By DON STINE
Has the music died in Neptune due to the coronavirus? That’s the question.
Delvetto’s Pizzeria and Pub, at 3705 Route 33 in Neptune, had live music playing for customers over the weekend beginning Fri., March 20 but Neptune police said Sunday the music had to stop.
“The police gave us an ultimatum: shut the music down or face future consequences,” Delvetto’s owner Vinny Ferrara said. “Police said there were crowds and that the music was too loud. But people were staying in their cars and just enjoying the music.”
And Ferrara said he would like it if the music can continue.
“I am 100 percent behind it and we got a lot of positive feedback. Everyone loved it and I would like to continue it if the police will allow it,” he said.
Ferrara also said that many bands are out of work now due to restrictions on public gatherings.
“They have nowhere to play so we gave them a little donation to play here,” he said.
He said business has dropped off a bit since the band has not been there.
“I think (the police) did a disservice- I really do. People are going through a difficult time and this gave people a little outlet, including myself. I think the police action was really uncalled for. We were doing nothing against the governor’s rules,” said Amy Hariegel, who is in a duo with Jay Tango. called Jay and Amy.
Il Posto, at 1129 Fifth Ave. in Neptune, also had a two-member band perform on Saturday night from 5 to 8 pm without incident. And co-owner Chris Cranmer said he would like it to do it again.
“People were pleasantly surprised by the music. They sat silently in their cars waiting for food and people were very generous to our servers- and everyone was helping out.”
Jay and Amy, who have been playing together for three years, perform a mixed bag of music, including classic, pop, blues and country at Delvetto’s.
Hariegel said they were originally scheduled to perform at Delvetto’s on Saturday night and that Ferrara came up with an idea to keep them working. She said they lost three months of booked gigs almost overnight due to restaurants and bars directed to close by the state.
“Vinnie came up with the idea to keep musicians working. And we would also like to keep the restaurant in business,” she said.
“People loved it. On Saturday, the parking lot was packed at one point. They stayed in their cars and even stayed an appropriate distance away when leaving a tip. It was even colder on Sunday, but people still turned out,” she said.
When asked about the police department’s action, Neptune Police Capt. Michael McGhee said that the department is only following the current directives issued by the Governor’s Office.
“And we are obliged to follow them. People are not allowed to congregate in groups, inside or outside,” he said.
He said police observed people getting together outside of their cars, standing together and not observing social distancing during the concert.
“The introduction of entertainment right now is an invitation for people to hang out and we all need to do our part to keep ourselves away from other people,” he said.
He said the entire police department is trying to support small businesses in the township.