A Unique Navesink River Benefit

July 31, 2017
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Boaters and music lovers packed Blossom Cove, on the Middletown side of the Navesink River and across from Riverview Medical Center, for the “Artiepalooza” benefit concert Saturday. The boat with the full band on it can be seen in the background.

By Jay Cook |

RED BANK – It surely isn’t the most typical summer concert venue on the Jersey Shore, but a floating benefit show in the memory of a beloved local has become one of the most successful and unique gigs around.

For the past five years, hundreds of boaters from Red Bank to Highlands and beyond have flocked to Blossom Cove each summer for a day of rocking out, sun bathing, and most importantly, raising money to fight cancer, all in remembrance of Art Natsis.

“It’s a hell of a lot of fun, but it’s not just a party in the water,” said Steve Warendorf, guitarist for the Moroccan Sheepherders.

“Artiepalooza 2017”

Warendorf forged a friendship with Natsis and his wife, Feli, in 2012 after the Moroccan Sheepherders’ final show at the former Dockside restaurant and bar, now the Eventide Grille.

With crowds supposedly too big for the parking lot to handle, Warendorf said he began talking with Art Natsis about finding a new place to play. He jokingly suggested playing on Natsis’ boat – and that’s exactly what happened.

The Sheepherders played two shows on Natsis’ boat-turned-stage in the summer of 2012, becoming popular locally for its atypical venue.

Natsis, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, had been battling cancer at the time and passed away in April 2013 at the age of 51. At his wake, an idea was hatched to host a benefit concert in memory of Natsis to raise funds for David’s Dream & Believe cancer foundation, a charity he had supported during his fight, Warendorf said.

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It was appropriately dubbed “Artiepalooza,” and is headlined every summer by the Moroccan Sheepherders.

On the concert’s fifth anniversary on July 22, the benefit celebrated its biggest crowd on the Navesink River to date, with over 200 boats anchored for hours.

A trio pulls up to the concert at about 3 p.m.

“It’s finally starting to get traction,” Warendorf said.

Blossom Cove, a small cove set along the Middletown side of the Navesink River, was filled to the brim Saturday afternoon with jet skis, fishing boats, yachts, and inflatables of all shapes and sizes.

Warendorf said the event raised about $3,000 in donations from those in attendance.

A popular cover band on the Jersey Shore, the Moroccan Sheepherders have played recently at the Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series and are scheduled to open the Monmouth County Fair.

Though, for Warendorf, “Artiepalooza” is second to none in his book.

“It’s by far my favorite event of the year,” he said.

This article was first published in the July 27 – Aug. 3, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.



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