By Chris Spiewak
As affluent of a society as we are, there will forever be people in need. Need knows no boundaries; people of all races and creeds have the possibility of someday experiencing the lack of sufficient food to sustain themselves.
We should acknowledge the plights of others and give as best we can to assist the less fortunate. Formerly known as The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Fulfill distributes nutrition to tens of thousands of people annually. With 48,000 feet of warehouse space between its two locations in Neptune and Toms River, Fulfill partners with 289 local churches and organizations to end food insecurities in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen in Red Bank is an instrumental part of Fulfill’s B.E.A.T. Center in Toms River, where additional services are provided such as job counseling and substance abuse programs. Donations to Fulfill go a long way, especially during the holiday season when a good meal not only provides nourishment for the body, but also for the soul.
Once again, the benevolent musicians of the Shore area are out in force to help people who they will most likely never know. It makes no matter to any of these fine artists who the recipients of their generosity are, and no performer ever needs to hear “thank you.” As long as there is food on the plate and warmth in the heart for those in need, everyone donating their time and energy will consider the mission accomplished.
One of several galas scheduled this month is Asbury’s Joyful Jubilee at The Saint in Asbury Park Dec. 23, benefiting Fulfill and its programs. Renowned Shore vocalist Sharon Lasher decided to do something special for Christmas this year: give the gift of sustenance and hope to those in genuine need. She would need a venue, so she went to Scott Stamper of the legendary Saint. It should be mentioned, to those who do not know Sharon, that when she sets her sights on something, it’s difficult to say no to any plans she may have. With a smile and a handshake, Stamper graciously donated the time and space at the venerable club for this extremely worthwhile event.
Now armed with motivation and passion, she went about assembling some of the Shore’s finest talent for the party on the eve of Christmas Eve. The first call went to guitarist Mike McKernan, one of the best in the business. Mike will serve as musical director for the show, charting songs and making sure everyone is on the same page. Coordinating two dozen musicians for a five-hour show is a daunting task for most, but McKernan’s cool, calm and collected nature will certainly ensure smooth sailing.
Unfortunately, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen were busy this month, so expect to hear “On Anthony, on Sandy, on Deseree, on Tommy!” as the show gets ready to kick off. Look for Anthony Krizan, formerly of The Spin Doctors, to lend his voice and blistering guitar talents to the event, and Asbury legend Sandy Mack to arrive with harp in pocket to get everyone jumping. More Asbury sounds will be provided by the amazing Deseree Spinks (of Des & The Swagmatics) and there will also be some magic by keyboardists Ryan Gregg of The Shady Street Show Band and Karlee Bloom. Singer/songwriter Christine Martucci will hopefully perform her beautiful ballad “Ocean Avenue” this night, and drummer extraordinaire Joe Bellia has the night off from The Weeklings to hold everything together. Also on the bill are Gary Olyear, Mike Choi of The Carnival Dogs, Jamian’s open mic maestro Rob Dye, Jimmy Ferrante (without The Starlites), DeeDee Pie with Andy Russo, sax legend Tommy LaBella, Jo Wymer, Mary McCrink of Holiday Express and many more. Five hours of live music for $20 with this crew? You simply cannot go wrong with this show; this is a steal in any denomination.
The fine print for The Saint reads “vax required or 72-hour previous negative test result, and masks are recommended,” so be safe out there as you support the noble mission of the fine people at Fulfill. With a heart as big as her voice, Sharon Lasher has put together an incredible event to directly benefit people in two counties in their time of need. May the duration of need be temporary for those good people, and may blessings be bestowed upon those who give of themselves. Happy Holidays.
Chris Spiewak is a 40-year veteran of the Shore music scene.
The article originally appeared in the December 16 – 22, 2021 print edition of The Two River Times.