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This article was prepared for the November 3, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Light of Day Concert

The annual birthday party for Highland Park-based musical impresario

Bob Benjamin just keeps getting bigger and better and more ambitious

with each passing year. Last year, and the three years before that,

Bruce Springsteen performed at Benjamin’s birthday party, also known

as "The Light of Day Concert."

Benjamin, who turns 46 on Wednesday, November 3, was diagnosed in

December, 1996, with Parkinson’s Disease, a wasting, neuromuscular

disorder that also affects former Attorney General Janet Reno, boxer

Muhammad Ali, actor Michael J. Fox, the pope, and thousands of others.

This year’s benefit runs Friday through Sunday, November 5 through 7,

at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

Raised in New Rochelle, New York, the son of a schoolteacher mother

and an electrical engineer father, Benjamin majored in business

administration at SUNY Buffalo (Class of 1980). He moved to New

Brunswick in 1986 to work for Crazy Eddie, where he was director of

information systems for the privately owned record store division.

Later, he worked at Billboard magazine on what eventually became the

Soundscan system to track retail album sales.

Benjamin has been self-employed since 1991, managing Pittsburgh

roots-rocker Joe Grushecky and his band, the Houserockers, Joe D’Urso

and Stone Caravan, and several other New Jersey-based acts. He has a

relationship with Bruce Springsteen that goes back to his days in

college. He first met the poet laureate of rock, a Freehold native, in

the late 1970s, when Springsteen and his band were performing at SUNY


Since 1996 Benjamin has divided his time in his home office in

Highland Park between running Schoolhouse Records, an independent

record label that is the record company home for Grushecky, D’Urso,

and others, and managing the careers of his roster of artists.

Last year Schoolhouse Records released "Light of Day," a two-CD

collection of Bruce Springsteen songs, interpreted by artists as

diverse as Elvis Costello, Jennifer Glass, Grushecky, Dion, Billy

Bragg, and E-Street band guitarist Nils Lofgren. To date "the record

has sold more than 23,000 copies," Benjamin says proudly, with all

profits from the sale going to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, a

New York-based research institution that seeks a cure for the disease

as well as to aid those afflicted with it.

The annual Light of Day Benefit show grew out of a small gathering at

the Downtown Cafe‚ in Red Bank six years ago. How does Benjamin deal

with all the details of this massive undertaking, which this year

encompasses nearly 40 musicians and bands, and has expanded to three

nights of music at the Stone Pony?

"My approach to the whole thing is I’m not afraid to ask anybody for

help," Benjamin explains, "and there has been a lot of support from

record company people, and others in the industry are excited about

it. I have a lot of good people helping me out, and I have a phone

surgically implanted into my ear.

"It gets done better every year," Benjamin continues. He’s learned to

delegate more and more, so he can focus his phone calls, faxes, and

E-mails on orchestrating the music that will be played on the Pony’s


Benjamin has kept his sense of humor throughout his own ordeal with

Parkinson’s Disease. He has had to curtail his driving because of the

type of Parkinson’s Disease he suffers from, and his insurance does

not cover the cost of his medications. Instead he must pay substantial

sums for about a half dozen medications he must take to control the

effects of P.D. "I try not to let it define me," Benjamin says of his


Benjamin’s fundraising concerts, held at the 800-capacity Stone Pony

and at Tradewinds in Sea Bright, a club that has since closed, have

raised in excess of $200,000 for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

Sales of more than 23,000 copies of the "Light of Day" Bruce

Springsteen tribute CDs have resulted in another hefty contribution.

"People know what Light of Day is now," says Benjamin. "We have a

brand name. There are chat boards on the Internet devoted to Bruce

Springsteen, and fans there refer to it as L.O.D. There were even

tickets being sold on E-Bay this year for Light of Day. That’s a sure

sign we’ve made it. It’s three nights of great music and camaraderie,

all for a great cause."

Light of Day Five, Friday, November 5, at 6 p.m.; Saturday, November

6, at 5 p.m.; and Sunday, November 7, at 3 p.m. at the Stone Pony in

Asbury Park. Performers include Nicole Atkins, LaBamba & The Hubcaps,

Pat DiNizio, Rob Dye, Exit 105, Jody Joseph, Jesse Malin, Dawne

Allyne, Joy Bodnar, Jo Bonanno and Godsons of Soul, Mimi Cross, Joe

D’Urso and Stone Caravan, Jeffrey Gaines, and Jennifer Glass. $50 a

night. For information, call 732-502-0600 or visit


— Richard Skelly

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