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M’TOWN: NEW MUSIC MINISTER, NEW PROGRAM

Press release from Westminster Presbyterian Church

Guest performers, new voices in the choir, and an upcoming Christian Contemporary Music Coffee House are just some of the new ideas featured in an innovative music program developed by Erika Sayar, the new Minister of Music at Middletown’s Westminster Presbyterian Church (WPC).

Since joining the Tindall Road congregation last July, the Wall Township resident has revitalized WPC’s Sunday Service music with several new special events and projects.  A guest soloist series has showcased popular Irish tenor Sean Hennessey, the soulful sounds of DeBorah White, and WPC church member/ well-known Shore music scene performer BethAnne Clayton — while all are invited to attend a new public-welcome offering on March 31.

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LINCROFT: A HOME FOR FOLK AT EARTH ROOM

Kirsten Maxwell, above, and Matt Nakoa, below, perform Saturday night at the latest in a series of Earth Room Concerts.

While local folk music artists have occasionally been able to get face-to-face with audiences at annual festivals, coffeehouses and libraries, there just hasn’t been a consistent venue for national folk performers to ply their trade among the rock clubs, cover-band bars and theater-size stages of eastern Monmouth County.

That is, until the folks at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation initiated their series of Earth Room Concerts.

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RED BANK: BASIE PIMPS STAGE TO PRESS

Signage touting the Asbury Park Press brand will be installed in front of the stage and projected elsewhere in the venue before and after shows. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After some 90 years as a lights-down sanctuary from the outside world, visitors to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre will be greeted by heavy pre- and post-show branding by the Asbury Park Press starting Tuesday.

According to an “exclusive” report about itself Monday, the Neptune-based Press will have its name in lights throughout the entertainment space: in front of the stage, on a drop-down screen, and on the walls before and after performances and during intermissions.

“You will be seeing an act that is performing on the Asbury Park Press Stage,” Basie CEO Adam Philipson is quoted as saying.

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RED BANK: HORNSBY, SKAGGS & HOT SARDINES

Bruce Hornsby, above at lower right, joins fellow Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs for a Monday night matchup at the Basie, followed on Thursday with a much-anticipated appearance by the Hot Sardines, below.

Picture this: you’re a celebrated, Grammy-winning musician and songwriter whose seemingly effortless mastery has seen him move with past the often artificial barricades of classic rock but your most immediate identifier remains the smash hit single that launched you out of the gate a generation ago. And that, fans, is just “The Way It Is.”

Undaunted, Bruce Hornsby continues to embrace that “elephant in the room” signature song with a “vibrantly expansive” new arrangement that stands as one of the highlights of his current tour — an ambitious itinerary that finds him stepping onto the stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight in the collaborative company of another multi-faceted music maker, his friend and fellow Grammy getter Ricky Skaggs.

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RED BANK: CHORUS BRINGS LOVE UP THE HILL

Ryan Brandau, right, and the assembled voices of the Monmouth Civic Chorus return to Red Bank’s First Presbyterian Church for a special ‘love’ session this Sunday afternoon. 

Sure, Valentine’s Day was nearly two weeks ago; this old world has taken more than a couple of turns since then, and most of us have long since restocked our inner seasonal aisles with leprechaun cutouts and marshmallow Peeps.

But to Ryan Brandau and the assembled voices of the Monmouth Civic Chorus, the season of Cupid isn’t over until February sighs its last, so when the venerable vocal organization returns to First Presbyterian (Tower Hill) Church of Red Bank this Sunday afternoon, it’ll serve up sounds that are “sure to lift and inspire… the perfect way to extend the spirit of Valentine’s Day.”

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RED BANK: A ‘VET FEST’ ON THE RIVER

“Medicated” Pete McHeffey is one of the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank teaming up to raise funds for veterans in a special Wednesday evening event on Front Street.

They’re called the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank LLC — “a collective of local musicians and performing artists bound together to raise both funds and awareness.” You know them as the folks who entertain regularly at venues that range from your favorite neighborhood watering hole to the summertime sidewalks of Street Life, and in some instances they’re “the people that you meet when you’re walkin’ down the street.”

