Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Musical Event’ Category

Saturday 8/5/17. 6 pm . In front of DJ’s on Main Avenue. A jazz duo does a nice job with acoustic guitar and bass. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.


BUCKY PIZZARELLI AND FRANK VIGNOLA  “Prelude to a Kiss.”  A Duke Ellington composition (1938)


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Daniel Hickman, luthier. “Don’t Fret Music.” Jersey Shore Arts Center. Paul Goldfinger photograph © Here Daniel checks the “playability” and alignment of an instrument that he has been working on. 7/18/17. Click to enlarge

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Did you ever dream of traveling around the country in a van with a rock band?  Well, Daniel Hickman of Tennessee, currently of Ocean Grove, did just that for five years when he was in his twenties.  But he wasn’t a musician. He was a technician who made sure that the group’s guitars were fit as a fiddle.  Daniel loved the experience;  is there any doubt? ——– especially if you read  Keith Richards biography.

Daniel has trained for years working on guitars—-repairing them and building them.  He continued studying his craft with experts along the way as he traveled all over America with the Latin Rock group  “de Sol.”  He calls himself a “luthier”  (definition:  “a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars.”)

Daniel comes from an artistic family and he probably inhaled guitar music living near Nashville.   His career as a luthier has been progressing since 2005.  After that rock gig, he moved to New Jersey and found himself with a very special business opportunity at the Jersey Shore Arts Center in Ocean Grove  (66 South Main Street in Neptune) where he has had a workshop/studio since 2015 called “Don’t Fret Music.”

Daniel is  grateful to Herb Herbst and the staff at the JSAC for providing him with a rare situation. He not only builds and repairs guitars and other stringed instruments,, but he has begun a program to provide lessons in  guitar,  piano,  and uke.  Dan has recruited a talented young teacher to work with students of all ages, and the lessons are given in a separate space off Dan’s workshop.  He also repairs amps and he is moving into “retail.”  Daniel plans to develop a “full service guitar shop and music store.”  His shop is downstairs off the parking lot, with a private entrance to the left.

At the age of 32, Daniel is ambitious and enthused. “We are in the infancy of Don’t Fret Music.”

Daniel’s workshop/studio is a fascinating place, and to watch him work, you get the impression that he is highly competent. He worked on my guitar–he is an exacting craftsman.

Daniel is excited about the future of the Jersey Shore Arts Center. “There is a lot going on here,” he says;  “The venue is full of talented artists in residence ,some of whom paint, do screen printing, social media, and photography.”   There also is an acting ensemble “La Strada.”    He wants to be supportive of his artist colleagues at JSAC.

One of his ambitions is to see a variety of new music performances in the  JSAC theater.  He hopes for bluegrass and jazz among the choices. This ambition seems very real given the recent downsizing of the secular  programming in the Great Auditorium and the real need for some musical variety to satisfy OG’s diverse demographics and to balance against the music scene in Asbury Park.

Blogfinger will help promote new music  and arts programs in Ocean Grove. It sounds like the JSAC  may be on the threshold of something more than yoga and children’s ballet.  Currently there is an arts show going on. Call them for details.

Daniel’s shop is open Tuesday through Saturday 3 pm -7 pm except Saturday which is 11 am to 5 pm. Call 732 361 5060  or DontFretNJ@gmail.com or the web site: DontFretNJ.com.

On August 20, Daniel is inviting the public to an open house to celebrate his second year anniversary in Ocean Grove. There will be music, food and other festivities.  More info. to come.   And, for the record, Daniel lives in Ocean Grove and he “loves the town.” It makes him happy because he knows his neighbors, people say hello, and the town is charming. Daniel knows most of the business people in the Grove and he feels at home here.

de Sol   “Blanco y Negro.”



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Facebook Imperial Brass

By Paul Goldfinger, music editor @Blogfinger.net.  Eileen Goldfinger video clips

July 6, 2017 in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove:

We enjoyed this concert by the Imperial Brass very much, as expected, but there were some “knock your socks off” special moments.

As many of you know, the famous trumpeter Phillip Smith has a summer place in Ocean Grove. His tone and technique are so good that it makes you want to jump up and cheer, which is what happened.  Phil Smith played an intricate duet with Mitch Brodsky called “Deliverance.”  In the second half he soloed on an amazingly complex piece called Scherzando.

Phil told the audience that he has missed playing in the Great Auditorium and how much he loves the salt air and the pleasures of being back in his little cottage on Pilgrim Pathway.   Phil retired from his  long-term position as principal trumpet with the NY Philharmonic and now he is on the faculty at the University of Georgia.

Other highlights included a lovely trombone solo of an African American spiritual “Swing Low” by Robert Tiedemann. (We have a brief video from that below.)

We have been attending musical performances in the GA for years, but my greatest wish, until now ungranted, was to hear authentic live jazz in that terrific venue. Tonight the Imperial Brass granted that wish in what I suspect was the first time a real jazz man played, without amplification, on our stage.

