Posted by: Drew | April 12, 2008

The Fabled Asbury Park Guitarbeque® – 2009 and not in Asbury Park

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Mark Twain

An underlying story from last weekend was the Annual Asbury Park Guitarbeque® and what the hell happen to it? Amazingly, in a small town like Asbury Park rumors fly faster than in a high school lunchroom. I spoke with a several people and got many different versions of the story.

What is a Guitarbeque®

The Fourth Annual Guitarbeque® Festival would have been located in Bradley Park, directly across from Convention Hall/Paramount Theater in Historic Asbury Park, NJ. Instead the field lay fallow. Instead of world-class guitarists performing Blues with a taste of Jazz, Bluegrass, Folk, Country and Swing all that could be heard was the gentle rhythm of the surf off the boardwalk. There were no Pro-BBQ Teams competing or award winning BBQ vendors tempting your pallet with savory top-notch ribs, chicken, pork and brisket. No, it was a bitter taste in many people’s mouths that weekend in Asbury.

Mike Rodriguez, an employee of the Stone Pony, and a twelve year resident of Asbury Park has strong opinions on the subject. Rodriguez said, “It was one event that had a good vibe for Asbury. Everybody was involved, the Wonderbar would get a little bit (of business) The Stone Pony would get a little bit and everybody was happy, then all the sudden it was gone.” Rodriguez also feels it’s events like this that lend character to Asbury Park and without them it just looks and feels cold and empty. Rodriguez also added that this event brought people in from all parts of the USA to compete in the BBQ competition.

What Happen to Guitarbeque®

I decided to track down what happened and it’s pretty simple. When the new management came into Asbury Park they felt they should be going in a different direction. The former Asbury Park event coordinator Joni Forte, who created Guitarbeque®, basically told us that when she left her job, the event was not wanted. There are no hard feelings between Forte and Madison Marquette. They simply have a different vision for their events schedule. There is a ray of hope thought. Guitarbeque® 2009 is in the initial works but they are looking at a location closer to NYC. We will update when a location is found and definite date is set.

As for Mike Rodriguez, well he won’t be leaving Asbury Park anytime soon. Rodiguiez says he’s in for the long haul and no matter how hard they try, the character of Asbury Park will endure.

I contacted Madison Marquette on several instances this past week and as of this time they have not responded to a request for comment. As always, I will be happy to publish what they have planned to replace the event.

Comments on this topic are encouraged.



  1. the best thing to asbury park in years was the guitarbeque. It was the best kept secret at the beach, good music,good food, mellow crowd, and just a good time for local people to enjoy the jersey shore

  2. I will miss this event(guitarbeque). i attended with my job at PNC Bank. we had a lot of fun. I think its a shame that we canno have it anywhere else. Maybe we could have held it in Sunset Park. Look forward to seeing it come back to Asbury Park


    The musician “myspace” of Asbury Park!

  4. It’s always a shame when vision is replaced with complacency…it always results in backward movement…

    Will someone involved with Guitarbeque please contact me at 609-204-9466…I would like to talk about bringing the event to Atlantic City…thanks and all the best!

  5. is this event still occuring? whats the latest news?

  6. I am greatly disappointed that this event was kicked out of Asbury. This was an event that my family enjoyed greatly! We attended the past 2 years, and had a great time! I totally agree with Don May, it was one of the best kept secrets, great food and music and a VERY mellow crowd! I really don’t see why anyone who wanted to up revenue for their city (which has not had a glimmer like this in years) would discontinue something so positive. Priorities people, priorities. Great food and music bring people together in a positive way! It’s a shame that politicians don’t see things this way!

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