New Jersey Stage

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Interview With James Dalton About "Asbury Blues" -- A New Blues Club In Asbury Park

Tell me about Asbury Blues. Where is it located? Is it a full bar? Restaurant?
Asbury Blues is located just a block off the path at 610 Bangs Avenue in the old Asbury Park Press building. We are a music venue with a full bar and a full menu of BBQ, Cajun and Southern inspired dishes.

What will the average week of shows look like?
Well, we are a blues club, so that is our focus, but we've got a country rock/southern rock night of music every Tuesday, live band Karaoke on Thursdays, Sunday evenings will be a blues inspired singer/songwriter night and Mondays, being our service industry night, is going to be a more open forum. we've got plans for a real "speakeasy" one Monday a month...

Will Asbury Blues go after regional and national acts as well as locals?
Asbury Blues loves the locals and we have some of the best from the area on our schedule, but yes, we do have regionals in the rotation and we are going after some national acts, too. I think we are going to really surprise people with the diversity and high level of talent that we're featuring on our stage.

How did you get involved with Asbury Blues and what is your position/affiliation there?
I've been telling people that my role is "still undefined" but really, what I've meant is that I am doing a little bit of everything. We have an amazing staff at the club, from the servers to the sound guys and me, I am helping out with the curating and the booking. In the beginning, really, I was just on the sidelines, quietly, acting as a consultant, and now, I am there all the time!

For years, Jason's was a blues institution in Belmar and Crossroads had a nice run in Asbury Park. Is he hard to believe there really hasn't been a true blues club in the area for quite a while?
I can believe it, sure. Part of the reason for that is because a lot of non music venues some years back tried to get in on the action. Jason's, which I loved and was lucky enough to do some playing in before it shut it's doors, was not only just a music venue, but really, it was a niche one and I remember suddenly all these competing places, dirty bars or Italian restaurants all moving tables out of the way and calling themselves "juke joints". Granted, I can dig the enthusiasm they had, and, of course, all the bands found new places to play and work, despite bad sound and such, but it spread it all pretty thin. Suddenly, you could hear this music everywhere, even though a lot of the times, the quality wasn't as good. So, Jason's, which was the best of them all, lost a lot of it's clientele.

I think it's pretty exciting that not only is someone opening a new blues place in AP, but it is someone treating the process with respect. Having been lucky enough to have played a number of them across the country and around the world, and since I am working presently as a manager of the only blues club in NYC, I think I have an informed perspective. Yes, opening a spot with a dirty floor, a bad sound system and basically presenting a rough spot and calling it a "blues club" may seem romantic to some people in a Chicago, or a backwoods Southern kind of way, but Asbury Blues didn't do that. There's a little more elegance, if you will. Granted I am NOT saying that you can't come in to our club, smear BBQ sauce on your face, drink a lot of rye whiskey and try to score with the most unattractive person in the room, not saying that at all, but I am saying that this music can be treated with respect. You CAN put on a nice suit and drop in to the local blues club and you can leave before it all goes wrong. You bring anyone, people of all ages to celebrate this music, and it doesn't have to be some dirty, crazy cliche...