No wonder he wasn’t sure exactly where the ring was. Glen Burtnik had a gig in Mason, Ohio, Friday night, but made it back to Asbury Park on Saturday to perform his Love Concert at the Paramount Theatre, in the middle of which he got married to Christina Shafer. Rest assured, everything turned out fine: The ring was found, the ceremony was performed, Burtnik and his guests played a joyful marathon concert, and ticket sales raised money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Burtnik isn’t just a member of the New Jersey rock scene, but one of the musicians around which the scene revolves: He’s always got a million projects going on; he seems to know everyone, and be friends with everyone. So the Paramount stage was crowded with string and horn sections, a large group of backing vocalists, and a succession of guest singers. The show was divided into two parts, with the wedding ceremony at the end of the first part, and a set by Burtnik’s Beatles-inspired group The Weeklings right after the intermission. The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” was the show’s grand finale, with all the performers invited back.
Marshall Crenshaw, whose friendship with Burtnik dates back to the ’70s (when he was John Lennon to Burtnik’s Paul McCartney in a production of “Beatlemania”), sang a trio of Hank Williams songs (“Howlin’ at the Moon,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “Settin’ the Woods on Fire”) in honor of the country legend, who got married by a justice of the peace in 1972 but then re-enacted the wedding at two concerts the next day.
Mark Hudson, best known as a producer and songwriter for artists such as Aerosmith and Ringo Starr, was appropriately ebullient on The Spiral Staircase’s “More Today Than Yesterday” and also sang “The Reason,” a song that he co-wrote with Carole King (and that was famously recorded by Celine Dion).
Patti Maloney, a friend of Burtnik’s since their days at New Brunswick High School, provided one of the evening’s emotional high points by singing Laura Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues” with Burtnik on piano. Remember Jones sang with his usual fervor on the Joe Cocker version of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed Delivered I’m Yours.”
While most of the evening was devoted to classic songs, there were some more recent selections. Brielle Von Hugel and Emily Grove, for instance, sang John Legend’s “All of Me” and Nate Ruess’ “Nothing Without Love,” respectively, and Shafer’s 14-year-old cousin Tommy Shafer showed unbelievable poise on a flawless version of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”
Burtnik’s Weeklings bandmate Bob Burger and the country duo Williams Honor sang sweet, self-written love songs in honor of the occasion. Other singers in the marathon show included Kim Pulsive (“Baby, I Love You”), Nancy Coletti (“For Once in My Life”), Fawn Segerson (“From Me to You”), Arlan Feiles (“You Can Leave Your Hat On”), Rick Barry (“Somebody’s Baby”), Joey La (“Light My Fire”) and Williams Honor member Reagan Richards (“Be My Baby”).
Even concert promoters Tony Pallagrosi and Sammy Boyd got into the act by singing the Frank Sinatra hit “You Make Me Feel So Young” and The Beatles’ “If I Fell” (as a duet with Burtnik), respectively. While they shouldn’t quit their day jobs, they didn’t embarrass themselves either.
Burtnik’s busy night included a lead vocal on The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”; a group version of “Never Ending Song of Love” with his two daughters, son and son-in-law; and a warm, touching duet with Shafer on John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me,” performed immediately after they said their vows.
Here is a video from the show, starting with a film of Burtnik proposing onstage at the Stone Pony, last year.
Jay…wonderful review of the show and wedding. I was glad to be there !