April 11, 2007

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia 908-527-4419
Cell: 908-770-3662


MusicFest set for Sept. 15th in Cranford
featuring charitable events, family fun & Rock and Roll
County announces walkathon and Partnership with
Love Hope Strength Foundation;
Partial lineup includes Chuck Berry, The Alarm,
the Smithereens and the English Beat

UNION COUNTY --- Mark your calendars for what is promising to be Union County’s greatest family fun and rock and roll concert event ever!

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is proudly presenting an expanded MusicFest ’07 on Saturday September 15th in Cranford featuring more musical entertainment, more family fun, more food and vendors than ever before—all preceded by a walkathon to benefit the Love Hope Strength Foundation ( and the New Jersey Citizens Coalition for Cures (

The two-mile walkathon will start at Union County College in Cranford and will finish across the street at Nomahegan Park, where MusicFest is being held. A signup sheet is available at

The Freeholder Board also announced a partial lineup of Chuck Berry (backed by the Smithereens), the Smithereens, the Old Ceremony, the English Beat, and The Alarm, which is headlining the second stage.

MusicFest ’07, a free outdoor concert entering its tenth year (and fourth as MusicFest) is also a family event and will be held at Nomahegan Park in Cranford from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The day will feature Kids Kingdom Traveling Jubilee, an entertainment show featuring rides and amusements for children. Kids Kingdom makes four stops in Union County Parks through the year, concluding with MusicFest. There will also be a headlining children’s act appearing at MusicFest. In the event of rain, MusicFest will be held at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets are encouraged. Food and refreshment vendors will be available.

“MusicFest is our marquee concert of the year and a day for our residents to come out and enjoy some fun and great music,” said Freeholder Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. “This year, I am pleased to announce we have added a new dimension to our event by partnering with the Love Hope Strength Foundation and the New Jersey Citizens Coalition for Cures.”

The Love Hope Strength foundation was founded by cancer survivors, Mike Peters, of the Welsh band, the Alarm, and entertainment insurance executive, James Chippendale, as a way to give back by building a support network for cancer patients worldwide.

The Love Hope Strength foundation is producing a series of six worldwide events featuring top athletes and musicians and have chosen Union County’s MusicFest as one. Peters performed at MusicFest last year and forged an alliance with County Manager Devanney in bringing the walkathon event to Union County.

“As someone who is a cancer survivor, I look forward to continuing the effort to raise funds and awareness about this issue,” said Union County Freeholder Deborah Scanlon. “Cancer has touched the lives of many of Union County’s families, and it does not discriminate in who it targets.”

Peters and Chippendale will be leading the walkathon, which will be chaired by Freeholder Chairwoman Kowalski, NJ State Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D-20) and NJ State Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22).

“We’re honored to have been selected as only one of five world-wide events for the Love Hope Strength Foundation,” said Union County Freeholder Dan Sullivan. “New Jersey has been at the forefront nationally in supporting and providing public dollars to fund stem cell research projects despite Federal cuts that have been imposed.”

“Stem Cell research holds the key to curing illnesses such as cancer,” County Manager George W. Devanney, who has been working with the foundation to host them at Union County MusicFest. “We stand on the side of hope for the many that suffer and those that support stem cell research.”

MusicFest and the County of Union will also partner with the New Jersey Citizens Coalition for Cures non-profit organization, which will benefit from the walkathon. NJCCC is a grass roots coalition committed to advancing the search for cures and treatments for life-threatening diseases and debilitating chronic conditions. NJCCC is dedicated to mobilizing citizens to support the public funding of stem cell research in New Jersey.

Artist Profiles

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry's music has transcended generations. He earns respect to this day because he is truly an entertainer. Berry gained success by watching the audience's reaction and playing accordingly, putting his listeners' amusement above all else. For this reason, tunes like "Johnny B. Goode," "Maybellene" and "Memphis" have become anthems to an integrated American youth and popular culture. Berry is a musical icon who established rock and roll as a musical form and brought the worlds of black and white together in song.

Born in St. Louis on October 18, 1926 Berry had many influences on his life that shaped his musical style. He emulated the smooth vocal clarity of his idol, Nat King Cole, while playing blues songs from bands like Muddy Waters. For his first stage performance, Berry chose to sing a Jay McShann song called "Confessin' the Blues." It was at his high school's student musical performance, when the blues was well-liked but not considered appropriate for such an event. He got a thunderous applause for his daring choice, and from then on, Berry had to be onstage.

Berry's incredible success is due to his ability to articulate the concerns and attitudes of his audience in his music.

At the height of his success, Berry was a 30-year-old black man singing to a mostly white, teenage audience. Dubbed the "Eternal Teenager," Chuck Berry's knowledge of the pop market made it possible for him to break color barriers and play to an integrated audience.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Berry's music was the inspiration for such groups as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Berry had a number of comeback recordings and in 1972 had the first and only #1 Pop Chart hit of his career with "My Ding-A-Ling. 1986 fittingly saw him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a tribute to his pervasiveness in the realm of rock, a clip of "Johnny B. Goode" was chosen played in the Voyager I spacecraft, proving Chuck Berry and his rock legacy are truly out of this world.


Pat DiNizio and the Smithereens first rose to prominence in the '80s. After playing in several groups, DiNizio, of Scotch Plains, NJ, decided to form his own combo. He hooked up with three young New Jersey natives -- Dennis Diken (drums), Jim Babjak (guitar), and Mike Mesaros (bass) -- who had played together in high school.

The Smithereens released several EPs in the early '80s to success. Finally, after being signed to Enigma, the group released their 1986 debut LP Especially for You.

The album enjoyed success, particularly with the college market, on the strength of the ominous, Beatlesque pop of the single "Blood and Roses." 1988's Green Thoughts saw the group crossing over into major markets with the hit single "Only a Memory." The follow-up, 11, saw a career peak with the Top 40 success of the crunch-heavy "A Girl Like You."

The group continued releasing albums throughout the '90s, including a 1998 best-of and 1999's God Save the Smithereens. The band has continued to tour and play concerts to sizable audiences across the nation. In 1997, DiNizio released his solo debut, Songs and Sounds, on Velvel Records, recruiting a lineup that included J.J. Burnel of the Stranglers; Sonny Fortune, a one-time sax player for Miles Davis; and Tony Smith, a former Lou Reed drummer.

The Alarm

The Alarm has been in the business for more than 21 years since being formed in Rhyl, North Wales by lead singer and guitarist Mike Peters.

Although never signed directly to a major label, The Alarm can lay claim to a series of 16 Top 50 singles, seven successful albums and over 5 million sales worldwide where The Alarm's pioneering use of acoustic guitars brought the band into direct contact with the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and U2, who have all appeared and sung on stage with The Alarm.

The band had its first chart success in the USA with 'The Stand', flying back from America to appear on their very first Top Of The Pops, when they scored their first British chart hit with the rousing '68 Guns’, which made the Top 20 in September 1983. 'Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke' was another chart success before the release of their debut LP, Declaration', which went Top Five in its first week of release.

The English Beat

When The English Beat rushed on to the music scene in 1979 from Birmingham, England, it was a time of social, political and musical upheaval. Into this storm came The English Beat, trying to calm the waters with their simple message of love and unity set to a great dance beat.

The six member band was led by Dave Wakeling on vocals and guitar. The band crossed over fluidly between soul, reggae, pop and punk, and from these disparate pieces they created an infectious dance rhythm.

The English Beat became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of the British ska movement.

By Christmas of 1979, The English Beat were riding high in the UK charts with their first single, a smoking remake of the classic Smokey Robinson tune "Tears of a Clown". Over the course of the next five years The Beat toured relentlessly and released three studio albums: "I Just Can't Stop It", "Wh'appen", and "Special Beat Service". The band toured the world, touring with such artists as David Bowie, The Police, REM, The Clash, The Talking Heads, The Pretenders, and The Specials, to name but a few. The English Beat kept scoring hits with tunes that have now become so popular that it's hard to remember a time when they didn't exist, such as "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Save it for Later", "I Confess", "Stand Down Margaret", and their serene cover of Andy William's "Can't Get Used To Losing You". The English Beat decided to call it quits after their third album, "Special Beat Service," but reunited in February 2003.