Category Archives: Giving back

We’re back on again! New date for Light of Day Family Concert!

After snow scuttled our original plans to play a Light of Day Foundation family concert at Crossroads in Garwood in January, we have a makeup date of February 4 for the show.

Most of the lineup is the same, but Miss Nina couldn’t make the new date, so our good friend (and producer) Baze – from Baze and His Silly Friends will add his brand of zesty family fun to our lineup on the new date. Harmony supergroup The Campfire Flies (made up of members of The Cucumbers, The Thousand Pities, Speed the Plough) will headline. My own Jungle Gym Jam will bring high energy Jersey style rock-n-roll for kids & families, and Yosi will get big laughs from little people with his great stage presence and musicality. 

The Light of Day Winterfest spreads out over Asbury Park, north Jersey, Philadelphia, Rockland County and more during the month of January; our makeup date now extends the benefit concert series into a new month – at what is a new venue for the series of events.

Tickets are $15 per person; children under age 1 admitted free.

Show is at Crossroads at 78 North Avenue in Garwood, NJ on Sat. Feb. 4 at 3PM. Doors at 2:30. 

Light of Day Family Concert 2017 - new date February 4, 2017

Just around the Corner til the Light of Day Yeah!

Benefit concert to help research & treat Parkinson’s, ALS, PSP

Kids’ entertainers to rock Crossroads Jan. 7 for Light of Day Foundation

I only had a short time with Mr. Lou DeMartino but learned how passionate he was about supporting the Light of Day Foundation, traveling the U.S., Canada and Europe to give benefit performances with Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan to help combat nervous system disorders that have affected so many people, often claiming their lives. Lou joined the Jungle Gym Jam in the spring of 2015, just 4 short months before another disease, asthma, shockingly took his life.

But Lou has stayed on my mind to this day, and I’m in awe of how much of himself he gave when he had few resources of his own and had to work multiple gigs to make ends meet. So it’s only fitting that I took up the mantle to put on a Light of Day Foundation benefit concert to continue his work.

Years ago there was an annual Light of Day benefit concert for kids & families in Asbury Park, which was later replaced in the seaside city’s venues with a wider variety of rock and pop acts aimed at adult audiences, who generally spend more at the bar than their family counterparts, yielding bigger donations to Light of Day.

I figured the best bet was to put on a family-oriented concert at another NJ music venue during January, the organization’s busy month for benefit concerts – perhaps a venue not in Asbury Park but one known for great NJ concerts. I reached out to Lee at Crossroads in Garwood, where I had participated in a benefit show before.

Jay Lustig, a longtime NJ music critic and now the founder of, led me to an intriguing headline act for this concert – Deena Shoshkes from the new wave duo The Cucumbers, now with her new harmony-rich band The Campfire Flies. I built the supporting lineup from New Jersey’s family music scene – singers and players who have delighted kids and their grown-ups in front of me before, like Miss Nina and Yosi. Yosi has performed in those earlier versions of the Light of Day family concert before – a tradition that was winding down just as I was getting into the kids’ music game.

The show is on Saturday, January 7 at 4PM (doors open at 3:30); admission is $15 person (children under age 1 admitted free) with all proceeds going to the Light of Day Foundation.

Remember “We Are the World?” Here are All the Singers on that Collaboration

We Are the World cover artworkOur daughter recently became a major fan of Michael Jackson, thanks to a Montclair Film Festival screening of The Wiz over the summer. So, Amy and I played her the video of “We Are the World.” The whole story of the charitable collaboration really resonated with Amy and me on multiple levels, partly because we’ve gotten involved in many charitable projects with the kindie music community and have a more profound understanding of how “We Are the World” changed the scale of what musicians could do for charity when they work together. In total, USA for Africa raised over $63 million, sending 90% of it to Africa to aid with the deadly famine they were suffering through, thanks to the single they recorded in 1985.

I decided it would be fun to put together a playlist of every singer who appeared on that famous track – in the order of their solos, and then followed by the artists who were in the chorus but didn’t have a solo (Smokey Robinson or Pointer Sisters, anyone??)

In retrospect, I had forgotten just how big Bruce Springsteen’s presence was on that track, appearing prominently at 2 different points in the production.

Please comment below on what the “We Are the World” project means to you.

Meet our Cause of the Month–Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia!