But every so often these artists convene like some jukebox Justice League, to address a cause dear to their hearts and musician’s souls — and this Wednesday evening, the occasion is a concert and CD release party for those who’ve served in the United States military.

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RED BANK: ONE-STOP WEDDING BIZ OPENS

The Wedding Establishment takes over a space vacated by Love Lane Tuxedos 13 years ago. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallAs the son of a singer in a wedding band, Mike Hernandez Jr. says he “grew up in the wedding business.” He was there when the band came to the house for its weekly rehearsals, and when no babysitter was available, he’d be schlepped to gigs, killing time behind the drummer.

That, and much more, he says, makes him well-qualified to create something he doesn’t believe has ever succeeded before: a one-stop market for wedding services. And in doing so, he’s ended one of downtown Red Bank’s most enduring vacancies.

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LITTLE SILVER: A HOOTENANNY IN CHURCH

Among the five acts scheduled to perform at Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church this Sunday, the Last Whipporwill Bluegrass Band, above brings traditional bluegrass “as God and Monroe intended it.” 

Like the jazz-and-blues house parties held on the last Friday of each month at the Red Bank Woman’s Club — and the regularly scheduled classical recitals at the White Street home of the Monmouth Conservatory — the libraries, community centers and places of worship on the Greater Red Bank Green have a long tradition of connecting music lovers with specialized sounds in a way that’s intriguingly under the radar, and off the beaten path.

This Sunday afternoon, another of the area’s “best kept secrets” raises its voice once more, as Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church plays host to a Bluegrass Stage Show and Jam that’s engaging, illuminating — and even interactive, should such things strike your fancy.

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RED BANK: STINSON LIVE & LEFT OF THE DIAL

Rocker Tommy Stinson, below, is the special guest performer for Sunday events at Brookdale Radio (above) and Jack’s Music.

Veteran listeners of 1980s-’90s college and alternative playlists know him as the spiky-haired, plaid-suited, juvenile delinquent bassist and sometime vocalist of Twin Cities punk pioneers the Replacements. His road since then has seen him play a stint with elusive superstar act Guns ‘N Roses (including the recording of unreleased sessions with both of his former bands), establish an on-again/off-again with ’90s alterna-rockers Soul Asylum, and emerge every now and then with a solo project under the name Bash & Pop.

This Sunday afternoon, Tommy Stinson is a man about town on the Greater Red Bank Green, when the upstate New York resident plays a pair of free intimate sets during two special events — the first at Brookdale Community College radio station 90.5 The Night, and the other at downtown Red Bank landmark Jack’s Music Shoppe.

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LITTLE SILVER: A SATURDAY NIGHT SINATRA

When he’s not donning a tux for the annual “Sinatra Birthday Bash” concerts at the Count Basie Theatre or tributes to other entertainers of the pre-rock era, Dave DeLuca tours libraries, schools and other public venues all over the Greater Red Bank Green with such one-man presentations as “Rat Pack Flashback” and “That’s Amore.”

This Saturday, he returns for a “Saturday With Sinatra” tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes that brings him to a novel locale.

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RED BANK: A VALENTINE IN MUSIC AND DANCE

Singer-dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward (above) are special guest Valentines of the New Jersey Symphony this Friday night at the Basie, and star conductor Xian Zhang (below) leads the orchestra back to Red Bank on February 25.   

When it secured the services of the internationally celebrated Xian Zhang as principal conductor last year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra upped the ante on its bid to earn a place among the New York region’s premier musical organizations.

Now, the orchestra returns to its coastal New Jersey venue of choice — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — with a February slate that stands as a virtual valentine to its own versatility, whether waltzing across the works of the old masters or doing a Tin Pan Alley tapdance through the Great American Songbook.

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RED BANK: ‘PRODIGIES’ AT ST. THOMAS PIANO

Internationally acclaimed 13-year-old pianist Adam Jackson visits Red Bank’s St. Thomas Episcopal Church Sunday for the first in a new series of Impromptu Classical Music Recitals.

There are prodigies, and then there are prodigies — the kind of undeniable talent that simply rockets to the head of the class, unconstrained by any seeming lack of life experience, and forcing observers to concede that their performance has “often surpassed those of seasoned adults.”