Warren Vaché is an acclaimed jazz cornetist  from New Jersey who had two beautiful solos with the Brass, but the one that I savored was his rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s  “Smile”  Vaché delighted the crowd with a vocal chorus as well as a jazz solo.  Hopefully we can get some more jazz players at the Grove.

If you like jazz, check with the Axelrod Theatre in Deal where they often feature first rate live jazz.  Last year they had John Pizzarelli.  Also, Shanghai Jazz in Madison is a fine restaurant that features jazz and has done so for years. It is worth the trip.


The Imperial Brass is such a fine ensemble, and they vary their content so that you never get bored.  The instrumentation is thrilling for you brass fans–a diverse collection of horns— baritones, French, euphoniums, trumpets, and more that I couldn’t identify.  But the end result is a magnificent sound where the components come together in a remarkable way.

They have a web site if you want to sign up for their mailings or buy their recordings:

Imperial Brass

The group astonished the crowd with their last number, a most unusual rendition of the “Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Phillip Sousa whose premier march is often played in the Great Auditorium, but it is always done “straight.” However tonight the Brass astonished us with a raucus, jazzy, 21st century version of this piece including the classic piccolo solo done tonight by a marvelous soprano cornet player.  I wish Sousa could have been there.  Below is a bit of that march:


But there was an actual composer present–Joseph Turrin, who got to have a standing O because some of his brass compositions were performed tonight including a marvelous tribute to New York City called “Landmarks.”

Here is a brief segment of Robert Tiedemann’s trombone solo: “Swing Low”  Video by Eileen Goldfinger

And here are two selections from the Imperial Brass & Friends CD.

PHILIP SMITH (Trumpet)  with a hymn that he loves  (he introduced it and played it tonight.)

WARREN VACHE´ (Trumpet)  “April in Paris.”  ( I could not find a recording of “Smile”)

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Can you talk without moving your lips?  Taylor Mason can. Go to the show and see if you think the dummy on his lap is talking.

Regarding the summer secular schedule in OG, Mike Love of the Beach Boys told APP.com, regarding the Great Auditorium, “I love that place, it’s great, it’s one of the classic venues that we perform at,” Love said of the Great Auditorium in a 2014 interview.”

And, he added with a laugh, “One of the great things about Ocean Grove is the proximity to some fantastic ice cream parlors. We find a lot of pleasure in coming there.”

And he is just one of many GA Saturday night performers who have praised that fabulous music venue as they stood on the stage of the GA  including Tony Bennett who liked to try and sing acapella there. I have heard quite a few musicians and singers express how awed they felt being inside that giant cello of a building.

CAST OF GYPSY   (2008 Broadway revival:)

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Ronald Naldi in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove. By Paul Goldfinger , undated. ©

Ronald Naldi 2011 BF post


RONALD NALDI performing “Mattinata” from his album Torn A Surriento–Neopolitan Songs and Romances


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The Great Auditorium.  Paul Goldfinger photo. 12/13/14. ©

The Great Auditorium. Paul Goldfinger photo. 12/13/14. ©

SHE and HIM     “The Christmas Waltz.”   From the album A Very She and Him Christmas.   In three quarter time.

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Perry Young. Sept. 4, 2016. Ocean Grove near the boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo. . ©

Perry Young. Sept. 4, 2016. Ocean Grove near the boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo.  ©

I struck up a conversation with Perry when I spotted his Planotones shirt. We chatted near the large American flag.   Perry is from Milton,  New Hampshire.  Originally he was from Queens, NY, but he left there in 2003.

Perry was at the World Trade Center on 9-11, and in his words, “I was fortunate to escape the falling north tower.”   Perry was a member of the Painters Union.

Perry Young has been visiting Ocean Grove for nearly 40 years.  He says that it is a very special place for him,  and he  is drawn to it and loves to come here each summer. His favorite hotel is the Shawmont. He knows a lot about the town and this area, and I invited him to share some anecdotes with our viewers.

Perry and his daughter Christine are Blogfinger fans. In a subsequent  email he said, “I along with my daughter Christine will always be following Blogfinger.net.  I enjoyed looking at all the photos you have posted on your website.  I also thought your history in the medical field was awesome.   Your friend, Perry.”

We became fast friends, and Perry asked me to pose for a picture, but I agreed only after he said I could take his picture in the Planotone shirt. We sent a copy of the photo to Christine, and she was thrilled.

He and I are both fans of Kenny Vance and the Planotones.  We miss seeing Kenny and the boys at the OG Doo Wops.  Kenny had an illness, but now  he is reported to be in good condition.   Kenny  has not, so far, returned to touring.   He is working on publishing some unrecorded tapes of music from that era.

Kenny Vance and the Planotones. Undated Internet photo.

Kenny Vance and the Planotones. Undated Internet photo.

