James Dalton Brings to Life His Memories in Asbury Park
James Dalton has been a staple in the Garden State's grand music and poetry scenes for over twenty years. He's traveled around the globe, performing his songs, stories, and poems to countries across three continents. He was featured in the very first issue of Soup Can Magazine, in our Tour Story segment, but we know he has just as many stories from playing right here, in his home of New Jersey
How long has Asbury Park & Me been in the making? When did it first come to mind?
First off, thanks for having me here. I'm always glad to speak with Soup Can.
While a solo show filled with songs and stories is not anything I’ve just come up with, in fact, this is my second, this particular one came to me sometime in the Winter of 21/22. I conceived the theme and vibe and worked out some of the content and went right ahead with pitching it to theatre festivals overseas. It got picked up by the Brighton Fringe Festival and away it went!
Have you ever done anything quite like this before?
As I mentioned, this was the second one-person show. Back in the late 90s, I have the opportunity to experience a unique world after a couple visits to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, first as an audience member and then as the lead in a musical. Another return in 03 as a singer/songwriter and then finally, in 2007, I opened and ran 15 nights something I called SHANGHAI TO MEMPHIS, or Poorly Remembered, Badly Written Stories of Music and Love. It did well with both audiences and critics and will always be one of the coolest things one ever gotten to do.
What goes into the preparation of a show like this? There are always many ways to do anything in the arts, but for me, on this particular show, I first wanted to make sure that I had control of everything. Down the line if it ends up going well, maybe I'll let some other people steer the ship a bit, but it has to be MY thing in the beginning. I have to shoot from the hip, say what I want, play what I want, do what ever I want to do on the stage at any given moment to tell the story I want to tell. There are no bandmates to disappoint with my choices or fellow cast members looking at me like I’m crazy. Just me. So with that, I needed to create a package. What particular content has value? What parts of my regular performances do people respond to the most? What do I have that no one else does? How do I take the answers from those questions and take an audience from A to B?
After I have “the show”, then it's time to dig into the work of finding the right poster designers, etc., and of course, the right venue.
What would you like the audience to take away from their experience?
Asbury Park & Me started as a show for the overseas audience, the people that are fans of the town's music scene and history. People would hear about key players and clubs, but as the show went on, it evolved into something more than just some guided tour through the booking offices and stages. I wanted the audience to feel a human story about love and loneliness, about purpose. I hoped people would see that there are a lot of us, staying busy, making work, playing shows that aren’t just the famous ones. There is a whole scene of characters, real people behind it all. I want audiences to feel the difference between AI, algorithms, social media, streaming etc., and an actual person to person performance, face to face.
Check out James Dalton's one-person show, Asbury Park & Me, Thursday April 13th at The Showroom in Asbury Park. For tickets, click here.