The Asbury Park Upstage Club
When discussing the recent musical heritage of Asbury Park, it is hard to ignore the importance of the Upstage Club in our downtown area. Founded by Tom and Margaret Potter in 1968, this club was located on the second and third floors above a Thom McAn shoe store at 700 Cookman Avenue. The club was a popular spot for up and coming rock ‘n roll performers, such as Bruce Springsteen, E Street, and Southside Johnny Lyon.
Jam sessions at the Upstage Club, a nonalcoholic establishment, would begin at 9 p.m., and would last until midnight. Then, due to a zoning law, the club was cleared out for one hour, and the jam sessions would resume until the early morning hours.
It was here that young musicians honed their musical skills as teenagers, with many going on to professional careers as musicians. The club closed in 1971, but it became such an important venue for upcoming musicians that it is now featured in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
An effort is now being made by antiques dealer Richard Yorkowitz to reopen the club as a restaurant and musical venue, and the matter is now under consideration by the City Council since recent zoning prohibits commercial uses on upper floors in the downtown district.
Preserving the musical heritage of Asbury Park has always been a goal of the Asbury Park Historical Society. A grassroots effort in now underway to save the club and get city officials to allow Yorkowitz to move forward with his project.
Much of the stage and original day-glow paintings on the walls still remain in the Upstage and the club remains a time capsule for Asbury Park’s early rock ‘n roll glory days. A fair amount information is posted about the Upstage Club online, and we urge people to learn more by visiting these various websites.