Bon Jovi brings charity back home

By Chris Jordan, (Asbury Park Press)

Jon Bon Jovi fired things up at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Wednesday night, once again showing his support for the folks back home.

"Let’s turn up the heat!" said the rocker from the stage to the sold-out audience.

Bon Jovi, lead singer of the band Bon Jovi, normally plays stadiums around the world, but here it was a solo fundraising hometown show — he lives in neighboring Middletown — for the Parker Family Health Center of Red Bank.

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"There are a lot of people who live in our area who have no health care, and they need our help," he told the crowd.

The Jersey Shore-based Kings of Suburbia were his backing band, and the evening feature a mixture of soul shakers (“Ain’t Nothin’ But a House Party”), classic rockers (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) and Bon Jovi hits (“You Give Love a Bad Name”). The evening had a loose but musically tight roadhouse feel, very much rooted on the traditional R&B meets rock sound of the Jersey Shore.

Southside Johnny joined the ensemble about an hour into the show.

"He’s the reason I do what I do," Bon Jovi said.

Bon Jovi is known for his local philanthropy. For example, he donated $125,000 to the Sea Bright Fire Department after superstorm Sandy, and created the Soul Kitchen soup kitchen, located down the block from the Basie, to help feed the hungry. He also donated $1 million to the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, and through his Soul Foundation, has helped build affordable housing in Philadelphia and a homeless shelter in Camden.

Before the show began, Monmouth Street was abuzz with Bon Jovi fans outside the theater. Fans were snapping pictures of the marquee, chatting and getting primed for the show.

Francesca Migliori, 38, made the trip from Lucca, Italy to be there.

"I’ve seen a lot of stadium shows in Italy, Milan, New Jersey, so I assume this is going to be different than the stadium shows," said Migliori, a native of Staten Island. "I met Jon on an Italian TV game show when I was 8 and I’ve been a fan ever since."

Migliori was seeing the show with her mom, Joan Migliori of Staten Island, and son, Giuseppe Dello’Averson, 13.

Prior to the show, Parker Family Health Center board member Gina Petillo said: “The Bon Jovis have been good friends to the Parker Center since we’ve opened in 2000. They’ve been with us from the start.”

The concert was live streamed via Stageit.com to fans around the world. Proceeds raised from the streaming also went to the Parker center.

The rocker appeared in a videotaped statement posted on social media Wednesday morning.

"Do me a favor, sign on and watch the Kings of Suburbia rock out on your computer and give some money to a great cause," said Jon Bon Jovi, seated in a convertible near an unidentified beach.

The Parker Family Health Center provides primary health care free of charge to low-income, uninsured Monmouth County residents, according to a release. The clinic logged 11,888 patient-visits in 2013, with over 100,000 cumulative visits since its founding in 2000.

The Jersey Shore-based Kings of Suburbia includes guitarist Bobby Bandiera, who plays in the band Bon Jovi; bassist Graham Maby, who has played with Joe Jackson and Shania Twain; drummer Rich Scannella, who substituted for Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres on the band’s most recent tour when he was ill; and singer Layonne Holmes, who has performed with Bruce Springsteen. The band played with Jon Bon Jovi for a fundraiser for the Parker Family Health Center at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville in 2011.