Light of Day festival continues to amaze

Light of Day


Bruce Springsteen leads various musicians and volunteers in a song at a Light of Day concert at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park in January. Bob Benjamin is in front of the microphone to Springsteen’s left.

I would love it if everyone who sees this article would take a few moments out from their busy day, and really reflect upon what a miracle Light of Day is.

Most New Jersey rock fans know the story, or at least part of it. Bob Benjamin, who works as a manager for rock musicians, found himself diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at a young age. For his 40th birthday party, in 1998, he asked attendees to make a donation to Parkinson’s research instead of bringing a gift. In 2000, he presented his first Light of Day concert, at the Tradewinds in Sea Bright.

Because of Benjamin’s tenacity, Light of Day has grown, year by year, to the point where the 15th anniversary Light of Day, in January, will be a 10-day affair, with shows mostly in Asbury Park, but also in Montclair, Burlington and New York, and more than 150 acts participating. There will be more than 30 events, including shows devoted to blues, children’s music, heavy rock, etc.

He hasn’t done it alone, of course. Musicians donate their time, year after year, and volunteers do the same, behind the scenes. His most valuable supporter has been Bruce Springsteen, who has performed most years, though he is never officially confirmed ahead of time. (The festival, of course, is named after the Springsteen song).

Last year’s festival raised $425,000 for Parkinson’s research. The goal for this year is to push the festival’s 15-year total past $3 million.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 1 at noon for January’s Light of Day events via Ticketmaster; visit for more specifics (though many details are yet to be announced). Confirmed artists include: Willie Nile, Gary U.S. Bonds, Guy Davis, John Easdale, Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers, New York Dolls guitarist Steve Conte and his band the Crazy Truth, James Maddock, John Eddie, Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Billy Hector, Bruce Tunkel, Slim Chance & the Gamblers, and the Billy Walton Band.

In addition to the New Jersey and New York shows, there are Light of Day concerts at various times of the year in Canada, Europe and Australia.

Again, I think it’s important to keep in mind: This is an amazing, unique thing, and one of the things that really makes the New Jersey rock scene special. You can’t say enough good things about it.

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