Thirteen horn players lined the back of the Stone Pony stage, Dec. 11, for this year’s edition of singer and trombonist Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg’s annual Holiday Hurrah concert. They stayed there for the entirety of the nearly three-hour song, and played with at least five other musicians plus an assortment of vocalists on almost every song.
“Look at this band, oh my God,” said one of the guest performers, John Cafferty. “There are more people on the stage than there are in Rhode Island, where I come from.”
Equally crowded was the audience, as the high-spirited show — which benefited the Fulfill food bank and the Asbury Park Little League — drew a full house on a cold, rainy Sunday night.
“We needed this,” said Bobby Bandiera, another guest performer and a former Asbury Jukes bandmate of LaBamba.
Past editions of the show have featured similar lineups and similar setlists. One new face was pedal steel guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph, who joined the band for the last eight numbers, starting with his raucous instrumental “Joyful Sounds” and his gritty blues-rock song “Baptise Me.”
Cafferty’s songs included his own celebratory holiday number “All Around the World (Christmas)” as well as “On the Dark Side,” “C-I-T-Y” and a cover of Van Morrison’s “Domino” that really benefited — as many songs did this night — from the large horn section.
Bandiera dominated in the show’s home stretch — “LaBamba’s got me workin’ tonight!” he said — and closed the show by singing lead on a Springsteenesque “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
Glen Burtnik offered one of the show’s rare low-key moments with a tender solo “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” before leading the band through “Winter Wonderland” and his own “Here Comes Sally” (another song that really got taken to another level by those horns).
Burtnik also paid tribute — as did LaBamba and saxophonist Ed Manion — to the late trumpeter Mike Spengler, a former mainstay of these shows, and the New Jersey music scene in general. Spengler died last December. In his honor, the band played one of his favorite songs, the Cannonball Adderley instrumental, “Sticks.”
LaBamba and his daughter Jade duetted on “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” and “8 Day (of Hanukkah),” and guitarist Glenn Alexander and his daughter Oria did the same on the Graham Parker-written “Soul Christmas.”
LaBamba and trumpeter Mark Pender — close friends who have worked together in many different bands over the years, and banter like a comedy duo between songs — also sang a couple of duets: “This Christmas” and LaBamba’s own boisterous ode to both the holiday season and The Stone Pony itself, “Christmas at the Pony,” after which Pender told the crowd, “Merry Christmas from your two favorite cornballs.”
Here is the show’s setlist, with the lead singer in parenthesis. Below the setlist are some videos.
“Deck the Halls” (instrumental excerpt)
“Christmas Time Is Here” (instrumental)
“(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays” (LaBamba and Jade Rosenberg)
“8 Day (of Hanukkah)” (LaBamba and Jade Rosenberg)
“Soul Christmas” (Glenn Alexander and Oria)
“Santa Claus Is Back in Town” (Mark Pender)
“God Only Knows” (Ed Manion plays main melody on saxophone, Emily Grove and Jade Rosenberg sing backing vocals)
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Glen Burtnik)
“Winter Wonderland” (Glen Burtnik)
“Here Comes Sally” (Glen Burtnik)
“This Christmas” (LaBamba and Mark Pender)
“Christmas at the Pony” (LaBamba and Mark Pender)
“Move On Up” (LaBamba)
“Domino” (John Cafferty)
“On the Dark Side” (John Cafferty)
“All Around the World (Christmas)” (John Cafferty)
“C-I-T-Y” (John Cafferty)
“Holly Holy” (Bobby Bandiera)
“All You Need Is Love” (Bobby Bandiera)
“Joyful Sounds” (instrumental featuring Robert Randolph on pedal steel guitar)
“Baptise Me” (Robert Randolph)
“Run Rudolph Run” (Bobby Bandiera)
“Blue Christmas” (Bobby Bandiera)
“Let the Good Times Roll” (LaBamba)
“Merry Christmas Baby” (LaBamba and Bobby Bandiera)
“I Thank You” (Bobby Bandiera and Robert Randolph)
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (Bobby Bandiera)
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