Posts Tagged ‘NJ’

A large crowd assembles for the Saturday night concert in the Great Auditorium of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, USA. Photo by Paul Goldfinger


By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor,  Blogfinger.net    Memorial Day 2012.  Ocean Grove

Leave it to Harry Eichhorn to come up with a concert that celebrates America while covering the gamut of music, from Dvorak to Irving Berlin and, of course, Ocean Grove’s sentimental favorite, John Phillip Sousa.

Perhaps you are wondering what a wind ensemble is, and how it is different from a band.  Well, there’s not much difference, but “wind ensemble” tells you what to expect, while a band could be anything  from the Foo Fighters to the Neptune High School Marching Scarlet Fliers.

I guess a wind ensemble contains musicians who blow into their instruments. This definition , or course, doesn’t hold up for the percussionists.  After all, did you ever try to blow into a snare drum?  But Harry Eichhorn’s group of about 45 musicians and 35 choristers turned on the charm for an audience of mostly senior citizens, some of whom might have actually heard Sousa perform live when he conducted the Marine Band here back in the day.

Harry looked great in his trademark pressed slacks and starched shirt. If he were running for office, he would win by a landslide, even if Lawrence Welk himself were on the ballot.

The concert was predictable with the veterans rising to their feet  (those who could actually still stand) and clapping to the rhythms of their theme songs. As always, the smallest group to get up has the most unrecognizable song—the US Coast Guard.  But I think that their song is the most beautiful.  Sometimes only one or two Coast Guard vets stand. They should wear something special like a life vest.

I get to stand with the U.S. Navy as they play Anchors Aweigh, but I wasn’t a warrior—-my weapon was a stethoscope, but I did get to wear an undrawn sword for dress inspections. I actually keep that sword in my OG bedroom in case a Barbary pirate were to invade my house.   Yet I do feel proud getting up  during this ritual which is always met with enthusiasm by the crowds that come to Harry’s patriotic musical tributes.

It really doesn’t matter what Harry plays—it will delight the folks, especially when a euphonium player sitting in the back, Ted Freeman, stands to announce the program using his 1940’s era radio voice. I wish, just once , that Ted would say, “”From out of the west with the speed of light and a hearty hi-yo Silver.”

The whole experience of going to a concert like this in Ocean Grove encompasses a lot more than Harry’s merry band digging into one old-fashioned medley after another. The unique ingredients that create that “old feeling” include the Great Auditorium itself, the sea breezes, patriotism, the town’s history, people sitting on the lawn, kids playing in the park, and the polite crowd lined up outside of Day’s.

The third piece on the program was the “Liberty Bell March” by Sousa. It is not well known, but Ted told us that it was played by the Marine Band at the inauguration of the last three US Presidents. So here is the US Marine Band playing the “Liberty Bell March:”

—Paul Goldfinger

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger on Martin Luther King’s birthday—-Re-posted 2022.    It was first presented on Blogfinger in July, 2014.

It was Saturday night, July 18, 1925, at 8:15 p.m., when vocalist Paul Robeson and his accompanist Lawrence Brown strode onto the stage of the Great Auditorium to present a concert of “Soul Stirring Negro Spirituals” (1)  to an integrated audience of three thousand people. Mr. Robeson, an imposing black man, was twenty seven years old. He was already famous as a screen and stage actor as well as a singer.  He was a true Renaissance man who would become one of the most popular performing artists of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Robeson, who was born (1898) and raised in New Jersey, was an All-American football player and Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University and an honors graduate of the Columbia University Law School. As a college student, Robeson was friends with the Day family who owned Day’s Ice Cream “Gardens” in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. He had a summer job as a singing waiter at Day’s. (3)  When he came to Ocean Grove for his 1925 concert, he had just completed a triumphant run at The Provincetown Theater in New York, where he performed the lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s “All God’s Children Got Wings.”

He had friends at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, and it was there, with the encouragement of his colleagues, that he decided to do a concert tour with an entire program of “Negro” spirituals and secular songs also known as “slave or plantation music.”

