Sunday, 3 February 2013

P.S.

LOD 2013
Part 5




Day 5
Monday


Today I woke at the crack of dawn - literally.  Should I turn over and go back to sleep or get onto the boardwalk to try and catch the sunrise?  Might never get the chance for sunrise again but I can sleep any time so... no - brainer really.



So when I get to the boardwalk there is a solitary bloke fishing. He packs up and heads off home leaving me on my own, strolling up and down, waiting for the sun. A police car drove by at one point and I swear it slowed down to check me out. Probably thought I was mad.

Photos taken I head back to the room and who is helping himself to coffee in the hotel lobby?- non other than Joe Grushecky. We had quite a long chat as I got tea for myself, and coffee to take back to Mike, who was still languishing in bed. This might be a lesson to learn. Just do your own thing and mind your own business and you don’t know who will cross your path. Go out of your way to bump into someone and zilch.

No rush this morning as our lift back to the airport wasn’t picking us up until 6.00pm. We packed cases and set off for a late breakfast at Frank’s Deli. 

After a last wander around Asbury Park and Ocean Grove we headed back to the hotel to relax. The final day of a holiday is always a bit strange don’t you find? A lot of waiting around and wondering whether to go for a last walk, a drink or look around the shops. We opted to wait and read.

Our group were leaving at different times during the afternoon so there were lots of ‘Goodbyes’ and ‘Safe Journeys’. Everyone talked about when they would be back. Never if but when. 

Chatting to the waitress in Frank's this morning we mentioned we were heading home and weren't looking forward to it so much. She told us that whenever she leaves New Jersey she can't wait to get back - can't really argue with that.

MIke and I? Well barring disasters we’ll be on that plane next year. With the Paramount Theatre looking so pretty in the setting sun who could resist?







Epilogue

Remember that feeling I had that 2013 is going to be a good year? Don't know why I ever doubted it. If the rest of the year is anything like the last five days it's going to be amazing.













Sunday, 27 January 2013

P.S

LOD 2013
Part 4



Day 4
Sunday

I keep thinking that the weather must break but it's another gorgeous day.

No breakfast for us today. We’ve booked a table at McLoones again for Songwriters by the Sea so we are trying to save ourselves. We eat so little, by rights, we should be as thin as rakes but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

We are keen to go and see Ocean Grove so retrace yesterday’s steps but this time walk on further passed the Casino.

Ocean Grove is an interesting place - well we thought so. I understand it has been through tough times but seems to have come out the other side and appears rather well-to-do now. It’s a dry town set up by a group of Methodists as a sort of summer camp. We researched all this after we came back and it explains why there are beach chalets surrounding the church. 


The streets are full of Victorian houses and newer builds in-the-style-of. Imagine the main street in a Western - Court House, General Store, brothel, that kind of thing - that’s what it reminds me of. It would make sense given the time that the original houses were built.





The boardwalk here seems to have taken a bit of a hit but the houses are apparently OK. 

I’m not sure whether they escaped the worst of Sandy or whether they have already been repaired.







Anyway we meandered around in our usual fashion, with no particular idea of where exactly we were heading, and happened upon the main street. There are a few quaint little shops and cafes but if you want more than a cup of tea or coffee you will be out of luck!

On our way back to the hotel we decided we couldn’t manage all day without food so we stopped off for a coffee and a cake in Cookman Avenue. Free Wi-Fi here and we find out from the UK that there was a wild party in our hotel lobby last night. This internet thingy is pretty impressive - the other side of the World knows what’s happening in our hotel before we do!.

So then onto the music which is after all why we are here. We nipped into the hotel bar for Songwriters by the Sea - Mike in his slippers - did I say we were beginning to feel right at home? This afternoon session was pretty laid back with everyone on stage together taking turns to give us a song.

On to the evening’s Songwriters by the Sea at McLoones. It followed the same format as the afternoon session with all the artists on stage together.Such a good contrast to the previous night. We sat at a table eating our meal and absorbing the atmosphere. Very leisurely and laid back. I’m a big fan of acoustic music so hearing songs, familiar from last night, given a new sound was right up my street.  

