Thursday, April 28, 2011



Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State

WHEN: May 5 – September 14, 2011
Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown

The Morris Museum’s new exhibition, Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State, explores rock & roll’s roots, rise, golden age, and evolution in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and beyond, when our state was fertile ground for the new sound that rocked the world.  Special programs include a launch party on May 13, performance by Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg on June 3, plus concerts, guest speakers and special programs [see listing below] to create a summer of rock & roll at the Morris Museum.

MM The SmithereensAbout the Jersey Rocks exhibition
This groundbreaking exhibition, organized by the Morris Museum, explores New Jersey’s pivotal role in the development of the rock & roll genre. Jersey Rocks will explore the rise of rock & roll in New Jersey from its early years through the 1970s and beyond, as “rock” evolved into new genres. This major exhibition will feature musicians, fans, concert venues, events and DJ’s—many of which made up the world of New Jersey rock & roll. (Above: Smithereens: Acoustic guitar, drum head, drumsticks, gold record [“Smithereens 11”, 1989] tee shirt—all on loan from drummer Dennis Diken.)

Here in the Garden State, a unique mix of performers and places, technology and talent created sounds that would dominate the airwaves and rock the nation.  Visitors will explore rock & roll’s rise in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, when the state was fertile ground for the new sound—and then will see how the beat changed, and rock splintered.  And at Jersey Rocks, everyone will have a chance to sing along, dance to the music, and rock on in the Garden State.

Beginning with the origins of rock & roll in the late 1940s to early 1950s, the exhibition will explore doo-wop, be-bop, gospel, and rhythm and blues and African-American artists’ contributions to rock’s roots, through photos and videos of performers and their stories. This section will also examine the legacy of Les Paul and his contribution to the technology that made rock & roll—the solid body electric guitar.

MM ShirellesThe next section will celebrate the rise of rock & roll in the 1950s through mid-1960s. Visitors will travel back in time to Wildwood and the 1950s, where Bill Haley and His Comets debuted “Rock Around the Clock”, and “visit” Palisades Amusement Park and The Clay Cole Show, with performers such as Lesley Gore and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, along with Tony Mart’s in Somers Point, NJ, the first “real” rock club on the Jersey Shore.  The role of DJ’s and how they helped market and spread rock & roll will be highlighted through personalities, such as Jocko Henderson, Alan Freed, and Cousin Brucie. Through objects such as records, stage clothing, photographs, gold records, and backdrops, performers of the period who will be spotlighted include Joey Dee and the Starliters, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Dionne Warwick, the Shirelles, Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, The Angels, The Delicates, the Happenings, the Critters, the Duprees, Ricky Nelson and the 1910 Fruitgum Company(Above: Shirelles: Gold and Black sequined jacket, worn by and on loan from Shirley Alston Reeves; framed LP - The Shirelles, “Baby It's You”; additional recordings, and Victory 45rpm portable record player)

The golden age of rock & roll, mid 1960s – 1970s, will explore the rising market of rock & roll, the originality of the music and how it increasingly reflected the times (e.g. Vietnam War) and New Jersey’s contributions to the technological revolution that enabled rock & roll to become a national phenomenon.   Some of the leading venues and music happenings highlighted include a “visit” to the Atlantic City Pop Festival, held two weeks before Woodstock; Newark Symphony Hall as a concert venue that hosted the Rolling Stones, Peter Paul and Mary, and Jimi Hendrix; and what made the Capitol Theater in Passaic a “substitute” for the Fillmore East. Some of the technological advances featured include an authentic 1960s Guild guitar, made in Hoboken, with a built-in stand; an Ampeg amplifier, made in Linden; and a Guild Echorec, which allowed your voice to echo.

Specific stories include:

  • The (Young) Rascals — shift in rock & roll, moving away from American Bandstand and becoming more influenced by “psychedelia”
  • Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt as teenagers playing at the Upstage Club.  Another Jersey Shore venue: The Stone Pony
  • The Jersey Shore Sound via the history of Asbury Park, where a rock & roll scene emerged as the city underwent a decline
  • Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and their contribution to the Jersey Shore sound

MM Guitar signed by Bon Jovi bandThe next section examines how rock splintered in new directions in the mid-1970s and beyond.  Four major performers, all NJ natives, that made national and international marks on music, will be highlighted:

  • Disco queen Gloria Gaynor
  • Bon Jovi’s appeal as a “hair band”
  • Hip hop exemplified through Queen Latifah
  • Pop music through the lens of Whitney Houston’s records
  • The Misfits and the rise of punk

Other NJ performers to be featured include the Smithereens and Blondie (Deborah Harry). (Above:  Oration Guitar, signed by BonJovi band members, won by fan Kathy Francis of Cedar Knolls, in a radio contest.)