This would be the first time that this music would be performed in concert, and he would appear with his close friend Lawrence Brown, also an African-American, who was a gifted composer, pianist and singer. The two would work together for thirty years. The first stop on the tour was The Greenwich Village Theater in New York City, and then, three months later, he appeared in Ocean Grove.

The concert was reviewed by the Asbury Park Press, which said, “Robeson showed an intelligent appreciation of his task and a splendid voice.” They called him “a talented son of this state” and they described “great applause” in the Auditorium. Among the songs which he and Lawrence Brown sang were “Go Down Moses,” “Weepin’ Mary” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

The following month he performed his concert in Spring Lake. They would tour for five years, all over the world, with this program. Later, Robeson would become the third most popular radio artist in the USA in the 20’s and 30’s. In the 1940’s he was the highest paid concert performer in the country and he was also successful as a recording artist. He would sing in the first production of “Showboat” and he would play Othello on Broadway and in England. He would star in eleven movies.

But his visit to OG that night was not only about music; it was also about recognition of African-American culture and the elevation of that folk music to high art. In addition, Robeson always was about hope for African-Americans, and performing that music was his way to offer pride and encouragement to his people. In 2004, when Barack Obama gave his “Audacity of Hope” speech at the Democratic convention, the first example he cited was, “…the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs.”


Robeson would accomplish much in his life, but his greatest contribution would be his tireless and life-long advocacy for civil rights. In 1925, Martin Luther King wasn’t born yet, and the “civil rights movement” would not begin until the 1950’s. Imagine how much courage was required for a black man to step forward publicly on behalf of racial justice at a time when lynchings were still occurring in this country. In 1921 a race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma resulted in the deaths of 20 whites and 60 blacks. In 1922, an anti-lynching bill was defeated by filibuster in the US Senate. In 1925, the year of the concert, there were 17 reported lynchings in the US. Jim Crow laws could be found in many states, but Paul Robeson pressed for racial justice wherever he went and for his entire life.

Robeson had been “eagerly” (1) looking forward to his concert in The Great Auditorium. It is likely that he was aware that many “extraordinary African Americans” (2) had appeared there in the past, including the famous Marian Anderson (1921),  Booker T Washington (1908), the singing evangelist Amanda Berry Smith (late 1800’s) and many renowned black  preachers. The Ocean Grove Historical Society has documented the African-American History Trail in our town. (2)

In 1998, the Ocean Grove Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary of Robeson’s birth by a day-long commemoration featuring lectures, dance, a book signing and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the program was a re-creation of the 1925 concert in the Auditorium. They brought the noted African-American bass Kevin Maynor, who used the original program and reproduced the concert from 73 years earlier. This remarkable event was made possible by a committee of Ocean Grovers led by Rhoda Newman (chairman), Kevin Chambers, Phillip May, Jr., and others.

Paul Robeson’s contributions have been recognized many times in the form of tributes at Carnegie Hall and NJPAC, plus many articles, books, exhibits and documentaries. He is a part of Ocean Grove’s musical heritage which includes Enrico Caruso, Duke Ellington, John Phillip Sousa, and Pearl Bailey (2). Paul Robeson died in 1976 at age 77. Five thousand people attended the funeral in Harlem.

Paul Robeson sings “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” from The Complete EMI Sessions 1928-1939, remastered 2008.


1. Asbury Park Press Archives (Asbury Park Library)

2. Ocean Grove Historical Society Archives (Ms. Rhoda Newman)

3. Mr. Kevin Chambers, Ocean Grove Historian

4. Ocean Grove Times Archives (Neptune Township Library: Mrs. Marian R.Bauman, Director)

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Cream Ridge, NJ. Paul Goldfinger ©. October 26, 2019.  Click to enlarge.




