'Shorty Long,' Bandmates Bring Music Back to the Boardwalk
Ocean County's own 'Shorty Long' is first to perform post-Sandy
The beers were flowing, cheesesteaks sizzling and the music was pumping through the speakers at the Beachcomer Bar and Grill in Seaside Heights Saturday afternoon.
Sure, the weather outside was frightful, but it was nothing but fun times and great music inside the cozy confines of one of the borough's most notable boardwalk watering holes.
Known on TV for its recorded club beats and fist pumps, Seaside Heights has also played host to Ocean County's live music scene for decades, but since Superstorm Sandy struck Oct. 29, the county's own "city that never sleeps" has been eerily, and depressingly, quiet.
Enter the group that bills itself as the "world's number one party band."
"The Jitney Hit Me!" shouted Ricky "Shorty Long" Tisch, the Brick native that fronts "Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns," the act that all summer long manages to fuse together the rowdy bar crowd with the classic rock afficionados.
The comedic take on Atlantic City's public transportation system was a familiar song that had locals shouting for joy as music, once again, hit the boardwalk.
Though Tisch and his bandmates have found success regionally, especially in the Philadelphia area, the band's Ocean County roots are strong, and lead singer and guitarist John Kern said he was proud to bring the music back to Seaside.
"We realized how devastated it was over here, and we had to do what we could to help," said Kern. "We wanted to put a show on and get these people some work. Because if they're willing to open, we need to play here and get some people here."
The band played for free Saturday.
"Right now, this is hurting people, and by us doing this show, this is helping people, and that's what we want to do," said Kern.
Indeed, what was billed as the "Hurricane Sandy Survivors' Party" led to a packed house at the Beachcomber Saturday afternoon, with the concert lasting until 4 p.m., the time when people must exit the town by order of local authorities.
"Shorty Long playing here is like a Christmas present," said Mike Carbone, the Beachcomber's owner, adding that his staff has been missing work while the boardwalk has been off limits to its usual customers.
"Everybody's looking to come back to work," Carbone said. "We started working on [the bar] literally the day of the storm. We did what we had to do - new hot water heater, new electrical panel. We just wanted to get the customers back."
More than just a venue, for Shorty Long, the Beachcomber show was a homecoming months in the making.
"This man, Mike Carbone, was the first guy to give us a chance," said Kern. "We went door to door knocking, and nobody wanted us. But he said, 'OK, next Thursday, come by, we want to hear you.'"
The relationship between the band and the bar eventualy became close, and Shorty normally plays there every Thursday, plus additional dates during the summer season.
"We realized how devastated it was over here, and we had to do what we could to help," said Kern.
The band, also well known on Long Beach Island, will play a benefit for the Ship Bottom Fire Department in January, as well as a benefit for the entire Shore area at the Strand Theatre in Lakewood Jan. 26.
The Sandy cleanup hits home for the bandmates, who all hail from the Shore area, including sound engineer 'Doc' Jones, who was personally affected.
"His house was completely ruined on Long Beach Island," said Kern. "We went over to help him, and it was just devastating. He's now displaced."
The benefit shows will continue, band members said.
"We've been trying to play as much as we can for anyone who needs help," said Kern.