In the first of what could be a difficult decision for many music venues across the country, The Saint, an iconic Asbury Park, NJ nightclub for over 25 years, has put its business up for sale, a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The small 150-person capacity club has hosted national singer/songwriters and bands on their first tours, including Jewel, Ben Folds Five, Nada Surf, Incubus and others. More importantly, it is a home for countless local musicians looking to perfect their craft on stage and support their fellow artists.
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“We deeply regret this decision and never imagined we would go out like this but can’t think of another way around it. Love and rockets. – The Saint” a Facebook post from co-owner Meg Donohue Kelly stated.
The impact and posts of support was immediate from the music community, with many calling for crowd-sourced fundraisers to keep the club’s doors open. The hashtag #SaveTheSaint and a GoFundMe have been setup to bring attention to the club’s plight. It’s unknown at the current time if the owners, Scott Stamper and Meg Donohue Kelly, are amenable to outside assistance. They are selling the venue and liquor license only, as they do not own the building. The Saint had recently upgraded its stage and sound system in the last few years, which boosted its status as go-to destination for live music.
“I booked a lot of shows with the Saint over the years. It was our ground floor venue for building relationships with up and coming national touring acts,” said Tony Pallagrosi, a concert promoter who booked Jewel, Three Doors Down, The Deftones and more in the club. “That’s how we utilized it. It was very important venue to the Concerts East agency. Booking shows there was a win-win all the way around. Hopefully it doesn’t go away.”
“I remember seeing so many great acts before they broke big. We used to call it our clubhouse because you knew everyone there” said Jean Mikle, a longtime music fan and president of the Parkinson’s disease charity Light of Day Foundation, which hosted many events at the club.
“It’s the CBGB’s of the Jersey Shore,” Gordon Brown, singer/guitarist of country duo Williams Honor (with Reagan Richards) stated in a Facebook post. Matt O’Ree, vocalist/guitarist for his blues rock band Matt O’Ree Band and a former guitarist for Bon Jovi said “Being on their stage is like being in the most comfortable living room, sharing the love of the music with your closest friends. The sound is always great, and the vibe is always awesome. Scott and Meg have done so much for their community, for Asbury, for music, and for musicians.”
O’Ree’s wife Eryn O’Ree, a powerhouse soul/R&B singer, added: “The Saint has been a staple in the music community for decades. A lot of local musicians, including myself, took our first steps in the industry on that stage. I had many pivotal moments in my music career that began at that venue. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for Scott and Meg at the Saint.”
Asbury Park experienced an economic revitalization and resurgence in the early 2000’s, largely built on a spirited musical community attracted to the gritty vibe, affordable housing and musical history forged by the Bouncing Souls, Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Springsteen filmed a documentary at the Saint in 1998 for the BBC.
Williams Honor photo credit: Estelle Massry Photography