Asbury Park: Riot Redemption Rock & Roll

June 30, 2020

Asbury Park: Riot Redemption Rock & Roll premieres Sunday, July 5 at 10 p.m. on NJTV.

Asbury Park, New Jersey, is a small town next to the ocean literally divided by a set of railroad tracks. On the east side: a resort destination with luxury hotels. On the western side: a community of lower-class immigrants and African Americans who staffed the upscale eastside establishments. Asbury Park: Riot Redemption Rock & Roll tells the story of how music bridged the divide between the segregated town, the riots that tore it apart, and the long-awaited renaissance of the seaside town. It will air on NJTV during the 50th anniversary of the riots, on Sunday, July 5 at 10 p.m.

In the late 1960s, though there was obvious segregation, white and Black musicians frequently jammed together, creating a new sound that bridged the racial divide of the town. However, a build-up of tension due to the losses of well-paying of jobs, recreational opportunities and decent living conditions for Asbury Park’s African American community came to a head in July 1970. For seven days, the seaside resort town erupted in violent protests, leaving 180 people injured and the town crippled to a state of financial stagnation that would last for the next 45 years.

Riots may have destroyed the fabled Westside jazz and blues scene, but from the flames of the burning city emerged an iconic Jersey sound.

Reunions and New Concert Footage

The documentary returns Asbury sons Steven Van Zandt, Southside Johnny Lyon and Bruce Springsteen to the legendary Upstage, the psychedelic after-hours club where they got their start, featuring never-before-seen interviews and performances. Shuttered for four and a half decades, the Upstage remains a perfect time capsule of the the club that united both sides of the tracks in Asbury and acted as a crucible for young talent. Now, as Asbury Park enjoys its long-awaited renaissance, it is music which has brought it back from ruins.

“NJTV is proud to be able to offer this important film to all New Jerseyans at a time when social injustice is again making headlines,” said NJTV General manager John Servidio. “We hope it stimulates poignant conversation with our viewers, illustrating how progress can come from adversity, and the power of the arts to heal communities.”

Asbury Park: Riot Redemption Rock & Roll is directed by Tom Jones and made possible in part by Jersey Mike’s. Their funding allows all profits worldwide to be dedicated to promoting and creating music education programs for wide distribution.