Goldenseal, a popular Jersey Shore band, will be the featured entertainment at the 3rd Annual New Jersey VisionWalk to fight blindness at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, N.J., on May 7. Hundreds of people touched by vision loss and their supporters are expected at the event, hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The goal is to raise $40,000 to support gene therapy, stem cell and pharmaceutical-based research that could save and restore sight.
Blinding retinal degenerative diseases affect more than 10 million Americans. The Foundation funds studies for preventions, treatments and cures which affect all races and ethnicities, young and old.
But for Goldenseal, which plans to perform about 50 concerts this year, VisionWalk is personal. Nicholas Martucci, 23, is related to a Goldenseal band member and suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, or RP. It’s an inherited disease caused by a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina’s ability to respond to light. It causes a slow loss of vision and eventually blindness. He was diagnosed at age 8. There is no cure.
“Goldenseal was asked to play by the father of Nick Martucci, our Number One fan,” explained Joseph G. Hughes, West Long Branch, the band’s founder and lead singer who plays rhythm guitar. Hughes, who is also a partner in the Red Bank law firm Zager Fuchs P.C., said five to 10 percent of Goldenseal’s shows each year are charity affairs.
“The guys in my band are really great,” Hughes said. “They all agreed to do shows like this and we see Nick at almost all of our shows. Events like these are good things to do in this world.”
Core band members include Jesse Kessler of Edison on bass, John Bongiovanni of Wallington on lead guitar, and Pat Martucci of Union on drums, whose cousin is Tom Martucci, Nick’s father.
Tom Martucci and his wife Anne Marie, Freehold, are this year’s co-chairmen for the walk in Oak Ridge Park. Their other children, Daniel and Alexa, also are involved.
People are invited to form teams or walk independently at the free, family-friendly event, which includes activities for children, a bounce house, refreshments, and Goldenseal. Since the VisionWalk began in 2006, tens of thousands have participated across the country to raise more than $39 million.
Goldenseal made its debut at VisionWalk last year. “It was a great event and so many people come out to support not just Nick but all the folks,” Hughes said. “It’s a feel-good event while having fun.
The radio station Magic 98.3 FM plans to broadcast live from the VisionWalk event and has promoted the event with public service announcements, Hughes said.
“Nick comes to more of our shows than anyone,” Hughes continued. “He’s losing his sight but his hearing is one of the senses he uses the most now. We really enjoy having him there.”
Tom Martucci drives his son to the concerts. He noted that besides RP, his son Nick has some learning disabilities. Making and keeping friends is difficult, he said. Hearing the band gets Nick out to socialize. “Even before Nick was the legal drinking age, we’d be at bars or wherever the band was playing,” Tom Martucci said, adding his son — whom he describes as a man of few words — did ask for a beer once he turned 21.
“If we’re not busy, we’re at a show. It’s become kind of a joke, and Joe always points Nick out as their best fan who’s been to 1,200 shows.”
On May 7, registration for VisionWalk starts at 9:00 a.m. and Goldenseal is scheduled to begin playing when the walk starts at 10:00 a.m. For more information or to register, call Elizabeth Roithmayr at 212-244-1470.
To participate, donate or support VisionWalk, visit www.FightBlindness.org/NewJerseyVisionWalk.
Goldenseal (named after a native woodland plant with a bright yellow root used in herbal medicine and believed to boost immunity), is known for its original positive and uplifting music and has released three albums. The band’s repertoire includes Americana-based original patriotic rock tunes, including “Streets of America”; “This Is My Home” and “Rock This Place.” Hughes’ music has led to record label interest and a “Top Male Performer” nomination at the 2013 JAM (Jersey Acoustic Music).
Goldenseal has appeared with national acts, including Rick Springfield, Better than Ezra, Bobby Bandiera, Southside Johnny and Chris Barron of The Spin Doctors. Their style of music has been described as cutting edge pop/rock and roll.