BOB'S BIRTHDAY BASH HEATS UP THE STAGE

FOR LIGHT OF DAY

Words & Photos by Melissa Lawlor

 March 17, 2022

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One pandemic and two long years later, Light of Day's main event, “Bob's Birthday Bash” rocked a new stage this year at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. Although there was a virtual event in 2021 with several of the key artists, this event last took place live at its longtime home at the Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, in 2020. Despite the freezing cold evening, friends and family came from far and wide to celebrate and make this a sold-out show!

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The music was non-stop as Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Willie Nile, Guy Davis, Jesse Malin, The Weeklings, Remember Jones, Joe D’Urso and the Stone Caravan, James Maddock, Linda Chorney, Williams Honor and more were packed into a seemingly tight 4.5-hour show. Full bands and acoustic players swapped back-and-forth with just minutes to spare in between quick curtain changes thanks to production by event sponsors Asbury Audio and the Count Basie staff.

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Light of Day was formed in 1998 at an impromptu birthday show for Benjamin at a small café in Red Bank, shortly after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. They passed a hat around and raised $2,000 for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation in his honor. Thus began the journey to help the fight against Parkinson’s and related diseases by supporting research into better treatments, cures, and support for patients. Benjamin reached out to friends Tony Pallagrosi, a concert promoter, and Joe D’Urso, a musician, and the Light of Day Foundation was formed. In 2000, the first organized event took place at the legendary Stone Pony. After a few years, the event grew beyond the walls of the Pony, expanding into multiple venues on multiple days then becoming a full-on festival with thirty to forty shows over the course of ten days each year. From there it went international, with runs of shows in Canada and Europe, along with sister events in Australia. Although many missed seeing the Main Event in the Paramount Theatre this year, it was quite fitting that as concerts are reborn in a post Covid world, the organizers took it back to just a few blocks from where it all began all those years ago.

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Photos by Melissa Lawlor - Click to view and enlarge!

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MELISSA LAWLOR

I was born and raised in New Brunswick, NJ surrounded by creativity and the arts. My parents always loved listening to music, so I was exposed to an array of genres from an early age. As my own tastes developed, I found myself drawn to performers who weren’t so mainstream. It was during college, while studying art and photography, that I embraced the punk scene and spent most of my free time “going to shows.” Whether it was in a local VFW Hall, a small club in the tri-state area, or somewhere on Rutgers campus, I was usually there with a camera. I became involved with local bands, working on photo shoots and designing artwork for them. After receiving my BFA in graphic design, I moved in the direction of publishing while always keeping an interest in photography. I currently live in Freehold, NJ and although concert photography still remains my favorite, I also like to incorporate portrait and wildlife work as well. Asbury Park has practically become a second home to me, and to this day you’ll still find me, whether working or in the audience, 'going to shows

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