We ended with a nod to Bruce again - hearty renditions of Hungry Heart and Twist and Shout.



Mike and I spoke to James Maddock and Joe D’Urso after the show. They were both very gracious, signed the CDs we had just bought and took time to chat. Well, Joe was so chatty we could hardly get away! 


... and a good night was had by all.

Friday, 25 January 2013

P.S.



LOD 2013
Part 3


Day 3
Saturday


Another beautiful day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and life is good. I’ve got over my disappointment. We are looking forward to tonight’s show and just happy to be here.

Breakfast at Frank’s again. So good, and great value for money. Mike has corned beef hash and scrambled eggs and I have bacon and eggs ‘over easy’ - I don’t necessarily want them cooked this way I just like saying it. 

To be perfectly honest there’s not much to do in Asbury Park except eat and drink. Some of you will know that Mike and I are no gourmets and don’t drink a lot. Luckily the weather is so good we can indulge in one of our favorite things - walking.

The boardwalk between the Paramount Theatre and the Casino is closed- fenced off - but I know, from some research before leaving the UK, that there is access to the beach north of the theatre. It's clear we can walk around the end of the Convention Hall to part of the beach which has no access from the boardwalk. 

We trudge along - it's hard work walking in the sand - and I take many, many many photos, most of which I have discarded already.

There are a lot of other folks doing the same and - look! - people on the boardwalk itself. Not to be outdone we climb up too. Some of the boards are intact and look undisturbed but there are chunks that are impassable unless you're prepared to balance on beams.  Apparently all will be open again in May 2013.

So just up to the Casino and back today as we intend to call in at the Wonder Bar in the afternoon for 'Asbury Blues'. By now we're coming across the same people again and again and I no longer feel out of place as we wave to one or two already in the bar. I think I might have put myself under a bit of pressure to enjoy everything I heard but to be honest the music wasn’t really to our taste. I’m sure the musicians are very talented but all this noodling does nothing for me. I like a bit more structure to my music. Anyway at least we can say we have been to a gig at the Wonder Bar.  

We had booked a table at McLoones to eat before the night’s big concert.  Although the doors to the Paramount opened at 6.00pm we were told there was no need to arrive at the start so we aim for 7.00pm to 7.30pm. 

Lovely place, McLoones, with a great view. Could I ever have believed that we would be sitting in a restaurant in Asbury Park looking out at the Paramount Theatre? 

Sometimes I can’t believe my luck - Friday I felt so unlucky but a day on and I know just how lucky I am. Oh My goodness the starters are so big we can barely eat our mains and we're so stuffed by the time we set out for the theatre we can barely move. 

Great seats - four rows back towards the middle and Christine Martucci is just coming on stage.  She's fab. Would like to see her again. The whole night is so well organised, a full band set followed by an acoustic set, played in front of the curtain, whilst the next band is setting up behind.

With or without Bruce the night is fantastic and despite a stinking headache I manage to stick it out until the end and Mike gets to see Joe Grushecky play live.

Looking back there was only one act we really didn't like (I won’t say who), and anyway, if we weren’t keen we only had to suffer around 20 minutes or so before the next act came on. Darlene Love was great and surely that will be our one and only chance to see her live. A bonus - Brian Fallon joined Jesse Malin - albeit for a very brief session. It might bode well for a longer set another year though. 




At the end of his set Joe Grushecky tells us that Bruce sends his love. 'Needn't be sending his love to me' I say. I've fallen out with him - at least for the time being. I still joined in with a rousing rendition of Thunder Road though.

We both enjoyed it so much we’d would go again in a heartbeat.  






Thursday, 24 January 2013

P.S.


LOD 2013
Part 2



Day Two
Thursday

The Berkley had some bad reviews on TripAdvisor so I was more than a little worried. Here we were and -yes - the room was a little tired in places but it was big, had a comfy bed and great views of the ocean.




