For years Ocean City has hosted a huge fall block party and fireworks display during Columbus Day weekend, and this year the festivities will include a three-day docket of free live music.
OCEAN CITY — For years Ocean City has hosted a huge fall block party and fireworks display during Columbus Day weekend, and this year the festivities will include a three-day docket of free live music.
Cooler temperatures, less congestion and new batches of fun stuff each year makes calling the fall a prime time to visit the shore almost commonplace these days. And nowhere does that ring true more than in Ocean City.
Among the gems designed to extend the shoulder season beyond Labor Day is an idea from musician, entrepreneur and long-time Ocean City resident Herb “Bubba” Birch — bolstering a 27-year-old fall block party weekend with what is being dubbed the inaugural Ocean City Boardwalk Music Festival.
Birch, who would routinely bring some of the nation’s best blues, folk-rock and R&B artists to the area as owner of the bygone Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point, saw the estimated 30,000 attendees at last year’s Ocean City Indian Summer Weekend & Fall Block Party as a built-in audience for the music festival, which he says will span the gamut from country, folk, rock, blues and gospel — all provided free of charge.
At the end of last October’s block party, Birch told fellow musician and Atlantic City Weekly (one of the event’s primary sponsors) editor Jeff Schwachter that he hoped to model the Ocean City festival around the musical diversity of the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
With three stages going Saturday, Oct. 8, at sites within walking distance of each other, and music crossing a multitude of genres, plus a Sunday slate centered on gospel, acoustic contemporary and Christian rock, it would appear the inaugural Ocean City Boardwalk Music Festival is well on its way to achieving that status.
“I know Bubba from when we used to play the Bubba Mack Shack,” says Milo Z, front man for the New York City-based funk band of the same name.
“It was one of the band’s favorite places to play and not just be cause of the great vibe and people who came there, but also the great food — I still remember those gator bites! We’re looking forward to seeing everyone again, and whatever we play that day you can bet it’ll real funky, like the people remember.”
The series kicks off Friday, Oct. 7, at 7pm on the Ocean City Music Pier stage with Kickin’ Bear, a band of six Ocean City High School graduates who now perform regularly on the Philly club scene.
“We’re all excited to play back in our hometown of Ocean City — it’s always a good time reconnecting with our roots and our original fans that encouraged us to make the move to Philadelphia,” says Kickin’ Bear bassist Tom Williamson.
“Our set at the Music Pier will have tons of new songs from our upcoming album as well as a few of our favorites from the first album.”
At 9pm the original Baltimore-based reggae band Jah Works — another former Bubba Mac Shack regular — will start to jam.
“We’ll perform a lot of our classic original songs like ‘Moses,’ ‘Jamaica,’ ‘One for You’ and ‘Shadow,’ with some newer tracks from our 2009 release Rewind,” says Jah Works keyboardist Brian Gorman.
“We’ll also mix in a few recognizable covers from Bob Marley and others. Our band thrives in these festival-type atmospheres where people of all ages and backgrounds come together. People can expect to dance, feel a great vibe and leave with a smile on their face.”
Milo Z will start things off Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Ocean City Music Pier prior to a welcome introduction by O.C. Mayor Jay Gillian.
The Ocean Ryders, featuring guitarist/vocalist Schwachter, percussionist Mike Hoebler, violinist Tamara deMent and keyboardist/madolinist Mark DuVaul, will open for the Bubba Mac Blues Band at 6:45pm at the Pier, and Bubba Mac will return for an all-star jam after a fireworks display starting 9:30pm Saturday. (See full schedule at end of article.)
The Who Dat Band (5pm) and The Groove (7pm) play on the Ninth Street Boardwalk stage Saturday, and the Glenn Taylor Band (5pm) and the Love & Branca Trio (7pm) play at the Sixth Street Boardwalk stage Saturday.
Sunday will feature six gospel, acoustic contemporary and Christian rock bands at the Music Pier starting at 2pm with the group Praise Nation.
