Leon Trent, Asbury Park music legend, returns to the stage

Asbury Park music legend Leon Trent knows something about entertaining an audience.

After all, he’s been playing shows at the Jersey Shore and beyond for the last 60 years.

“I am as visual as I am musical because I believe presentation is everything,” said Trent, who plays with his Waterfront Duo from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, at Bum Rogers Crabhouse in Seaside Park, and 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 16, at the Music Mondays series at Springwood Park in Asbury Park. “You got to give them something to look at — you got to have your audience right there.

“I’m a firm believer that half are there for what they see and half are there for what they hear, but you have to have both to be good enough.”

Leon Trent (right) with Al Torre in the Waterfront Duo.

Trent was a member of MGM Records recording stars the Broadways of Asbury Park in the ’60s, and he’s been performing ever since. James Brown was a friend and Bruce Springsteen is a fan.

The original Broadways from Asbury Park: Ronnie Coleman (left to right), Billy Brown, Robert Conti and Leon Trent.

“Leon Trent is a great entertainer,” said Springsteen, who opened for Trent and the Broadways in the ’60s. 

Trent used to pal around with James Brown. They met in Atlantic City.

“Everything he was accused of being, he was,” said Trent of James Brown. “The number one showman, hard to get along with, very controlling, sometimes he wouldn’t be all there upstairs, the drug thing. But the thing about it in a funny way, an ironic way, he changed his personality to go along with the music — but he always maintained his individuality.”

It’s a new era for Trent. His longtime Waterfront Duo partner Eddie Gamble passed away last year. He’s now playing solo shows and in the new Waterfront Duo with Al Torre of Toms River.

They’re regulars at Bum Rogers and the Elbow Room in Bradley Beach, too. The Springwood Park show marks a return to a stage on the West Side of Asbury Park, where the Broadways were founded in the early ’60s. Trent, aka Mr. Excitement of Asbury Park, delivers the goods each time, and pays tribute to some of the greats, including Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and James Brown, at his shows.

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