm!




PIX: in the planning stages of radio show on Tuesday with Tinker while it’s 2 degrees outside.  

A Major FREEHOLD LIVE Music Event to Celebrate BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S Birthday: THUNDER ROAD THURSDAY.  Acoustic Lounge @American Legion Post-54   62 W.Main St. Freehold, NJ.  Thursday September 26th 7 PM.  Many Performers.    By Calvin Schwartz A Major FREEHOLD LIVE Music Event to Celebrate BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S Birthday: THUNDER ROAD THURSDAY. Acoustic Lounge @American Legion Post-54 62 W.Main St. Freehold, NJ. Thursday September 26th 7 PM. Many Performers. By Calvin Schwartz(0)

 A Major FREEHOLD LIVE Music Event to Celebrate BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’S Birthday: THUNDER ROAD THURSDAY.  Acoustic Lounge @American Legion Post-54           62 W.Main St. Freehold, NJ.  Thursday September 26th 7 PM.  Many Performers.    By Calvin Schwartz


I live two traffic lights from downtown Freehold and for a quarter of a century I’ve been pondering the relationship between music, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, Freehold (the county seat of Monmouth County) and the plethora of cool hip restaurants and the fact there just isn’t that overwhelming essence of live music that bespeaks the ambiance of this historic (Revolutionary War) quaint town. (I think this was a run on sentence but I needed to make a point) Point being; live music is finally setting up shop the way it was pre-destined and now the evolution, revolution(almost)by the visionaries and pioneers( Jimmy Arcoleo & Gene Walk) that have brought the Acoustic Lounge to Freehold. Indeed. I am excited by the prospects and energies of acoustic live music in a town two traffic lights from where I have a bowl of oatmeal every morning.




As far as Thursday September 26th and The Acoustic Lounge and Bruce Springsteen’s Birthday Celebration and THUNDER ROAD THURSDAY; I am so excited about the night that I cancelled a doubles tennis match of significant consequence which is personally evident of my intention to be at the American Legion and Acoustic Lounge early and I never cancel tennis.  Here’s to that first time and looking at you kids, about to join us for a special night.

As of this writing (Friday 9-20-13  1022 AM) here is a retrieved collection of notes about the performers in chronological performance order:

Gene Walk, Jimmy Arcoleo, Albert Cestero, Joe Heumiller, Virago, Alliance Singers, Tommy Byrne, Eddie Testa, Lee and Sheri, Lori Gilmore, Acoustic Step Aside, Chris Daniels, Eddie Mac, Michael Heumiller, Willie and John, Nikki Briar, Pat Roddy, Strumberry Pie, Taz, Joe Cartwright, Neal DeSimone, Jo Bonnano.

Once again the address: the Acoustic Lounge@ the American Legion Post 54, 62 W.Main st. Freehold, NJ









Terry Camp: Super Lawyer, Photographer Extraordinaire, Raconteur: Turns 50  with Big Bash/Concert/Party at Stone Pony (Video) Host Calvin Schwartz Terry Camp: Super Lawyer, Photographer Extraordinaire, Raconteur: Turns 50 with Big Bash/Concert/Party at Stone Pony (Video) Host Calvin Schwartz(0)

Terry Camp: Super Lawyer, Photographer Extraordinaire, Raconteur: Turns 50  with Big Bash/Concert/Party at Stone Pony on March 30th, 2013 An NJ Discover Introspective Interview(Video)

By Calvin Schwartz  March 25, 2013





Rarely does a journalist get that special opportunity to do an in depth interview with an energy and personality that brings together an essence of special music history, New Jersey, law and photography. Terry Camp called me a few weeks ago and briefed me on his upcoming 50th birthday party and concert at the Stone Pony on March 30th and would I be interested in putting an interview together for NJ Discover? Would I ever!





The intimate stories and history of our musical heritage here in central Jersey fascinates me beyond. Of course Terry’s history means Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, The Stone Pony, John Eddie, Willie Nile, JoBonanno, Asbury Park, Tony Pallagrosi and on and on.

