A versatile performer ingrained in local music lore, Bobby C. could use a little help from his friends Nov. 26.
Singer/Songwriter/ guitarist Bobby Campanell’s music career started out rather routinely, playing in a childhood band in his hometown of Runnemede, but it would realize remarkable longevity, a far-reaching fan base, and have a lasting impact on many others.
Campanell started in the southern New Jersey club scene around 1970 before the band he led and co-founded, The Shakes, became the house band of Asbury Park’s vaunted Stone Pony in the mid-to-late 1970s. Several fledgling future stars back then, Bruce Springsteen among them, routinely took the stage with The Shakes, and they were a major early influence on rocker Jon Bon Jovi and others.
In September, Campanell was beset by a serious cardiac condition that left him unable to work, and only able to resume performing again recently. Many of those who have admired him as a person, and respected him as a gifted entertainer, will have a chance to give back in his honor at a benefit Friday night, Nov. 26, at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro in Somers Point.
An official Tony Mart’s Presents event, all proceeds from “An All-Star Evening Honoring Bob Campanell” will be going directly to the Campanell family. The show will feature the Danny Eyer Band, guitarist “Ernie T” Trionfo, premier trumpeter Bob Ferguson, and classic rock ‘n’ roll recording artist Kenny Jeremiah.
“Bobby is an incredibly talented songwriter and a great singer, but he’s also an exceptional rhythm guitarist,” says Carmen Marotta of Tony Mart’s Presents. “When you listen to him play he really knows the nuances of those [rhythm guitar] parts, which is sort of a lost art and a hidden art in these days of Guitar Hero lead guitarists. Those are his greatest attributes, and when you put a Danny Eyer next to him — or in the case of this gig, the awesome dueling guitar duo of Danny and Ernie [Trionfo] — it should really be interesting.”
Marotta’s connection to Campanell goes back to when the Shakes regularly played at Tony Mart’s, owned by the late Anthony Marotta Sr. from 1945-’82, and next door at Bayshores with the band Dragonwyck.
“Bobby has that great ability to cross over to a multi-generational audience,” says Marotta. “You can do a gig with Bobby and the 60- and 70-year olds will like him, but that might not always be the case with the harder-edge musicians.”
Nick Regine, community project coordinator for the Somers Point Business Association, has known Campanell for about 20 years. “When I was booking events like the Somers Point Beach Concert series, Bayfest and the Good Old Days festivals, I always knew that Bob’s band would be the quintessential crowd pleaser,” says Regine. “I also had the pleasure of having his band play at my wedding in 1996.”
Campanell, who plans to be in attendance Friday night, mentioned in a recent conversation that he’s feeling stronger and on the road to recovery.
“The Good Lord spared me and now it’s up to me,” he says. “Now it’s a matter of adhering to a healthy lifestyle. I’ve already lost some weight, I’ve had to stay on medication, and I’ve had to do some cardio therapy. To make a long story short, I had a rough go of it, but things have settled out and I’m looking forward to recovery.
“There have been a lot of people wishing me well, I’ve received a lot of prayer, and I’ve got a wonderful supportive wife [Linda] and family [including four sons]. I’m going to be fine. I’ve got to make sure I take it easy, and hopefully I’ll start back to work in about a week and a half.
“I haven’t worked in about eight weeks,” he adds, “but my band [including Eyer on guitar, Tony DiMattia on bass and Ron Mortillite on drums]— three great friends and three excellent musicians — have covered my gigs for me. I’ve been told by a lot of people that they’ve done an excellent job, as I knew they would.”
The benefit starts at 8pm. A $20 donation includes a light buffet presented by Sandi Pointe owners Dan and Sandi Anderson, and desserts by Smithville Bakery, Formica Brothers Café and other local establishments. For more information or to reserve seats, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 653-6069 or 972-2759.
Levon and the Hawks were about to hit the stage when the band’s bass player, Rick Danko, seemed to be missing. When Frye discovered that Danko was in an Ocean City jail — busted for smoking marijuana — he had the sergeant of police in Somers Point, Lyn Bader, contact the Ocean City Police Department and persuade them to let Danko come to Tony Mart’s so the band could perform.
“The location was the key. A beautiful backdrop of the bay, with all types of boats cruising past, and the Ocean City skyline [across the bay].”
In recent years, Marotta has been very busy carrying the torch from his father into the 21st century. Putting on several area benefit concerts as well as Tony Mart’s Reunion events, and booking the Somers Point beach ...
The guide is destined to soon become the place for local booking agents and promoters to check out local bands and listen to songs and watch video.
"The Local Music Guide is a great idea. I believe it’s very important for the musicians to work together and support each other, rather than just protect their own ‘piece of the pie.’ The South Jersey music scene seems to be growing stronger and stronger, and hopefully this guide will make it easier for all involved — clubs, fans and musicians alike — to continue that growth and bring back the ‘glory days’ once more.”
The truth is, our region has been a live-music mecca since the early 1900s, when cats like Eubie Blake and Eddie Cantor hung out for summers and performed at local clubs. Decades later the Atlantic City jazz scene was as hot as they come, with internationally heralded performers from Billy Eckstine and Louis Armstrong playing residencies at some of the hottest clubs on the East Coast, namely the venues on Atlantic City’s fabled Kentucky Avenue — all of them are gone now — including the Club Harlem.
Clancy’s By the Bayfest
A ‘Haven’ at Golden Nugget
Life in the Laugh Lane
Pat Martino Plays the Point