Montclair Center Stage and John Finnegan.
Another outdoor concert series has begun at the Montclair Center Stage, which got me to thinking about a plaque that was given in honor of a musician by the name of John Finnegan, a very talented musician who did local gigs and attended many of the open miss that were held throughout Montclair and surrounding communities. Finnegan passed away on Sept. 7, 2011. He had performed at Tierney’s Tavern, Montclair Center Stage, Fine Grind Café, Tapestry, Fitzgerald’s Pub and The Montclair Public Library.
There appeared to be somewhat of a controversy that developed after hearing that Finnegan was to receive a plaque in his memory that was to be placed or installed on the Montclair Center Stage. When we talk about legacy, to me that deserves special attention. When given an award based on that premise it should be something that stands head and tails above the ordinary. Based on information that I got from some people who knew him they gave the indication that he got the award because he played on the Center Stage. I questioned the fact that why someone would be given an award if they maybe played on that stage a few times at best, be given an award.
I don’t think any of the musicians should be given a plaque for playing a few gigs on a summer stage. And I would certainly not be that selfish and small minded to think that we or myself should be honored that way. However, I recently found out the real reason why this plaque was given to Finnegan. It was given in a fundraiser in Finnegan’s name to help keep music alive on Church Street. I now thank you, John! Through your memory, you have brought music back to Church Street.
The Montclair Center Stage to me holds a special place because it became a reality it brought so much joy to a lot of people and showcased many of the musicians that many people don’t get a chance to hear. People like Carrie Jackson, Joe Taino, Cate, Jane Staurt, Michael Logan, Denise Hamilton, Lady CC, Pat Tandy. I was proud to see some of my local musical heroes get a chance to play here in Montclair. These were and are the unsung heroes who were slaving in the local nightclubs in Newark, East Orange and other areas of Essex County that many people are afraid to travel, out of the fear of being the target of a crime. But, now they were here for everyone to see.