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‘Asbury Park’ overcomes troubles through music

Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll documents the rise and fall of a city through music

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band emerged from Asbury Park, NJ in the 70’s, putting the seaside town on the map. However, most people outside of the area may not realize the importance the town has played on music as a whole. Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll is a new documentary that tells the story of the long troubled town and how the power of music can unite a divided community. A once storied seaside resort, Asbury Park erupted in flames during a summer of civil unrest, crippling the town for the next 45 years and reducing it to a state of urban blight. A town literally divided by a set of railroad tracks, the riot destroyed the fabled Westside jazz and blues scene, but from the flames of the burning city emerged the iconic Jersey sound.

“You have to proceed as if problems can be resolved and as if the sun’s gonna rise in the morning and better days are waiting,” Springsteen says of the town’s resurgence.

Asbury Park returns Asbury sons Springsteen, his bandmate Steven Van Zandt and Southside Johnny Lyon to the legendary Upstage, the psychedelic after hours club where they got their start, featuring never before seen interviews and performances. Shuttered for four and a half decades, the Upstage remains a perfect time capsule of the club, which united both sides of the tracks in Asbury and acted as a crucible for young talent. Now, as Asbury Park enjoys its long awaited renaissance, it is music, which has brought it back from the dead.

The Upstage has been redeveloped into the Lakehouse Music, a recording studio and music academy that exposes kids to music. The power of music at Lakehouse brings kids from different neighborhoods, nationalities, religions and social economic upbringings together for one thing… music. Lakehouse Junior Pros, made up of ten and eleven year old prodigies, have played more than 50 shows publicly since forming several years ago. These kids are some of the best young musicians from the area and have played to a sold out crowds at New Jersey’s Prudential Center and the famed Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park alongside Springsteen, Van Zant and Lyon for a once-in-a-lifetime performance that’s captured here.

“Your job is to provide proof of life to people that they’re simply not alone,” Springsteen says, “that there is an us that is real and that gets called up when the band leader counts off – one, two, three, four – there is a community that’s brought forth, there’s a commonality that gets pulled out of people that means something, has a direct result on their lives and their life when they take it out of the building.”

Asbury Park: Riot, Redemption, Rock n Roll premiered at The Asbury Park Music & Film Festival late last month. It arrives in cinemas around the world on May 22nd with a second showing in the U.S. on May 29th. It’s a must see for any music fan. It shines light on a town that isn’t necessarily widely known for its diverse musical background… until now. It tells the story of how the power of music heals and unites a divided entity.

Tickets for the two night only event can be purchased at The film is supported in association with Jersey Mike’s, which allows all profits worldwide to be dedicated to promoting and creating music education programs for wide distribution.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.