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RED BANK: NJSO IN THE TEMPLE OF TUNES

raiders-of-the-lost-ark-chamberTwo globe-trotting adventurers — the legendary Indiana Jones (above), and genuine living legend Pinchas Zukerman (below) — team up with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for a pair of upcoming events at the Count Basie. 

pinchas-zukermanCarrying a decades-long beautiful relationship with the Count Basie Theatre into a new calendar year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra returns to Red Bank twice in the wintry nights ahead — once as the grand accompanists to a seemingly ageless cinematic spectacle of treasure hunting, and again in the company of an “international treasure” guest artist and conductor.

Even if you’ve seen it anywhere from one to a thousand-and-one times (and the jury’s still out as to which dedicated uber-fan has logged more lifetime hours in its thrall), you’ve probably never experienced Raiders of the Lost Ark like you will on Friday, January 6, when conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos and the NJSO perform a live, full-orchestra accompaniment to the 1981 franchise film as it plays on the big Basie screen.

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ON THE GREEN: WHERE TO WELCOME 2017

SouthsideBasieNewYrsThe champagne corks are poppin’ as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue a Count Basie New Year’s Eve tradition this Saturday night.

HOT-TOPIC_03Here at the tail end of a year that many people are all too anxious to put in the rear view mirror, there’s still sufficient cause to keep the party percolating right up to the last ball-drop. And in the bars, restaurants and performance spaces of the Greater Red Bank Green, revelers have a choice of options that range from an intimate table at a favorite bistro to a big event that’s become the toast of all New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas in the state of New Jersey.

Here’s a sampling from Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright nightspots.

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RED BANK: BANDIERA AND ‘HOPE’ AT BASIE

bobby_bandiera_and_jon_bon_jovi_at_hope_concert_8_2015Bobby Bandiera, joined here by longtime tourmate Jon Bon Jovi at a past Hope Concert, brings the ninth edition of his all-star benefit show back to the Basie Friday.

donegoodlogoIt’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.

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RED BANK: KENNY ROGERS TO MAKE LAST STOP

kenny-rogersKenny Rogers — now on the Christmas leg of his farewell concert tour — returns to the Basie Wednesday with a “Gambler’s Last Deal” show that features special guest Linda Davis, below.

linda-davis-sara-kaussIt’s branded “The Gambler’s Last Deal” — a special “Christmas & Hits” holiday-concert leg of the final, forever, farewell worldwide tour of one of country-pop’s most celebrated crossover artists.

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.”

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RED BANK: EXPRESSWAY TO OUR HEARTS

tim-mcloone-112516-1Tim McLoone (seen presiding over the annual Town Lighting concert in downtown Red Bank) conducts the Holiday Express band back into station stop Basie for a pair of public-welcome shows on December 19 and 20 — with an all-aboard for volunteer “warehouse elves” at the nonprofit’s Tinton Falls facility.

VIP-level attendees at many Count Basie Theatre events have never been averse to paying as much as several hundred dollars over base ticket price, to enjoy such perks as premium seating, autographed tour souvenirs, and personal meet-and-greet opportunities with the featured attractions. But as far as Tim McLoone and Holiday Express are concerned, there are some ultra-exclusive events that remain off limits at any price.

It isn’t because you’re not cool enough, connected enough, or cash-money enough to score tickets. It’s just that admission to those performances is available to you only if you’re one of the more than 15,000 residents of regional homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers, children’s wards and other places that form the heart of the Holiday Express itinerary — places whose residents are often without any family or friends, and whose sole ray of light is that annual visit by the big jinglebell juggernaut of a band.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the Express regularly detours from its tight timetable at this time each year, to play a double-header of fundraiser shows at station stop Basie; a tradition that continues this coming Monday and Tuesday, December 19 and 20.

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RED BANK, MIDDLETOWN: JOY TO THE EARS

shrews-chorale-christ-episcopalNeil F. Brown conducts the Shrewsbury Chorale, above, and Ryan Brandau, below, leads the Monmouth Civic Chorus, as the local vocal organizations present their annual Christmas concerts this Sunday.

director-brandauBlessed 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.

