‘The Music That Made Tony Mart’s Famous’ hits the Music Pier Aug. 18
The rhythmic echoes of a legendary rock ‘n’ roll nightclub in Somers Point make their way from Bay Avenue onto the Ocean City Boardwalk Aug. 18.
Thirty years after the famous Tony Mart club closed its doors in Somers Point, “The Music That Made Tony Mart’s Famous,” a special concert, hits the Music Pier on Saturday night (8pm), showcasing some of the most famous songs played at the Mart by the iconic stars who played the venue during the1950s through to the early ’80s.
From Billy Haley and His Comets, Conway Twitty, Duane Eddie, Joey Dee and the Starlighters, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Del Shannon, Levon Helm and the Hawks (who were known later as the Band, a few years after being plucked from Tony Mart’s during the summer of 1965 to join Bob Dylan’s world-changing electric tour) to the filming of the1982 film Eddie and the Cruisers, Tony Mart’s has its fair share of epic memories and moments, a true throwback to the good old dancin’ days of Somers Point and the Jersey Shore.
“My first childhood experience in the music industry was there at Tony Mart’s,” says Carmen Marotta, son of Anthony Marotta who owned Tony Mart’s. “I wouldn’t trade my childhood for a million dollars.”
Saturday’s show will feature hit songs from the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack, which was filmed in part at the former nightspot after its closing the same year.
The Tony Mart All-Stars, featuring Dr. Bobby Fingers, Bob Campanell, Danny Eyer, Howard Isaacson, Rich Kurtz and Jimmy “Old School” Glenn, will perform renditions of the greatest Tony Mart’s hits, including songs from the film.
“Tony Mart’s was our home,” says Marotta, “To have this movie company come in and film this [movie] about rock ‘n’ roll at the Jersey shore, it was just an unforgettable experience. The place itself [which no longer physically exists] is the story.”
The giant red neon sign of Tony Mart’s used to be seen for miles across the bay where patrons would dock their boats up and make their way over to the pulsating dance floor of the club.
The Music Pier celebration will also include some of the great songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, all of which were regularly performed at Tony Mart’s, including the music of Ray Charles, Cream, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
In the summer of 1963, Del Shannon was the headliner at Tony Mart’s with his hit song “Runaway” the No. 1 song in the country. Bill Haley and his Comets and Conway Twitty both opened for Shannon and eventually gained induction into the Hall of Fame for their respective musical genres — Conway Twitty in the Country Music Hall and Bill Haley — and later his Comets — in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
One night, after his late father sent him to get a roll of quarters from the cash register behind the bar, the then 15-year-old Marotta made his way through the nightclub and was distracted by a soft alluring voice calling from behind. There at the bar was a cute blonde girl from his high school, Mainland Regional, waving at him. Back then, the drinking age had been 18.
“It was then that I realized all of a sudden that Tony Mart’s wasn’t a place where I was just a kid anymore, where the old folks were, but it was a place my friends and I would hangout, where younger people would come,” says Marotta.
During a recent Tony Mart’s reunion show in Somers Point, the club’s former head bouncer, Ron Frye, made a surprise appearance. From 1963 to 1970, Frye worked at the nightclub and told the crowd that one of the best memories of Tony Mart’s happened on a crowded summer 1965 Saturday night. 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 police promptly drove the bass player to the nightclub where he hit the stage and finished out the show.
The six-piece band took the stage at the HofBrau Hotel in Wildwood in the summer of 1954 and threw a fashion changeup at the crowd. ....
From lifeguard races, the completion of the Ocean City-Somers Point Bridge, sand sculpting contests and a themed boat parade, everyone has their favorite summer memory.
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.
(Originally published Sept. 2008) LAST MONTH DURING ITS SET at the Somers Point beach concert series, Jersey Shore rock trio the Billy Walton Band broke into "On the Dark Side," the 1984 John Cafferty hit fr...
In the 40 years since Bob Dylan "plugged in" for his notorious electric tour, it's become even more evident how that string of concerts affected the world of popular music. As author Ron Bowman notes...
Tony Mart’s Presents will host the “Love for Joycee Wah” benefit on Saturday, Nov. 6, from 5-9pm at the Somers Point Fire Company #1 on Bethel Road.
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 ...
Sometimes top-shelf entertainment can be found without much travel or shelling out a lot of greenery, and a keynote case-in-point was the inaugural Tony Mart’s Rock ‘n’ Roots Festival held last Saturday night, Aug. 1.
Where: St. Joseph's School Auditorium, Somers Point When: Saturday, June 6, 7-11pm Details: Tickets are available at the door for $20, or in advance by calling 334-7140 or 432-0871. The evening inc...
What: Tony Mart's Reunion Party When: Saturday, Sept. 6, 8pm Where: Stumpo's Restaurant, 101 E. Maryland Ave., Somers Point. Tickets: $15/$10. Call 653-6069. Headliner: Walter "Wolfman" Washingto...
"I knew we had to do a reunion some day, and I just realized that it's been 25 years!" says Carmen Marotta, whose family owned the Tony Mart's club in Somers Point for decades. The Bay Avenue institu...