"WHAT A WONDERFUL YEAR" PROVES ONCE AGAIN THAT ASBURY MUSICIANS RULE

Words by Doug Dresher & Kenny Bieber

Photos by Bill Baumann, Doug Dresher & Kenny Bieber

February 11, 2022

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Rising from the ashes of perhaps not the best year, the “What a Wonderful Year” (2021) annual event made sure that all who attended were able to forget the bad things and just enjoy the music. The event, presented by Telegraph Hill Records and Jim Lenskold, showed off some of Asbury Park’s best music and performance talent. Split between two stages, both large bands and solo acts had opportunities to perform, and by doing, there was almost no downtime between acts. From Rap to Soul to straight-ahead Alt Rock, the evening really was a crowning moment and incredible celebration of the music community in Asbury Park!

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Night 1 delivered a heaping portion of passionate performances; and artists Dano, the Fake Pockets Band, and sOulfood jumped right in to set the absolutely "wonderful" tone for the entire two-night event. The Wonder Bar actually felt like it was vibrating with the unparalleled energy and exquisite performances by the Natalie Farrell Band, Heather Mills, the Mercury Brothers and Chill Smith. The crowd was having the time of their lives at this point and it's always a joy to watch the camaraderie, friendship, and support between the musicians and fans in Asbury Park! Firing on all cylinders and wrapping up the night were Dentist, Taylor Tote, and Des & The Swagmatics with the Shady Street Show Band. Exhausted but happy, we all headed home to rest up for the following night!


“The positive energy, excitement and joy coming from the performers, audience and crew over the two days of  'What A Wonderful Year' goes far beyond just your everyday show. The performers were at their best and there was not a single moment that fell short of excellent. This year was truly special given the extra wait until we could safely come together to celebrate 2021. We truly felt the bond of the live music community supporting one another, which has always been the primary goal of the event."

~ WAWY event organizers Joe Pomarico, Matt Fernicola and Jim Lenskold


On Night 2, WAWY exploded in The Wonder Bar and the results were the scene’s most diverse, exciting and established talent all under one roof. This second WAWY serving proved to be an especially dynamic and exhilarating showcase. The lineup consisted of several established and rising local acts. The indie-rock fusion band Flexiglass opened with an invigorating and vibrant set; and mainstays such as The Extensions and The Foes of Fern delivered typically committed and engaging performances. Highlights of the night were the inclusion of hip-hop act Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise who delivered an uplifting performance and Patty C, Jeff Linden and Marc Tappan contributed soulful and memorable turns as well. Rising soul and funk act Alexander Simone and the Whodat Crew delivered a show-stopping set that got the entire crowd moving!  Jarod Clemons and The Late Nights electrified the crowd with an invigorating and energetic performance that showcased their sleek and polished new lineup. 

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Both nights of WAWY illustrate the true scope and diversity of the Asbury Park music scene and proved to be quite the exhilarating and well-rounded representation! The lineup was richly curated and offered a strong mix of genres and styles to satisfy audiences and fans alike. Also, credit goes out to Telegraph Hill Records for organizing another accomplished, active and passionate event and for raising proceeds for the African-American Music Project in the process. Overall, WAWY 2021  - despite belated - was well worth the wait and another reason why Asbury Park’s music scene is dynamic and thriving! Be sure to be on the lookout for these talented artists and for information regarding next year’s WAWY!

Night One - Photos by Doug Dresher

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Night One - Photos by Kenny Bieber

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Night Two - Photos by Bill Baumann

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Night Two - Photos by Kenny Bieber

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Doug Dresher

Bill Baumann

Kenny Bieber

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