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RED BANK: BACH’IN AROUND THE XMAS TREE

vladkovalsky2Monmouth Conservatory director and pianist Vladislav Kovalsky, above, welcomes jazz pianist Sandy Sasso, below, for a holiday concert this Saturday.

sandy-sassoWe 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.

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RED BANK: HOLIDAY SHOWS ROCK THE BASIE

darlene-loveRock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, above, and not-so-secret Santa Brian Kirk, below, return to the Count Basie stage for their respective holiday shows this Friday and Saturday.

brian-kirkA 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.

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RED BANK: FOUR BIG CHRISTMAS EVENTS

vienna_boys_choirThe Vienna Boys Choir, above, returns to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on December 12, and the New Jersey Chamber Singers, below make their annual Yuletide stop at Red Bank’s United Methodist Church Friday.

NJCSClassic Christmas carols, cantatas and the most cherished of Yuletide ballets fill up the calendar this time of year. Read on for details on traditional holiday offerings from the Tower Hill Choir, the Company of Dance Arts, and a musical organization that traces its ancestry back more than 600 years.

 

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RED BANK: A MOST JAZZY SINATRA BASH

don-most‘Happy Days’ cast member turned crooner Donny Most, above, joins Rat Pack legend Dean Martin’s daughter Deana, below and the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra at the Basie Sunday.

deana-martinJersey guy Francis Albert Sinatra: his birthday is marked every December with merriment and song, and perhaps nowhere more so than here in the heart of downtown Red Bank. And why not, given that we’re home to a hallowed hall christened in memory of one of the Chairman of the Board’s partners in pop perfection: piano player, bandleader and “Kid From Red Bank” Bill “Count” Basie.

Each year our own Joe “Mooche” Muccioli — noted conductor, arranger, scholar and artistic director of the nonprofit Jazz Arts Project — fires up the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra for a grand concert that salutes the signature songs and style of Sinatra with the help of some special guest vocalists.  Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: A ‘YELP’ FOR PARENTS AND KIDS

alex-skove-cathy-goldin-kidgooroo-102616-1Alex Skove and Cathy Goldin, founders of Kidgooroo, at Booskerdoo in Fair Haven last month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to turn frustration into gold, two women from the Greater Red Bank Green have taken on the challenge of helping parents identify the best available extracurricular programs for their children.

Think of their online service, called Kidgooroo, as a kind of Yelp for harried moms and dads.

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FAIR HAVEN KIDS GET ‘THE BLUES’

schuman_hans_image4-1Hans Schuman, executive director of the music education group JazzReach and drummer for the group’s Metta Quintet, was among the musicians who gave a special presentation on Blues music to students from Fair Haven and Red Bank.

Press release from Fair Haven School District

On November 17, third graders from Sickles School in Fair Haven got a lesson in “learning the blues,” in an exciting event at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.

Accompanied by music teacher Vince Mottern and chaperones, the students attended “Yes Indeed!,” a program (presented by the musical education group JazzReach) that explores the evolution of the blues genre, as well as its impact on American music and history.

After a live performance of blues and jazz music by members of the Jazz Reach Metta Quintet, the Sickles students and their teachers – along with the Red Bank Primary School students and teachers also in attendance – participated in a Q&A session with the musicians as well as musical demonstrations.

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RED BANK: VEGAS TO BROADWAY VIA BASIE

Donny and Marie Osmond, below, bring the holiday cheer and more to the Count Basie Monday… followed by a twice-as-nice engagement by the touring company of the hit musical ONCE, seen in the promo video above.

donny-and-marieTo paraphrase the signature song of a certain fondly recalled TV variety series, it’s a show that’s a little bit Christmas, a little bit something else.

The entertainment-packed November/December schedule at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre makes for especially interesting sked-fellows this time of year — with the holiday season getting into early jingle via offerings like Phoenix Productions’ A Christmas Story: The Musical and this past Monday’s seasonal spectacular starring Brian Setzer, even as recently featured acts like Joe Bonamassa and The Pretenders have offered up a happy-humbug alternative to any potential reindeer overkill.

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RED BANK: AN EXPRESSWAY TO WINTER

wizardsThe Wizards of Winter keep the Yuletide vibe going after dusk with a Saturday night set at the Count Basie Theatre. (Click to enlarge)

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.

