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Jersey Shore WHY Hungerthon Concert
Joe D'Urso
Many people cannot believe that there are folks right here in the New York/New Jersey area who go to bed hungry each night. But, each year, programs get cut and more and more folks are falling in between the cracks. The food that gets donated at these events goes right to the front line, which are food banks. - Joe D'Urso
by Matt Mrowicki
 [Chorus and Verse] World Hunger Year
Joe D'Urso
Joe D'Urso is the organizer of the Jersey Shore WHY Hungerthon Concert to Benefit World Hunger Year & Monmouth County Food Bank being held at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park (Credit: John Cavanaugh)

On Friday, November 25, the Jersey Shore music scene's long-standing tradition of supporting worthwhile charitable causes adds another chapter to its history when the Jersey Shore WHY Hungerthon Concert to Benefit World Hunger Year & Monmouth County Food Bank is held at The Wonder Bar on Ocean Avenue in Asbury Park.

Held across the street from the famous Convention Hall, a short walk from the Stone Pony and the beautiful beaches, the concert will features two stages hosting fifteen performers. Doors will open at 5 pm, and the show should begin about 7 pm. When it ends is anyone's guess, but expect the final jam of the evening to start sometime after midnight and send everyone home happy around two in the morning. For Asbury Park, that sounds just about right.

Everyone in attendance is encouraged to bring non-perishable food, which will be collected for the Monmouth County Food Bank. The Food Bank supports the more than 100,000 people in Monmouth and Ocean counties who live on incomes that put them at risk of hunger at some time each month, according to their website.

Organizing this event, which also serves as a reminder of what many people have to be thankful for at the start of this holiday season is Joe D'Urso, who has been an active supporter of World Hunger Year (WHY) and a member of that organization's Artists Against Hunger and Poverty program. D'Urso, along with his band Stone Caravan, is a familiar name at WHY events and other charitable causes, such as Light of Day. His active touring schedule, both with his band and as an acoustic solo performer, takes him around the United States, as well as regular tours of the United Kingdom and Italy.

Chorus and Verse caught up with D'Urso while he was in the midst of planning the Hungerthon Concert to ask him about the event and the important causes that it is serving to support. Chorus and Verse hopes that all of its readers will make an effort to attend the show, bring a can of food and offer a donation to WHY as part of your holiday celebration.

For those people who aren't aware, start off with a brief explanation of what the primary goal of Hungerthon is and how it benefits World Hunger Year.

WHY works for long-term solutions to hunger and poverty and works with thousands of community-based organizations that are helping people to move beyond charity to empowerment. However, through our National Hunger Hotline, WHY helps 1,500 families a month to find emergency food in their neighborhoods, connects them to government feeding programs like Food Stamps and child nutrition programs, and also with local organizations that can help them with job training, child care, healthcare, permanent housing and other services to help them become self-reliant.

Through WHY's Artists Against Hunger and Poverty program, dedicated artist-citizens such as Aerosmith, Springsteen, and Michael McDonald have raised awareness and more than $7 million for more than 500 anti-poverty organizations around the United States. Each artist has given considerably to community-based organizations in WHY's Reinvesting In America network. These organizations address the underlying causes of hunger and poverty by providing education, life skills, job training, community economic development, health care, child care, housing and transportation, among other services, to their clients and communities in need. They are feeding America's hungry and moving people out of poverty.

In addition to the Jersey Shore World Hunger Year Benefit Concert being held at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on November 25, what are some of the other events being held as part of Hungerthon this year?

Hungerthon encompasses many events. The biggest is the radio part of Hungerthon, which is carried by Infinity Broadcast stations in the New York Metro area. During the hours on the air people can donate money to WHY as well as bid on great items such as guitars, keyboards and other instruments signed by some of the biggest names in the music business. There are also great items like walk-on rolls in TV shows. But we certainly know that in these times that some folks are really struggling to get by and any amount donated, no matter how small, is very much appreciated and will be used to help people in need.

As with most of the New Jersey Hungerthon events, fans are being asked to bring canned/non-perishable food for The Monmouth County Food Bank. How important is the donation of food during this holiday season, and do you think it's often difficult for Americans to understand how people in a country with supermarkets on almost every corner can go hungry?

Harry Chapin had a great quote along these lines: "Hunger is an obscenity and hunger in America is the ultimate obscenity". Many people cannot believe that there are folks right here in the New York/New Jersey area who go to bed hungry each night. But, each year, programs get cut and more and more folks are falling in between the cracks. The food that gets donated at these events goes right to the front line, which are food banks. Thanksgiving time certainly drains the inventory of many food banks and we try and do our small part to restock those shelves.

The toughest time is actually in the months outside the holiday giving time when people tend to forget about these types of organizations. Artists Against Hunger and Poverty try to gently remind people throughout the year that help is still needed.

There will be two stages set up at the Wonder Bar show. What is the format of the evening's performance and how much time will each artist have to perform?

This is the first year we have gone to the two stage format and I did it for a few reasons. First, there were many artists who really wanted to help out and that has always been the case with musicians in general but it seems to run even deeper with New Jersey musicians. Second reason is that the Wonder Bar has gone through fantastic renovations in the last six months and is now set up to be conducive to having two stages. And, lastly, there are just so many good bands and solo artists that I wanted to include in this year's show and I thought this would be the best way to go about it.

We will have backline set up on stage so the changeovers from the Acoustic stage to the Band Stage should go quickly and smoothly. Bands will perform for 25 minutes each and solo artists for 20 minutes each.

How much of the $20 ticket price will actually be going to WHY? What is the best way for people to make donations directly if they are interested in doing so?

All the monies will go to WHY after expenses, which are EXTREMELY minimal, as all the artists are performing for free. There are small printing costs and few other minor show expenses but The Wonder Bar has donated the venue, lights and sound system for the show.

If folks want to make additional donations, if they can't make it down to the show, they should go to: www.worldhungeryear.org.

The Wonder Bar has recently undergone some transformations, and is now operating a kitchen. Want to give some props to the host of this year's show and introduce people to the venue if they haven't been there before?

Without a doubt! I've been saying to everyone within shouting distance that The Wonder Bar is now a serious player in the live music business in Asbury Park as they installed a fantastic sound system, stage and have the best sight lines around. The new kitchen is serving up the best food in town and we are encouraging people to arrive as early as 5 pm (Show starts at 7 pm) to have dinner and drinks to start the night. Pat, Debbie and Lance at The Wonder Bar have been extremely gracious to WHY.

Is there anyone else that you'd like to give thanks for their support in making this show happen?

There sure is! Gary Wien and his Upstage Magazine are supplying us with a free big ad in their November issue. Concerts East has agreed to help us with promotion for the event and 90.5FM - The NIGHT will be having myself and Tom Chapin on the air the day before Thanksgiving for a live on-air interview/performance and they will rebroadcast it the day of the show on Friday, November 25th.

I have to also thank all the musicians as well: Boccigalupe & The Bad Boys, Melissa Chill, Jon Caspi Band, Guy Davis, Rob Dye, Lance Larson & The Wonder Band, Jen Glass, Maybe Pete, Joe Harvard, Mike Rocket & The Stars, Jason Shain, Joe Rapolla & The Perfect Square, Danny White, Dawne Allyne as well as the guys in my band Stone Caravan, Sam LaMonica, Greg Lykins and Mr. Lou DeMartino.

Special thanks to Tony Amato - Boccigalupe - for supplying the backline gear that the bands will be using.

I read that there's going to be a raffle taking place during the show. Do you know what some the prizes will be that are being auctioned and how much tickets will be?

We have some great gifts that have been donated: Gary Wien has donated an autographed copy of his great book Beyond The Palace. Daniel Wolff, who penned one of the best books ever about Asbury Park, titled 4th of July, Asbury Park, also donated a signed book.

Each artist will be donating a CD each that will give a lucky winner a chance to hear all these great bands as well as have some holiday gifts to spread around.

Guy Aceto will be donating 2006 Calendars that have amazing photos he took of landmarks in Asbury Park.

There is a chance we may get a guitar donated that each artist will sign. That's always a great prize. I may also speak with some local merchants and music promoters about giving us some other items. I think we'll do the old police/firemen way of buying raffles, for a set price you get an "arms length" of tickets and you can use anyone's arm!

This past year seems to have been filled with high-profile tragedies, with the hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast region hitting closest to home for most Americans. Does having events like that in the news make it easier to raise money because people become more aware of the need that is out there, or does it become harder because people have so many causes to donate to that they might not be as open to doing more?

It does go both ways. People in our country and local area have become more aware as of late that we have many people falling in between the cracks and that our system needs some serious overhauling. At the same time, people have been very, very generous to the hurricane victims here, the earthquake victims overseas and various other causes like PDF (Parkinson's Disease Foundation) which JD&SC were just involved with, as were many other artists on the November 25th bill. I think by keeping the ticket price very reasonable it allows folks to come down and have a great night out and then if they have a few extra dollars in their pocket, they can feel free to help out a little more.

What would you like people to remember about the mission of World Hunger Year during this holiday season, especially as they sit down with family and friends for Thanksgiving?

That there is always someone, some family, some child out there who doesn't have the basic needs to get by right here in the Metro area. Not someone who is lazy or doesn't want to work, but people who work two jobs, 60-70 hours a week and still are falling behind and can't feed their small ones after all the bills and rent are paid.

This scenario is more common than any one of us might expect and WHY and other very good organizations are doing their best to see this vicious cycle, that has become all too common, end for good. I thank Chorus and Verse for helping us make people more aware of WHY and this show.

[ Websites: www.worldhungeryear.org, www.jdcaravan.com ]

The Jersey Shore WHY Hungerthon Concert to Benefit World Hunger Year & Monmouth County Food Bank will be held Friday, Nov. 25, 2005 at The Wonder Bar (5th & Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, New Jersey - www.thewonderbarnj.com). Doors: 5 pm. Showtime: 7 pm. Tickets: $20 door and online at www.TwinCloud.com.

Matt Mrowicki
Matt Mrowicki [[email protected]], is an Internet entrepreneur and owner of Chorus and Verse. In 2002, he founded Impression Technologies LLC (www.imprtech.com) a digital design company offering website development, graphic design, online marketing, social media and technology consulting. He has been interviewed on topics ranging from how bands can best use their websites for promoting their music to current trends in social media. He has successfully launched over 100 websites and branding projects for clients and continues to develop new online opportunities and promote effective uses of technology and online media.
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©2005, Chorus and Verse
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