A SAINTLY HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Words and Band Photos by Doug Dresher

August 24, 2021

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Volk

Electric Six

I would like to talk about The Saint. While I’m relatively new to the Asbury Park area, in comparison to my peer group of photographers, I’m not new to the sensation of knowing a good thing when I see one.


I had the honor of attending the first post-covid-lockdown show at The Saint on July 18th. The two bands playing that evening were VOLK, and Electric 6. More on the bands in a moment. When I walked into The Saint - it was almost 16 months since I had been there – time compressed. I felt at home. I felt like I had never been away.

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There are certain unexpected moments one can experience that trigger intense memories. Marcel Proust, in his unreadable and difficult to comprehend novel, “Remembrance of Things Past” describes the "episode of the madeleine" in which the main character dunks a small cake in tea and has an involuntary memory. Those memories then trigger an unfathomable number of other memories, and in Prout’s case, thousands of pages of the most difficult read in any language.

When one pulls open the door of The Saint, it doesn’t give way immediately. For the slightest moment, you worry that you had the wrong date or time of the show. With a little extra effort, the door creaks and lets you pass. That first step up is my madeleine moment. Sometimes you see a friendly face at the will-call window. There’s the familiar sound guy. Scott is talking to someone; Meg is in the corner. There’s a certain sound that your shoes make on the floor, there a specific reverberation of the excellent sound system playing music that you already love or will love once you hear a new tune. The stools wobble a little and the bathroom is unforgiving for those of us with broad shoulders.


But The Saint feels like home.

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As the door opened this time, I remembered many of the shows I saw at The Saint. I saw bands that I had never heard of who are much bigger now. I brought my own teenage children to see new music, and on the way home we would talk about music and pop culture. Those shows at The Saint became the catalyst of many conversations I had with my kids. My daughter has been allowed to take photos at The Saint. Hannah will never forget the band Skinny Lister wishing her a happy 17th birthday.


The Saint is a home for us lost souls, artists who wander, singers who weep for the opportunity to sing, poets whose string of words attempt to describe the meaning of life and the odd troubadour who is stumbling through town.


During the covid days, there were rumors, thoughts, and plans posted for the Saint, all of which no one was quite sure what was true and what was hopeful. Many worried that with The Saint, not seemingly part of the beatification and corporate resurgence of Asbury Park, might not survive. But it did.


The Saint is a friendly place and a place where you are very likely to see great bands in their infancy. Conversely, you might see a solo artist offering their own unique voice after having left a much bigger and more successful band. And then you might see any of the number of house bands who have made The Saint one of their own musical homes.

Tha Saint

Photo: Diane DiMemmo

There are regulars who sit outside and smoke and talk and make philosophical proposals about art, life, music, and culture. They are the Greek Chorus who describes and decodes the action of the rest of the performance. They are truth-tellers and story weavers. There are beggars who remind us all that Asbury Park still has a long way to go in creating the shining city-by-the-sea. There are newcomers who can’t quite figure out which door is the entrance, and there are old-timers who will tell you about the old days where music was found in every corner of the city. There are historians who retell the days of the race riots and the death of the Woodstock dream.


There are stories told of the years of prohibition where the building had a secret door and tunnel that brought knowing patrons through to a speakeasy. I should ask Scott if that is true.


If there has ever been a place where you can be whomever you want to be, it is The Saint. Let us not forget that as we pay top dollar for festival tickets, good parking, and gourmet food. Let us not forget where trends start and the famous are born.


That is The Saint.


I was going to write about VOLK and Electric Six. They were both good, and the crowd enjoyed them.


But ultimately, it’s not about the bands. It’s about the music.

ELECTRIC SIX

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VOLK

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Born from an existential argument between the modernists and postmodernists, I have found my home with the post-punks and those who love a good slice of pizza. I live in a world of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and the ever-elusive decisive moment. Punctum and Stadium aside, I like to take photographs of people and things to see how they look photographed. While I miss CBGBs, I think Asbury Park is as close as we are ever going to get to making punk whatever we make it to be. The future is unwritten and I owe it all to Mr. Bradley and Mr. Martin. Let us now praise famous men and ask the little prince for his thoughts. Sometimes I'm on the road, but If it wasn’t for the honor of the thing, I’d rather walk. My loving wife supports this albatross of an obsession and my kids put up with me well. BA, MFA, M.Ed., BCEA, Tri-X, and Nikon.

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