Blue Hawk Records, Monmouth University’s student-run record label, hosted a benefit concert Thursday, Jan. 16 at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Performances began at 7 p.m. and were part of the Light of Day WinterFest in support of the Light of Day Foundation, an organization that produces music events worldwide to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Towards the end of the night, Monmouth students and alumni performed with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame drummer and original founder of the E Street Band, Vini “Maddog” Lopez. This event has become a highlight of the festival, drawing fans from all around the world, according to senior music industry major Zack Sandler, who is the musical director and producer of the show.
The festival began Friday, Jan. 10 in Montclair, New Jersey and ran through Jan. 19, with a special guest appearance by Bruce Springsteen on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. Sandler, who was working backstage at the Paramount, arrived for a sound check earlier Saturday afternoon, and explained, “All of a sudden, Bruce walks in the back door. His guitar tech slings that iconic butterscotch telecaster over his shoulders and Bruce took the stage. It was seamless. Once that happened, word got out to the general public. There were hundreds of fans waiting outside to see him as he left soundcheck. We all knew we were going to have a great night of rock n roll ahead of us.”
Professor Joe Rapolla, chair of the music and theatre department and advisor to Blue Hawk Records, said, “This was the 20-year anniversary of the event, and everyone appreciated Bruce making this appearance. He’s participated 16 of the last 20 years but, because of his schedule, it has been a few years since he’s attended. By the end of the night we were all onstage with Bruce.”
Sandler added, “The Light of Day Foundation puts Monmouth University students and alumni on stage in front of devoted and loyal fans from all around the world. Producing and promoting these events for the last four years has helped me practice and strengthen the concepts and lessons I’ve learned while in class at Monmouth University.”
The Monmouth University Department of Music and Theatre Arts, in partnership with the Leon Hess Business School and Blue Hawk Records, produce a show each year as part of the festival, which has been named one of the Asbury Park Press’ “Can’t Miss Shows.” Nearly 20 Monmouth University students and alumni have contributed to the jam session over the years, with many more university students, parents, alumni, and faculty in attendance.
The festival, now in its 20th year and the premier fundraising event for Light of Day Foundation, showcases over 150 musical acts at 30 venues over 10 days to raise money and awareness for the battle against Parkinson’s and related diseases.
The Asbury Park portion of the festival is the Light of Day flagship event and featured over 100 local, regional and national artists performing in every venue during every hour of the day and night.
Rapolla, who has been involved with the festival since 2006 as a performer, said, “It is a remarkable opportunity for the students— who not only get great exposure, but also get great hands-on event production and promotion experience. With the combination of the legacy area music scene and young artists, it’s kind of a passing of a musical heritage torch to the next generation.”