Previous Next
June 2015 Relix Magazine Sampler: Tame Impala- Let It Happen
00:00 02:30
Volume Control Open/Close

Still Havin’ a Party: The Stone Pony Turns 40

by Tim Donnelly on February 12, 2014

photo by Mike Black

The Stony Pony re-opened with pomp and circumstance in 2000 with a focus on hardcore and emo bands.Kids were being dropped off by their parents, who didn’t have to be told that The Pony was a safe haven in the middle of chaos.

In 2005, the building and surrounding property were sold to a developer with a vision, Madison Marquette, who also owned the boardwalk, making the Stone Pony the crown jewel of the re-development plan.

By 2007, following the lead of the LGBT community, artists, musicians, surfers, skaters began to inhabit and re-invigorate the City by the Sea—you could feel something was happening. By 2009, locals realized it wasn’t another false start. The old guard came in droves to see Southside Johnny, Gen X-ers dropped off their kids for School of Rock matinees and the boardwalk started to come alive with great restaurants.

Springsteen returned to hang and hold court, interested and supportive of the “new” Asbury Park. He jumped on stage with Asbury’s favorite Californian Mike Ness. He came in to drink and play onstage with friends like Sean Penn in tow. He played school fundraisers. Steve Van Zandt has come back to perform with The Asbury Jukes.

The original cast of characters, people like “Mad Dog” Vini Lopez and “Tinker” West, mingle with the new tattooed crew, a true multi-generational renaissance revolving around good music and better times.

By 2011, other changes brought a new sense of community, which took hold in part due to local bands with international credibility: The Bouncing Souls, The Gaslight Anthem, Black Label Society, Nicole Atkins. Local musicians of all stripes gathered in mass at the outdoor summer shows that featured acts like The Black Crowes, The Pretenders, Dropkick Murphy’s and Social Distortion.

Then came Sandy.

The ocean across the street pushed the beach, literally, to the front door of the club. CNN was there as rock fans the world over sent prayers that were miraculously answered. The Pony came away virtually unscathed and considering what transpired to the north and south of the club, it was truly an act of unbelievable luck. As it always has been, The Pony was the central hub for charity, but this time, it was for Hurricane Sandy relief shows for the Jersey Shore.

Until last year, to the best of my recollection, I do not believe the President of the United States has ever named checked a rock n’ roll club in a speech. President Barack Obama did so on the Asbury Park Boardwalk the day after Memorial Day, when he remarked on the successful re-opening of businesses along the Jersey Shore and Gaslight Anthem’s two night stand, “People were hanging out on balconies and beaches and shows were sold out at The Stone Pony.”

Sure it’s a dumpy building, but the sound is amazing. It’s not main street suburbia, its Asbury Park, an iconic place where mojo oozes out of the walls. It’s a neighborhood joint, a bar that is indeed a “public house,” a spot to assist the community through the power of rock n’ roll, a sacred place in an age when nothing is. It’s got the worst bathroom set-up in North America, but we don’t care. It’s ours.

Reason enough to celebrate not just on a birthday, but every day.

So raise your glass and toast to the impossible! Because the impossible has already happened, The Stone Pony is 40 years old and long may she run.


Tim Donnelly is a contributing editor at Relix. Over the years he has written cover stories on Pearl Jam, Trey Anastasio and Bonnaroo.

Debra Rothenberg took the Levon Helm-Bruce Springsteen image. It appears in her book Bruce Springsteen: In Focus-Photographs 1980-2012.

4 of 4 pages


So many guitars. What about the House/Techno scene in Asbury park? Many DJs deserve respect for turning out 500+ people at the Stone Pony every Thursday night from 94-95.

By Shaggy - 02/12/14

Carol..Lazy? No.. I did not want this article to be a list of names, Who should I mention Lance Larson? Rasperry Park- Asbury Music Awards? No national attention needed for that sham. Shaggy- Sorry. Techno at The Pony? It’s alike Heavy Metal at The Empress.

By Tim Donnelly - 02/15/14

Yep, everyone in Bumbleville Illinois gives a crap about the lame hipster band that drew flies at the Pony during last weeks Kyle Pile or at the Razzberries. Kudos to you Tim, for balancing why someplace like the Pony stays in business (national acts) while still giving props to a local “scene” that gives it a heartbeat without playing the name game.

By me - 02/15/14

If you dont “get” the article, then you don’t “get” the Stone Pony, and you sure as hell don’t “get” rock ‘n roll. Try D’Jais a few miles south on Rte. 35….

By SMiller255 - 02/15/14

There was a kind of ad hoc circuit of venues for the acts you’ve captured so well in this article ... Of which the Stone Pony was a jewel as it still is. I’m thinking of The Peppermint Lounge, City Gardens in Trenton, JC Dobbs in Philly and the 930 Club in DC. If you had an up and coming band like John Eddie and the Front Street Runners, The Hooters or Pretty Poison, and you showcased in those venues, you were going places.

By Miguel Gonzalez - 02/20/14

So defensive. You sound like a bitter musician Tim. Can’t take the heat, then get out of your line of work. Sham? It’s obvious you don’t see the REAL asbury park then. Good luck with all that. Bennie GO HOME.

By Raspberry Park - 03/12/14


Recent Headlines