We talked about Kenny and his marvelous falsetto and close harmonies with his group.  I should have asked Perry to do the Planotone Walk.  Maybe next time we could find two porkpie hats and some shades to do a video.

We agreed that one of Kenny’s most marvelous songs was “Gloria”—–a beautiful and sad love song that all the fans of that era know to be the gold standard for excellence from that musical genre.   Here is a link to our 2013 post about Kenny and this song.


Perry confided that his favorite Planotones song is “Oceans of Time.”  I never heard that song before, but you can appreciate why Perry favors it:

Hopefully we will see Perry back again in the near future.







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Great Auditorium on Sunday, August 28, 2016. All photos by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©

Great Auditorium on Sunday, August 28, 2016. Re-post.   Click to enlarge.
All photos by Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Sunday, August 28, 2016.        A remarkable musical event occurred tonight at the Great Auditorium where Elijah, by Felix Mendelssohn, was performed by the Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, the Great Auditorium Choir, Dr. Gordon Turk on the Hope Jones organ, 4 soloists including Monica Ziglar (soprano), Martha Bartz (mezzo soprano), Ronald Naldi (tenor) and Justin Beck (bass-baritone) with Justin Gonzalez (tenor section leader.)   The entire ensemble was conducted by Dr. Jason C. Tramm, Director of Music Ministries in Ocean Grove.

The sound of the combined components was spectacular as it all came together resonating off the wooden walls and rafters of the 122 year-old Great Auditorium.  Musically it is all very dramatic, and the music soars with beauty and emotion.     The oratorio is quite long, but it is considered to be one of the greatest choral musical compositions. It was completed in 1845.

The story of Elijah, of course, is taken from the Old Testament about the life of the prophet as he struggles to deal with the idol worshipping Israelites back in the day.  The six page program spelled the composer’s name wrong on the cover and never mentioned his first name. But Mendelssohn, who was born into a prominent German Jewish family and was converted to Christianity at a young age, would probably have been pleased with this remarkable event in Ocean Grove. Unfortunately, he died at age 38; they say he was exhausted from writing this piece.

I was up in the balcony, near the choir, when Jason Tramm began the performance with the bass soloist and the orchestra.   After a big opening, things got somewhat quiet, and I was lulled by it.  All of a sudden there was a huge roar, and I jumped and then realized that the choir, a sleeping giant,  had come to its feet, and its sound was big and dramatic, sufficient to wake up anyone dozing after dinner  (the concert began at 7 PM.)   All the soloists were wonderful, and none of the participants seemed to need amplification.

After climbing down from the rafters, I wandered outside, trying to figure out the source of a buzzing sound that distracted from the performance..  It quickly became apparent that the loud buzzing was originating in the trees—probably a swarm of insects trying to hum along with the music.

I reentered the GA all the way in the back to try and appreciate the sound of music at that location.  The acoustics were successful even there, and quite a few people chose those seats.  As Jason Tramm moved the oratorio along (It was divided into two parts) I noticed that there was a nun sitting back there, a local retired music teacher, a few African-Americans, and an infant who would intermittently squawk but not cry.  I also noticed that cell phone bright lights, provided by some members of the audience and one choir member, to read the programs, was a source of distraction.  But to balance that, Jason Tramm did not allow applause during the performance–only at the end.

By some miracle created by the Camp Meeting, this remarkable event was free.  There was an offering requested.

Outside the GA, there were some fans on the lawn seats, and there were no people noises.   Sea breezes floated around, and those who walked by seemed amazed by the pageant inside.

Over at Days a small line had formed.  One woman berated the guy she was with for daring to suggest that she not get whatever she pleased, like a big hot fudge sundae.  A couple with two small red headed children had to leave the line because “Daddy needs to drive home now and we can’t wait on line.  We’ll go to our special no-wait place.”

Two guys moved forward and were discussing this family’s bailing out:  “There is nothing I would rather wait for than Days ice cream.”  It didn’t seem like anyone there was aware that Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah was being performed in the big wooden building across the park.  I bet John Phillip Sousa, whose portrait hangs in the museum next to Days, probably woke up to hear that glorious music come wafting  in his direction.

PHOTO GALLERY FOR THE MENDELSSOHN EVENT   Click on one image and then follow the big arrows.  Click on the little X at the left side to return here.

SAMPLE from Elijah by the Edinburgh Festival Orchestra: “Help bow thine ear to our prayer.”  With Renée Fleming

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Ronald Naldi about to leave for a concert in Ocean Grove.  2015. Paul Goldfinger portrait.

Ronald Naldi about to leave his tent  for a concert in Ocean Grove. 2015. Paul Goldfinger portrait.

We first posted this shot of the great tenor Ronald Naldi one year ago.  Here is a link which tells about this photo and offers a recording of Ron performing on one of his albums of Italian music.  But meanwhile,  here are the Chiffons offering a tribute of their own.



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SummerStars PG_22

WERNER HOLLWEG     “Xerxes…Act 1”  by Handel:

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