It’s just about the last of the big holiday-themed entertainment events to take the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank each December — a frankly awesome rock and roll extravaganza that plants a glittering star atop the tree at an eleventh hour when various Scrooges, Nutcrackers and vocal choirs have scurried off to their last-minute shopping excursions.
Ask Bobby Bandiera and he’ll probably tell you that a dose of charitable spirit is more important than ever in the final countdown to Christmas and Hanukkah — and that the day-to-day survival of our neediest neighbors doesn’t take a holiday break when the rest of the community settles into its family traditions.
On Wednesday night, Kenny Rogers takes it to the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for a program of custom-roasted Yuletide chestnuts, platinum-plated signature songs, stories, and a multimedia element that “will include a reflective look back through Rogers’ storied 50-plus-year career.”
Blessed as it is with a well-above-average amount of choral voice talent — and numerous, well-established outlets for those voices to be heard — the Greater Red Bank Green is indisputably the area’s epicenter of classic carols and cantatas of Christmas.
And, with the New Jersey Chamber Singers and Tower Hill Choir having had their glorious say this past weekend, two more long-running organizations are on deck to herald the season in their own inimitable way, at a pair of concurrent concert events taking place this Sunday.
We already know that the long-running, best-kept-secret Red Bank institution known as the Monmouth Conservatory of Music has been a blessing and a boon to the “classically curious” — those looking for an intimately scaled, no-pressure introduction to great music that’s packed with an impressive roster of guest artists, free of pretension, and often free of charge.
When the MCM’s Chamber Orchestra and executive director Vladislav Kovalsky perform a public-welcome holiday concert this Saturday, they’ll be offering up an “all Bach and Holiday” program of sacred and devotional music, one that should deliver the requisite warm ‘n fuzzies for aficionados of the form. It will also unpack a cool and sassy surprise.
A holiday tradition bit the fake-snow dust in 2014, when a retiring David Letterman hosted musical guest Darlene Love in her umpteenth and final annual performance of the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
But Red Bank audiences can vouch that Ms. Love and her Christmas-pop signature are alive and well. And when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer returns to the Count Basie Theatre stage this Friday, she’ll bring along some special friends with a Jersey Shore connection — while kicking off a weekend that boasts another special sleighride from a locally homegrown Santa: Brian Kirk.
He’s made memorable appearances on the programs of former colleagues Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore. He’s been busy with his wife, Tracey, in establishing a new home for rescued farm animals. A new book titled “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests,” has rekindled interest in his legacy. Oh, and he signed a four-year contract with HBO that had media observers salivating over the possibilities.
While Stewart’s still-untitled HBO project is said to be readying for debut by March, a live audience on the Greater Red Bank Green is slated to get an advance taste Thursday night, when the Count Basie Theatre mounts a special Evening of Comedy spotlighting its writers and performers.
Before her sudden passing in 2014 at the age of 81, Joan Rivers seemed to have lived several lives in the public eye. From her training in the hepster coffee houses of Greenwich Village and the challenges of being a “comedienne” in the Sullivan-era standup scene to a spate of late-career activity that included a hit cable TV show — and a tour stop at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — Rivers acquired new generations of fans as readily as she made enemies in and out of the business.
So writes author Leslie Bennetts in Last Girl Before Freeway: The Life, Loves, Losses, and Liberation of Joan Rivers, her newly published comprehensive study of the star’s “tumultuous, victorious, tragic, hilarious, and fascinating life.” A regular contributor to Vanity Fair magazine and an interviewer of stars, Bennetts visits River Road Books in Fair Haven for an intimate “can we talk?” session Wednesday evening.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the shopping-mall sound systems and merciless muzak machines of the holiday season received a heavy dose of prog-rock bombast that shook the snow from the shingles when an organization that called itself the Trans-Siberian Orchestra released its first Christmas-themed rock opera.
When four touring crewmembers of TSO (including vocalists Guy LeMonnier and Joe Cerisano) opted to pursue their own career track in the early years of this decade, they did so under the acronym of WOW, or Wizards of Winter.
Stray Cat topcat turned big-band ringmaster Brian Setzer, above, tunes up Santa’s souped-up sleigh — and Beat Root Revival (below) lights the way — as the season of nearly non-stop holiday music at the Count Basie Theatre commences Monday.
But the elves at the Count Basie Theatre, the Greater Red Bank Green’s unofficial Capital of Christmas, already have their workshop in overdrive on a packed slate of Christmastime confections that runs right up to the doorstep of the New Year.
Chrissie Hynde, seen here with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys in a screen grab from the video for ‘Holy Commotion,” returns to Red Bank with her 2016 edition of the Pretenders for a Thursday night concert.
Last time Chrissie Hynde trod the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, two years ago, the face, voice, heart and soul of the Pretenders offered up a showcase of her debut long-player Stockholm, chased by a lip-to-label spin through the mega-classic 1979 Pretenders LP, its fab 45s and deep-cut classics “Brass in Pocket,” “Kid,” “Stop Your Sobbing,” “Mystery Achievement” and “Precious”).
Bolstered by the accrued good-will generated by the album and road itinerary, the Hall of Fame rocker entered a Nashville studio earlier this year with Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach for some sessions intended to yield her sophomore solo release. But something surprising must have happened inside that soundproofed space, as “those driving guitars, ragged-but-righteous arrangements, tough-yet tender lyrics delivered by the most beautifully distinctive voice of a generation” (according to the press notes) suggested nothing less than that the Pretenders were back.
By JOHN T. WARD
A four-night campaign of classic rock shows curated by E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt in coming months will help drive a $20 million expansion Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, officials said Monday.