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Founders' Park.Ocean Grove, NJ c. 2004 By Paul Goldfinger

Union soldiers.  Civil War reenactment in Founders’ Park.Ocean Grove, NJ c. 2004 By Paul Goldfinger.  Click image to view larger version.   ©  Originally posted on Blogfinger in June, 2013.

MOLLY MASON AND JAY UNGAR.  “Tenting Tonight on the Old Camp Ground.”

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By Anna Murphey.

By Anna Murphey. 2010. Last posted here in 2013.

DAVE’S TRUE STORY.  “Blue Moon.”  From the movie Jack Goes Boating:

Anna is a sometime Ocean Grover and a fan of Blogfinger.   She is a retired photojournalist who responded to our offer to submit her work  to us.    Of this image, she said, “I am including a photo I took at the Nous Theater, Blairstown,on opening night,  looking down the hall toward the lobby, with brilliant orange and reds accented with deep blue drawing patrons through the theater . The colors struck me and I love the almost painterly quality of the photo.”

We think it is wonderful also,  with its strong use of colors and perspective. We hope to post some more of Anna’s work.

Thank you, Anna.

Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

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Rich contact us today.  He spotted a whale.  He said, ” Sitting on the OG beach I managed to time the breach of a passing whale Friday morning.    This of course is a photo enlargement as the original showed what may of been mistaken for a small fishing boat as the whale must of been a couple miles out.   It appears to be about a third of the whale.  I was told it came back later in the afternoon.”

LISA GERRARD:  Soundtrack from the film Whale Rider.  This is called “Reiputa”

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Ocean Grove.  Friday afternoon.  All photos and videos by Paul Goldfinger  @Blogfinger

Ocean Grove. Friday afternoon. All photos and videos by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger

By Paul Goldfinger, Multi-media editor @Blogfinger

Shall I compare this to a summer day?  Of course it is—and a magnificent one at that here in the Grove.  It is balmy at 80 degrees, no humidity, 72 degree water and a nice crowd at both ends.  In the middle is no mans/womans land, but that’s OK, because the few people who are there in the middle seem really relaxed. It is quiet.

Red flags are flying telling everyone that the water is hazardous and don’t go out above your waist. I thought that if a very tall man followed those instructions, he could get into trouble, but remembering my anatomy, I recalled that his nose is higher than most noses. Actually the water looked deceptively safe, but evidently there was an undertow that could grab you and suck you to Spain or perhaps Long Branch.

The grassy/sandy strip has few people walking on it.  It seems as if the boardwalk scene has left town. While I was gazing at the strip, a man approached me and asked if I lived here.  I told him, “Not exactly here, but I am a citizen of Ocean Grove.”

He then said, as he gestured toward where the boardwalk used to be, “What happened here?”

I guessed he just landed from Mars, or Uranus, or perhaps from Manhattan. When I told him , he was amazed. “When will it be rebuilt?”  I said, “When we get $3 million from FEMA, but we are raising some money now. ”  I thought he might reach into his pocket and offer a few bucks, but he just patted me on the shoulder, smiled, said thank you and strolled towards Ocean Avenue, skipping the grassy/sandy strip altogether.

Weezer was there, and as I went by a kid was telling his mother to buy him a coca cola ice. She said, “No dear, it looks like coca cola, but it’s coconut.”  And then a brief flashback enveloped me as I recalled teaching my kids stuff like that, but it didn’t last long and I didn’t linger there.



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SeaGrass Restaurant in Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

SeaGrass Restaurant, 68 Main Avenue,  in Ocean Grove, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Saturday night, June 29, 2013.  Click left for bigger portions.

FRANÇOIS PARISI. “Le Parc de Plaisir” from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

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Phillip Smith.  Photo by Chris Lee

Phillip Smith. Photo by Chris Lee

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Phillip Smith is no ordinary musician.  He is known world wide as one of the finest  classical trumpet players anywhere. When he isn’t performing as the principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, he plays in a variety of brass ensembles, such as the Imperial Brass with whom he appeared in July 2011 at the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.*  Phillip has performed with the greatest orchestras, brass bands and wind ensembles all over the world.  He is on the faculty at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

Mr. Smith is good friends with Dr. Gordon Turk, who is the organist for our 11,000 pipe Hope-Jones organ and who is the producer of the incredible Summer Stars series held every July in the Great Auditorium.