So with my co-writer, editor, producer and amazing film editor Tara-Jean Vitale from NJ Discover we hit the yellow brick Garden State Parkway for points adjacent to the Short Hills Mall; notably Terence (legal nomenclature) Camp’s law offices at Budd Larner for a view of his photographic history that Terry has represented on his walls; almost a wing of the rock and roll museum.






A week later Kyle Brendle graciously opened the Stone Pony at high noon; we talked   to Terry. A week later Tara-Jean and I were back in the quiet solitude of a magical Stone Pony to finish and tweak. And for days that followed it was all a labor of love and fascination; a glimpse into Terry’s wonderful world of musical history and anecdotes. How I love anecdotes and our time with Terry and expect you will too. And of course see you all on March 30th.  This is all good stuff.  And once again so much thanks to Tara-Jean Vitale who did the magical filming and editing.



MINISTER STEVEN BRIGHAM IN TENT CITY( ‘Grapes of Wrath’?) (Video) Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ. Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant. by Calvin Schwartz MINISTER STEVEN BRIGHAM IN TENT CITY( ‘Grapes of Wrath’?) (Video) Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ. Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant. by Calvin Schwartz(3)

An Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ.  Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant.   By Calvin Schwartz



road into tent city



A quick thought before the article: if you like the article. please LIKE the writer on Facebook at:

Just thinking; I lived a big piece of my life in middle class bliss called suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey which is 40 minutes from Manhattan and an hour from Philadelphia. There are pockets (towns) in the county that have horse farms.  Mint juleps on cane benches on white wooden porches with Mercedes lined up in front of a three-car garage are common place; my way of describing subtle opulence. But I’m refreshingly middle class and damn proud. In July 2011, I even extended the energies of pride into becoming a journalist for a local county paper and a few months later, immersed into the television/internet reporting world of NJ Discover. Two years prior to that, my first novel, ‘Vichy Water’ was published. I became a writer on the late side of life’s journey but that’s OK, I’ve spiritually stopped counting years.








During these recent years, if anyone would’ve mentioned Tent City(Lakewood) and homeless people living in tents (80 of them) 27 minutes away from my electric two-car garage door and driveway, I would’ve gone on doing whatever I was doing, not paying attention because it was still too far away conceptually to grasp. Then last Easter Sunday, I was asked to cover (as a reporter for NJ Discover) a concert organized by Rosemary Conte to raise funds and awareness for the people of Tent City in Lakewood; it was still beyond my attention span and relevancy quotient; it just sounded like a cool thing to do. Rosemary Conte decided to have the concert for Tent City after being inspired by the photographic work of Sherry Rubel (friend of son, Steve Conte who lent Sherry use of his original song, “Busload of Hope” for fundraising).  Sherry was gearing towards an exhibit of her black and white images of Tent City.





Remembering how British sailors were impressed (against their will) into service in the 1600’s, I did the same exercise with my son who became cameraman for a day at the downtown Lakewood concert. The holiday cut into the attendance but the music was good. Then it was announced that Minister Steven Brigham (founder and spiritual leader) was bringing a bus filled with Tent City residents for a food and clothing buffet. When they arrived, I saw them from a distance, waiting in line for donated prepared food. That’s as close as I got to Tent City and its human residents; no faces to Tent City for me to attach to my optic nerve and compassion processing centers. Weeks later I wrote my article with some pictures I took; I focused more on the music. Life is funny. I met a few musicians from that concert and Rosemary Conte who have evolved into friends of mine. I never gave it thought that our thread of commonalty began with the Concert for Tent City.







My memories about homeless come from walking the streets of New York City and seeing people living in a cardboard box or sleeping on steps of a church after midnight. Yes, sometimes I dropped a few dollars for them. I remember Mayor Giuliani rounding-up homeless and busing them away; perhaps he thought it was a curative of the issue. One brutally cold night in New York, I walked by a homeless man sleeping in a big box. That image stayed with me a long time. It’s still there. But I thought about the notion that every human being begins life the same way by exiting the birth canal. So we all are bonded by that first journey. Then every one of us, including Tiny Tim, from ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes different pathways in life.






