brianstrattonberkleeMulti-instrumentalist Marc Muller, at right above, leads Dead On Live at the Count Basie Saturday night. Steve Miller, below, takes the stage Tuesday. (Photo by Brian Stratton. Click to enlarge.)

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.

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tracy-morgan-mag-1Tracy Morgan brings his standup act to the Count Basie stage for two shows Friday night.

“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.

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navesinkstartPress release from Jersey Shore Running Club

On Sunday, November 27, the 16th annual Navesink Challenge races, hosted by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC), will take place at Bodman Park, off Navesink River Road in Middletown. Proceeds from the event will benefit Middletown Youth Athletic Association (MYAA), Monmouth Conservation Foundation (MCF), local first responders, and other local non-profit organizations.

Over the years, the race has attracted a steadily increasing number of runners, from 600 a decade ago to nearly double that in 2015. In the last three years alone, the race has attracted runners from 17 states and Canada. Since 2010, the Navesink Challenge has raised more than $60,000 for its beneficiaries.

The Navesink Challenge is celebrated for its location along one of the prettiest courses in Monmouth County, through the woods and back roads of Navesink. It includes two races: A challenging 15K run beginning at 10 a.m., and a 5K run/walk at 10:10 a.m. Both distances feature scenic country roads and several hilly sections through some of the beautiful properties in Huber Woods, and along Cooper and Browns Dock Roads; areas which have been preserved by MCF for the public to enjoy.

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rick_wakeman-pianoLongtime Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman joins that classic band’s original vocalist Jon Anderson and 80s-era guitarist Trevor Rabin at the Count Basie.

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.

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peterframptonClassic rock legend Peter Frampton comes to Red Bank with an all-acoustic concert at the Count Basie Tuesday night. 

“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.

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david_sedaris_5004Best-selling author and humorist-storyteller David Sedaris (above) returns to the Count Basie stage on Thursday night…while Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood (below) bring their impishly improv’d interactions back to Red Bank on Saturday.

mochrie-sherwoodEven the most polarized of next-door neighbors could use a good shared laugh experience these days — and even as our Count Basie Theatre continues to reinforce its reputation as a premier stop for big-time touring comics, two separate events in the coming nights serve to point out that  live comedy is a big tent, with room for more than just the tried and true stand-up standard.

Returning to the Basie boards for a third (or is it fourth?) appearance tomorrow night, October 13, author and essayist David Sedaris once again displays the audience-friendly skills that have allowed him to transfer his celebrated sense of humor from the printed page (Holidays On Ice, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and other best selling collections of essays, observations and occasional tall tales) to the performance stage, as witness his Grammy nomination for the audio version of Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. It’s a dexterity that’s allowed him success in formats ranging from Off Broadway theater to public radio and even children’s books — with a road show that will find him reading from his excerpted works, riffing on recent events, and interacting with the audience, sometimes in ways that might give pause to even the most “fearless” of comedy-club commandos.

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jazz-ambassadors-us-armyThe US Army Field Band’s “Jazz Ambassadors” unit deploys to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for a free concert next Wednesday.

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.

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stewart-goodyearPianist Stewart Goodyear helps usher in a new season of New Jersey Symphony concerts at the Count Basie Saturday evening. 

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.

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ceteraPop crooner and former Chicago frontman Peter Cetera (above) takes it to the Count Basie stage on Thursday night…while Jay Siegel (below) brings The Tokens of “Lion Sleeps Tonight” fame to town in a Friday package of Old Time Doo Wop.

jay-siegelAs a charter member of the pop institution that is the band Chicago, his was one of several different voices that took the lead on their 1970s radio hits — most notably “25 or 6 to 4” and “Feeling Stronger Every Day.” As the group survived and thrived into the 1980s, however, it was the buttermilk-soul voice of Peter Cetera that best defined the Chicago sound, during a next-wave run of signature recordings that included “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “Baby What a Big Surprise,” and “You’re the Inspiration.”

The singing bassman brought that crooning capital to a solo career that kicked off in earnest 20 years ago, and that has netted him multiple nominations for Grammy Awards — and even an Oscar nod, thanks to a slew of soundtrack standouts from such films as Karate Kid 2, Pretty Woman, Three Men and a Baby and Chances Are. It’s all part of a considerable catalog that forms the foundation of Cetera’s set, when he visits the Count Basie Theatre tomorrow night, October 6, for a concert that keynotes an October musical interlude on the famous stage.

