Review: ‘Asbury Angels’ show at Light of Day festival

The main Light of Day concert takes place tonight, at the Paramount Theatre.

One thing that’s frustrating about the Light of Day festival is that there is so much going on, all the time, that you end up missing a lot. Take Friday night, for instance. Shows taking place — simultaneously or overlapping to some degree, all around Asbury Park— includedRemember Jones performing Mad Dogs and Englishmen at the Paramount Theatre, Albert Lee at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, Led Zeppelin cover band Kashmir with the Matt O’Ree Band at House of Independents, Peter Scherer’s “Acoustic Carousel” (with lots of talented singer-songwriters) at the Langosta Lounge, and a fun-sounding night of classic cover songs at the Silverball Museum.

I decided to spend the night at the Stone Pony, for the “Asbury Angels” show. A 2012 addition to the festival that has become an annual event, Asbury Angels honors deceased artists and other members of the music scene who had a strong connection to Asbury Park. This year’s inductees weredoo-wop singer (and Asbury Park Press executive) Sam Siciliano, Manhattan Transfer member Tim Hauser, vaudeville performer Baby Mac and WHTG-FM owner Faye Gade.

They were honored in a ceremony in the middle of the show, with a series of speeches effectively explaining their importance, and their connections to the scene. But the rest of the show was Light of Day business as usual, with sets by 15 acts— full, electric bands on the main stage alternating with acoustic acts on a smaller stage.

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers performed second to last on the main stage: The same slot, incidentally, that they will have atthe festival’s main, marathon concert, which takes place tonight at the Paramount Theatre. (For set times, click here). The band was in good form, sticking mostly to raw, Stonesy rock ‘n’ roll (“Code of Silence,” “Pumping Iron,” “No Strings Attached”) but also mixing things up a bit with the funky anthem “Ain’t Goin’ Down” and the elegant, Bruce Springsteen-written ballad “Hearts of Stone.”

Another Springsteen-written song, “Savin’ Up” — originally recorded by Clarence Clemons and his Red Bank Rockers band —served as the set’s centerpiece, with Red Bank Rockers member J.T. Bowen helping out on vocals, and saxophonist Ed Manion soloing while walking through the crowd.

I was glad to have an opportunity to see Asbury Jukes guitarist (and Jersey music scene veteran) Glenn Alexanderperform a set with his own group, Shadowland. As Jukes fans know, Alexander is a virtuosoguitarist, and this band lets him stretch out in a blues-soul vein. It’s a big, versatile group, featuring current Jukes horn playersChris Anderson (trumpet),John Isley(sax) andNeal Pawley(trombone) and two backing vocalist, one of whom — Alexander’s daughter, Oria Aspen— sang with impressive power on a duet with him, “Blues for Me & You.”

The Raz Band, featuring Joey Molland of Badfinger, steered the evening, briefly, in more of a power-pop direction, with a collection of crisp, spirited songs, culminating with the Badfinger classic “No Matter What.”

I saw lots of other bands at this show, but will stop there … got to get down to Asbury Park to see more.

Ifyou thought last night was jam-packed with shows, today’s schedule is even more full. For information, visit lightofday.org.

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