Homelessness was a long way from my consciousness; a distant abstraction. Life has a curious way to get you involved; reminds me of an old television show, Candid Camera; “when you least expect it”, you get hit gently in the head with a mallet of reality; a headache about the human condition. My hand is waving wildly from the back of the classroom. I yell to the teacher, Miss Crabtree, “I am human. My mother told me.” Back in December, my friend Rosemary Conte was singing in a concert in Asbury Park to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Because loyalty is a gift, I went to see her and met the concert organizer, photographer and fellow human, Sherry Rubel. Chemistry and gut feelings are also gifts. I sensed great compassion and commitment when I talked to Sherry in a hallway on the second floor of McCloone’s overlooking the Atlantic Ocean during a cold rain. Three weeks later on a cold sunny morning in East Brunswick, New Jersey, Sherry and I found a vacant table in a Starbucks and talked about the world and her dreams/hopes which centered on a place called Tent City in Lakewood where 80 people live in tents because. Curiously, just outside the window at her back was a grey-bearded old man sleeping on a chair with his bike next to him. Perhaps all his worldly possessions were on that bike. He was sleeping in 25 degree air temperature. Looking back, was it a portent of things to come? I did promise Sherry, because she was so passionate, that I’d come to Tent City and do a story for NJ Discover.



On the morning of February 4th Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and I headed down Route 9 to Lakewood’s Tent City. I did my Google due diligence and read about the politics and exigencies of Tent City; about homeless humans living there. But you never grasp or know what to expect unless you drove an ambulance in World War I; my reference to Hemingway, ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and my having to live a story visually to really feel emotions as a writer/journalist. I was clueless about this foreign world I was entering and it was brutally cold outside. The night before, Sherry briefed me on the politics and current events on how the county of Ocean (which has no homeless shelters) and the city of Lakewood want Tent City closed and bulldozed. A brave lawyer defends Tent City; he wins stays of execution; a human judge decries that you cannot throw humans out into a nowhere land. Minister Steven Brigham has devoted his life to the dream of dignity for homeless. At some point this day, we’d get a chance to meet this amazing man; Sherry promised.






Perpendicular to Tent City main entrance is a small street where we parked; across this street were low income apartments. Sherry met us as I hoisted the tri-pod and cameras out of the trunk. We jumped back into the car and fogged-up the windows while she talked about the protocol and etiquettes of our visit. On our way, I suddenly stopped. I’m a writer collecting my emotions, trying to glimpse tents through dense forest. A strange feeling came over me. Do I really want this because I sensed a queasiness in my intestinal lining; butterflies evacuating in a panic. I felt like coughing resignation; get away while the going is good. “John Wayne, where’s your horse?”  I sensed something; I’d never be quite the same again by the time the sun rose a little higher in a perfectly majestic dark blue sky; how poetic; I was grasping. Then I ran back to the car trunk and opened it and yelled to Tara-Jean and a bewildered Sherry. “I want you both to see this ceremony. I’m taking this huge weighted box of symbolic politics off my back and shoulder so that when I walk into Tent City there is absolutely nothing political about me; I’m just a human being with eyes, ears and a working cardiac chamber.”




Two Lakewood police cars blocked the frozen bumpy dirt road; they were leaving. I was dizzy (too much strange foreign visual input) and cold as I glanced at the first tent on the right; a barking dog was tied with a rope to a tree. I wondered if the dog knew about Tent City. As if a magic wand from Glenda (that Northern witch) passed over us, tents were suddenly everywhere with musty smoke from wood burning stoves coming out of make-shift chimneys; a strange smell(suffering?) wafted in the air we breathe. The ground was covered with patchy snow; why wasn’t I here during the summer? We were now in the middle of the city; as far as the eye could see through thick trees, tents lined a bumpy dirt road. Just then a tall young man approached; Sherry greeted him and then introduced us to Angelo. He was near his tent. We shook hands; he had worn gloves (bare fingers exposed) and invited us into his tent. He was a charming, outgoing eloquent man. Something (a perfect word here) struck my extant dizziness; he was absolutely proud to show us his home; a bed, a wood burning stove (he excused himself to run out and chop a log for more wood) and a few shelves of clothing. But it was his home; the bed was made like it was ready for army inspection. I was faint and still dizzy; it was all real and beyond my imagination; but everyone here was human. Sherry whispered there are all kinds of people here from different walks.







