Attention those of you looking for the kef of the summer…
Return to Asbury is hitting the beach for our 6TH YEAR in a row!
And this time, we have the one and only Onnik Dinkjian joining us, returning to play in Asbury Park for the first time in over 40 years!
Last year, Return to Asbury raised enough money to donate 35 handmade shvis (a simple Armenian woodwind instrument) to the children of the Hovnanian School in New Milford, New Jersey. This year we plan to make a new gift of Armenian instruments to the Hovnanian School music department. Depending on the amount of funds we are able to raise, additional gifts to other Armenian schools and Armenian music programs may also be possible.
Friday, August 25th
KICKOFF COCKTAILS – 7pm-12am
Start the weekend off in style with happy hour cocktails at the exclusive Watermark Lounge on Asbury Park’s famous boardwalk.
The Watermark is located at 800 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712.
Saturday, August 25th
BEACH DAY – 11am
Enjoy a day at the 7th Avenue Beach. Make sure you bring some pocket money for beach passes, and look for the Armenian flags in the sand!
KEF PARTY: MAIN EVENT – 8pm-2am
Kef party featuring live Armenian music, mezze, cash bar, and dancing at the The Berkeley Hotel.
Featuring the King of Kef himself…
Ara Dinkjian – Keyboard
Steve Vosbikian, Jr. – Clarinet
David Hoplamazian – Violin
Raffi Massoyan – Oud
Christopher Vosbikian – Dumbeg
James Kzirian – Dumbeg
We have arranged for a discount room block for attendees at the Berkeley Hotel, which expires on August 11th.
To reserve your room, please visit:
Or you can call the hotel directly at (732) 776-6700 and mention discount code ‘RETURNTO’!
For Armenians on the East Coast in the 1950s and 60s, Asbury Park, New Jersey was THE place to come together on summer weekends. Days were spent on the beach and in the water, and at night everyone would gather at places called the Hye Hotel, the Van Hotel, the Sunset Lounge, and the Hye-Da-Way Kef Room…crowds lining the sidewalks, late night hook-ups, and the sounds of oud and doumbeg filling the air.
With Return to Asbury, we’re bringing back this summer tradition — in perfect symmetry with the historic beach town of Asbury Park, which is currently in the midst of its own exciting rebirth!
Tickets to all events can ONLY be purchased from this page. Because of restrictions with the venues, please note that tickets CANNOT be sold at the door. There are NO REFUNDS once tickets have been purchased. Please plan ahead!
Have questions, or a story or photo to share from the past? Please reach out to us at email@example.com.
NEW MILFORD, NJ – Members of the Return to Asbury Kef Weekend organizing committee were invited to participate in a ceremony at the Hovnanian School where they delivered Armenian musical instruments to school children. Funds to dedicate these hand-made-in-Armenia instruments were raised at the 2016 Return to Asbury Kef Weekend – an independent, non-profit event that takes place annually in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This year, the organizers decided to use the proceeds specifically for Armenian musical instruments to perpetuate Armenian music in America, and to carry forward the Armenian Kef culture for the next generation of Armenian American youth.
The 5th Annual Return to Asbury Kef weekend took place on August 5-6, 2016 at the city’s beautiful new hotel, The Asbury. Arsine Kaloustian, Taniel Koushakjian, Alan Minoyan, David Norian, and Steve Vosbikian organized the event, with the support of Florida Armenians.
“As the Chair of Return to Asbury for the last two years, it was my pleasure to be involved in the planning of this event for a third year, alongside such a dynamic group of Armenians who are all so dedicated to giving back to the community,” stated Kaloustian. “We tried to focus this year’s event, not only on the kef music that we all love to listen to on the beach, but also on looking forward to the future. It is vitally important that we pass our music and traditions down to the next generation if we want to avoid events like Return to Asbury from fading away into silence. This music and this event truly belongs to all of us,” Kaloustian said.
As part of the dedication ceremony held on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, renowned Armenian American musician Steve Vosbikian gave a musical demonstration, playing a variety of instruments to help inspire the students to become future musicians.
“The purpose of this event was to perpetuate Armenian music for our treasured Armenian youth, and I want to thank everyone who attended and supported this event,” stated Vosbikian. “This is only the beginning. Our hope for next year is to expand on this concept and bring the gift of music to even more of our youth,” Vosbikian said.
All of the proceeds were used to purchase 35 new Shvis for the music education program at the Hovnanian School. The Shvi is a simple Armenian woodwind instrument that is a stepping-stone to learning more advanced Armenian instruments such as the Duduk or Zurna. These professional Shivs were handmade in Armenia by Master “MKS.” Each instrument is professional grade and has been specially crafted with a two-piece design to ensure accurate tuning.
“Happiness through musical education was the motive and I couldn’t have felt that more by seeing how happy all the children were in the auditorium,” Alan Minoyan said. “Super inspiring to see the music of Return to Asbury Kef weekend leading to more music. A kef broke out at the assembly today!” stated David Norian.
WATCH THE VIDEO:
The aim of the Return to Asbury Kef Weekend is to continue the tradition of Armenian music and culture in a city that has been an iconic historical gathering place for Armenian Americans dating back to the 1940s. For about three decades, Asbury Park was an annual summer gathering spot for Armenian American families from New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Mid-West communities, but faded in the late 1970s. It wasn’t until 2012 that Armenians made their return official.
“This day took lots of planning and determination. I’m not surprised, but I am definitely grateful. Thank you Steve Vosbikian, Taniel Koushakjian, Arsine Kaloustian, David Norian, Alan Minoyan, and everyone else who made sure we would bring the gift of music to our children,” Hovnanian School Principal Shakeh Tashjian wrote in a Facebook post following the ceremony. Founded in 1976, the Hovnanian School is a private, non-profit, multi-lingual Early Learning Center through Eighth Grade day school in New Milford, New Jersey.
By Taleen Babayan
FLArmenians Guest Contributor
ASBURY PARK, NJ – Following the Armenian tradition of friendship, camaraderie and music, hundreds of Armenians will gather in the historically rich Asbury Park for the fifth annual “Return to Asbury,” scheduled for August 5-7, 2016.
Following their grandparents and great-grandparents footsteps when summer weekends were spent on the beach in the 1950s and 1960s, 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’s 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 chairwoman 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 August 5-7, 2015, with the main affair taking place on August 6 at 8 pm. For tickets and more information, please visit return2asbury.eventbrite.com. Have a story or photo to share from the past? Please submit them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds for the event will benefit Armenian music education, specifically to buy Armenian school children musical instruments and keep the “kef” going well into the future.
This article originally appeared in the Armenian Weekly and is republished with the expressed written consent of the author.