Classical music lovers on the Greater Red Bank Green can see and hear one in action this Sunday.

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RBR VOICES JOIN IN HONORS CHORUS

Representing Red Bank Regional in the upcoming All-Shore and All- Eastern Honor Chorus for 2017 are (back row, left to right) Gianna Pallante, Shea Grant, Abby Miller, Alec DeMello, Jack Faccone- Stockwell, Claire Taylor, Devin Barry, Dannielle Wolf, Ben Hahn, Maddie Stout, and (front row, left to right) Jael Cross, Mara Campolattaro, Erin Ostrowski, Jade Glab, Lea Fanizzi, Julianna Conforti, Sara Zerilli, Asha Clarke. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Two vocal majors from the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Red Bank Regional High School have been selected to be part of the prestigious All Eastern Mixed Chorus. The two RBR students — Erin Ostrowski of Little Silver, and Jade Glab of Belmar — were selected from the ranks of students who earned spots in the New Jersey All State Chorus held earlier in the year.

Erin and Jake will join the 350 other students in the mixed chorus out of 1700, representing 11 northeastern states as well as the District of Columbia. The chorus is affiliated with NAfME, the National Association for Music Education.

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RED BANK: TRIBUTES TO CARPENTERS & MORE

Close To YouLisa Rock (center) and her band pay homage to the 1970s pop hits of The Carpenters in the stage show ‘Close to You,’ coming Thursday to the Count Basie. Jenna O’Gara (below) is among the singers going Back to the Eighties with Jessie’s Girl in a Friday night concert.   

Jenna O'Gara Jessie's GirlIt’s a non-alternative fact that some of the most legendary names in the music business — the Beatles, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead — have plied their trade on the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, represented (in spirit if not flesh) by a bold new breed of note-perfect, big budget traveling tribute extravaganzas.

Following on the heels of a weekend that saw the annual appearance of the ever-popular Elvis Birthday Bash (and a genuinely star-studded, sold-out recreation of The Band’s Last Waltz concert), the Basie keeps the tributes going this Thursday and Friday with some spot-on salutes to the 1970’s pop of The Carpenters, as well as the superstars (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince) who defined the MTV era of the 1980s.

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LINCROFT: A SPIKE IN ATTENDANCE AT UUCMC

Spike WilnerThe “Earth Room” of Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse is the setting this Sunday, for a free winter’s afternoon jazz concert featuring pianist Mike “Spike” Wilner.

Its “Earth Room” sanctuary has served for years as the greater Red Bank green’s go-to venue for guest lectures on progressive causes, in addition to regularly scheduled Social Action Film screenings of hot-topic documentaries — and, beginning in 2016, a slate of concert events that’s placed some internationally acclaimed modern folk music artists in front of Monmouth County audiences for the very first time.

This Sunday afternoon, January 29, Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County becomes a jazz club, albeit one that trades the candlelit-cool night owl vibe for the streaming light of the stained glass windows and the afternoon delights of pianist Spike Wilner.

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RUMSON: SPRINGSTEEN SELLING MANSION

springsteen rumson carriage house 051116.The carriage house at the Ridge Road entrance to Bruce Springsteen’s Rumson estate. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Rock star Bruce Springsteen is selling his little-used mansion on the hill in Rumson, redbankgreen has learned.

A notice of contract filed with the Monmouth County Clerk identifies the prospective buyers as Peter and Meghann Marturano, who other records show own a home just two doors away.

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MIDDLETOWN: IT’S ALL FREE AT THE LIBRARY

Ghostbusters-2016The 2016 remake of ‘Ghostbusters’ screens for free at Middletown Library as part of a program that also features a Sunday afternoon “one-man musical” performance by veteran recording artist Danny Rongo, below. 

Danny Rongo smallFrom junior chess to “dress for mess;” from writers’ workshops to Pokemon swaps, the folks at the Middletown Township Public Library have built a schedule of wintertime events, clubs and activities that form a welcome mat for all ages and all corners of the Greater Red Bank Green.

It’s an ongoing slate of programming that continues through the coming weekend with a tale of true-life adventure, a “one man musical,” and a movie matinee — all free of charge.

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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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