WEEKEND: A HOMECOMING FOR NJ SUPERSTARS

jacquie1It’s a Count Basie Homecoming for JACQUIE LEE — seen here performing at a 2012 Rockit! concert in Red Bank — when the VOICE runner-up who wowed everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Lady Gaga returns as part of A SOULED-OUT CHRISTMAS on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ms. Lauryn Hill (below) has rescheduled her Sunday “Homecoming” show at the Basie to February 7, 2014.

Friday, December 20:

RED BANK: “Life can get pretty hectic and crazy the week before Christmas,” says Gerda Liebmann, the internationally exhibited multimedia artist who established Gallery 135 in the second-floor space shared by Red Bank Community Church. With that in mind, Liebmann comes to The Oyster Point Hotel for a special opening event that “gives everyone a chance to take a little step back from the madness, and enjoy some artwork that hopefully will induce a little serenity into their holiday season.”

view_image.aspThe artist will be present for a Friday evening reception (6 to 8 pm) for a display of encaustic paintings — an ancient technique that uses beeswax, resin and pigments melted together — that includes a set of banners based on the Christmas narrative, and abstract paintings (on wood and paper) that include tea and tea leaves. The paintings remain on display at the Bodman Place hotel through the end of December, and are available for purchase as a unique Christmas gift — call Gerda at (732)687-3580 for more info.

RED BANK:  One week after celebrating the feast days of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a procession that brought hundreds of marchers out on a frosty Red Bank evening, the Music Ministry at St Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church takes it indoors — with a special Christmas concert presented in association with the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library. The 8 pm event,   a performance of Handel’s Messiah and traditional Christmas carols, spotlights the Trenton Diocesan Festival Choir and Orchestra under the direction of Shawn T. Mack — with soloists Lauren Walters (soprano), Jody Doktor (mezzo soprano), Justin Gonzalez (tenor), and Wilbur Lewis (bass). Call (732)747-0813 ext. 10 to reserve tickets ($20.00 adults; $10.00 students). Church doors open at 7 pm as part of a silent auction and raffle of gift baskets, to benefit the Friends of the RBPL and their work on behalf of the Library.

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MY MATCHA BOWL and CHRISTMAS STORY (detail) are two of the encaustic paintings by Gerda Liebmann on display at the Oyster Point, with a Friday night reception.

Saturday, December 21:

RED BANK: Performances continue apace this weekend at Two River Theater, for the newly revamped production of the original musical A Wind in the Willows Christmas. Saturday’s sold-out 4 pm show (audio translated via headset for Spanish speaking audiences) is part of a “Dia de la Familia” event with kids’ activities, games and refreshments that begin at 3 pm and there are additional shows at 12 Saturday, plus 12 and 4 pm Sunday. Take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and here for our review of the show, on redbankgreen.

RED BANK: She took the nation by storm during this season’s just-concluded competition on The Voice — in the process earning rave reviews from Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, and Lady Gaga (“Beautiful girl with a beautiful voice! Vote for her monsters!”) — and on December 21, Jacquie Lee is nobody’s runner-up, when she returns to Red Bank as pop royalty; a just-added attraction on a Saturday night sleighride entitled A Souled Out Christmas.

It’s a Count Basie Theatre homecoming for the Colts Neck teen who previously performed in one of the venue’s regularly scheduled  Rockit Live showcases — and it teams her with a multi-generational favorite who’s become an iconic signifier of the season in her own right. If anyone has worked overtime to rescue and reclaim the legacy of that glorious Wall of Sound from the Bad Santa who brought us A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, it’s Darlene Love, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer who was featured most prominently on the 1963 LP’s original cover — and who lent her big and warm leads to four songs on that holiday platter: —“White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “It’s a Marshmallow World” and the soaring Christmas (Baby please come home),” a tune that she’s performed on David Letterman TV shows across four decades, five Presidential administrations and countless hairstyles.

Love co-headlines the 7 pm concert from Sammy Boyd (the producer who’s brought many a vintage pop star to Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park) with another early 60s hitmaker embraced by Shore area audiences — Gary U.S. Bonds. They’re joined as well by funk/rock/soul upstart Gedeon Luke and The People, with appearances by Salvatore Boyd (in the lobby at 6 pm), “saloon singer” extraordinaire Pat Guadagno, and Godson of Soul JoBonanno (premiering his new song “Your Love Is All I Want For Christmas” with Bonds and band). Proceeds benefit the nonprofit music education program for disadvantaged communities Little Kids Rock, and tickets ($39 – $99) can be reserved right here.

Sunday, December 22:

LITTLE SILVER: For the first time ever — that is, since the year 1665 — the historic dwelling known as the Parker Homestead will welcome the public for an Open House tour, with a look at the first phases of the house’s ongoing restoration and renovation effort. Tours conducted between 1 and 4 pm, with access adjoining the entrance to nearby Sickles Market. Take it here for a sneak preview of the premises on redbankgreen, and call (908)489-2505 for further info.

RED BANK: As part of the 42nd annual National HoopShoot® tournament sponsored by the nationwide Elks organization, the Red Bank Elks Lodge invites boys and girls of three age groups — 8 to 9, 10 to 11, and 12 to 13 (ages as of April 1, 2014) — to a HoopShoot free-throw tournament at the Salvation Army complex of Newman Springs Road. The top-scoring boy and girl will each win a trophy, as well as the opportunity to represent the lodge at the district level competition on January 11 (and a shot at the state and national championships in 2014). Take it to the Elks website for more details and a link to the event registration page. Pre-registration for the 1:30 pm event is suggested, but not required.

RED BANK: Her 1998 solo debut The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill earned her an instant place in the pop pantheon, a gripload of Grammys, and a high-bar of expectations that prompted a relative fade from the inner-circle spotlight — while recent headlines have focused on her 2013 prison stretch for tax evasion. With a new song called “Consumerism” launched into the holiday shopping season mix, Ms. Lauryn Hill makes a public “Homecoming” with a slate of theater-scale shows at venues in the greater NYC area. It’s an “intimate” tour that takes the former Fugee to the Count Basie Theatre for the first time, as the sole Garden State stop on the Jersey-born Hill’s current schedule — a setting “where she can once again live and breathe the art that has brought her to the forefront of our psyches, and has earned her place as being one of the most prolific and thought provoking artists of our time.” Call it a refreshingly charged alternative to the comfort food of December entertainment — and place your bets on the unexpected, for a rare performance by a star whose highly personal path has seen her challenge the industry establishment, the pop-media radiation field, her own steadfast fans, and the accepted routines of art and commerce.  Tickets ($45 – $125, with a $200 VIP meet ‘n greet option) can be reserved right hereRESCHEDULED TO FEBRUARY 7, 2014 — SEE BASIE WEBSITE FOR DETAILS.