WEEKENDER: A NOT YET WINTER WONDERLAND

lennon 120513 4The 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death finds a traveling exhibit of the Beatle’s artwork camped out in Red Bank.

Friday, December 6:

RED BANK: In the midst of the holiday cheer, this weekend marks the 33rd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon — and it so happens that the traveling “pop-up gallery” exhibit titled “The Artwork of John Lennon” will be stationed in downtown Red Bank for the occasion. Featuring prints and some 100 pieces from the Lennon collection, the show parks it at 21 Broad Street (formerly Agostino Antiques) for three days beginning December 6. Take it here for a redbankgreen feature with complete schedule details and more.

SHREWSBURY: It’s a rare opportunity to get a close-up look at the buildings in the borough’s state and national designated “Four Corners” Historic District, as the Monmouth County Historical Association conducts Holiday Lantern Tours in the area of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue. Tours commence at 6 pm and 8 pm, with reservations required ($15 adults; $8 ages 12 and under) available at (732) 742-1277. Christ Church will be serving up dinner (Moravian Chicken Pot Pie!) with seatings at 5 pm and 7 pm, for an additional $10.

JimBrickmanPianist Jim Brickman tickles the ivory snowflakes during Sunday night’s special holiday concert at the Count Basie. 

RED BANK: It’s got a bandstand full of vocal talent from the Green and beyond — including the winner of this year’s Sinatra Idol competition, and one of Dean Martin’s original TV Goldiggers. It’s the seventh annual Sinatra Birthday Bash at the Count Basie Theatre, and this year conductor Joe Muccioli and his 18 piece Red Bank Jazz Orchestra promise the “biggest, most ambitious show ever,” with a newly added splash of holiday cheer. Take it here to reserve tickets — and here for our full-length feature on redbankgreen.

Saturday, December 7:

RED BANK: For their annual holiday-season family show, the folks at Two River Theater Company return with a new production of A Wind in the Willows Christmas, the original musical (adapted from the classic children’s book characters of Kenneth Grahame) that made its world premiere in Red Bank last year. This time out, the show featuring songs by (pro football player turned Grammy winning composer) Mike Reid and Sarah Schlesinger boasts new tunes, a new cast, new director, “a lot more holiday spirit,” and redesigned costumes that highlight “ears and tails and fur.” Previews at 12 pm Saturday, plus 12 pm and 4 pm Sunday; take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and watch redbankgreen for more on Mr. Toad and friends.

LITTLE SILVER: The Friends of the Little Silver Public Library present their second annual Holiday Boutique fundraiser; an afternoon of shopping with local artisans that include returnees BowMamma (girls’ hair bows, headbands, and other creative hair gear), Runaway Isle (enticing soaps), Kim Levin-O’Neill (calendar and pet photo designs), and Doggie Bandana lady Karen. Also on hand between the hours of 1 and 5 pm are artist Mike Quon, “Yankeegirl” painter Carol Bruno, plus knitted hats and scarves, chain maille jewelry, handcrafted aprons and more.

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LINCROFT: The annual seasonal display continues at the Monmouth Museum (adjacent to the Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center), with a Holiday Tasting Event during which, for $75 per person, attendees can sample select wines and gourmet fare from several area fine dining establishments. It takes place between 6 to 9 pm, with live music by Dave Crowton and an opportunity to check out the Museum’s current group show Artists Celebrate the Holidays (on display through January 5, 2014) and the Holiday Gift Gallery (open for business during regular Museum hours through January 12, 2014). Call (732)747-2266 ext. 5 for reservations.

RED BANK: In what’s become something of a seasonal tradition, the Art Alliance of Monmouth County hosts an opening reception for the 2013 edition of 100 Square Inches — a group show of works in myriad media, having in common the fact that they measure, you guessed it, 100 square inches. The reception runs from 6 to 8 pm, with the exhibit (including work by window artist Paul Bonelli) continuing through December during normal gallery hours, Tuesday thru Saturday, from 12 to 4pm.

LINCROFT: “Bring your percussion instruments,” reads the invitation, “and together we will sing, dance and drum back the sun!” Sounds like a capital idea — as well as high time for a Winter Solstice Celebration of Song, Dance, and Drumming at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County. The free 7:30 pm event features performances by the woman warriors of Virago, the Core of Fire Dance ensemble, and the Giving Voice Women’s Chorus.

It’s part of a weekend of public-invited events at the UUCMC Meeting House that resumes at 9 am Sunday, with a presentation (by Cori and John Hoffman) on the New Hampshire fishing village Star Island — a community that’s that’s been home to both pirates and 100 years of UU conferences. Then at 6 pm, the Social Action Film series continues with a free 6 pm screening of the documentary Fixing the Future, in which PBS’s David Brancaccio profiles Americans who are reinventing the economy through sustainable and innovative approaches to job creation and prosperity. The film covers such practices as local business alliances, community banking, worker cooperatives and time banking/hour exchange — and guest speakers include TimeBank organizers Ashley Lobbato, and (via Skype) Kim Latham. Light refreshments served; call (312)388-2011 for more info.

Sunday, December 8:

RED BANK: It’s an event of which it’s been said “it won’t be Christmas in Red Bank without it” — the very first concert program ever performed by The Monmouth Civic Chorus, and a venerable tradition that was inherited by Dr. Ryan Brandau when he took over as director of the long-established local vocal organization last year. Joined by guest soloists and chamber orchestra, the full MCC choral ensemble returns to the Count Basie Theatre to perform the Christmas portion of Handel’s immortal oratorio The Messiah, in a “Messiah and More” matinee that features a set of seasonal signatures, in new arrangements by Dr. Brandau. Tickets for the 3 pm performance ($25 – $45, with senior, student and group discounts) can be reserved right here.

Keep it at the Basie later that Sunday night, as popular concert keyboardist Jim Brickman returns to the Count’s castle for an 8 pm performance on his Magic of Christmas tour — a set of standards ranging from centuries-old hymns, to Tin Pan Alley favorites, Charlie Brown soundtracks and Brickman originals; all conveyed (by Jim and some musical Santa’s helpers) in the pianist’s intimate, contemplative style. 92.7 WOBM Radio personalities Shawn and Sue emcee the proceedings; take it here for tickets ($25 – $50, with a $99 VIP option including a meet ‘n greet with the artist).