Some tents were perfectly appointed. How strange I thought; could I be in the Catskill Mountains at a tent colony for the summer; Woodstock just up the road. It’s 1969 and soon a big concert. No, this was a real world of homeless humans waiting for a Springsteen song to be written about them. I whispered to myself, “My God.” Angelo’s tent was so cold. How do humans sleep? Yet as we walked past tents and people; something was (that word again) hard to describe which grabbed me in disbelief. Was this an exciting way of life?  A woman walked over to Tara-Jean; “Come let me show you my tent.”  They were proud of their homes. It was theirs; a belonging. I felt it. Next we saw a tent where there was a warm shower and another set up as a chapel and finally a kitchen of sorts with stacks of empty pizza boxes. Local pizza restaurants frequently drop off pizza. Overcome with dizziness now; I knew it was a manifestation of shock and disbelief; how and why. We’re all humans that passed through birth canals dressed the same way.






I keep saying ‘humans.’ Reason; two of the letters in the word are U and S; spells us. ‘Us’ works in a democracy but when we start using the word ‘them,’ democracy weakens. I’ve heard and read people near Tent City (the humans who want them out) refer to the people here as them. “Get them out of here.” How sad. From a distance, Sherry saw Tent City leader Minister Steven Brigham approaching. Eye to eye we stood shaking hands; he was almost as tall as me. Eyes were intense and filled; easy to see. And here’s where I save words. Minister Steve would let us interview and film him so you can watch the video. I’m not sure if anyone else has ever spent such quality time with this amazing man of peace and compassion.







I’ve decided not to describe any more physicality of Tent City now. I would be some kind of dizzy (light headed, heart-broken, sad) all week and beyond while on this journey to self-awareness. What did I learn from this day of my intestinal excavation? Both Sherry and Minister Steve talked about Destiny’s Bridge which is both a new acclaimed documentary movie by filmmaker (storyteller) Jack Ballo and a concept dream for a future community of homeless people who one day might live together in dignity, productivity and self-reliance. Conceptual dignity is a common thread. Homeless people today are rounded up and thrown into distant shelter’s calloused halls with cots and no privacy; warehoused and usually kicked out in the morning for another day without borders and wandering streets; no human dignity or productivity. Destiny’s Bridge is a dream and a hope for belonging, community, ownership, training and human services. Minister Steven Brigham has given the last 12 years of his life to see that dream come to life. Tent City is soulful energy which fuels this dream every day.







Sherry Rubel has spent the last year of her life being involved, caring, documenting and photographing; she’s there relentlessly and compassionately. Jack Ballo has been at Tent City three days a week for the past year creating a documentary film legacy depicting the hope of Destiny’s Bridge. As I write this, Jack is considering several New Jersey film festival premieres over the upcoming spring and summer including the Garden State Film Festival in April. For me, a journalist, this film is about humans, homelessness, New Jersey and dignity; the film’s issues are a no-brainer and should be on New Jersey film festival radar. I remember leaving my political notions in the trunk of my car for the good of honest human reporting. I wonder who wrote the Book of Love when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. President Kennedy promised we’d be first on the moon. I wonder about the homeless.






Mine eyes had seen the coming and so much more that day. Tara-Jean and I asked permission to come back. While we were readying to leave, four residents were talking near a tent; a dog was barking in the distance. On a nearby table were packages of hamburger buns stacked three high. Minister Steve had disappeared down the dirt road. Our drive back to suburbia and gas heat, electricity, bathrooms, two door refrigerators and other banal comforts was relatively quiet and pensive yet Tara-Jean and I had differing views of the world. But that’s OK, Mah.






