ASBURY PARK- One-of-a-Kind Showcases! 80s and 90s favorites! and Craft Whiskey and Gin Distillery to Come to Asbury Park! It’s just over four months since The House of Independents blazed a new trail as the city’s downtown entertainment space and since the November 25th opening, the talent has been as eclectic as the space itself – a true nod to the art, culture, music, and established quality venues along the waterfront and on legendary Saint Main Street in Asbury Park. “A year ago, in an empty construction site, we saw the vision of what House of Independents could become,” Managing Director David Cruse said. “To say that it has surpassed our expectation would be an understatement. The most exciting part is that we haven’t even scratched the surface.” I believe him. Ever since Murphy’s Law frontman Jimmy Gestapo christened the stage with a beer and Fishbone’s energetic soulful punk/Ska blend packed the house, the team behind The House has continued to fill a niche unsurpassed (today) by any in the downtown. Spoken word artist Henry Rollins sold out before the venue opened, and John Waters brought his one-man show “A John Waters Christmas: Holier and Dirtier” to stage. Russian punk performance artists Pussy Riot panel discussion on their activism and global Civil Rights fight was led by ‘Hedwig’s’ own John Cameron Mitchell while Amy Poehler’s collaborative comedy troupe- the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) and MiniKiss performers- offered one-of-a-kind showcases.
“The minute we walked in, we we’re taken back by the setup of the club,” Minkiss’ Louis Fatale said in a written statement. “We play at venues throughout the States and honestly aid not expect such a beautiful set up. The stage was a perfect size and was set up for any band to kick ass!! As a band manager, and being in the entertainment industry for over 30 years, I give this place 5 stars!! Rock on our new friends!!”
Founder Morgan Sackman said +65,000 people have passed through our doors to attend close to 70 performances featured since November’s end. “These first 4 months have been a whirlwind of continuously changing energy, community spirit, and sensational showmanship,” Sackman said. “Our initial intention was simply to provide downtown with a wide variety of entertainment. However to see and hear the public’s response to our programming and adaptability has been indescribable.”
If you’ve ever had the chance to meet him, you’ll know that Executive Director and Partner Adam Nelson's kinetic energy is the very definition of what House represents. Here’s what he wrote when I asked him for retrospective comments on the space: "This isn't a halfway house. It¹s a house on fire. From the first spark, House has concentrated on breaking revolutionary new ground. We do not want to be the best venue in Asbury Park. That¹s not our desire. We want to be the best artistic sandbox in America. Period. These House parties of ours are defined by desire, they are fueled by thoughtful theatrics, stocked with local and legendary voices who resonate with creativity that is simple, imaginative, and fresh. Our stage holds the very heritage of Asbury Park within it's hardwood. It burns with artistic expression, crackles with an authentic, off-center spirit. With each engagement we burn down the house and it's a kind of celebration that sings.” I really couldn’t edit a bit of that out.
So as the spring truly breaks, I asked the team behind the curtain ‘What’s next?” “Our plan is not to slow down,” Sackman said. “We are just getting started making history at the House.” Soon to come will be an Asbury Distilling Company, a craft whiskey and gin distillery neighboring the Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten on Lake Avenue. "Growing up in New Jersey I have been coming to Asbury Park for the last 10 years and have always wanted to open a business here.” distiller and partner James Waters said." We are proud to be able to bring the first gin and whiskey distillery to this vibrant city on the sea and, with our incredibly seasoned team, believe there is no better time or place to fulfill this dream.” In terms of what showcases are in line for the summer season – there’s a throwback to the 80s and 90s beloved performers as well as more of the off-the-beaten-path lineup.
“In relation to booking, I want to fill the air with the unexpected,” Nelson said. “The House of Independents has renaissanced Asbury’s downtown Arts District through a wellspring of concrete, gay, and established culture.”
Performances have, and will, include John Waters, Henry Rollins, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Fishbone, Pussy Riot with John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig), the New Wave Knight Series including A Flock of Seagulls, Howard Jones, Book of Love, Missing Persons, Bow Wow Wow, China Crisis, and Trans X. Also, Harlem Gospel Choir Brunch, Mini Kiss, Molly RIngwald, Puddles Pity Party, Marshall Crenshaw, Rakim, Sugarhill Gang & Grandmaster's Furious 5 Reunion Tour, Murphy's Law, The Dictators, Colin Hay, The Lone Bellows, NJ Golden Gloves, Coney Island Sideshow Circus, A Christmas Carol, Upright Citizens Brigade, Comedy Sportz, comedians Suzanne Westenhoefer & Robert Kelly (“Louie"), Asbury Park Music in Film Festival, Please Kill Me 20th Anniversary with Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain, Talk About Rock & Roll with legendary photographer Bob Gruen & Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith), shock Illusionist Dan Sperry, Emily Kinney (Walking Dead), Junk Dance, The Light of Day Foundation Concerts with Dramarama, Jill Hennessy, Willie Nile, The Billy Walton Band, Steve Forbert, Gas House Gorillas, Le Scandal Cabaret, The Amazing Kreskin, gay programing including The Pyrate Ball with legendary DJ Johnny Dynell performing with Jackie 60 stars from NYC, DJ Princess Superstar all for the 25th anniversary of NJ Pride this June, graphic illustrator event Carousel, Gideon Luke & The People, Remember Jones, Offseason Poetry, American Poetry Theater, The Poetasters, and Where's the Band, to name just a few. Really I could go on but you get the gist.
Although a nod to the Hot fudge Sunday Dance party, there's the lesbian dance party Crushed Ice, yoga, and giving Kennedy Park’s Outdoor Farmer’s Market Asbury Fresh a home during the winter months. Bringing our brand of Mexican style theatrical wrestling and partnering with the House of Independents was an easy decision for Superkick Lucha Libre producer Steven Ship said. “They are quickly becoming the place for live entertainment in the area.” Ship said. “We are very excited to bring Superkick to House of Independents in Asbury Park. The area has a great history with Pro Wrestling and has fans there who are very passionate.” Visit http://www.houseofindependents.com