Event: Beating Parkinson’s With Rock ‘n Roll

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Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Byrd

On Thursday, January 18, there was a threat of snow in the Asbury Park nighttime forecast.

There was also the threat of rock ‘n roll, too.

Only one of the predictions came true. With a whole host of concerts being held in support of Light of Day Winterfest all over Little Eden, perhaps the top place to be was Langosta Lounge on the boardwalk.

Because, really, when a small seaside bar has not one but TWO Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers on the same stage, that’s about as big as it gets this side of the Grammy’s.

That’s what happened with Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez (RNRHOF 2014) and Ricky Byrd, guitarist for Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (RNRHOF 2015) shared the stage to grind up some guitars and bang the drums all night.

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Guitarist and Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer ( 2015) Ricky Byrd

Byrd lived the rock ‘n roll lifestyle in his heyday…and hard. Now, though, he’s a certified recovery coach and has been clean and sober since 1987. At Langosta, he started his set with two acoustic songs, Lighthouse from his Clean Getaway album, and Stronger, from a forthcoming album. Reagan Richards, of the Asbury Park-based Williams Honor sang supporting vocals on Stronger.

“I hijacked Reagan backstage to sing background on it here,” Byrd said. “And she nailed it.”

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Reagan Richards of Williams Honor

After that, Byrd switched out his acoustic guitar and plugged in. Backed by Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son (Bobby on vocals, Andrew Saul on guitar, Jonathan Chang-Soon on bass, Monmouth University junior Zack Sander (who also helped promote this show) on sax and James McIntosh on drums), he ripped through a handful of Joan Jett songs.

MU’s Kristen Wilczewski (part of MU’s Blue Hawk Records label) more than ably held up Jett’s vocal standards by belting out I Love Rock ‘n Roll and Bad Reputation. Richards then rejoined the stage for rollicking, rolling version of Jumpin’, Jack Flash and a version of the song Springsteen wrote for the Michael J. Fox film of the same name, Light of Day (in the film, where MJF is playing guitar…yeah, that’s Ricky behind the scenes.)

The arrangement sounded so good, Ricky had an idea: “How about we call this new band Ricky Byrd & The Indictments?” Ricky asked Bobby in between songs.

“Ah…how about Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son featuring Ricky Byrd,” Bobby said with a smile.

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Kristen Wilczewski and Byrd

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Bobby Mahoney and Reagan Richards

After a short break in which Byrd signed his CD and take a break, Lopez then sat down in his office behind the drum kit to bang the skins and tell rock ‘n roll stories.

To kick off this portion of the show, Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Music & Theater Arts Department at Monmouth University, took on lead guitar and vocals for Springsteen’s Spirit In The Night while Sandler reincarnated The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, on the sax portions. Teacher and student playing together!

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Vini Lopez in his office

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(L to R) Jon Bass, Jonathan Chang-Soon, Joe Rapolla, Zack Sandler, Dan Amato, Gary Cavico

Langosta was filling up, including a few very enthusiastic fans from Germany. Vini told the packed house about the time he got arrested for inciting a riot (because he kept playing after curfew) that led into one of his favorites from the Steel Mill days, Goin’ Back To Georgia. He’d also take lead vocals on Ballad of Jesse James and Jersey Girl, to everyone’s delight.

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All the way from Germany

As a special treat, Joe D’Urso, a Jersey Shore music legend and a Light of Day Foundation board member joined the stage swelling with musicians to thank the crowd for coming out and handle co-lead vocals with MU student Dan Amato (who also fronts Dan Amato & The Sentimental Gentleman) on 4th of July (Sandy). There’s just something about hearing Springsteen classics on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. You get serious chills.

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Joe D’Urso and Joe Rapolla

The hour was getting late, and some flurries were falling outside, but the musicians weren’t done yet. As if the stage wasn’t crowded enough, Eddie Testa grabbed the mic and took the musicians through Springsteen’s 10th Annual Freeze Out, Rosalita, Glory Days, all building to a crescendo culminating in a raucous Twist & Shout.

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Eddie Testa taking the show home on a now-crowed stage

Every year, the highlight of the Light of Day festivities is the big Saturday night show, one Bruce has often jumped on stage and joined in, unannounced. That was not to be this year. (I won’t lie – I breathed a small sigh of relief since I wasn’t slated to shoot it.)

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Vini Lopez, Zack Sandler, Ricky Byrd

But if you were in Langosta Lounge on this night, you saw a good four hours of solid rock ‘n roll music – all of the above was preceded by other great young acts on the Blue Hawks Record label. So this was really a wonderful night to hear fantastic music and raise money to help eradicate one of the most devastating diseases of our time.

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That’s a lot of musicians. 

Click here to see a more photos from this night special night in Asbury Park.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2019

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2 thoughts on “Event: Beating Parkinson’s With Rock ‘n Roll

  1. Pingback: Blue Hawk Records Hosts ‘Hall of Fame Jam’ Session, Students Perform with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Musicians | News | Monmouth University

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