‘Return to Asbury’ Kef Weekend to Feature Music of Dinkjians

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ASBURY PARK, N.J. — The sixth annual “Return to Asbury” kef weekend will feature Armenian music legend Onnik Dinkjian as the headliner at this popular summer event, scheduled for August 25-27.

The kef music of Dinkjian and his son, internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist Ara, will evoke the 1950s and 1960s, when Armenians originally gathered in Asbury Park and socialized on the beach, danced to kef music, played tavloo and spent their summer weekends filled with Armenian spirit and camaraderie.

The event, which was revitalized six years ago, brings back that same sentiment highlighted by the musical talents of the Dinkjians as well as the new generation of musicians, including Steve Vosbikian Jr., who grew up listening to both the Dinkjians as a child and considers it an honor to share the stage with them.

“It means everything to share the stage with these men, both of whom are not only fine musicians but fine family men who have taught us about much more than music,” said Vosbikian, the event’s music development director and himself a descendant of the Vosbikian Band, who played kef music in Asbury Park and continues his family’s tradition. “Onnik and Ara are our kings and our fathers. They are an important part of our Armenian musical culture and identity.”

The weekend will kick off with a happy hour at the beachfront Watermark on Friday evening, followed by a day of fun and games on the 7th Avenue Beach. The kef concert will take place Saturday evening at the famous hotel The Berkeley.

“Armenian music is a commonality in Armenian communities and is the tie that binds us,” said committee member Arsine Kaloustian. “This event is a vital part of maintaining our cultural continuity, and also forging friendships, networks (and sometimes marriages!) that cross not only state lines, but sometimes international lines as well.”

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Return to Asbury, which is an independent event led by a small committee, focuses on music, dancing and a good cause, notes committee member David Norian. All proceeds for the event will benefit Armenian music education, specifically to donate musical instruments for Armenian school children and keep the “kef” going well into the future.

“Return to Asbury is about people and place, and if we can bring the legendary voice of Onnik back to Asbury Park, for it to be heard again in the halls and in the air that once was filled with these same sounds, then we have achieved the goal we started out with five years ago.”

The big kef dance will take place on Saturday, August 26, at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit returntoasbury2017.eventbrite.com.

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