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Jersey Jams Celebrates The Kid From Red Bank
Count Basie Birthday Bash
I love the New Jersey music scene like family. I go out of my way for it and it goes out of its way for Jersey Jams and for me. - Bob Makin
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] Count Basie Birthday Bash
Count Basie
William "Count" Basie (Photo Complements of the Jersey Jams Fund)
Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares (JJJC), plans to continue its tradition of honoring musical legends.

The next honoree of the charity - founded and run by local music journalist Bob Makin " will be legendary jazz artist William “Count” Basie. The 100th birthday of Basie, the former Red Bank, New Jersey native, will be celebrated at JJJC’s “Count Basie’s 100th Birthday Bash for Children” from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Stone Pony (913 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ).

The event will include performances by The Swing Messengers, Nasty Ned & the New Conqueroos and Mr.Ray. Also included will be a free children's art project and display in tribute to the Stone Pony and free children's music workshops with Mr. Ray and Casey Morris of Guitars for Life. Kids can also enjoy face painting, games and prizes and raffles will be offered.

Makin formed Jersey Jams after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to raise money to produce scholarships for New Jersey children. The charity continued with a CD featuring artists such as Robert Randolph & the Family Band, John Eddie and Glen Burtnik and has since raised $36,000; $22,000 of which has been donated in music lessons and school band equipment to 37 New Jersey children of September 11th.

In the process, Makin has also fulfilled one important duty of a music journalist: making younger music fans aware of musical legends such as Jerry Garcia, the Beatles and now Basie. The charity began a sponsorship of Little Kids Rock (www.littlekidsrock.org), which is an after-school music mentorship program to be brought into New Jersey’s schools.

JJJC’s concerts have been attended by fans of all ages and have featured performances by the area's top acts, including Dibs, Kathy Phillips and Danny White. It has brought New Jersey’s music community together, while helping others from 9/11. About 900 copies of JJJC’s CD have been donated to New Jersey’s families of 9/11, as well as troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault (www.njcasa.org) has received $100 from the charity and the Jersey Shore Music Association (www.jsma.org) has received $121.

Chorus and Verse recently spoke with Makin about the upcoming show, as well as the charity’s past success.

How will the “Basie Bash” differ and compare to other JJJC events?

It's our first event where admission is free for all. We've made it free to make it easy for families to turn their children onto Count Basie in a way that will be really fun for all of them. It's the first time we're honoring Basie, having honored The Beatles and Jerry Garcia quite a bit. Imagine a really elaborate birthday party for a child, but in this case, it's the Kid from Red Bank.

It will compare to our other children’s events, because it's about turning kids onto a great music icon. We want children from the Jersey Shore to walk out of the Pony proud of the fact that they're from the same place as Count Basie, because of the enormous influence his jump blues and boogie-woogie had on rhythm & blues and rock 'n' roll, and, therefore, funk, dub reggae and, indirectly, toasting, which are the roots of hip-hop.

How have these benefits been beneficial in raising money for the cause?

We've raised about $16,000 from the benefit concerts, which is a little less than half of the money we've raised so far. The rest came from corporate and individual donations, raffles and donations via the concert booth and CD sales, which also have been a lot, about $11,000 through 1,100 CD sales.

They're also beneficial to the cause when we can add a music mentorship component to a benefit, such as the Jerry Jam on Aug. 8 at Havana in New Hope. The aim there was to enable Deadheads to bring their kids to the event, where the kids would get a great deal out of it musically and artistically.

What has being involved in the project for so long taught you about the New Jersey music scene?

That it's the best damn music scene in the world! I'm not exaggerating. New Jersey has 26 bands signed to large indie or major labels. A good chunk of them - New Blood Revival, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Amfibian, deSol, Railroad Earth - have played a bunch of our shows, been on our CD, donated lots of merch to raffle. And there's veterans like Bernie Worrell, Glen Burtnik, John Eddie, Jody Joseph and Nasty Ned who've been really, really helpful, playing shows and donating tracks. Then there's up-and-coming bands like Spiraling, Dibs, Chrisie Santoni and Kathy Phillips that so go out of their way for Jersey Jams, do whatever we ask of them and ask for nothing in return except the respect and recognition that they deserve.

I love the New Jersey music scene like family. I go out of my way for it and it goes out of its way for Jersey Jams and for me. I'm proud to have spent my entire 24-year career covering the New Jersey scene, championing it in a way that it deserves to championed. And I'm glad to see all the clubs and promoters come together to support this project, like Concerts East, Max Cruise, Create A Vibe, The Stone Pony, Pattenburg House, Havana in New Hope. Without them, the bands and the fans who've bought benefit concert and raffle tickets and CDs, there'd be no Jersey Jams.

I just wish more of the fans would volunteer since it enables them to see any free show that Concerts East, Max Cruise or Create A Vibe does. It's really easy and really fun. Volunteers can contact me at [email protected] or 732-977-8902.

How have you decided on which charities will receive money from your events?

Well, we use most of the money for our scholarship and mentorship programs. We've given about $100 each to NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Jersey Shore Music Association, because they helped promote the concerts that they were involved in and I thought they were worthy causes to marry to those events.

With NJCASA, we had Jammin' with Jody at the Pony, which was an all-female lineup with also Patty Blee and Chrisie Santoni. We do plan to sponsor Little Kids Rock (www.littlekidsrock.org) to help bring their after-school music mentorship program into as many New Jersey schools as we can. It'd be easier to do that than to bring our own music mentorship program into schools, which is more geared to special edu-taining events for kids.

Little Kids Rock is well-established in school, but not in New Jersey, even though they guy who created it is from Montclair. They're only in Newark right now, so we're going to give them a little bit of money for that program, then hopefully start a matching grant program that reduces the cost of getting the program into schools in half. Eventually, hopefully, we can sport the whole bill.

What local businesses have been supportive since Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares’ inception?

There's been about 40, but the ones that have been most supportive are Concerts East in Sayreville, Max Crusie in Freehold, Create A Vibe in Budd Lake, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Pattenburg House in Hunterdon County, Havana in New Hope, Atomic Productions and Black Potatoe Records in Clinton, SRA Studios in Scotch Plains, Giancarla Designs in Allentown, Upstage Magazine in Asbury Park, The Aquarian Weekly in Little Falls, and, of course, ChorusandVerse.com.

[ Website: www.jerseyjamsfund.org ]

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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