But the names of the acts to be spotlighted in the series remained under wraps at a press conference held on the stage of the Vaudeville-era venue.
By JOHN T. WARD
In her self-published new book, “13 Ghostly Tales and Yarns of the Navesink River,” Patricia Martz Heyer recounts the history of the house that’s now home to Red Bank’s Dublin House Pub: its origins on the Middletown side of the river and two subsequent relocations over the years.
Along the way, the place seems to have acquired a non-paying tenant, in the form of a generally benign if somewhat mischievous ghost named Mrs. Roberta Patterson. Read More
Though he’s not generally associated with the flowering music scene of late-1960s San Francisco, rocker Steve Miller was very much in it as far back as 1966, when he supported Chuck Berry on a live album recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium. It was one stop in a career that’s also been steeped in the blues scenes of Dallas and Chicago enroute to some chartbusting pop success.
Listen for hints of all that when Miller, still rocking at 73, brings his band to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night for its only Garden State appearance of his current tour.
The sonic legacy of the San Francisco Bay area casts its still-potent spell over the famous stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Friday night, sound-tracked by as dead-on a recreation of the Grateful Dead as you’ll find anywhere between Raceway Park and the Pyramids.
“I’ve tapped into something, man, that nobody else can talk about,” Tracy Morgan said in an interview with a national wire service earlier this year. “I went to the other side and came back bearing gifts… and I’m gonna share all those gifts with my fans.”
In case you missed the headline-making news, the Emmy nominated cast member of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock was referencing his near-death experience in a June, 2014, limo crash on the New Jersey Turnpike, an accident that killed his friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, and left Morgan comatose with multiple injuries, necessitating a lengthy process of physical therapy and speech rehabilitation.
Undaunted, the Bronx-born “cringe comic” (and co-star of films like Cop Out and the forthcoming Fist Fight) has taken to the road once more on a route that leads to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Friday night.
Is it Yes? Actually, no… but then again maybe.
In a week when Yes was nominated (for the third time) for a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Red Bank area fans can get a major reminder of what made that prog-rock institution so special when three of its celebrated veterans take the stage of the Count Basie Theatre Wednesday night.
Jamian’s Food and Drink on Monmouth Street in Red Bank will host a season-six premiere party Saturday for “Comic Book Men,” the AMC cable show set in film director Kevin Smith‘s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, on Broad Street.
The free-admission party begins at 8:30 p.m. and, weather permitting, will include a screenings of classic episodes on the back patio. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
“It’s all gone,” said Peter Frampton during a TV appearance several years ago, indicating the nearly hairless head where once resided one of the most luxurious manes in all of classic rockdom. “And it’s not coming back.”
Fortunately, the platinum-plated guitarist/ singer/ songwriter hasn’t shed his easy rapport with a live audience, and when he comes to the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night, he’ll be serving up selections from his long career raw, as part of an all-acoustic tour.
A promo video for the Haunted Theater, which once again invades the Brookdale campus for three weekends beginning this Friday.
We’ve said it before, but while it sometimes seems that the shambling zombies and vamping bloodsuckers of a walk-thru haunted house can’t hold a candle to the horrors of the real world, we do take a strange comfort from the annual appearance of those hooded goblins and snooded ghouls.
So it is here on the Greater Red Bank Green, where Brookdale Haunted Theater creaks open its doors this weekend on what’s become one of the more bizarre local rituals of the calendar year.
Joe Ruffini in the salon of the Naval War College, where a photo of onetime visitor John F. Kennedy hangs. The”admiral’s barge,” below, will be among the wooden boats on display at the Monmouth Boat Club Saturday. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
After a brief online bidding war, the Red Bank roofer ended up owning a well-maintained, 50-foot wooden yacht, built for Navy admirals, that has hosted at least two American presidents.
On Saturday, the public will get a chance to step aboard, when Ruffini’s prize goes on display as part of a wooden and classic boat show in Red Bank.
In its assembled glory, it’s a formidable force — and its many crack commando units and surgical-strike teams allow it to perform missions that range from a Dixieland septet and harp-flute duo to a Son Tropical big band.
When the uniformed members of the Jazz Ambassadors of the US Army Field Band take the Basie stage next Wednesday, they’ll be carrying on a tradition that’s seen various iterations of the USAFB treat the Red Bank audience to a free display by the most formidable musical force in the free world.
Continuing a decades-long and beautiful relationship with the Count Basie Theatre, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra returns to Red Bank Saturday night for the first in a new season of concerts — and to sound the keynote in the company of a performer who’s been branded a “phenomenon” by music critics and fans alike.
Bon Jovi’s new touring guitarist Matt O’Ree, above, plays a special ticketed-event tribute to Eric Clapton at Jamian’s this Saturday, even as JBJ and the boys perform a preview of their new album, just up Monmouth Street at Basie’s place. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
For fans of the homegrown institution that is Bon Jovi, the first night of October brings an event that seems gifted from the gods of classic rock: an exclusive preview concert, going on at Red Bank’s own Count Basie Theatre, an “intimate” affair in which JBJ and his core bandmates (David Bryan, Tico Torres, Hugh McDonald) perform the entirety of their new album This House Is Not For Sale — their 14th studio opus, and a release that’s slated to drop on October 21.
Blue skies and early-fall temperatures drew thousands of hungry music lovers to downtown Red Bank for the seventh annual Guinness Oyster Festival Sunday. And once again, redbankgreen prowled the midway to document the merriment.
Check out the dozens of photos below to see if you or someone you know was caught slurping, sipping or dancing like nobody’ looking. (Photos by Trish Russoniello and John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)