My friend Bob Benjamin is well known as an artist manager and music industry professional. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1996, but Bob never had any intention of letting that keep him down. In 2000, together with Tony Pallagrosi of Concerts East, he put together the first Light of Day concert at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. The headliner was Joe Grushecky, and Bruce Springsteen made what would become a series of appearances at the annual event. The funds were donated for Parkinson’s research in hopes of helping to find a better treatments and support for patients, and perhaps even a cure for the disease which afflicts between 1.5 and 2 million Americans.
Since that initial concert, the benefit has taken place at a number of venues before returning to Asbury Park last year, and expanded from a single show to an entire weekend of music. The effort has also gone international, with renowned singer/songwriter Joe D’Urso leading a Light of Day tour that has made stops in Toronto, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid, and London. Performers at the concerts have included Gary U.S. Bonds, Marah, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Dan Bern, Willie Nile, Pete Yorn, and Jesse Malin. In 2003, Michael J. Fox, who also has Parkinson’s, joined the effort, appearing on stage with Springsteen, Gruschecky, and Benjamin for a performance of the event’s theme song, Springsteen’s “Light of Day.” Also in 2003, an album of Bruce Springsteen covers was released to help raise money for the effort. All told, the Light of Day Foundation has raised nearly one million dollars.
The tenth anniversary weekend of Light of Day takes place in Asbury Park this weekend, and includes a series of shows, beginning at the Stone Pony on Friday night where two stages, one acoustic, one band, will host some of the area’s best performers, including a personal favorite, Philadelphia’s SloMo. I’m proud to say that I’ll be performing on that acoustic stage again this year. On Saturday night, the event moves to Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre for a concert featuring Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Willie Nile, Joe Grushecky, and Jesse Malin. On Sunday, there will be singer/songswriter shows in three venues around town. Some of the artists featured at these shows are Nicole Atkins, Glen Burtnik, John Eddie, and Richard Barone. The entire event is being hosted by Vincent “Big Pussy” Pastore of the Sopranos.
There is a lot more music than I’m describing here, and you can see the whole lineup, and purchase tickets for the entire weekend, or individual shows, at Light of Day Calendar.
Light of Day is a classic example of great music being performed in service to a great cause. Best of all, it’s always one of themost fun events of the year. If you are within any reasonable distance of Asbury Park, and people fly in for this from all over the world, you won’t be able to find a better weekend anywhere. If not, and if you’re able to, consider making a donation to this great cause.
Bruce Springsteen performs at Light of Day 9. Photo by John Kavanaugh.