I lived in NYC 25 years and never made it to the Jersey Shore. Blame it on fear of Snooki. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I found was the nicest, most generous community imaginable. Granted, we were there on a blustery, stormy weekend in May, not prime mid-July, which may be considerably different. The musical history of this place is just mind boggling. Yes, there is Bruce, who by all accounts is an incredible person. But Bruce did not happen in a vacuum; the city is completely steeped in music, has been for decades, in a way that perhaps Nashville is. But it’s a tiny place, really tiny. They have an immense pride for their city. In a wonderful way they will take the time to tell you long stories about how magical the place is. Yes, we all like our home towns, but the people I met were in a deep, decades-long love affair with their town. We stayed at The Empress, a charming treat in 60s nostalgia, and seriously the cleanest hotel I have ever stayed in. Also available is the new Asbury, designed by Anda Andrei. Must sees include The Wonder Bar, ask for Debbie, she has run the place for decades- great stories. Also down the street is legendary The Stone Pony. At either of these, the local bar bands are of fantastic quality. If you like music photography, Danny Clinch’s Transparent gallery at The Asbury is pretty great.