Billy Brown returns to Asbury Park for the Ray, Goodman and Brown show

Sixty years ago, Billy Brown came to the big city to pursue his musical dreams.

That town was Asbury Park. Brown returns with his band Ray, Goodman and Brown on Monday, July 18 for a free concert as part of the Music Mondays at Springwood Park series.

“I love seeing people, people from the ’60s,” Brown said of previous Springwood Park shows. “It seems like they all come out when there’s a Ray, Goodman and Brown show. They come out and that’s a good thing. It’s really nice to see. I lost a lot of friends along the way to Asbury Park, but for the most part it was a great situation.

Brown grew up in the “country”, the son of a preacher. As such, he had a song in his heart and he came to Asbury Park from Farmingdale to sing it.

“Farmington, Freehold, all of that was known for poultry farms and that sort of thing. Corn and soybean fields,” Brown said. “Asbury Park, the promenade, the clubs – that’s where it all happened. It was like coming from the countryside to the city.

Brown, whose father Arthur L. Brown was the longtime pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Asbury Park. became a hit on the Springwood Avenue music scene on the city’s West Side with his band the Broadways. Ronald Coleman, Leon Trent, Robert Conte and Dennis Anderson were his teammates. They released singles on MGM Records and “Going, Going, Gone” was a regional hit in the summer of 1964.

“We used to go to the Boston Way projects down the hall and rehearse and get the good old echoes,” Brown said. “We used to spend hours singing and rehearsing.”

A few years later, a mix of schedules threatened to knock a rock band off a Broadway show on the Jersey Shore. The rock band was the Castiles with a teenage Bruce Springsteen.

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“We opened for them and then they came on stage and the first thing we heard was (a high-pitched moan),” Springsteen told USA Today Network NJ. “We were, Jesus Christ, the PA system was affecting these guys and we ran to the stage to try to fix the PA system. When we got on stage, we realized it was (Brown) hitting that high note before the show started.

“He was in front of the microphone saying ‘ahhhhhhh!’ holding it for 60 seconds and then he would say “I want to be with you” and then he would start the song. It’s really hilarious but that was my biggest memory of performing with the Broadways.

The Original Broadways of Asbury Park From left to right: Ronnie Coleman, Billy Brown, Robert Conti and Leon Trent

Springsteen and Brown and members of The Broadways performed together in 2011 at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.

“Bruce is a very lovable young man himself,” Brown said. “He’s a real good guy.”

Brown found even greater success when he joined Moments on Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum Records in Englewood. He asked Harry Ray of Long Branch to come on board and hits followed including “Love on a Two-Way Street”, “If I Didn’t Care” “Sexy Mama” and “Look at Me (I’ m in Love ).”

In 1978 the band left the All Platinum fold and changed their name to Ray, Goodman and Brown – Goodman for longtime Englewood resident Al Goodman. They recorded the hit “Special Lady” right out of the box.

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Twenty-five years later, the band sang backup on Alicia Keys’ No. 1 hit “You Don’t Know My Name,” and they backed Keys in TV appearances and a concert. at Madison Square Garden.

Now it’s a new chapter for the band. Ray died in 1992 and Goodman in 2010. After three years of inactivity due to the COVID outbreak, Kevin “Ray” Owens and Larry Winfree left the band. Atlanta-based singers Keenan Blount and Kenny Brown are now on board.

“Both guys, both are great singers,” Brown said. “They are very friendly, affordable, really, really good. They are in the spirit, if you understand what I’m saying.

Billy Brown, center, at the Ray, Goodman and Brown concert on July 24, 2017 at Springwood Avenue Park in Asbury Park.

Monday’s show is the band’s first at Asbury Park since 2018. Brown’s success is part of Asbury Park’s West Side legacy, where greats like Lenny Welch, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Bobby Thomas, Clarence Clemons, Garry Tallent and others were inspired or played on the Springwood Avenue club circuit.

The music scene came to an abrupt halt in the summer of 1970 when Urest tore through the city and, specifically, Springwood Avenue. Clubs and stages were subsequently burned down or demolished. Now there is a new drive to rediscover and reclaim the heritage of the city and community groups like the Asbury Park African-American Music Project, the Asbury Park Museum, Interfaith Neighbours, the Asbury Park Arts Council, Springwood Avenue Rising, West Side Citizens, and the Asbury Park Music Foundation, sponsors of the Springwood Park Music Series.

“There was a time when it felt like a ghost town in this area,” Brown said. “Since they started doing shows there, people started coming out, opening the doors and coming back and that’s a good thing.”

Go: Ray, Goodman and Brown with Joquin Anderson, 6 p.m. Monday, July 18, Springwood Park, Springwood Avenue, Asbury Park. Free. asburyparkmusiclives.org.

Dion DiMucci will perform at the Count Basie Center

It’s a sad irony that Dion DiMucci’s classic “Abraham, Martin and John” seems as timely today as it did in 1968.

It also speaks to the timelessness of Dion, who plays two rescheduled regional shows, Thursday, July 14 at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank and July 21 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.

The music legend collaborates with the locals. He recorded “Angel In The Alleyways” from his 2021 album “Stomping Ground” and “Hymn to Him” ​​from 2020’s “Blues With Friends” with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.

Dates: Dion, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 14, Count Basie Arts Center, Monmouth Street, Red Bank. $30 to $109. thebasie.org; Also, 8 p.m. Thursday, July 21, Mayo Performing Arts Center, South Street, Morristown. $59 to $119. mayoarts.org.

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Jersey Shore native Chris Jordan covers entertainment and reporting for USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; [email protected]

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