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RED BANK: HOLIDAY EXPRESS TO LIGHT IT UP

112715holidayexp32Tim McLoone, at left above, and the Holiday Express band get some help kicking off another silver-bells season on the sidewalks of Red Bank at Friday night’s annual Town Lighting concert. Jackie Evancho (below) brings a program of holiday songs and hits to the Count Basie stage. (Photo above by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge) 

jackie_evanchoIf it’s accomplished nothing else during its quarter century of continuous service, Red Bank’s annual Town Lighting ceremony has successfully wrested the idea of “Black Friday” from visions of crushing chaos at the mall to one of sing-along harmony in a walkable-wonderland setting of merry commerce and activity.

When the lights are ceremoniously lit in downtown Red Bank for the 24th consecutive year this Friday evening, it will come not a moment too soon for an extended community that really does need a little Christmas, right this very minute. And summoned once more into service like a jinglebell-jukebox Justice League will be Holiday Express, the big traveling winter wall of sound whose founder and skipper Tim McLoone has helped sound the keynote and flip the switch on a generation’s worth of festive occasions in the heart of Red Bank’s downtown diorama.

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RED BANK: SETZER JUMP-STARTS BASIE LINEUP

brian-setzerStray 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.

beat-rootThe official tree has yet to find its base in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park, and the horse-drawn carriages and surrogate Santas have yet to be sighted on the downtown streets.

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.

 

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LINCROFT: A BIG BAND MILESTONE AT BCC

brookdale-big-bandVocalist Barbara Baron, above, and bassist and Fair Haven resident Gary Mazzaroppi, below, will help the Brookdale Big Band mark the college’s golden anniversary Saturday.

garymazzaroppi_242x350This time last year, the Brookdale Big Band, a crowd-pleasing organization founded by faculty members of Brookdale Community College, took to the stage of BCC’s Performing Arts Center to mark a musical milestone: the 30th anniversary of the inaugural BBB concert in 1985.

When founder-conductor Joe Accurso and company return to the PAC bandstand this Saturday night, they’ll be celebrating an even more glittering occasion: the upcoming 50th anniversary of BCC, the school that rang its first classroom bell in 1967 on what had been until then a horse farm.

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RED BANK: RETURN OF THE GREAT PRETENDER

pretendersChrissie 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.

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RED BANK: VAN ZANDT LINEUP TO ROCK BASIE

van-zandt-guadagno-111416-1Steven Van Zandt and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno on stage at the Basie Monday. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

basie-marquee-111416A 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.
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LITTLE SILVER: A GUEST VIRTUOSO AT RBR

rbr-interstring-christian-howesThis past October 21, Red Bank Regional High School welcomed renowned musician and educator Christian Howes, as a lead-in to the school’s annual Inter-String Concert. The Ohio-based guest artist conducted an all-day workshop that brought together students from Red Bank Middle School and Little Silver’s Markham Place School, working with RBR high school string players and culminating in the concert event that showcased the talents of 65 young musicians.

LINCROFT: A GRAMMER LESSON AT UUCMC

“Postmodern, mythic” American folk music icon Tracy Grammer makes a rare local appearance at the Unitarian Meetinghouse. 

For the latest (and last of 2016) entry in a recently minted series of Earth Room Concerts, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft presents a performance Saturday night that’s as much about an artist whose absence will be deeply felt as it is about the acclaimed singer/storyteller whose presence promises to make it a special occasion.

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MIDDLETOWN: A SONG FOR KIDS WITH CANCER

The video for “Fighter,” a new song by singer-songwriter Taylor Tote of Tinton Falls, features young cancer survivors, including six-year-old Natalie Grace Gorsegner of Middletown, who with her nine-year-old sister, Hannah, helped Tote write the song.

Recorded primarily at the Middletown Fire Department Company’s Station 8 on Route 35, the video pays tribute to kids who have survived or are battling cancer, 20 of whom appear in it. 

All proceeds from sales of the song, available on iTunes, will benefit pediatric cancer research.

 

RED BANK: STEVE MILLER BAND JETS IN

steve-miller-band-4The Steve Miller Band takes the Basie boards Tuesday. (Click to enlarge.)

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.

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