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Know your history.
That’s the word from Dane the Beautiful Monster, who performs Friday, Oct. 22, at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park. The We Star Productions benefit show is for the Asbury Park African-American Music Project, which seeks to reclaim the cultural legacy of the city’s West Side.
Local talents Bulletproof Belv, Chris Rockwell, Jason Dmore, Drea and Ryver Bey also will perform in the all hip-hop show. DJ Ronny Rayz will provide the beats. Prizes — including studio time and an HDTV — will be given for the best Halloween costumes.
It’s a fun time for an important cause, Dane said.
“Anyone who not only understands the value of preserving history and is continuing to have the conversation about history is always going to be near and dear to my heart,” Dane said. “I genuinely think it’s one of the most important things in helping to pass down the culture from elders to contemporaries to the younger generation.”
The Asbury Park African-American Music Project, or AP-AMP, seeks to share the cultural heritage of the former Springwood Avenue scene through oral histories, virtual lessons, live shows and more. Springwood Avenue on the West Side of Asbury Park was formerly a vibrant scene where greats of American music like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Sonny Greer, Lenny Welch, the Broadways, Bobby Thomas of the Orioles, Clarence Clemons and more either came up in or played the avenue’s clubs.
The music scene on the West Side of the city, which would became a component of the Sound of Asbury Park as performed by Springsteen and others, came to an abrupt halt during the summer of 1970 when civil unrest tore apart Asbury Park and specifically Springwood Avenue.
The cultural legacy of the West Side had been forgotten for decades until the last few years.
“You need to have a sense of history,” said Yvonne Clayton, a member of Asbury Park City Council, previously to the USA Today Network New Jersey. One of AP-AMP’s missions is to rebuild the Turf Club, the last remaining nightclub on Springwood.
“You need to know where you came from, and I believe that music feeds your soul,” added Clayton, a member of the Board of Directors of AP-AMP. “Can you image what life would be if you didn’t have music?”
Music can make the connections, Dane said.
“When you bring the instruments together, you bring the histories together as the instruments come from different cultures — so there’s so much to be learned there,” Dane said. “New Jersey music history is unbelievable considering how small of a state it is. I think it’s lost on this current generation.”
Dane, aka Dane Henson of Plainfield and Fair Haven, is a leading light of the indie Jersey hip-hop scene with a roughly polished and coolly nuanced vocal delivery. Lyrically, he’s a few steps ahead of the pack with cerebral drops and insightful rhymes.
His latest release is the song and short film “The Wolf,” which acknowledges his own Native American roots and illuminates the largely forgotten legacy of the state’s original people.
The film was shot in Weequahic Park in Newark. The word Weequahic is Lenni Lenape for “head of the cove,” according to Essex County Parks. The Lenni Lenape were the Native Americans who lived in New Jersey.
“The dance that I do in the video is a Seminole war dance,” said Dane of “The Wolf,” which was released in the summer. “These entire parts used to be covered by Native Americans. The way history is shaped in our school systems is they make it seem like they’re giving you everything quantitatively from start to finish, but there’s so, so much left out of the actual timeline. But the clues are everywhere. They’re literally everywhere.”
Visit instagram.com/danethebeautifulmonster for more info on Dane the Beautiful Monster.
The Circuit Series: All-Star Hip-Hop Event, a benefit for Asbury Park African-American Music Project, with Dane the Beautiful Monster, Bulletproof Belv, Chris Rockwell, Jason Dmore, Drea, Ryver Bey and DJ Ronny Rayz, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, Asbury Lanes, 209 4th Ave., Asbury Park. $15 in advance/$20 at the door. www.asburylanes.com.
Resurrection of Screamin’ Jay
The hoots, hollers, snarls and, yes, screams of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on “I Put a Spell on You” makes for a very scary song. He certainly does put a spell on listeners in this electric blues descent into the abyss.
The story is that Hawkins was drunk when he recorded it. It sounds like he’s possessed.
“On my session, they got everybody drunk,” said the late Hawkins to Gary James via classicbands.com. “It was a picnic; I had to do something different with the song.”
Guitarist Mike Armando played with Hawkins in the ’70s. He was on stage in 1976 with Hawkins when he blew himself up while performing “I Put a Spell on You” at the Virginia Theater in Alexandria, Va.
“It was scary because the smoke was all around and Hawkins was being carried off the stage,” said Armando to the USA Today Network New Jersey.
Hawkins lived to sing another day until he passed away in 2000 at the age of 70. Armando plays in a tribute to Hawkins in the group called The Resurrection of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Band. They play 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24 at Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown, right after the city’s Halloween parade.
“It’s a show, it’s not just music,” Armando said. “The last time we played we had a coffin in there and the singer, who portrays Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, comes out of the coffin slowly whole the drummer does a slow roll and then we go into Alligator Wine. It’s a lot of spooky music.”
The Resurrection of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Band, 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, Farnsworth Avenue, Bordentown. $26. www.mancavenj.com; mjajazz.wixsite.com/screamin-jay-hawkins
Front Bottoms homecoming
The Front Bottoms are coming home.
Well, their home away from home. The Asbury Park band plays Sunday, Oct. 24, at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville. It’s the last show of their In Sickness and In Flames fall tour, and alas, it’s sold out.
Oso Oso and Sydney Sprague are the openers.
“We can’t believe this tour is almost over,” said the band in a social media post. “It meant so much for us to get to see you again and play these songs.”
The band’s annual Champagne Jam is back on this year, but instead of it taking place at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, where it’s been held a few times, it’s now at the Strand in Providence, Rhode Island, on Dec. 18. Tickets, $40 in advance, are on sale now via www.thechampagnejam.com.
Concerts at Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre have been canceled or moved to other venues since late August, days after Asbury Park issued a notice of default to Madison Marquette, the retail developer of the city’s boardwalk, over safety concerns and other issues.
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected].