ASBURY PARK, N.J.–Following the Armenian tradition of friendship, camaraderie, and music, hundreds of Armenians will gather in the historically rich Asbury Park for the 5th annual “Return to Asbury,” scheduled for Aug. 5-7.
Following their grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ footsteps when summer weekends were spent on the beach in the 1950’s and 1960’s, a new generation of Armenians has emerged who will socialize on the beach, dance to traditional Armenian kef music, and participate in tavloo and volleyball games.
Cocktails at the beachfront Watermark will kick off the weekend, followed by a day of fun and games on the 7th Avenue beach. The highlight of “Return to Asbury” will feature a joyous “kef” on Saturday night at the newly built hotel The Asbury, featuring talented musicians of a new Armenian generation, including Yerakouyn Band and Steven Vosbikian.
Yerakouyn, a trio of Armenian-Americans from Northern New Jersey who play Armenian folk music, consists of Shant Massoyan (guitar, vocal), Raffi Massoyan (oud, drums) and Raffi Rachdouni (keyboard).
They will be joined on stage by Steven Vosbikian (clarinet, zurna, vocals), Vicken Makouchian (keyboard), and Markos Shahbazyan (drums, dhol).
Vosbikian himself is a descendent of the Vosbikian Band, who played kef music at Asbury Park in the mid 20th century and continues his family tradition—all in the name of a good cause.
“The money we raise from Return to Asbury will allow for us to have shvis and dhols created for students here in local Armenian schools,” said Vosbikian, who will give music lessons in person to the students. “The instruments will be handmade in Armenia and will contribute towards continuing the Armenian musical tradition here in the U.S. for the next generations.”
“Return to Asbury is an event created by Armenians, for Armenians,” said Arsine Kaloustian, former Return to Asbury chairperson and Florida Chair of the Armenian Assembly of America. “All are welcome to recapture the magic that our parents and grandparents felt in those hot summers many decades ago. This event is truly timeless, where strangers can become friends within minutes.”
In fact, a participant was so inspired by the event that he himself stepped up to chair this year’s event.
“This event is like none other in our community,” said Alan Minoyan. “And it’s important that we preserve important social and cultural events such as these so our heritage doesn’t fade away.”
“Return to Asbury” will take place from Aug. 5-7, with the main affair taking place on Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit return2asbury.eventbrite.com. Have a story or photo to share from the past? Please submit them at [email protected]
All proceeds from the event will benefit Armenian music education, specifically to buy Armenian school children musical instruments and keep the “kef” going well into the future.