During the past six years, husband-and-wife team Vincent Minervino and Magdalena O’Connell have parlayed a love of surf rock into a festival, a record label, a band, a DJ business, concert promotion, and other special events.
From Aug. 16 to 19, the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival returns with almost as much fun as getting tubed. The fest actually will kick off in Highlands with a free all-ages show at the Seafarer Bar with sets by Lost Culture, a surf trio from AP. The fun continues on Aug. 17 with Hi-Tide Presents’ monthly Aloha Friday Happy Hour with DJ Devil Bat, aka Robbie Butkowski, the guitarist in Black Flamingos, also drummer Minervino’s band with bassist Declan O’Connell, his brother-in-law. DJ Devil Bat will be spinning on the roof of the Asbury hotel.
Surf guitar legend Dick Dale will make the fest nice ‘n’ gnarly when he rocks the Wonder Bar on Aug. 17 with The Volcanics, who’ll also play the main event on Aug. 18 at the Anchor’s Bend with Satan’s Pilgrims, The Madeira, Surfer Joe & His Band, Frankie & the Pool Boys, Black Flamingos, Les Agamemnonz, The Men in Grey Suits, and Great White Caps. But first a “Let’s Go Trippin’ ” after party to the Dale show will be at The Asbury hotel with live music from Ninth Wave and spins by DJ C Cow of the legendary NYC Tiki bar Otto’s Shrunken Head.
In addition to the slammin’ music, the main event on Aug. 18 throughout Convention Hall will feature Tiki cocktails, barbecue, vendors, a car show, a Twist contest, symposiums on surf guitar and cocktail recipes, and an after party with The Coffin Daggers, DJ Jukebox Jodi and go-go dancer Anna Copa Cabanna.
On Aug. 19, the festival will feature a Tiki Brunch with Slowey & the Boats back at The Anchor’s Bend, then a free Hangover Pool Party with The Surfrajettes and The Primitive Finks at The Asbury hotel. A screening of the 1963 Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon classic “Beach Party,” featuring the music of Dick Dale, will be shown on The Baronet screen of The Asbury. Finally, Last Call with DJ Hi-Tide & Friends will take place at Little Buddy Hideaway.
In the following interview, O’Connell not only talks about the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival, but also her and husband’s Hi-Tide record label, concert promotions and DJ gigs, and his band, Black Flamingos.
Q: What is new with the festival that you’ve never presented before?
A: In the past, we have had smaller offshoot events. This is the first year we have more consciously made it a full-blown weekender. We have also teamed up with businesses in Asbury Park for discounts/perks for festival attendees (just show your ticket). We really want the festival-goers to experience the area. A good percentage are traveling to NJ for the event.
Q: Which act are you most looking forward to presenting this year and why?
A: That’s a tough question. We are excited for Satan’s Pilgrims, of course! We are releasing a new 45 (RPM) vinyl single from them at the event. We have Les Agamemnonz touring the U.S. for the first time (from France); Frankie and The Pool Boys, who just released an amazing new album and are from California, and our good friends The Volcanics, also from California. We recently had the pleasure of seeing The Madeira live in Fort Lauderdale at The Hukilau, and we toured with Surfer Joe in Japan, so it will be great to see those guys again. Most of the artists playing the fest this year, we have seen separately, but it will be amazing to see them all on the same bill!
Q: Have you concocted any new cocktails? If so, what are they and what do the consist of?
A: Get ready for an updated menu from previous years! We worked with Beam-Suntory, Cruzan Rum, Sipsmith Gin and Suntory Whisky, The Anchor’s Bend staff, and our favorite ‘40s and ‘50s Tiki drink recipes for the big weekend. None too sweet — all delicious and well balanced! Our personal favorites include the Tokyo Sour right off the Trader Vic’s Tokyo menu and the Singapore Sling.
Q: Out of all the acts performing at the festival, which ones are on your Hi-Tide Recordings label, what did you release as their last record and when, what are you releasing as their next record and when, and how can folks find out about them?
A: Hi-Tide Recordings artists playing throughout the weekend this year are Black Flamingos (Neon Boneyard, 2017, with Little Dickman Records); Frankie & The Pool Boys (“Ewa on the Beach” seven-inch, 2018); The Men In Grey Suits (Panic at the Pier, 2017); The Primitive Finks (“Horror Party Stomp” seven inch, 2017); Slowey and The Boats (Set Sail, 2017); and The Surfrajettes, 2017. We have fall/winter releases for The Surfrajettes, The Primitive Finks, Black Flamingos, Les Agamemnonz and Slowey & The Boats. All music is available on digital outlets, and hitiderecordings.com for physical copies and release info.
Q: Out of all your accomplishments since last year’s festival, whether as a presenter, artist, DJ or entrepreneur, which are you most proud of and why?
A: The record label, for sure. The response to our artists and releases has been so positive. I am extremely grateful for each person that has bought an album, gone to a show, or supported our bands in some other way. We will continue to introduce new sounds to the surf music genre and make sure there are shows to hear it live!
Q: After the first APSMF in 2014 at the Lanes, did you ever think that Madison Marquette would get so intensely behind the festival with co-promotion, such as the big digital ads in the Grand Arcade?
A: The Lanes closing was sad, but we have been supported by MM since the very beginning. They gave us the opportunity to hold our event in the sand with the ocean as a backdrop. It doesn’t get much better than that.
We are now in our third year working with them, and as the event grows, that hasn’t changed. We have a great relationship with the team. They are always up for trying something new.
Q: What’s up for next year that you couldn’t do this year but plan to going forward and briefly can share?
A: Planning for next year has already started, and we hope to expand and utilize the boardwalk space moving forward.
Q: After so many years playing and presenting surf music, what is it about it that still is a thrill for each of you?
A: There are new groups starting all the time. Part of the excitement for us with the festival and label is discovering them — whether it’s internationally at a show or rough mixes that have been shared with us. There’s a lot of older, traditional-style surf by artists, largely West Coast, who have been playing for 30 years. We have the best time bringing new groups through on tour for the area fans to check out!
Q: Do you listen to surf music when you don’t have to or do you prefer to listen to something else? If the latter, what and why?
A: Just the other day, I believe, Vincent said, “I don’t know what kind of music I like anymore!” Our listening habits are so diverse these days, but it’s mostly vintage-inspired sounds.
We have been on a big Boogaloo kick lately, mixing that into DJ gigs, and learning about the history. Funny, it’s from a similar era as the surf music we play too. Yes, we listen to classic to current surf music all the time. At any given moment our house is full of soul, Brit pop, lounge, exotica, space-age-pop, Latin, jazz, etc.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! We appreciate the support with the festival and can’t wait to see everyone down on the sand again on Aug. 18!
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.
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