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RED BANK: MONKEES SWING BACK TO BASIE

Monkees Micky Dolenz Peter TorkOriginal Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork — or the 2016 editions of same — celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Pre-Fab Four” with a Sunday night return to the Count Basie stage. 

Along a media superhighway studded with pop-cultural milestones, one boulder-size birthday looms especially large here on the threshold of summer 2016. And this Memorial Day weekend, the Count Basie Theatre does its part to celebrate the golden jubilee of a genuine boomer-era phenomenon when it hosts a 50th-anniversary tour appearance by the Monkees.

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RED BANK: A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO BOB DYLAN

Pat Guadagno John PosadaPat Guadagno (above) celebrates Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday on the Count Basie stage, while Arlan Feiles (below) takes it to the patio, during Thursday night’s 18th annual “Bobfest.” (Top photo by John Posada)

Arlan FeilesDon’t look now, but Tuesday marks the milestone 75th birthday of Bob Dylan, the American original whose distinctive songcraft and famously Neverending Tour have served as voice and inspiration to a generation and then some.

In the case of Pat Guadagno, a lifelong admiration for Dylan’s words and music inspired the Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme to forge his own lasting contribution to the legend of the Bard of Hibbing, Minnesota — a highly anticipated annual event called Bobfest, which returns to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for its 18th edition Thursday.

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RED BANK: ZOMBIES AND RASCALS @BASIE

zombiesRod Argent and the 2016 edition of seminal British band the Zombies, above, will be joined on the Basie stage by Felix Cavaliere and his Rascals for a Tuesday two-fer throwback thriller.

Felix CavaliereIt’s a double bill that brings together a seminal British band that experienced its greatest success after breaking up, and a late-60’s hitmaker whose group has been branded by no less an authority than Steven Van Zandt as “the first rock band in the world.”

While you ponder that, make a pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night, when the venerable Red Bank venue hosts a pair of acts who regularly scaled the pop-chart heights in that music-mad decade of the 1960’s and have returned to the touring circuit with an inspired vengeance: the moody British Invasion quintet the Zombies, and the Young Rascals ringmaster Felix Cavaliere.

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RED BANK: PRIMA BAND COMES TO THE BASIE

Next-generation swing-king Louis Prima Jr. and his Witnesses bring their brand of raucous rhythm and jet-fueled jive to Red Bank Thursday night.

If they know anything at all about the legendary singer, songwriter, jazz trumpeter and popularizer of hepcat slang Louis Prima, most folks might stop at “Just a Gigolo/ I Ain’t Got Nobody,” a rockingly over-the-top medley that was famously revived note-for-note by Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. Those a bit further in the know could vouch that Prima was the guy who wrote the original version of Benny Goodman’s big-band epic “Sing Sing Sing,” and who provided the voice of King Louie in Disney’s 1960s animated feature The Jungle Book.

While a cerebral hemorrhage silenced the catalyzin’ King of Swing 41 years ago, his spirit is alive and well — and this Thursday night, Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses testify to that effect, on the Red Bank stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

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MIDDLETOWN: EX-FINANCIER EYES TRENTON

phil murphy 051616 3Phil Murphy in a campaign photo, apparently taken at Edie’s Luncheonette in Little Silver. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Middletown resident and former Democratic national finance chairman Phil Murphy has declared his run for New Jersey’s governorship, even though voters won’t cast their ballots for another 18 months.

Murphy declared his expected candidacy in a video released Monday on YouTube.

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RED BANK: TWO NIGHTS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC

Ron LevyPiano virtuoso Ron Levy (above) guests with the Monmouth Symphony in a season-capping event, Saturday night at the Count Basie. Up on Tower Hill, baritone Gerald Metz (below) is among the vocal artists teaming up in HEAVENLY HARMONY for the Monmouth Civic Chorus.

Gerald Metz

There are surely worse dilemmas to be had in this world; more difficult choices to be made. But for local lovers of the classical repertory, this weekend poses quite the pickle, with two Red Bank venues hosting must-see events presented by a couple of the best-loved borough-based performing arts organizations.

It begins up on Tower Hill this Friday, when the Monmouth Civic Chorus continues its current season at First Presbyterian Church with a display of Heavenly Harmony that draws from the “visionary and triumphant” work of some choral music masters.

Then, on Saturday, down on Monmouth Street, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra concludes another successful season at the Count Basie Theatre with an eclectic concert highlighted by an audience favorite that’s been called the ultimate musical marital aid and audio aphrodisiac. Read More »

RUMSON: SPRINGSTEEN TOSSING KEYS TO FOYE

SPRINGSTEEN signsBruce Springsteen signs autographs outside the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank in 2009. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE: Monmouth County records show the deed to the property described in this article was transferred on March 2, when Foye paid the Springsteen trust $1.737 million.]

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Bruce Springsteen is selling one of two neighboring homes in Rumson, and the buyer is a pro basketball player with New Jersey roots, redbankgreen has learned.

According to a contract filed with the Monmouth County Clerk, Springsteen has agreed to sell a Bellevue Avenue property he owns through a trust to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Randy Foye.

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RED BANK: BETTER DEAD, OR LED?

Dark StarDark Star Orchestra brings its jamband brand of symphony and scholarship back to the Basie stage, this Thursday night, followed on Friday the 13th by the act that brands itself “The American Led Zeppelin.”

