Posted in music | venues on November 19, 2008

Wonder Bar

Yes, it is something of a bummer.

Three or four decades of stops and starts -- mostly stops -- in this legendarily faded and ill-starred stretch of the Jersey Shore and finally, finally, things seem to reach a critical mass. Revived music halls of all shapes and sizes. Cool bars, a Mexican taqueria, a surfer shop, glass blowers and a potter on the Boardwalk. The renovated Convention Hall and Paramount Theater with its "Greetings From Asbury Park" sign out front. And the famous Thursday evening "doggy yappy hour" for pets at the Wonder Bar...

...Lance Larson, a veteran musician who helps run the Wonder Bar, figures that Asbury Park has a heritage of music, art and eccentricity that will attract people, tough times or no.

"We have one thing that no one else does, and that's entertainment," he said, picking at a cheeseburger on Thursday afternoon. "It's not just because of Bruce [Springsteen]. It's always been that way. I've toured every place, and there's no place like playing here. It's like Parris Island, the boot camp of music. If you can play here, you can play anywhere." [NY Times]

The recently re-opened Wonder Bar is suddenly on everyone's radar...
"It feels really great, it's exciting," said manager Debbie DeLisa of Deal. "There's a lot going on down here right now, with (concert promoter) Live Nation coming in to do the shows at Convention Hall. They're going to do some shows here also."

DeLisa's upbeat, optimistic tone is a far cry from last year, when the Ocean Avenue club was set to close to make way for a redevelopment project by developers Asbury Partners, which had purchased the property.

"Asbury Partners were going to tear it down, and I'm not sure what they were going to do, build condos," DeLisa said.

The venue was spared when developers Madison Marquette came into town and took over some of Asbury Partners' holdings, including the Wonder Bar.

DeLisa said the club is now waiting for approval from the city to construct a large outdoor deck facing the nearby Stone Pony; other plans include building a Tiki bar and adding a volleyball court to the facilities. [Metromix]

Live Nation has started booking the shows there, and I suppose that's why so many familiar names are suddenly playing in Asbury Park. Wonder Bar recently had Mates of State and Little Joy (see above). Upcoming shows include HR from Bad Brains (tonight), Rasputina, We are Scientists, and The Duke Spirit. Tickets can be found at Ticketmaster.

Watch a short documentary on Asbury Park's Palace Amusements below...



Comments (15)

they also own asbury lanes

Posted by Anonymous | November 19, 2008 2:45 PM

Damn I used to go to Asbury Park/Long Branch boardwalk for vacation when I was little.It was
awesome.Then everything vanished like a nuke bomb
hit it.Total wasteland.Seems to be coming back so that rules.Definately some great shows down there.

Posted by Anonymous | November 19, 2008 6:51 PM

coming back? are you kidding? the people who are operating there now are the same people who tore down everything historic and left it looking like a nuke went off.

the only thing that might be coming back is high cost housing, and in this economy probably not even that. What we'll more than likely get is 30 years of vacant, weed and rat filled lots.

god forbid they had just left the old buildings standing!

no, "progress" is better, right?

Posted by Anonymous | November 19, 2008 7:02 PM

**god forbid they had just left the old buildings standing!**

That's starting to happen, by default. Read the Metromix article: the Wonderbar was condemned and closed at the end of the 2007 season. But they brought it back this year, and now it's gonna be around for a while. It's a neat building and bar and kinda historic. Hopefully, the same survival path will apply to the Lanes. But regardless of the development prospects, Wonderbar needs to have more people in it on more nights, notwithstanding occasional Live Nation events.

Posted by Anonymous | November 19, 2008 10:34 PM

The Ribeye Brothers destroyed Asbury Park.

Good on 'em.

Posted by Anonymous | November 19, 2008 11:30 PM

The Garden State Parkway destroyed Asbury Park.

Sadly, that place will never be the same. They may revitalize it, but for what? So it can be an ugly, cheaply made clone of the "new" Long Branch? :/

Posted by Cuse | November 20, 2008 2:16 AM

the GSP destryoed AP? What does that mean?

Posted by Anonymous | November 20, 2008 8:17 AM

I bought in AP about 2.5 years ago and it's definitely on the up, but don't expect it change at Jersey City-speed. This company Madison Marqutte that's redeveloping the boardwalk are the ones who brought in Live Nation and are driving the bus...which is good because they're a national company not interested in playing the Jersey kickback game.

