ATLANTIC CITY – Evelyn Jackson, 40, of Atlantic City, is looking forward to the city’s last beach concert of the season because it features two of her favorite acts from the 1990s, Bell Biv DeVoe and En Vogue.
She was working security on the Boardwalk for the concert prep on Wednesday and was visibly excited.
“It’s the first R&B beach concert Atlantic City has had. And it’s free!” she said. “I hope we get 100,000 people here. But we’ll probably see 15,000 to 20,000. Hopefully, it will be a nice turnout.”
Jackson said she’s followed En Vogue and Bell Biv DeVoe for their entire careers.
“I knew En Vogue from their first song ‘Hold On.’ So I’m a fan,” she said of the 1989 Billboard hit.
The R&B music provided the soundtrack for Lyn-Yetta Owens’ Atlantic City High School days.
“They’re definitely on my list of best R&B groups. It takes me back to my childhood when Bell Biv DeVoe was part of New Edition. It’s going to be a big show,” said Owens, 37, of Atlantic City.
A free concert featuring big-name acts on a sunny afternoon could draw tens of thousands of people to the resort in the middle of the week after Labor Day – no small feat for any South Jersey resort town that sees crowds thin when the school calendar resumes.
Owens sells beauty products at L’Occitane, one of the upscale stores in the Playground oceanfront mall. Stores like hers are expecting a boost in business Thursday.
“During the Jimmy Buffett concert, we had a lot of spillover traffic – people waiting for the show to start and coming in afterward. We’ll be busier in here, too,” she said.
Dorothy Jackson, 75, and Shandra Smith, 57, of Philadelphia, are enjoying a mother-daughter trip to Atlantic City this week, their first train excursion of the year to the resort. They said they were having a lovely time in the resort with plans to rent bicycles on Thursday.
There is more to the resort than just casinos, they said.
“I think the beach concerts are a good idea. If you get good acts, people will come out,” Dorothy Jackson said.
“You get Stevie Wonder out here, I would be standing in line,” Smith said.
“I think they should focus on family-friendly entertainment – like a bowling alley or a new movie theater,” her mother said.
Atlantic City had to cancel beach concerts featuring Florida Georgia Line and Blink-182 over Labor Day because of Hurricane Hermine.
Hennessy Ramirez, supervisor at the candy shop It’s Sugar, said she was disappointed about the cancellation.
“If I could pick any band to play it would be Blink-182. I would love if they came back,” she said.
It’s Sugar plans to bring extra staff in to handle Thursday’s crowds. The shop is just a few yards away from the beach entrance off Arkansas Avenue.
What’s the best candy for an R&B concert? Ramirez does not hesitate.
“Beast Mode Chocolate bars,” she said of the NFL running-back Marshawn Lynch’s signature sweet. “You’ll eat them too fast for them to melt.”
If you go:
Bell Biv DeVoe and En Vogue will perform a free concert 6 p.m. Thursday at the Arkansas Avenue beach. The show will feature a special appearance by Run DMC's Darryl McDaniel. Tickets are required and can be downloaded for free at www.ticketmaster.com.