We’ve said it before, but here in what’s stacking up as some sort of Season of the Dead, the alarming loss of one AM/FM legend after another has only served to reinforce the demand for a newer, bigger breed of hard-touring sonic soundalikes. And whether your favorite band of the baby-boomer era has been claimed by death, artistic differences, litigation, “nervous exhaustion” — or worse, an inability to cede the spotlight despite stiffening fingers, flattening voices and dwindling looks — there’s an act for that; poised to serve and in many cases “even better than the real thing.” It’s a lucrative corner of the live music marketplace that the folks at the Count Basie Theatre have worked to great advantage, as well as a crowd-pleasing, seat-filling brand of fun fantasy that lights up the famous stage in the nights to come.

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RED BANK: AXE THE EXPERTS

Generation AxeAn allstar panel of guitar godzillas stomps the stage at the Count Basie this evening, with the coming of the Generation Axe package tour. 

While it’s always been a voice-friendly venue for singers of all stripes, the Count Basie Theatre has also served as a guitar-shredder’s showcase for major players like Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny and recent Red Bank returnee Joe Satriani. But when the allstar tour known as Generation Axe rolls into town tonight, May 9, devotees of such instrumental Illuminati may find themselves seeing and hearing quintuple.

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LITTLE SILVER: TWO NIGHTS AT THE OPERA

RBROperaPress release from Red Bank Regional High School

The vocal majors of the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Red Bank Regional High School are proud to present an operatic double feature on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21.

Presented in the auditorium of the RBR building at 101 Ridge Road in Little Silver, the program begins at 7 p.m. with Orfeo ed Euridice, by 18th century composer Christoph Willibald von Gluck. Performed in Italian with English subtitles, the opera also features a ballet by RBR VPA dance majors.

The second show, a modern comic adaptation of Seymour Barab’s 1956 opera A Game of Chance, will be presented in English. Both shows will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra.

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MIDDLETOWN: JOHNNY & JUNE CASH LIVE ON

Michael Patrick Ring of FireMichael Patrick and the Ring of Fire Band, along with guest vocalist Mary Lamont, perform the signature songs of Johnny Cash, below, and June Carter Cash  at Middletown Arts Center Saturday.

jc60-64Longtime residents of the Greater Green can tell you of times when Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were spotted among the shops and stalls of Red Bank’s Antiques District, just two American music legends indulging their shared passion for collectibles on one of their many visits to the area.

Down in Asbury Park, where the Man in Black was one of a group of investors in the venerable Berkeley-Carteret Hotel back in the 1980s, a “Johnny Cash Suite” still designates the specially reserved local quarters of the Arkansas-born icon who kept a place in his heart for the Jersey Shore (and who made some of the most memorable contributions to the body of Bruce Springsteen covers).

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RED BANK: A WALK WITH LIFE AND ART

calpulli2The dancers and musicians of Mariachi y Calpulli Mexican Dance Company perform at the Count Basie on Cinco de Mayo, capping Thursday’s MoCo ArtWalk experience in Red Bank.

MoCo-Walking-TourIt’s being billed as the first in a new series of “MoCo Artwalks,” and hosted by the folks at the Monmouth County Arts Council and designed to give arts aficionados a strolling/rolling and altogether unique perspective on some fascinating goings- on in and around the MoCo (Monmouth County) Arts Corridor — a scintillating strip of station stops along the Matawan-to-Manasquan stretch of the North Jersey Coast Line.

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LINCROFT: PARK IT HERE, FOR MUSIC ‘N ART

BlueTrainLive musical performances by acts including Peter V and Blues Train (above), plus displays of art by Grace Modla (below) and others, are on the bill this Saturday and Sunday, during the Creative Arts and Music Festival at Thompson Park.

Grace ModlaIt doesn’t tend to get the sort of advance press accorded parking-lot-packing events like Red Bank’s Riverfest and recent Beer Wine and Food Fest — but if you’re on the lookout for a casual, comfortable mid-spring weekend’s event in a setting that offers plenty of breathing room, free parking, free admission and a chance to join in the arty fun, you’d do well to check out the Creative Arts and Music Festival, the 2016 edition of which sets up at Thompson Park for a two-day stay, beginning at 11 a.m. this Saturday, April 30.

A presentation of the folks at the Monmouth County Park System, the rain-or-shine event spotlights the sights and sounds of some of the county’s most creatively oriented citizens, including an indoor stroll-through expo of some 20 visual artists and crafters. Also included: a slate of 14 musical acts on two stages (and in a variety of styles), with a schedule inside the park’s Theater Barn programmed by the nonprofit organization Musicians on a Mission.

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LINCROFT: BIG (AND LITTLE) DOGS ON CAMPUS

Parker-SPCA-Dog-Walk-4-25-15The Monmouth SPCA’s Dog Walk and Pet Fair returns to the Brookdale campus Saturday. Local rockers the Wag, below, will be there to set tails a-wag. (Photo below by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

the wag 062114Back for its 22nd annual edition — the third since finding a “new leash on life” as a springtime event — the Monmouth County SPCA Dog Walk and Pet Fair commandeers the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College for a colorful five-hour festival Saturday.

A benefit for the programs and services of the MCSPCA, the “Paws for a Cause” walk is just the centerpiece of a slate of activities for adults, kids and canines, bolstered by some 100 vendor booths, adoption and microchip clinics, a 50/50 raffle, food trucks, face painting, “pupparazzi” photos, “cutest tricks” contest and even a “Canine PUPtials” wedding chapel.

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