Back in the day, a night at the Turf Club in Asbury Park was a time to party.
Deejay Gregg Bouie knows this — he used to spin and perform at the Springwood Avenue nightclub.
“When they came they were ready to dance,” Bouie said. “That was the thing at the Turf Club — you came to party.”
Echoes of Turf Club glory — and, perhaps, a glimpse of the venue’s future — are part of the North to Shore Festival, which takes over Asbury Park venues this week.
Bouie will spin the hits he played at the Turf Club in the ’70s and ’80s at the Old School Dance Party from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at Springwood Avenue Park. It follows the all-day Juneteenth celebration at the park.
The Dorian Parreott Jazz Quintet will play the Vintage Turf Club Show: A Celebration of Springwood Avenue on Friday, June 16, inside the Turf Club itself.
The Westside Wednesday: An Evening of Springwood Avenue Art will feature the photography of Connie Freestone, and art by Charles Trott and Asbury Park kids that celebrates the spirit of the Turf Club, Springwood Avenue and Asbury Park music history. The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at the city’s library, 500 First Ave.
The city and beyond are rediscovering the legacy of the Turf Club and the West Side scene of Asbury Park.
“I’m really excited about it and I’m really shocked myself personally because I remember the Turf Club quite well and I’m just surprised that they took an interest in it,” Bouie said. “It happens to be the only nightclub out of many, many, many that were on (Springwood Avenue) that is still standing. It’s the only one. They were all up and down and it was the one where you didn’t have to come in with a suit and tie on, dressed up to a T. You just came in your comfortable clothes and you had a good time.”
The Turf Club is, indeed, the last of the great Springwood Avenue clubs on the West Side of the city that still stands. Lenny Welch, the Broadways, Clarence Clemons (before he joined the E Street Band) and more played the spot in the 1960s.
The once vibrant music and cultural scene on Springwood came to an abrupt end in the summer of 1970 when a civil disturbance tore apart Asbury Park. Blocks of Springwood that were not burned down during the riots were later bulldozed in a failed attempt at revitalization.
The city even renamed the strip “Lake Avenue” to disassociate it from its past.
The history is being rediscovered and the music is starting to come back. The Asbury Park African-American Music Project, or Asbury-AMP, has been a big part of that by hosting shows at the Turf Club over the last two summers, even though the venue doesn’t have a roof, plumbing or electricity.
“I’m very interested in the physical legacy of a neighborhood, what can you still see from back in the day,” said Jennifer Souder of Asbury-AMP. “There’s not much left from the physical fabric, but once we got an idea that we might be able to preserve the Turf Club and renovate, we just started putting our efforts into that.”
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The venue was in the news in January when noted photographer Danny Clinch took Bruce Springsteen’s pictures there for an undisclosed project. The Turf Club’s hosting and being associated with multiple events in the North to Shore Festival is another win, Souder said.
“People who were not previously aware of what we were doing, they reached out, which is great. And I think the whole week is going to be amazing in terms of music lovers in town and so much going on,” Souder said. “Hopefully it will generate more awareness and more visibility.”
Visit www.asburyamp.org for more information.
Go: Dorian Parreott Jazz Quintet in the Vintage Turf Club Show: A Celebration of Springwood Ave., 6 p.m. Friday, June 16, Turf Club, 1200 Springwood Ave., Asbury Park, free; northtoshore.com.
Go: Old School Dance Party with Greg Bouie of Bouie Brothers Disco, 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17, Springwood Avenue Park, 126 Atkins Ave, Asbury Park, free; northtoshore.com.
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North to Shore in Asbury Park
The North to Shore Jersey Festival features concerts, comedy shows and movies, as well as presentations from tech and business entrepreneurs. Events took place in Atlantic City June 7 to 11, and are in Asbury Park June 14 to 18, and in Newark from June 21 to 25.
Some of the big shows in Asbury Park include Brian Fallon at the Stone Pony on Wednesday; Demi Lovato on Friday, and the B-52s on Saturday at the Stone Pony Summer Stage; and the Smithereens at the Wonder Bar on Saturday.
There is lots more, including Hip-Hop in the Round at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County on Monroe Avenue in the city on Saturday afternoon. The event is presented by the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music, and will feature music and conversation from city hip-hop performers, including Mike “8dayz Str8” Savage and Chill Smith, and rising talent from the Boys and Girls Club Hip-Hop Institute and Lakehouse Music Academy.
The 50th anniversary of hip-hop will be noted.
“The fact that hip-hop is 50 years old is proof that the music form has had a profound impact on American culture and two generations of American youth,” said Bob Santelli, executive director of the Springsteen Archives, in a statement. “The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music is honored to celebrate this great American music tradition with local hip-hop artists.”
Go: Hip-Hop in the Round, noon, Saturday, June 17, Boys and Girls Club Monmouth County, 1201 Monroe Ave, Asbury Park, free; northtoshore.com.
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; email@example.com