Posted by SF | November 20, 2008 11:16 AM

I bought in AP about 2.5 years ago and it's definitely on the up, but don't expect it change at Jersey City-speed. This company Madison Marqutte that's redeveloping the boardwalk are the ones who brought in Live Nation and are driving the bus...which is good because they're a national company not interested in playing the Jersey kickback game.

Posted by SF | November 20, 2008 11:20 AM

yeah Ribeye Brothers!

The Stone Pony has a gift shop with shirts (and thongs) that say "London, Paris, Asbury Park."

1) Since when do bars have gift shops?

2) London, Paris, Asbury Park. Really?

Maybe I'm too young to remember when that place actually cared about local music.. (!) I guess I could just ask Bruce..

Posted by Anonymous | November 20, 2008 11:27 AM

the santander is the spot in asbury, although fun can be had 5 blocks inland

Posted by Anonymous | November 20, 2008 1:08 PM

Asbury rules. Hope it continues to climb!

Posted by Anonymous | November 20, 2008 3:52 PM

This past Saturday night Asbury Park was amazing.
There were shows in both the Paramount and Convention Hall,across the street in the Wonder Bar and then down the street at the Stone Pony. Leaving the Yes show one could definitely feel the magic in the air. Asbury Park felt alive once more. Inland the Saint and the Lanes also had shows. Cookman Ave was alive. It is so great to see. This week new restaurants will be opening on the Boardwalk. It is happening now.

Posted by Anonymous | November 21, 2008 8:12 AM

Although this video was about a crappy, decrepit building that was rightfully torn down, I am encouraged that the comments are focusing on music, which will always live through the years. The Shore music scene is fantastic - this coming from an ex-NYer who grew up with the vibrant music scene in the City during the 70's and early 80's. Check out the Stone Pony/Wonder Bar (same owners, BTW) in Asbury or the Red Bank music and arts scene. Come down and see Sonny Kenn ( and other veterans still blow the walls down here. The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation will ( will happily tell you about all the great live music to be found.

Posted by HotRodJon | January 2, 2009 7:08 PM

A New Force in Asbury Park

There seems to be a new force in Asbury Park these days and his name is David A. Cummings. Out of nowhere his plans for Asbury Park are gaining approval from many locals and city officials (off the records). Mr. Cummings has a real passion and vision for Asbury Park. He's well versed in its’ history and New Jersey's coastal history. As a long time Avalon NJ home owner he has watched unregulated development and speculation turn a modest beach town into a playground for the wealthy. Avalon has lost 95% of it character due to demolition, speculation and poor government regulations. He questions who would sell buildings that could generate revenue for the city or allow eminent domain to run wildly uncontrolled. Believe it or not all this anti-development is coming from a developer. He is an architect/developer that understands the beach community living. He holds little respect for Asbury Partners LLC which he believes the AP city council gave them a free license to demolish the historic fabric of Asbury Park. He laughs at the talk of SOHO and South Beach, this is nothing more than a dream of unknowledgeable developers and lack of concern for Asbury Park and all the people that have lived here through the riots and two and a half decades of almost unlivable conditions. If you want South Beach go to South Beach. Mr. Cummings says “The real question to those suggesting these ideas for Asbury Park, is do you know or understand why South Beach is the way it is. It’s the cities historic architecture that was constructed over time that make South Beach, well South Beach. One can not recreate that on a grand scale as they have proposed without it looking “Disney-ish” As he walked the boardwalk from one end to the other he asked me “What do children do down here. Why would you have high end antique shops, boutique style restaurants, up scale surf shop all along the boardwalk? There is no need to be catering to what is not here. There is Ocean Grove, Sea Girt and Spring Lake to the south and Deal and Allenhurst to the north, all much more affluent than Asbury Park, but that’s ok, he quips. Asbury needs to cater to the people that are here right now. Asbury Park needs people to visit, not necessarily to live here. What Asbury has is a beach, a place where all ethnicities and personal economics no longer matter. With the proper vision this place could really become a resort.” But not from what is planned. Madison Marquette is primarily a leasing management company known for developing shopping strips for Target, Rite-Aid, Out Back Stake house and so/on. Not town planning and from there plans obviously do not understand the intricacies of combining historic, cultural aspects of not only buildings but of the people of Asbury Park as well. Mr. Cummings said one of the funniest things he’s seen was a memo about the parking meters going into effect in May. Pay for parking? Maybe they should get some people to visit here first.

Mr. Cummings will be presenting his plans to the public soon and asks all resident to look, think and provide input. I will be first in line to see his vision and if his visions are as powerful as his talk there will only be good thing in store for Asbury Park.

Posted by Asbury Park | May 28, 2009 9:54 AM

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