“The more we give people to do at the shore, the more reason they have to come down in the fall and even in the winter,” says longtime Ocean City publicist Mark Soifer.
“Especially if the events are free, and especially in these tough economic times.
“We must thank people like Bubba Mac, [local O.C. philanthropists] Norman and JoAnne Schaut, and all of the different charitable societies who bring thousands to the boardwalk for their fundraisers. They, and our many volunteers, make these events possible.”
Friday, Oct. 7
Music Pier Stage — 7pm Kickin’ Bear; 9pm Jah Works
Saturday, Oct. 8
Music Pier Stage — 5pm Milo Z; 6:30pm welcome introduction from O.C. Mayor Jay Gillian; 6:45pm Ocean Ryders; 8pm Bubba Mac Blues Band; 9:30pm fireworks on the beach;10pm (or following fireworks) Bubba Mac Reunion Jam.
9th Street Boardwalk Stage — 5pm Who Dat; 7pm The Groove
6th Street Boardwalk Stage — 5pm Glenn Taylor Band; 7pm Love & Branca Trio.
Additionally, A block-party concert with the Atlantic Brass Band will take place at the Ocean City Tabernacle on Saturday at 7pm. A traditional British brass band repertoire will be featured. Tickets are $15 at the door (all other performances are free). Call 399-1915 or go to OCtabernacle.org for tickets.
Sunday Oct. 9
Music Pier Stage — 2pm Praise Nation; 2:45pm Michele Acito; 3pm Coastal Christian Worship Band; 4pm Terri Showers with Chosen; 5pm Coastal Christian Worship Band; 6pm Siloam.
A full slate of events is on tap for the 27th annual Indian Summer Weekend
By Michael Pritchard
A lot of eyes, well, ears anyway, will be focused on the first Ocean City Boardwalk Music Festival this weekend (read more above), but the truth is the festival is just one part of the city’s massive Indian Summer celebration, a 27-year tradition and O.C.’s signature fall event.
The main attraction over the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 8-10, is a mile-long block party that extends from 5th to 14th Streets along Asbury Avenue on Saturday.
The success of this past October's Ocean City Fall Block Party, which drew an estimated 30,000 people to the family resort on Oct. 9, has switched on a lightbulb above the head of Ocean City's Herb "Bubba" Birch.
Dirty Dozen Brass Band sousaphone player Julius McKee was one of the many highlights at last weekend's Mid-Atlantic Blues & Music Festival in A.C. Herb 'Bubba' Birch (center) emcee...
“Somers Point has missed him, all South Jersey has missed him. He’s an icon in our community and the music industry. He’s entertaining and fun, and will be helping to bring the Somers Point music scene back to where it belongs."
A sepia-toned portrait of bluesman James Cotton hangs on a cluttered wall inside the Ocean City office of Herb "Bubba" Birch. Cotton, with a cap on his curly head and a harmonica clenched in his fist, is captured performing live at the former Bubba Mac Shack over the bridge in Somers Point. He was one of several renowned blues artists that Birch's popular joint brought in during its roughly four years of existence before it closed in the fall of 2004. "I have hundreds of these photos," says Birch, pointing to cardboard boxes piled on the floor. "I just don't have anywhere to hang them up anymore." One senses that Birch misses the music, camaraderie, and good times that his five-bar, three-stage Somers Point restaurant and nightspot used to offer the local community. Since it closed -- in part because of city restrictions pertaining to live music after 11pm, which didn't mesh with the indoor/outdoor layout of the former Bay Avenue venue -- Birch says he's hungered for the opportunity to provide some of the nation's heralded blues greats a southern New Jersey stage to play, as well as area audiences a chance to experience them live. "[At the Shack] we had music...
Atlantic City Weekly will be bringing you live photos, blogs and more from the DMBC festival this weekend at Bader Field in Atlantic City.