Photos by Arnie Goodman
The eclectic Cutting Room, home to many great acts and also to great causes, once again played host to a Light Of Day concert. What started out as Bob Benjamin’s birthday party, then became Benjamin’s personal crusade against Parkinson’s Disease—which profoundly affects his own life—has turned into a worldwide music festival that includes top performers from the US and around the globe, and has raised millions of dollars in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease. The foundation has now expanded to include not only PD but ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and PSP.
The audience included Light of Day fans from several countries, including a large contingent from Sweden, who fly in annually for the event, traveling from New York to Asbury Park, NJ to follow the action, which—much of the time, but not always—ends with a Bruce Springsteen performance.
With Bob Benjamin in attendance and emcee Tony Pelligrosi at the helm, the evening started out pure fun with Elvis impersonator singing Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue—The King Sings the Boss. Honestly, I found it surprisingly easy to love.
Longtime Light of Day supporter Joe D’Urso and his Stone Caravan band followed with a song from another Jersey band, the Smithereens, in honor of the late Pat DiNizio, then swung into their own version of Jersey rock, with catchy hooks and flat-out rock and roll from their new CD, Jersey Diner. One Springsteen-penned song, Light of Day, truly hit home, since it was the originally recorded by Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox—a famous Parkinson’s victim, in the film of the same name. The Stone Caravan finale proved tough to top: Joe D’Urso and his bassist finished on tables near the front of the stage.
Johnny Pi’s Punk Rock Pizzeria, familiar to Elmore readers and others as Willie Niles’ outstanding bassist Johnny Pisano showed up as both frontman and funnyman, performing a variety of punk rock songs about…wait for it…pizza, women’s midlife crises, and superheros. Shannon Conley, of Lez Zeppelin, joined in for a slice or two. A million chimps with a million typewriters couldn’t make this up, folks.
Perhaps one of the most personable performers on the circuit, Gary U.S. Bonds and his crackerjack band—which includes his wife and daughter—romped through a dozen of his hits, including “Daddy’s Come Home,” written by Springsteen’s guitarist, Steven Van Zandt, in 1981, sadly, still remarkably timely. Bonds punctuated his set of hits (“Quarter to Three,” “Out of Work,” “Jole Blon and others) with funny patter and stories from his experience in the record business, good and not-so-good, with charm.
All told, these performers and the many others who give their time and energy to the Light of Day Foundation provided us with one terrific night of music, in the hope that those with Parkinson’s and related diseases will have a terrific life. That’s a win-win, if there ever was one.
It’s not too late to join in. See the upcoming Light of Day performances HERE.