We had been to Asbury Park before but only for a few hours. Whilst I wasn’t exactly blase about this visit I had nothing like the feeling that I had when we arrived the first time. That was a magic moment and although it was amazing to be here again nothing will ever beat that first step onto the boardwalk. It’s funny - I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the same buzz, yet pleased  a second visit didn’t spoil the fantastic memories of the first. 

Anyway off to our first breakfast at Frank’s Deli. Here is where the help of Badlands really comes into its own. To be perfectly honest I think Mike and I would have given Frank’s a miss, even if we had ventured that far into town. We knew some areas of Asbury were a bit rough and Frank’s, just a basic cafe with no pretentions, didn’t look like a place we would visit. Fair do’s though - it was good. We had a great breakfast and saw some faces we knew. I was beginning to relax into this a bit now.  

I did strike up a conversation with Janice who we thought we recognised from our group. It turned out that, although she was Scottish, she hadn’t come over with Badlands at all! Made a mental note to be more observant in future and from then on if people looked familiar my mantra was ‘Do they belong to us?’

After breakfast it was on to Cookman Avenue. This area of Asbury Park has seen some regeneration but to get there we walked down Main Street which is certainly in need of some TLC. It was a beautiful day, very cold but we were well wrapped up and walking along in the sun my mood lifted. After all we were in Asbury Park!

Cookman Avenue had some interesting shops and restaurants and a coffee shop which would be a good bet another day when we hadn’t just eaten breakfast. Looking round shops isn’t really our thing and we had already decided not to go to the daytime gigs so... what to do now? We had passed the bus/train station on our way so headed back to see where we could go.

Red Bank - only five stations on the train, about half an hour - change at Long Branch. 

Do-able then but next train wasn’t for an hour. It was warm in the station waiting room so we sat down and marvelled at the janitor who spent the whole hour mopping a floor which would have taken me half the time.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work with so little urgency but Mike says he was just being thorough.

The train journey was so easy, and surprisingly, as we had no map, we managed to get ourselves into the centre of Red Bank without any trouble. More shops but it was a nice little town and we did buy a couple of CDs from Jack’s Music Shoppe and two very gooey cup cakes.  A coffee and sandwich at a ‘proper’ diner and off back to get ready for The Stone Pony that night.

Ooooo excitement - Joe Grushecky is just checking in to our hotel! What luck to be passing through the lobby at the right time. We had a quick chat with him and his wife - Lee Anne, shook his hand and Mike had his photo taken. Result for Mike. He is a big fan, has always wanted to see him live and meeting him was a bonus.




Denny Laine was appearing at McLoones early evening and without doubt this was going to be popular. We had decided not to go, so headed down to the hotel bar instead. Hardly anyone there but Joe Grushecky and his family were having a meal - oh god he’ll think we are stalkers! We got ourselves a drink and didn’t have long to wait before we had more company - do they belong to us? It turned out they did and it was here that I overheard the news that Bruce wasn’t coming. It was a definite as he had published a statement on his web site. 

I had considered coming to LOD many times before but this year was the first time I thought I could come just for the experience and not to see Bruce. We had both decided that Bruce would be a bonus but I was realistic enough to admit that I wouldn’t know exactly how I felt about a no-show until it actually happened. Well it has happened and I was gutted.

On our way to The Stone Pony we popped into McLoone’s to catch a glimpse of Denny Laine. It was absolutely heaving and the set from ‘Abbey Road’ didn’t particularly appeal. Octopus’s Garden was our cue to go.

Wow! We are at a gig at the Stone Pony - what’s not to love? Nothing actually - well perhaps there was one band we didn’t like. Faces were becoming familiar, people were saying ‘hi’ and I was beginning to feel more at home - this is fun!  We must’ve stayed until about midnight and you will hear us singing on the Asbury Angels Theme Song when it’s released.  Actually I hope you wont hear me singing as I can’t hold a note.


Back to the hotel and time to dwell on the fact that Bruce won’t be here. Let’s be honest I’m still feeling a bit sorry for myself but I’d said I wouldn’t mind and  I’m persuading myself I don’t mind.