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This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the September 11, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Finding Words & Music

Many television stations are airing their one-year

anniversary tributes to last year’s shocking events on Wednesday night,

September 11. But if you’re the proactive type, you can take part

in a candlelight vigil and concert to be held at Conduit, the Trenton

music club. Folksingers Gregg Cagno, Kathy Phillips, and the Irish

roots-rock band Na Bodach will perform at the club from 7 to 8:30

p.m., following a candlelight vigil and walk through the historic

Mill Hill district scheduled for 6 p.m.

The beneficiary of the concert is the Jersey Jams Fund. The Jersey

Jams, Jersey Cares organization was the brainchild of East Brunswick-based

music writer Bob Makin, in conjunction with musicians Matt Angus and

Seth Alexander. Makin is an entertainment editor at the Bridgewater-based

Courier News.

The Jersey Jams Fund aims to fight terror through the healing power

of music. The fund, which has raised in excess of $20,000 so far,

provides music therapy and music scholarships to the children of New

Jersey victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The group released a benefit CB titled "Jersey Jams Jersey Cares,"

and had 2,000 copies pressed for free, as a donation from the Pennsauken-based

Discmakers, Inc. Since March, Makin has overseen several benefit concerts

around the state, at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the Stanhope House

in Stanhope, CrossRoads in Garwood, the Old Bay in New Brunswick,

and Conduit in Trenton. "Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares" has received

radio airplay in eight or nine Northeastern states.

Makin explains how the genesis of the benefit CD and concerts, which

will continue into the future, began last October.

"I contacted Matt Angus to record his song, `Never Again,’ with

the idea of making a single and releasing it here in East Brunswick,"

Makin explains. "His response to me was that he’d written a couple

of songs about September 11. Then I called Seth Alexander and found

out he’d also written a song about September 11. I realized we had

enough interested musicians to record a compilation CD. Then Matt

said, `If we’re going to do a compilation CD, we’ll do it for charity.’"

"The idea was to raise money for New Jersey families long before

any lawsuits or government claims were under way," says Makin.

"We got in touch with Bergen County United Way and they were all

for the idea of allowing us to establish a fiduciary fund. Seth Alexander

and I came up with the idea of establishing a music scholarship fund,

and we realized it was a fund that we could keep going because the

kids born just after September 11 could benefit from it, too."

The fund is overseen by the Bergen County United Way.

Makin, like so many others in central New Jersey, was personally affected

by the terrorist attacks. His Temple B’nai Shalom in East Brunswick

lost a member and his wife teaches the children of another East Brunswick

resident, among more than 10 township residents who were lost. "Altogether,

there were 651 families from New Jersey affected by September 11,"

Makin says. "There have been about five nightclubs around the

state that have been supportive of this project and Conduit is one

of them."

Since last March, when the benefit concerts began in earnest, the

Jersey Jams Fund has raised $20,000. Of this, $6,000 was spent to

produce and promote the compilation CD and run the concerts, and $14,000

went into the victims’ scholarship fund. Major sponsors included Comcast

and Clinton-based Black Potatoe Records.

Artists on the Jersey Jams 15-track compilation include

Shore rocker John Eddie, North Brunswick-based singer-songwriter Glen

Burtnik, Railroad Earth, the Matt Angus Thing with former Band drummer

Levon Helm, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Swampadelica, Kathy

Phillips, Alexander, the Alice Project, and Plainfield-based keyboard

wizard Bernie Worrell and his Woo Warriors.

In July Makin, Angus, and Alexander oversaw a Summer Arts Carnival

in Asbury Park, an event that gathered together musicians and families

of September 11 victims at the Stone Pony. Makin says his group will

be applying for New Jersey State Arts Council funding to put together

more future events. "So far, all of the musicians who are on the

CD and who have performed at the benefit shows have been performing

out of the goodness of their hearts, but you can’t do that forever,"

he says.

Upcoming events to benefit the Jersey Jams Fund include a Tillie,

Jam ‘n’ Groove Festival September 20 to 22 at the Saint on Main Street

in Asbury Park, and the Jammy Awards, scheduled for October 2 at the

Roseland Ballroom on West 52nd Street in New York. The Jammy Awards

are an annual celebration to recognize the best talent in the jam-band

genre, e.g., improvisational rock, on the Web at

"A lot of the musicians and sponsors are focused on turning the

kids on to music, because it can have such a great effect on them

in so many different ways," says Makin. "Now bands are coming

to me and saying, `Hey, I want to do your next concert.’" Makin

says a second compilation CD may be next.

— Richard J. Skelly

Finding Words for 9/11, Conduit, 439 South Broad

Street, Trenton, 609-656-1199. Jersey Jams benefit show with folksingers

Gregg Cagno, Kathy Phillips, and Irish roots-rock band Na Bodach. Wednesday, September 11, 7 p.m.

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