December 4, 2023
As recently reported by Chris Jordan in The Asbury Park Press, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa have donated $100,000 to the Asbury Park African-American Music Project (AP-AMP.) The money is earmarked for AP-AMP's ongoing renovation of The Turf Club, which is Asbury Park's sole surviving music-venue structure from the city's once-thriving African-American commercial and cultural district, along Springwood Avenue on the west side of Asbury Park.
Before long-standing racism exploded into the west side's civil unrest of 1970 and the brutal governmental response to it, Springwood Avenue housed dozens of African-American-owned music venues and other businesses. For decades before 1970, music legends such as Count Basie and Billie Holiday could be seen performing on Springwood Avenue in such venues. At The Turf Club itself, music-lovers could catch nationally popular acts like The Ohio Players, as well as locally-based up-and-coming musicians like a young, pre-E-Street Band Clarence Clemons.
AP-AMP's renovation of The Turf Club, which it now owns and has begun using as a space for cultural events and gatherings, is part of the organization's broader mission, as per its website:
Share the music, cultural heritage and stories of Springwood Avenue through oral histories, research, writing, and programs
Develop accessible resources that reflect Asbury Park’s African-American music heritage for the City of Asbury Park and others to use as a basis for interpretive heritage projects
Address a lack of representation in traditional historic resources and give voice to the stories of Asbury Park’s African American community
Engage all who live in and visit Asbury Park in the active exploration, interpretation, understanding, and preservation of Asbury Park's African-American cultural heritage
AP-AMP Board member Jen Souder told Jordan that the donation from Scialfa and Springsteen will be combined with grant money to expand the ongoing physical renovations to The Turf Club. Souder also spoke directly with Springsteen about the donation. “We're really grateful that he thought of us, and he said music from the West Side is important to him,” Souder told Jordan. “He's excited that we're doing this."
And click here if you'd like to get involved in supporting the ongoing work of the Asbury Park African-American Music Project (AP-AMP.) Options include volunteering your time, donating some money, buying some cool stuff from their online shop, and/or spreading the word on social-media.
Finally, anyone interested in Asbury Park's musical, cultural, and social history needs to check out AP-AMP's impressive and growing Digital Museum section of its website. For the past five years, AP-AMP has been conducting a major, ongoing historical research effort, filming interviews with locals musicians and community members who were part of the music scene on Springwood Avenue. The project also involves recreating historic maps of Springwood Avenue and collecting photographs. In addition to what can be seen currently online via the Digital Museum, a partnership with The Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music at Monmouth University has been established to house all of AP-AMP's research.