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david-bromberg-2-500x332Master multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg (above) brings his Big Band AND special guests to a belated-birthday concert at the Count tomorrow night…while Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (below) maintain the retro-rocking groove on Wednesday.

PMJ-PR-shotIt’s become something of an annual must-see appointment for music-mad fans on the greater Red Bank Green — or it might have been, had it not skipped a year in 2015. But when Grammy-lauded multi-instrumentalist and musicologist David Bromberg returns with his 12-piece Big Band to the Count Basie Theatre tomorrow night, October 4, he’ll be making up for hurt feelings and lost time with a special Big Band Bucket List Birthday Bash that finds the well-mannered virtuoso and good-humored entertainer (who turned 71 this past September 19) joined for the occasion by some folkie friends who are headline-worthy performers in their own right.

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project-fx-2017Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The third annual edition of PROJECT FX, the statewide student film competition presented by the Count Basie Theatre and Bank of America, is now live at Starting now, students enrolled at any New Jersey high school or college can visit the site to learn about entering the competition, with an internship experience with Sony Pictures Classics, a high-end Sony camera, and $1,000 cash at stake as the contest’s grand prize.

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, the Count Basie Theatre will proudly host the daylong PROJECT FX Festival, which will include workshops with film industry professionals, plus a showcase of the top vote getters in both the high school and college categories.

PROJECT FX is open to students enrolled in any New Jersey high school or college as of September 1, 2016. Students have until January 15, 2017 to enter their films, which will then be judged upon by a panel of regional and industry-wide experts. Last year’s PROJECT FX competition and festival attracted more than 80 high school and college applicants from throughout the state (go here to view last year’s finalists).

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matt o'ree 2008Bon 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)

bon-jovi-eventFor 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.

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gyp_35_retKate Pentek is the child vaudevillian who grows up to become burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee as the classic backstage musical ‘Gypsy’ comes to the Count Basie stage for two weekends. (Photo courtesy Phoenix Productions)

basie-gypsy-091416The waning weekends of summer are traditionally a prime time to dust off your first-night finery and head back to the “theatah.” And even as Red Bank’s resident professional stage company, the Two River Theater, opens its new season with “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” the Greater Green’s three community troupes (that’s Phoenix Productions, Stone Church Players, and Monmouth Players) also are ready to raise the curtains on a variety of entertainments.

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Press release from Count Basie Theatre 

count-basie-performing-arts-academyA wide variety of instructional programs and workshop — including classes aimed at pre-school children, members of the Latino community, and students with Autism Spectrum Disorder — are available now, as the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy announces the opening of registrations for its fall 2016 semester, which begins on September 26 and concludes in December.

Private, one-on-one lessons, adult classes in public speaking, acting and voiceovers will also be held during the fall semester, in addition to classes in musical theatre, acting for the stage, TV and film. Young musicians can explore Rock and Jazz through courses offered with Basie partner programs Rockit! and Jazz Arts Project. In addition to the popular returning programs, several new Academy offerings will be on the schedule:

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culture-clubBoy George (above, second from right) reunites with Culture Club for a Tuesday night concert at the Count Basie…while Bob Bandiera (below) presents a long-awaited tribute to Roy Orbison on Friday.

BandieraThe highly anticipated reunion of one of the most attention-compelling hit machines of the Reagan years…a delayed tribute to a musical guardian angel…a decades-spanning retrospective of radio hits, from the cats who were there…and the return of a platinum-plated band from the aughties that refuses to be regarded as oldies; all coming to the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre in the nights ahead.

It all begins tomorrow night, September 6, with the long-overdue return to our shores of a group that scored multiple smash hits, netted even more magazine covers, and turned mainstream pop culture topsy-turvy back in the golden age of MTV. Reconvening with the original lineup of Culture Club (Jon Moss, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay) for the American leg of a well-received international tour, Boy George has managed to remind back-in-the-day fans (and next-generation converts) that he and his mates were pretty much the top pop group of their mid-1980s moment; topping the US charts with “Karma Chameleon” and scaling the Billboards with a string of hits that included “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Time,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” and “The War Song” to name but a few. Take it here for tickets to the 8 p.m. show ($69 – $149) and here to purchase the $350 “VIP Experience” — then flip the record over for more vibrations on the Basie boards.

