It took a special event to lure people out of their air conditioned homes on July 23, as a heat wave sent Asbury Park temperatures skyrocketing to a near-record 97°. But the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival did just that, as fans of awe-inspiring music (and delicious food) braved the sweltering temps in Bradley Park to enjoy the day.
This Jazz and Blues Festival was the second of three this summer. The festival first kicked off in Point Pleasant on June 18, and will wrap up its summer run on August 27 in Long Branch. This family-friendly event offered free admission and a day devoted to great music.
The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival is three days, and three towns of music, dancing, and fun. The festival is in its fourth year, garnering bigger crowds each time. I spoke with organizer Dennis Eschbach, who recalled that the festival started out a lot smaller — so small, it was held on a side street in Asbury Park. The following year, the town agreed to let them use Bradley Park, which in turn drew more people and vendors to the event.
The festival is non-profit — and generates jobs as well, with food vendors and small businesses flocking to the fest to sell their products. “It’s good all around. It’s good for the city of Asbury Park and it’s good for small business owners as well,” Eschbach said.
Attendees were able to take a walk down memory lane while they browsed through numerous tents filled with amazing memorabilia from the jazz and blues era — or just dance to the music. Once the sun went down a little and the blazing temperatures started to cool down, that’s when the night really started to heat up.
Hailed for its diverse culture and thriving nightlife, Asbury Park is the perfect venue for a music festival of this kind. “There’s just a passion for this type of music here,” said Stephanie Eichmeyer of Marketing Rival, which promoted the event. “[It] really draws the crowd in.”
The day started with the performing of our national anthem by Asbury Park High School’s own jazz band. A few of the other bands who performed were Shore Blue Band, Brian Brazil and The Hard Case Blues Band, Lee Delray Band, Incinerators, Billy Walton Band, and last but certainly not least, the headliner, Matt O’Ree Band (pictured).
Matt O’Ree is a Jersey native himself and was more than happy to be the headliner for Saturday’s festival. He is also quite the crowd pleaser as there was a line of fans wanting his autograph. It’s no surprise though: Matt has performed with some marquee names in the music industry, such as blues icon Buddy Guy and New Jersey’s own Jon Bon Jovi.
“Having festivals such as this one has really turned [Asbury] around for the better. Music is such a huge part of life, whether people realize it or not,” O’Ree said.
Missed the event? The third and final Jazz and Blues Festival will be held in Long Branch on August 27.
Want to see more highlights from the best New Jersey events? Catch up on our recap series, The Best of!
Hero (Top) Feature Image: Courtesy Marketing Rival
Additional images (in order) courtesy: