Jersey Jams Fund

An Update From Bob Makin

The Jersey Jams Fund, a group founded by East Brunswick music writer Bob Makin, and made up of local musicians who play shows and have recorded a compact disc in efforts to raise money to fight and heal the effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, has gone from an idea to a highly-effective charity.

The group, said Makin, has raised $23,000, which has been used for music scholarships for children who have lost family members in the attack, in addition to promoting and producing its CD, "Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares: A Charitable Tribute to the New Jersey Families of September 11".

Makin's efforts and those of musicians, club owners, concert promoters, music publications, music fans and others, have helped not only raise money, but build on the belief that our country can overcome a tragedy beyond comprehension.

Top New Jersey musicians like John Eddie, Glen Burtnik, and Boccigalupe and the Bad Boys, have used their musical abilities to help themselves and their fans attempt to recover from these painful circumstances.

Chorus and Verse recently asked Makin about how "Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares" has progressed since its inception and how much further success he envisions.

What type of response have you had to Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares since you last spoke to Chorus and Verse?

The response has been amazing. Much more than we ever expected. The New Jersey music scene has gotten so much behind this project that we've been able to keep it going to continue to raise music scholarship for the New Jersey Children of 9/11 and to put together free concerts for all New Jersey children, like we did with the Summer Arts Carnival that Chorus and Verse co-sponsored.

We hope to have two shows that will be free to children in mid-February. I'll share more details as soon as they become available.

How much money has been raised?

A total of $23,000. $15,000 in music scholarship for the New Jersey Children of 9/11 and $8,000 to produce and promote our "Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares" charity compilation and benefit concert series.

By the end of January, we will have awarded nearly $10,000 in music scholarship to more than a dozen New Jersey Children of 9/11 between the ages of four and 16. We plan to expand the scholarship to help other New Jersey children benefit from the powerful impact of music. We hope to make $3,000 with our Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares Rockin' Winter Holiday Weekend.

What type of feeling does helping others through this charity give you? Have musicians expressed any of their feelings about Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares to you?

I hate terrorism and war with every fiber of my being. Our aim is to fight terrorism with the healing power of music and to enrich children's lives with its positive power. I feel very honored that the New Jersey Families of 9/11 who are a part of the United Way's Family Advocate Program have allowed us to do that and that the United Way has enabled us to do it.

I think a lot of people thought Jersey Jams Fund was a scam at first, but people from all walks of life are getting turned onto the program every day through those who already are involved, like you and Matt and the folks at The Stone Pony. I'm very happy to see that they believe in us and are willing to help.

All of the bands who are a part of the Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares family have expressed that they are very happy to be able to help turn kids onto music through our scholarship and mentorship programs.

The fact that they continue to help as much as they do, without getting paid, makes me incredibly proud of the New Jersey music scene, which I've covered for 22 years as a music writer. I hope that Jersey Jams Fund can grow so that we eventually can pay the musicians and artists who participate. We're working on that.

What have been some of the obstacles you have faced and how have you gotten around them?

It took a while for the general public to believe in us. Many people think that the New Jersey Families of 9/11 have gotten a great deal of money already. Why should they get more?

Jersey Jams Fund isn't about money. It's about turning children onto music and art in the hopes that it will better their lives so that they can help make New Jersey better. Those who believe in the powerful impact that music and arts can have on children are incredibly dedicated to this project. More are gravitating to Jersey Jams Fund all the time. As a result, we should be able to expand the scholarship to help other New Jersey children in the near future.

It also takes a lot of money to raise money. The three guys who founded Jersey Jams Fund, also Seth Alexander of S.R.A. Studios and Q-Vo Records in Scotch Plains and Matt Angus of Atomic Productions and Black Potatoe Records in Clinton, started with nothing but our music.

But, since we started on Sept. 20, 2001, 600 people have helped to raised $23,000 as either an artist, a volunteer or as part of a venue or business. An all-volunteer grassroots charity effort like Jersey Jams Fund also requires a lot of time and sacrifice. But, because there's no end to the good we can do turning children onto music and art, I am confident that the obstacles we face eventually will be overcome.

I believe that we will be able to make a big difference in the lives of New Jersey children. I'm very grateful that Chorus and Verse and our many other media sponsors are there to document our progress.

What types of shows have taken place recently and what can people expect in the future?

Well, the Rockin' Winter Holiday weekend is taking place Dec. 20-22 throughout Middlesex County and in Princeton. Spiraling, Planet, Dibs, Mr. Neutron and Subway Surfers are playing the Court Tavern in New Brunswick on Friday. We've got three shows on Saturday. Water will be at Marita's Cantina in New Brunswick. Unfortunately, Persun had to cancel due to a death in the family. There's also The Alice Project at The Ivy Inn in Princeton and The Christmas Dogs of War Benefit at Broadway Central Cafe in South Amboy.

Then, there's a really cool show on Sunday at a house venue in Highland Park called My Dining Room with The Grip Weeds, The Alice Project, Headquarters and Logs in the Mainstream.

All will benefit Jersey Jams Fund in some way. All proceeds from the Court and My Dining Room shows will benefit Jersey Jams Fund. Both those shows also will feature a Beatles-Who Jam that also will include holiday songs at the Court and winter songs at My Dining Room.

Jim Testa of Jersey Beat and Andy Gesner of Artist Amplification are helping put together the Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares All You Need Is Love Fest for Feb. 15 in tribute to The Beatles. There will be four to six shows throughout the state the day after Valentine's Day that will end with a Beatles Jam.

The last song of each show will be "All You Need Is Love" in a symbol of unity throughout the New Jersey music scene to fight terrorism with the healing power of music. We've got shows confirmed at the Court Tavern and are looking into shows at Hamilton Street Cafe and Stage in Bound Brook and Crossroads in Garwood. We'd also like to do two shows in North Jersey and two shows in South Jersey if that's possible.

At least one if not two of the Beatles tribute shows will be all ages and free to all New Jersey children accompanied by a parent, as well as to all the New Jersey Families of 9/11 involved in the United Way's Family Advocate Program. All of our shows are free to the families and their guests. We've provided them with a laminate and have gotten more creative with our concert programming so that they will want to attend with their children.

In March, it looks like we'll be doing a joint benefit with Music for All Seasons, a Scotch Plains music therapy program for shut-ins that was a huge inspiration for Jersey Jams Fund.

In April, we'd like to do a tribute to Hendrix and Prince with four really great jam 'n' groove bands. In July, there'll be another Summer Arts Carnival. We're talking to the city of Asbury Park in January about that.

Folks can see a lot of the concerts we've already had with the Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares Concert Video, airing Thursday nights, Dec. 19 and 26 at 9 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. and Saturdays, January 18 and 25 at 3 p.m. on EBTV Channel 3 in East Brunswick. We also hope to air soon on Comcast of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and will be pursuing airplay in Bergen County.

How can people help out with Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares and what type of help is needed?

We have a Jersey Jammer volunteer program. Folks can volunteer to help run Jersey Jams Fund's upcoming Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares concerts. We need help with hospitality, merchandise, production, the door. We also need a lot of help with promotion: flyering, publicity, airplay.

Both are great opportunities for [a] college student who's looking to break into the music business. We even can offer college credit for internships. Those who are interested can visit and then e-mail [email protected].

Also, pretty much any show at The Stone Pony and Conduit, as well as all those produced by Create A Vibe, three of our biggest sponsors, will donate a merchandise booth to us where we can raise funds and awareness. They also will donate two tickets to volunteers willing to run the booth.

Folks can check, and to see what shows they'd like to go to help Jersey Jams Fund.

They can email [email protected] for details. We sometimes get tickets to other shows and sometimes can pursue shows that volunteers want to attend as long as they're willing to run the Jersey Jams Fund booth.

As for artists, we will be making a children's CD of children's songs and lullabies written and performed by New Jersey acts. Folks can check about that starting Jan. 1 in the Aquarian Weekly, another of our biggest sponsors. They'll be running an ad for the children's CD through February.

Any music teacher willing to discount or donate music lessons to the New Jersey Children of 9/11 would be greatly appreciated. Again, email [email protected] and we can match them with a family in their area.

We also need help obtaining government and corporate grants, so that we can make the Summer Arts Carnival bigger and better and so we can build arts education centers in North, Central and South Jersey. The arts education centers will serve as affordable facilities and accessible venues for New Jersey artists and entertainers willing to share their talent, knowledge and passion with New Jersey children.

Participating in performance, visual, literary and culinary arts at these education centers will give children the joy, skills, self-esteem, self-discipline and self-confidence needed to better their lives, so that they can help make New Jersey better.

An arts education center in Asbury Park was the dream of the late Margaret Potter, the co-owner of The Upstage, the legendary venue that spawned the Sounds of Asbury Park and the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Little Steven, Southside Johnny and members of the E Street Band. Margaret taught me most of what I know about the history of the Asbury Park music scene. I hope to keep her dream alive through Jersey Jams Fund.

[ Web site: ]

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 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.