RED BANK: A LABOR OF LOVE FOR ISAAK

Chris Isaak“Keepin’ a low profile” as ever, retro-rocking crooner Chris Isaak makes another encore appearance at the Count Basie Theatre this SUNday, gigging behind a heartfelt tribute to the million-dollar giants of the legendary Sun Studios stable.

He was marketed in the 1980s as that hunky California-bred crooner with a sensitive, vulnerable side; a sharp-dressed, retro-styled rocker with a smooth Elvissy tone, a championship pout and a perfect poker face for sexy videos — as well as a surreal string of songs about how lonely he was, how his baby’s gone away, even how “I watch your funeral in the rain.”

Fans who flocked to his live shows quickly discovered another whole side of Chris Isaak entirely — a beaming, engaged and energetic entertainer; a musicologist with a sly penchant for the surprise cover tune. A born joker and onstage cut-up, whose considerable comic skills were shown to fine effect in his (unfortunately overlooked) Showtime sitcom of several seasons back.

Still navigating the hairdo-messing currents of the millennial music biz with wisdom and grace, Isaak and his most excellent compadres in Silvertone make another in an ever-growing series of appearances at the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, August 31 — a show that promises a mix of his own signature songs (including “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”) with selections from his most recent release to date, 2011′s Beyond the Sun.

Recorded at the landmark Sun Studio in Memphis — that sacred place where producer Sam Phillips first taped Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and many more who changed the course of mighty rivers — the album finds Isaak easily moving to the head of the class in a crowded room of tribute artists. Tickets for Sunday’s 7:30 pm show ($30 – $79) can be reserved right here.