My awareness journey was not over. The next night I picked-up extraordinary singer/songwriter Arlan Feiles and headed for a NJ Transit train into New York City. Wonder where this is going?  One of his songs (a favorite of mine), ‘Viola,’ is about this courageous woman Viola Liuzzo who was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama. While on the train heading into Penn Station and eventually Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to see the Nets play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, I told Arlan about Tent City.  Subconsciously I hoped.

In the fourth quarter we saw Kobe take off from the foul line and sail over two Nets defenders and jam the ball; poetry in motion. Then Arlan got a text message; there was an open mic on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn; Arlan did four songs and blew the place away. Next a slice of ethereally tasting Brooklyn pizza and by the next blink of my tied left eye, it was 11:44 PM inside the New Jersey Transit waiting room inside Penn Station. Remember; it was very cold outside. Two dozen human beings were spread out sitting in chairs, sleeping, ostensibly waiting for a train. Then an Amtrak cop appeared; he pulled out a ‘Billy club’ and pounded on the walls behind the sleeping humans. He yelled, “Let me see your ticket. If you don’t have one, you have to leave.” He was throwing homeless humans out into the cold night. He was also profiling. I never took out my ticket. He never asked to see it; thus the second day in a row seeing homeless humans without dignity or warmth. The cop never saw my camera flash. On the meandering slow train back to suburbia, I felt that feeling again.







Cut to Friday night; a few days later. I don’t understand everything in the universe which pretends I’m modeling clay. Recently something made me order the DVD ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ with Henry Fonda.  I’d never seen it before and shame on me. Universal energies abound and it was time. After knee braces pulled tightly in place, I jumped on the exercise bike and pedaled full throttle into a dizzying oblivion while I watched this 1940 black and white movie about an Oklahoma family forced off their land. The Joad family travels to California, suffering the plight of the homeless during the Great Depression. I was back at Tent City; nothing had changed from Lakewood, New Jersey to Steinbeck’s novel in 1939. Time froze. So did I on the bike.

Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) is talking to his mother near the end. The sweat is dripping from me; 924 calories burned so far. “How am I going to know about you Tommy?” Tom replied to his mother, “A fellow don’t have a soul of his own. Maybe just a piece of a big soul. Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Where ever you look. Where ever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.”  I closed my eyes; suddenly it’s last Monday and I’m sitting in the Tent City chapel talking/interviewing Minister Steven Brigham, a 12th generation American. I’m black and white and talking to John Steinbeck.




Then I just sat motionless on the bike and watched the movie credits fade to black. Of course I was dizzy again; a different kind of dizzy with resolution and substance.  I remembered that Sherry Rubel wrote a fascinating blog about a Tent City resident, Kevin, who’s been in and out of county jail and Tent City. Kevin is Tom Joad. Synchronicity, personal journey, Tent City, Sherry Rubel, Minister Steven Brigham, Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and being an apolitical human being enhance my cerebral spiritual synapses.(conscience) Homelessness is on my mind; sounds like a song title. We could use a fresh song.

What I noticed these past weeks are so few humans around these parts (New Jersey and beyond) know (care) what’s going on in Tent City. I’m saddened but not surprised; still dizzy after all these weeks. I’m heading somewhere. There’s a last scene in a movie, ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan’ when Robert Montgomery stops and realizes he’s going somewhere but he’s not sure. He can’t explain it but he gets up and leaves his boxing dressing room. I worry about a next court date in March for the humans of Tent City; what if?  I need to get back there. I just looked out a window behind me and saw children dancing around a May Pole; why are they dancing in slow motion? They’re human children; a few years removed from the birth canal. There is no real window; a mirage? And the Atlantic City hotel, Revel just went bankrupt ($2.4 billion). A few hours ago someone close to me asked why I’m writing about Tent City when I usually write about musicians, artists or environmentalists. I didn’t answer. That was my answer.

Here are some links:

Tent City Project:

Tent City website:

Facebook: Destiny’s Bridge the movie:

Jack Ballo film maker:

Sherry Rubel Photography:



Calvin Schwartz:

Facebook: Cal Schwartz   and Calvin Schwartz-Cerebral Writer

Twitter: @ earthood






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