MM SpringsteenThroughout the exhibition, visitors will be invited to make a personal statement about rock & roll by designing an album cover, designing a “t-shirt” using magnetic pieces at an interactive station, writing their concert memories, or adding new voices to the exhibition by telling their NJ rock & roll stories on the talk-back wall. At several “lounge” areas throughout the exhibition, visitors will be prompted by question cards to think about the first album/8-track/cassette/CD they ever bought; other New Jersey venues where they saw concerts; and where they think New Jersey rock is headed next. (Above: In October 1975, Bruce Springsteen was on the cover of three major magazines. Time, Newsweek and Crawdaddy magazine covers are on view with a signed copy of Born to Run album cover.)

Jersey Rocks: Performances and Programs
To purchase tickets for all events, call the Box Office, 973.971.3706

Launch Party: Rock This Town!
Friday, May 13 - 6:30 PM
$75 per person

A boardwalk-themed bash to celebrate the opening of Jersey Rocks: A History of Rock & Roll in the Garden State.  Bruce Springsteen tribute band, The E-Street Shuffle will be performing and refreshments will be served.  Advance purchase is required.

Jersey Rocks summer pass: $175 includes LaBamba concert, all lectures, both acapella concerts and complimentary exhibition pass (general museum admission) valid May 5 through September 5, 2011. ($150 for museum members)

Jersey Rocks Lecture Series 1
Cousin Brucie – Rock & Roll….And the Beat Goes On
Talk & book signing, Thursday, May 19 - 6:30 PM
TICKETS: $15/Members  $20/Non-Members

One of the pioneers of rock & roll radio, Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow witnessed firsthand the birth, growth, and growing pains of rock & roll. He will discuss the importance of rock & roll in New Jersey, and how New Jersey contributed to rock & roll history, taking you back to the roots of this exciting and explosive musical era.

After the talk, Cousin Brucie will sign copies of his book, Rock & Roll…And the Beat Goes On, a retrospective celebrating the rock scene and the events of the 1960s and early 1970s, including artists such as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and more.

Concert: Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg – LaBamba and the Hubcaps with Quiet Storm
WHEN: Friday, June 3 - 7:30 PM
TICKETS: $45 per person

Concert and dancing, with LaBamba and the Hubcaps, one of New Jersey’s most successful and well known bar bands. Opening act: Philadelphia a capella group Quiet Storm.  Light refreshments will be served. 

Jersey Rocks Lecture Series 2
Charlie Horner on Rhythm & Blues Vocal Groups

  • Doo Wop (Part 1) Wednesday, June 8 -  6:30 PM
  • Doo Wop (Part 2) Wednesday, June 15 – 6:30 PM

TICKETS: $15/Members, $20/Non-Members
Both lectures in the series: $25/Members, $35/Non-members

Charlie Horner, of Somerset, NJ, was described as “one of the foremost authorities on early rhythm & blues and vocal group music” by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland. He’ll present a history of doo wop and r&b vocal group music. These multi-media programs include rare photographs of singers, record labels, sheet music and memorabilia.

A capella Concert
WHEN: Friday, July 15 - 7:00 PM
$20/Members $25/Non-Members

Enjoy an evening of scat and doo wop singing performed by The Copians, Sheps, 14 Karat Soul, and Nickey Addeo & the Nite Owls.

Jersey Rocks Lecture Series 3
Last Bastions of Rock screening and director’s talk with Fritch Clark
Thursday, July 21 - 6:30 PM
$15/Members $20/Non-Members
For both lectures in the series, $25/Members $35/Non-members

Director Fritch Clark will join us for a screening of his 2010 documentary Last Bastions of Rock, a lively and compelling new music documentary that pays tribute to New Jersey's rock venues past and present, centered on the ongoing success of the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, as well as the rise, decline, and ultimate demise of the Melody Bar in New Brunswick and City Gardens in Trenton.  Mr. Clark will talk about the documentary making process, why New Brunswick was perfect for the club scene during this time, and take questions from the audience. 

Jersey Rocks Lecture Series 3
Claudia B. Ocello and Dewar MacLeod – NJ’s Rock & Roll Venues
Thursday, July 28  - 6:30 PM
$15/Members $20/Non-Members
For both lectures in this series: $25/Members $35/Non-members

Join Dewar MacLeod, professor at William Paterson University, and Claudia Ocello, Morristown-based museum consultant, and project coordinator for the Jersey Rocks exhibition for a talk about the role of rock & roll clubs in New Jersey.  Highlights include the scene for dancing and Disc-O-Teen, a Newark-based TV dance show; and live music at the Capitol Theater in Passaic.

A capella Concert
Friday, July 29 -  7:00 PM
$20/Members $25/Non-Members

Enjoy an evening of scat and doo wop singing performed by Sammy and the Del-Larks, Quiet Storm, Joe Z and Bobby Thomas’s Tribute to the Orioles.