I live in a pretty cool beach town here in New Jersey, which most people from outside of our area probably think sounds like an oxymoron. It doesn't have the mystique of Santa Cruz or the surf culture of the North Shore of Oahu, but we have a groovy thing here if you can see beyond the techno music and chaos of a typical summer.
So when I heard that my friends Donavon Frankenreiter, Gary Jules and my bro's in the band were going to be 5 minutes from me in Asbury Park, NJ playing at The Stone Pony, I talked to Donavon about me doing a Surf Art Show across the street at the iconic Langosta Lounge and Lightly Salted Surf Shop.
I figured with all the touring and events I do thousands of miles from home, this was an opportunity to show some local love. Donavon, in his normal generous and giving ways offered to “…make the day all about you Alders”. I tried wiping the smile from my face but it was stuck, so I hung up the phone and we began planning for the show.
The day of the show came and we had just seen the guys play in Brooklyn a couple nights prior. Waves were expected which we had all been talking about backstage in New York. Sure enough, Jersey got some juice that day, the morning had shoulder to head high+ faces and my friend Eric Brigmond (Donny's keyboardist) was one of the few guys awake and ready.
I had been with my surf photographer friend Jeff Smith and his brother Mark as well as my local rockstar friend, Quincy Mumford who'd be opening up for Donavon later that night.We arrived at one of my favorite local breaks, Loch Arbor and paddled out and scored some super fun sets before we all had to break apart to get ready for the shows.
My little morning sesh' made me a little late to set up the Art Show, but with Chelsea and Jess's help, I got most of the paintings set up inside the venue and the 3 tables of merch' were outside on the boardwalk. It was a beautiful day out, warm, sunny and my family and friends all started to arrive. Even friends and surfshop owners from Maryland drove up for the show, which was a great surprise.
As I was hanging up the last bit of art, Donavon and the band strolled in. It was great seeing them as guests for once instead of invading their backstage or bus. This was the first time since our Brazil tour that Donny has had a chance to see my Art on display and Donavon hadn't seen the painting I did of him, “Rio Jam” in person yet, so I was excited to share with him the painting that he's been using for his tour posters and shirts. He looked around with Eric, Craig,Pete,Grundy and Gary at all the art covering the walls. Donavon glanced over to the far wall and saw “Rio Jam” on the wall with spotlights on it. He paused and headed straight towards it. I watched his expression seeing it for the first time after all this time and just grinned with pride as he analyzed every brushstroke. I said something about how the original is a little nicer than on posters and he told me how ‘sick it looked'. That moment made the show worth it.
The guys hung out for some grub and came out on the boardwalk to meet my parents, brother, little adorable nieces, and sister in law and took about a billion pictures with people. Donavon really knows how to treat people and is one of the most laid back dudes you'll ever meet.We all agreed to go catch another surf session at dinner time and his Twitter posts and the gossip flew quickly around town. After a very successful Art Show and great time, I packed up, raced home, grabbed my surfboard and drove back. The swell had picked up considerably and gotten a bit rougher than the morning, the beach was mobbed all watching Donavon shred the waves wearing his ripped denim cut-off's and collecting waves like the toll booths collect quarters.
I paddled out into the rough currents to join Donny where my friend Jeff was shooting pics floating around the water. Donavon saw my 5'4″ Fish-Shaped surfboard I was riding, it was a board I did with 9:Fish Surfboards for SurfAid Int'l and he asked to take it for a spin. I gladly offered it up, to see how it “should” be ridden and watched in awe from the beach as Donavon annihilated the surf on a board that I thought would be way to small for him. As he looked down at my artwork on it, he commented, “I'm riding you Alders”. Now if I can only get that board to do a third of what he did with it, I'd be very stoked.
The music began as we were in the backstage pre-gaming, our good friend Quincy was one of the openers and the crowd completely went nuts for him, this was his home turf. Quincy has become close to us and my new surfing go-to guy, so we were so proud to see him on the big summer stage at Stone Pony. His band is also so talented and am sure they got a lot of new fans that evening.
Gary Jules played next on the inside stage and as usual, his lyrical work was very warmly received by the crowd. His knack for storytelling and catchy choruses are always a crowd pleaser. No one would have known that this showman was very ill that day and Chelsea had to drive him to the doctor a few hours before. Gary is one heck of a guy off stage, a wise-crackin' warm-hearted soul, he fits in well with our sarcastic Jersey crew.
By the time Donavon, Eric, Pete, Craig and Matt took the stage, the crowd was pumped. I have been going to the Pony for longer than I care to share and I have never seen it that crowded, not even when I saw The Ramones play there in the 90's. There were mob gates at the front of the stage which was pretty gnarly and standing room only. We graciously used our VIP laminates to get up close to the side of the stage and were blown away by their performance. It was a moment when ‘worlds collided', my home town friends, my art, my family, my friends in the band from all parts of the country,surfing with an iconic waterman and musical inspiration and friends, my collaborations with Billabong and Donavon, all came together that night under one roof. It was a moment I mentally bottled and take a sip from every so often.
Somewhere near the end of the show Donavon gave a few shout out's to me on stage, the locals cheered, I think I instantly blushed and tried to pretend this was all normal for me, but truth be told, I was happier than a little kid who just hit a home run at little league.
After the show we made our way backstage where we all caught up a bit, swapped stories, met some people and what not. Donavon handed out some Sanuk's and “Donavon stick on mustaches” to everyone and we snapped some pictures. The Stone Pony asked Donavon and the guys to sign a guitar for the wall, which is a trademark of the Pony. As if I wasn't stoked enough, Donavon called me over and asked me to whip up something artsy on the guitar with a marker they had laying around. I sat in the corner for about 15 minutes and drew this quick little stylized surf scene before we all signed the guitar. Never in a million years did I ever think my art and signature would be on a guitar at the Pony, just goes to show you that your dreams don't need to be realistic. As Tony Robbins says, “Get outrageous!”
We didn't sleep a wink that night, Quincy, Chelsea and all went home, packed and had to meet at Atlantic City Airport at like 6 in the morning to catch a flight for the 25th Anniversary Surfrider Art and Music Festival in Port St. Lucie Florida. A 3 day festival we all did together…But that's another story.
(See more about the Show here)