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Brookdale Concert Benefits Local Charities
Straight From The Heart
We're a very spontaneous band and I want to keep it that way. I want to keep it fun and the only way to keep it fun is not to do the same thing night after night. - Southside Johnny
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] Straight From The Heart
Southside Johnny Performs at
Southside Johnny Performs at "Straight From the Heart" (Credit: John Cavanaugh)

Brookdale Community College (Lincroft, Middletown, NJ -- Feb. 14) - After over 30 years in the music business, Southside Johnny has showed no signs of slowing down. The artist, along with his band the Asbury Jukes, headlined for over a two-hour-plus set at Middletown, New Jersey's Brookdale Community College for the "Straight from the Heart" concert. The event was held by several families of September 11 victims and New Jersey's police thanking the community for its support.

Southside showed he has not lost his ability to control the stage, as his stamina and vocal presence stayed strong until the show's late-night end. Guitarist Bobby Bandiera and saxophonist Joey Stann kept the crowd shaking by blasting out soulful solos as well.

Southside said that he had planned to record this month, but instead will go to Morocco. While he has enough material for a new album, he said, he is hoping to further stimulate some ideas while out of the country.

Southside gets overtaken by the itch to play his music before a crowd.

"Sometimes, I like the time off. But most of the time, I like to play," he said.

Southside's humorous song breaks and playful performance encouraged a crowd to surface directly in front of the stage.

"I think tonight's crowd was great," he said. "I love a crowd that really reacts. It spurs us on."

To keep the fun element in its show, the band switches things up from night to night.

"We're a very spontaneous band and I want to keep it that way," Southside said. "I want to keep it fun and the only way to keep it fun is not to do the same thing night after night."

The band's vibrant set included "All Night Long," "I Played the Fool," "Talk to Me," "I Don't Want To Go Home," and "Take It Inside."

The show benefited the Special Olympics of New Jersey, the Kathe B. Stapleton Memorial Scholarship at Brookdale, the Jason Cayne Foundation, the Brookdale September 11 Relief Fund and the Emmanuel Cancer Fund.

Also lending his talent to the event was Glen Burtnik, a popular solo artist and frontman for the band Styx. In the 90s, the Burtnik-written song "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" was a popular duet recorded by Patty Smyth and Don Henley.

"There is really no shortage of worthwhile charities, there's a lot of people in difficult situations who can use help out there," Burtnik said.

Burtnik's son Beau joined him for the first time with a full band for the show. The debut of the new Glen Burtnik Band included Beau on bass and vocals, Tom Brislin on keyboard and vocals, and Paul Wells on drums and percussion. The band pumped through a set of Burtnik's melodic and spunky tunes, and slow, throaty guitar solos.

"I try to play with as many bands and in as many projects as I can, and [my dad's] the most talented musician that I know, so it can't hurt," Beau Burtnick said.

Beau is the lead singer and bassist for the New Brunswick-based band Dibs. Dibs have been together for five years and its members have been playing together since they were kids.

"When you benefit legitimate causes it feels better then playing to promote your band," Beau said. "There's an enthusiastic energy in the audience because people know their money is going to something [worthwhile]."

Glen Burtnik recently left Styx to go back to focusing on his solo career. His next soon-to-be-released compact disc will be called "Welcome to Hollywood."

"It's pretty heavy, it's a pretty rockin' record," Glen said. "It's closer to the music I was making in the 80s in a way."

Burtnik plans to tour during the summer, hitting cities around the country, including Atlanta, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois.

Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, another of the performers during the star-studded event, played previously unreleased songs written in a band with Bruce Springsteen called Steel Mill. Springsteen recently gave Lopez permission to continue to use the Steel Mill name, as well as the music written by the band during their time together in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The band was tight, but still reached out musically to grab the audience with guitarist Ricky DeSarno's leads. The thunderous bass thump of John Luraschi, lightning keyboard runs of Benny Harrison and Lopez's pulsating drumming brought the crowd back to the Asbury Park's early days at clubs like the Upstage.

Bobby Bandiera Performs at
Bobby Bandiera Performs at "Straight From the Heart" (Credit: John Cavanaugh)

Charities Benefit From "Straight From The Heart"

One of the beneficiaries of the event, The Jason David Cayne Foundation, began in June 2003 to help Monmouth County families who have lost a spouse tragically and unexpectedly, said Gina Cayne, the foundation's president.

The organization offers up to $9,000 in financial support for three months and helps with financial planning and bill payment, Gina said. It has given out $25,000 since its inception.

"And the best part is, we have social support groups," she said.

Cayne is the widow of Jason Cayne, an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald, who was killed during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Her tragic experience in losing her husband led her to create the charity.

"I just started it because after September 11th the amount of help I received was amazing," she said. "It helps me just knowing that I'm giving back to people. It helps me to help someone else."

No matter what the circumstances are, dealing with the death of a loved one is extremely tough to handle. The first three months after someone is the lost are the most crucial for a survivor, she said.

When Cayne started the organization, she was surprised that there weren't similar ones already created, she said. Cayne said she wants to expand her organization throughout the state, because it hurts when someone from another area outside of Monmouth County reaches out but can't be helped by her charity.

Cayne is helped by volunteers and a board of trustees for the not-for-profit organization.

A lot of other widows have joined the cause, Cayne said. One woman, Lisa Dantuono of Freehold, joined the organization after facing a tragedy similar to the people it helps. Dantuono lost her husband to a heart attack over a year ago and was forced to find a new place to live.

"I put all my energy into [the foundation] and I'm very proud of it and I know my husband would be very proud of it," Gina said.

Information about the Jason David Cayne Foundation can be found at www.thejasondavidcaynefoundation.org.

This year's "Straight From the Heart" concert was organized by Lou Morreale. It is the second one he has arranged at Brookdale in two years.

Morreale also started the Kathe B. Stapleton Memorial Scholarship, another charity represented during the evening, in memory of his mother-in-law. The scholarship award will go to a Brookdale student.

"[The concerts] help bring an awareness that we have to work together," said Deborah Johnson, a member of the scholarship organization. It helps charities get their names out there and familiarizes the public with them, she said.

The Special Olympics of New Jersey, a non-profit organization, provides athletic training and Olympic-type competitive events throughout the year for children and adults who are mentally retarded. It helps them to develop fitness, learn social skills and demonstrate courage, according to its website, www.sonj.org.

Consistent training of sports skills are developed and tested through competition by those of equal abilities, providing a way to measure progress and incentives to grow personally.

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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