Thanks to this relationship, as well as Phillip’s long history as a summer visitor and now part-time resident in Ocean Grove, we are going to have a unique opportunity to enjoy a Summer Stars concert organized by Mr. Smith for July 4.

In an interview this past week with Mr. Smith, we were able to discuss some special questions with him.  Phil (we are now on a first name basis) has been coming to the Grove since childhood for the summer fun, and in 2005,  he “took the plunge” and bought an OG cottage which he visits year-round with his wife, the soprano Sheila Smith. His other home is in north Jersey.   He recalls playing in summer rock bands at Convention Hall in Asbury Park when he was a youngster in the Grove.

Phil describes himself as a Christian, and his faith has energized his artistry as well as some of his musical choices such as playing with the  Salvation Army’s staff bands worldwide. During that 2011 concert in OG, he told the audience that there is “joy in Ocean Grove” and that being here “refreshes our spiritual souls.” He fondly recalls a musical moment when he stood in the far highest reaches of the Great Auditorium with Gordon Turk below on organ, and they played Bach’s  “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.”  Phil says that the sound was “other worldly.”

According to Phil, the Great Auditorium is a “fabulous building,” and the acclaim for its acoustics is well deserved. Phil looks forward to playing in the GA, although he admits that the heat can sometimes be a big issue for performers, especially those with delicate instruments whose tuning can be easily compromised.

The July 4 concert is called “I Love NY Brass Concert.” Phil is bringing some of the finest New York musicians  (see below) for this celebration of America and its music.  Phil said that he chose “people that I like and respect.”  The group consists of seven brass players (plus Dr. Turk on organ)  who will present a  mixture of classical pieces, Americana, Broadway and Disney selections, marches, and patriotic tunes including a tribute to the armed forces. There will be some special treats including a trumpet solo by Phil Smith where you can hear his exquisite sound,  as well as a two pieces where the brass and the Hope-Jones organ, with Dr. Turk on the console,  join together—you can imagine what that will sound like. I can’t wait.

Phillip Smith played Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” when he performed here in 2011. That arrangement was written for Mr. Smith by his friend and colleague Joseph Turrin.  Phil is not known as a performer of jazz, but this song was very special to him because it reminds him of “his faith” and is a tribute to his father, Derek Smith, a renowned cornet soloist,  who was his first teacher.  Phil said that many performers wanted to use the arrangement, but the Gershwin family wouldn’t allow it to be published.  Below is a recording of Mr. Smith playing that arrangement with Mr. Turrin on piano.

PHILLIP SMITH  (trumpet) and  JOSEPH TURRIN (piano and arranger.)  Instrumental version of  George  (music) and Ira Gershwin’s  (lyrics) “Someone to Watch Over Me.”  From the musical “Oh Kay” (1926)

The concert on Thursday, July 4, begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Auditorium . Tickets are $15.00 each at 800-590 4064  or WWW.oceangrove.org.

Here is a link* to the Blogfinger article about that 2011 concert in the GA  including a video of Phillip performing Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.”  But the audio above is better quality.

Phil Smith performs  in OG

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October 30, 2012.  Ocean Grove, NJ.  The day after Sandy. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  Left click for full view

October 30, 2012. Ocean Grove, NJ. The day after Sandy. Paul Goldfinger photo. © Left click for full view

Ocean Grove.  By Carl Swenson

Post Sandy.   Ocean Grove, NJ . By Carl Swenson


We are in the midst of still dealing with Sandy. It’s necessary to keep reminding everyone of what we experienced. So far, government has failed us with our situation, so this may help with fundraising.  If you have a memory of Sandy in the Grove, please share, but keep it brief.     Thanks,   Paul

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