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Andrew Dice ClayThe old greaser’s pompadour has thinned; the paunch squeaks and strains against the trademark leathers, and the glasses could have come straight off the face of your great-aunt Totsie — but let no one say that the biggest/baddest of standup comedy’s many self-proclaimed Bad Boys has lost any modicum of his mojo at the mic.

Besides, even the most outrageously offensive rants, rhymes and roast-ready insults of Andrew Dice Clay read anymore like Tuesday morning’s tweets from the 2016 Presidential campaign playbook. And when “the only performer ever banned for life from MTV” (or first contestant ever thrown off Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” or SNL host who inspired the most cast member walk-outs) takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Thursday night, August 25, he’ll be once more ascending a career rollercoaster that’s taken him from multi-night sellouts of Madison Square Garden, to a humbling stint beneath the low ceilings of basement comedy clubs — and a return to form in front of theater-sized crowds.

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Press release from Monmouth County Arts Council

Mary Eileen FourattAfter 19 years at the Monmouth County Arts Council — 17 of them as Executive Director —Mary Eileen Fouratt (pictured right) will be stepping down to take a position with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Fouratt, who first served as Community Arts Director in 1997, became Executive Director in 1999 when the Monmouth County Arts Council and Count Basie Theatre separated into two nonprofit entities.

Fouratt’s tenure has seen unprecedented growth for Monmouth Arts, including the development of the award-winning Monmouth County Arts Plan “Envision, Imagine, Create,” and the MoCo Arts Corridor, a creative placemaking and marketing initiative. She led the MCAC’s response to Hurricane Sandy, ArtHelps, and under her leadership Monmouth Arts has received a Citation of Excellence from the New Jersey State Council every year since 2006.

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Van Zandts RockitCount Basie Theatre board members Maureen and Steven Van Zandt (center) are pictured with performers from the Rockit Live music program at a 2014 concert event. The Van Zandts will be guest of honor at Rockit’s inaugural fundraising gala on September 25. (Photo courtesy Rockit Live Foundation)

Press release from Rockit Live Foundation

The Rockit Live Foundation is pleased to announce its inaugural gala, honoring Maureen and Steven Van Zandt for their lifetime devotion and contribution to young artists and music education.

A benefit dinner will be held at Buona Sera Palazzo Banquet Hall in Ocean Township on the afternoon of Sunday, September 25, and will feature livemusical performances from the young Rockit musicians, along with Steven Van Zandt and special guests.

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Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.The 2015 Disney/Pixar hit “Inside Out” screens Saturday morning at the Count Basie Theatre, part of a free Summer Film Series that resumes on August 10 with the Mel Brooks monster-mash “Young Frankenstein.”

Young_Frankenstein_movie_posterThe doldrums of summer are prime time for free outdoor movie series like the long-running Tuesday attractions at Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park and Sea Bright’s Movies on the Beach. Still, there’s no time like the sweltering present to enjoy the cooling comforts of climate control, and no better place to enjoy a classic moviegoing experience than at Monmouth County’s longest-running picture show, the historic Count Basie Theatre.

Ninety years after its 1926 debut as a venue for the latest in silent films, the former Carlton Theater keeps the big screen a-flicker in the weeks ahead with a special four-part Summer Film Series that’s free of charge.

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Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen bring their Electric Hot Tuna set back to the Basie stage after Vince Herman (below) and Leftover Salmon serve up the openers.

Leftover-Salmon-3-2While “finely aged” is an asset for commodities like wine and cheese, it’s traditionally not much of a selling point when it comes to seafood. But if the notion of Leftover Salmon and Hot Tuna comes across as less than fresh here in the doggie-bag baking days of summer, be assured that the hard-touring, veteran roots music acts retain an appeal that’s anchored in a certain timeless quality, one that transcends a given flavor of the month, or even catch of the day.

When the long-playing duo of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady takes to the Count Basie Theatre this Thursday, the guitar/bass partnership will be returning to town with the electric configuration of Hot Tuna, the blues-rock institution they’ve maintained off-and-on since their days as bandmates in the best-remembered lineup of Jefferson Airplane.

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