Asbury Park Greeting People for 2012
Asbury Park, Where Music Lives-that’s the slogan adopted by the city in 2011 and that ideology is what they are trumpeting into 2012.
Regularly playing host to musical acts of all genres, and welcoming the return of the Bamboozle festival to the convention hall the cities return to its musical roots in the past year is promising to continue into the New Year.
The birthplace of such influential Garden State rock acts as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and South Side Johnny , not to mention a mainstay in the jazz and punk rock community, Asbury Park was always associated with music. However in the past years the city was struggling with attracting tourists and shedding a negative image. It wasn’t until recently when Asbury Director of Commerce Tom Gilmour saw an opportunity to really embrace Asbury’s heritage as a music venue.
“We got the exhibit from the Smithsonian which is called “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music”. When that came to the city, that’s when we decided we were going to really celebrate all of the great genres of music we have in Asbury Park.”
Gilmour says there initiative didn’t have any set expectations or goals, rather an opportunity to highlight something that could resonate with tourists, residents, and artists alike.
He admits, that a “Hail Mary is a good way of describing it.”
In the last year the city has become host to more musicians from all areas of the musical spectrum, from jazz to rock to world, and Gilmour says even musicians who once played in Asbury are coming back to their roots once again.
“We had a group of musicians who hadn’t seen each other for thirty years and I brought them back to interview them in a session and they got together again and put out a CD over Christmas time.”
Reviving Asbury Park as the state’s musical destination has had an ironic twist for the city. Gilmour says while many people use music as a means of support during hard times, for Asbury leaning on music has helped them stave away many of the hardships other towns see.
“Music is really beginning to carry us through a very difficult economic time. Although I speak to many of my compatriots in other cities and our economic activity as far as visitors coming into the cities has remained very strong. ”
The local merchant community is also profiting, with the development of Asbury’s downtown many are in step with the town’s hope of appealing to music fans of all kinds. He admits that it’s difficult for businesses throughout the state, and while there hasn’t been much in terms of residential development, music has allowed a surge of tourism to help fuel the city’s economy.
Gilmour notes “the business community has embraced what’s going on right and are trying to get more ways to get even more involved in what we’re doing. ”
Some of the other plans Asbury Park has for the upcoming year include two documentaries reflecting the cities rebirth to its musical heritage. One was through a grant by the cities school system and features the students, called “Musical Memories”. Gilmour says he hopes that the film will be ready in time for debut at the Garden State Film Festival.
For Gilmour there have the city has been through a swing of good times and bad, and right now he says the time is good.
“I would really like to see us just continue to move forward here. We’ve attracted record of numbers of people to our beach during the summer. I think the concerts that will be here will bring record numbers of visitors to the city.”