WEEKEND: WHAT ARE YOU DOING OLD YEAR’S?

RibeyesThe Ribeye Brothers (above) bring their scrappy brand of “detached garage rock” back upside the Dub for a Sunday night see-off to the Year That Was. The annual performance of BLACK NATIVITY, below, finds room at the inn on the Count Basie stage for a Saturday matinee here in 2013. 

Friday, December 27:

blacknativityFAIR HAVEN: “Musicians love playing there,” said our old friend Siegfried “Sigi” Schock one recent night. “They get a great crowd; there’s cheap beer… AND you get paid.”

As it happens, that best-kept-secret venue is not some Flavor of the Month nightspot, but none other than the Knights of Columbus Red Bank Council 3187 in Fair Haven. The hall, at 200 Fair Haven Road, has been the scene for some successful benefit concerts in the past, although it’s also true that the KofC books bands on a consistent basis throughout the year. Tonight, between the hours of 8 and 11:30 pm, Council 3187 hosts singer-guitarist Robert Ender and his combo — familiar from well-received gigs at the Red Bank Guinness Oysterfest, the Dublin House, D’Jeet and other Shore area shindigs. Then on January 24, Sigi and his bandmates in Ziggy Shock keep the partyball rolling into Twenty-Fourteen.

RED BANK: It’s the FINAL weekend at Two River Theater for the remade/ remodeled family musical adaptation A Wind in the Willows Christmas — a production about which one wise hyperlocal stated, “it’s a show that’s succeeded in finding its heart.” Performances continue Friday (12 and 7 pm) and Saturday (12 and 4 pm), with a closing matinee at noon on Sunday. Take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and here for our review of the show, on redbankgreen.

Willows 1Mike Faist (Mole) and Justin Keyes (Water Rat) co-star during the final weekend of A WIND IN THE WILLOWS CHRISTMAS, at Two River Theater. Below, Sonny Kenn opens his guitar case at the Walt. (Willows photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Saturday, December 28:

sonny kenn 2 120111RED BANK: With the release of a high-profile, star-studded film produced by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes, this was going to be the year of Black Nativity, the theatrical presentation that combines the Gospel of St. Luke with the poetry of the late Langston Hughes and a custom-collected set of folk spirituals and hymns. Even if there turned out to be no room at the cineplex for the glossy big-screen adaptation, it’s always best to go back to basics — and when Black Nativity retakes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for its first-ever matinee appearance in Red Bank, it will mark the fourth Basie edition for the late-season favorite since Dunbar Repertory Company producer-director Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. revived it for local audiences in 2010.

Newark-based musical director and educator Gwen Moten returns for a 2013 production that also boasts the participation of Raymond Dothard (a highly-decorated, retired Tuskegee Airman who piloted Nelson and Winnie Mandela’s 747 during their famous visit to the U.S. in 1990) and Senegalese dancer and drummer (and Amistad actor) Lamine Thiam, in addition to Monmouth County natives Jason Rodgers, Hollis Cooper and Antonius Thigpen. As always, attendees are encouraged to “wear something nice that might be a little much for church,” appropriate to the “jazz and pizazz” spirit of the two-act performance —— an event that’s historically been customized to each community that hosts it, with a multi-generational family audience, plenty of familiar faces on stage, and a musical score that leaves plenty of room for “building the perfect pizza.” Go here for an interview with Willis on redbankgreen, and here for tickets ($19.50 and $24.50 to the 4 pm performance.

RED BANK: We call him the Dean and Jedi Master of Shore barband rockers; a contemporary of the Boss and Southside whose name has been linked to all the legendary locations (and all the commemorative monuments) connected to the Sound of Asbury Park — and whose still-rocking persona prompted us to declare, “We get the wild idea he’ll keep on doing what does ’til he’s the last guy off the embassy roof.” Continuing a long-standing monthly tradition at station stop Red Bank, Sonny Kenn returns to the Walt St. Pub for some Saturday night signature sets of blues-infused custom compositions and classics, all capped by the best rock and roll haircut of his generation. And when Sonny gets blue, it’s not so much a quietly contemplative backdrop as it is an electrified center of the universe; starfired up with a guitar style that New York magazine marveled, “peels the paint off walls.” Want some more Sonny disposition? Celebrate New Year’s with Mr. Kenn at Barnacle Bill’s, this Tuesday night in Rumson.

Sunday, December 29:

LINCROFT: For the final 2013 installment of the Sunday Morning Dialog series at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, the guest speaker is…YOU! The second annual presentation of “Mr. President, Have You Forgotten Your Promise?” offers participants the opportunity to take the podium and read an open letter to President Obama — a personal view of the “promises were made by Mr.Obama that have not been fulfilled or still need to be made” for the remainder of his second term. The result will be a letter to the President from the UUCMC, and as always, complimentary coffee and bagels will be served prior to the session. (as this is posted, there is a chance that the scheduled program may be pre-empted due to a possible appearance by Congressman Frank Pallone; see the UUCMC website for updates)

RED BANK: Dedicated followers of tradition in Red Bank felt cheated out of a recently minted annual occurrence, when the Labor Day weekend appearance of the Ribeye Brothers at the Dublin House failed to materialize this year. With the calendar ticking down to the final furlong of 2013, however, the band that we hailed for their “mastery of the sixties garage template, and more ways to spin a booze-basted yarn than anyone this side of the big Bukowski” returns to the historic House on Monmouth for a Sunday night session that just might represent the inaugural for an all-NEW holiday season celebration. The “Ribeye Brothers Show and Stoat Cooking Contest” commences inside The Dub; an Old Year’s Rockin’ Eve that sees the stoat-hearted men of the venerable “detached garage” band (Monster Magnet veterans Tim Cronin, Jon Kleiman and Joe Calandra, plus marshmallow-biking guitar ace Brent Sisk and mega-skilled multi-tasker Neil O’Brien) squeezing out two sets beginning at 9 pm. Expect those trademark “cautionary tales” of rejection, recidivism, relationship woes and raw ruin (from Call of the Scrapheap, and a burgeoning catalog of Ribeye prime cuts that’s bound to include some brand new tunes) — filtered through a succinct and savvy sensibility that turns Cronin/Kleiman’s bitterly funny bagatelles into the most raucously pounding pity party (with free admission, yet) you’ll ever weasel your way into. Raise a frosty glass of stoat to a still-alive-and-kicking 2013 — and rejoin redbankgreen‘s Weekender when we meet again on the other side of New Year’s.