Jungle Gym Jam #SummerOfSharing Recipient July 2016 - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Harborview/Cape May

Harborview/Cape May location to benefit from Lollipop Motel Album Sales

The #SummerOfSharing has entered a new month and with it has come a new cause our existing and potential fans can join us in supporting – the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Harborview/Cape May location.

This time, we reached out to our fans to vote on three possible causes to support in July and CHOP came out on top.

So, when you download a copy of our critically acclaimed new family rock album Lollipop Motel for $9.95we’ll donate 50% of the proceeds to Children’s Hospital!

If you’d rather order an autographed CD, I’ll personalize the disc to your family and donate 10% of CD sales proceeds. This also goes for souvenirs we sell at our live concerts and in our online souvenir shop. And it comes with a convenient album download!

Amy and I will be in Wildwood, along with our daughter Holly, at the very same Lollipop Motel that inspired this new album, the 3rd week in July. In fact, we’ll give a private concert for fellow motel guests on Friday evening 7/22, where I’ll be autographing copies of the beachy new album.

Thank you for helping the first two causes in this #SummerOfSharing – st. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in May and then Xavier Ross, a 5-year-old heart patient from Phialdelpha in June! You helped me make a difference I couldn’t have made just on my own!

Musically yours,


The Most Important Thing I Learned in College

Jason Didner as a sophomore at State University of New York, Stony brook with his council mates for the Sigma Alpha Mu (SAM) fraternity in 1989

That’s me on the left, with fraternity couclimates Rob Gordon, Steve Cash and Dennis Kastanis. I know, the hair, right??

In my college years, there was all kinds of learning: learning to manage my life on my own, academic learning, and social learning. Then there was this one lesson that stood above every lecture, paper, exam or personal experience. It was that together we can be a force for good way beyond what one person can do alone.

Late in my freshman year at Stony Brook University, a fraternity fell into my lap. We were to be founding fathers of a new chapter of a national Fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu (SAM). I said yes, I’d give it a try.

The Fraternity didn’t turn me into a “frat boy.” I didn’t suddenly become a football hero and I didn’t get the desire to pull pranks on kids too shy to stand up for themselves. The experience of being in this fraternity at this time did something much more profound that still motivates me. It showed me the importance of giving back to the community through philanthropy, even when you’re a college kid on a low budget. And it taught me you could show people a great time while they’re participating in charitable actions.

One of my favorite charitable event we did was the “Singing tuck-ins” where those of us in the fraternity who were musicians (most of my band with its various lineups had joined) would be requested to knock on a co-ed’s door and tuck her into bed while performing a Bon Jovi or Guns n Roses power ballad acoustically. The money raised would go to a local charity. I didn’t have lots of my own money to donate, but I had a skill that was worth money to enough people that together – my fraternity brothers and our ‘customers’ – we made a difference.

A more outlandish example of what we could accomplish together was our “lunar beach party” in a dorm suite. On a winter night about 20 of us went out to the beach and each scooped up a garbage bag worth of sand and brought it back to the suite. We laid the sand on the floor and put up a volleyball net. We stuck a glowing moon and stars to the ceiling. So we had a real indoor beach party on a winter night. This was the kind of crazy thing you could only do in a group of people committed to the same rewarding result. I don’t think the idea would have even occurred to me alone, but together because of someone’s zany, brilliant idea, we made a lasting memory.

Today, some things have stayed strikingly the same. I still love to help people with my talents, but can’t take out the checkbook and quietly write a big check like Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi can. If I want to make a real contribution, I rely on the help of people like you participating with me. This is why I decided to start #SummerOfSharing with the release of my Lollipop Motel album.

This is why I felt compelled to help Xavier, a 5-year-old Philadelphia boy who has been in and out of the hospital all his life for the heart condition he was born with. He’s been through multiple surgeries and a cardiac arrest that stole his developmental gains from walking to speech. I pledged 50% of album download proceeds in the month of June to Xavier’s family and now today’s the last day of the June campaign to help Xavier.

Will you help Xavier today by downloading my critically acclaimed family-friendly album Lollipop Motel for $9.95? 50% of proceeds go to his family.

The most important thing I learned in college is that together we can make a real difference in the lives of real people who need it – in ways we can’t do alone. And I still want to do this with you – maybe even more now than I did back then.

What’s the most important thing you learned in your school days or young adulthood right after school? Please comment below – and chip in to help Xavier!