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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 www.lightofday.org
— Richard Skelly
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