JAZZIN’ ON THE RIVER

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Alternating drizzles and downpours made the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival a damp and occasionally drenching affair for a good part of the weekend.

But Saturday afternoon’s rain ended just in time for Toni Lynn Washington’s walloping show before a sparse crowd. "I don’t need no doctor," she sang, "cuz I know what’s ailin’ me…."

The sun finally broke through the clouds on Sunday, bringing out throngs and giving the festival a nice upbeat finish.

But oh, what might have been, right?

PIGS IN THE STREET, Vol. I

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Ah, the poor, misunderstood Hummer H2.

OK, so it gets 10 mpg in the city, and can’t quite fit into a parking space. But it does have "water fording" capabilities. According to the official Hummer website, "The H2 can ford an impressive 20 inches of water with the throttle in 4LO locked."

So what a shame that this little piggy was confined to a tight space at the corner of Broad and Front on a recent afternoon without a puddle in sight. Then again, the Navesink is just a block or so away. That couldn’t be more than 20 inches deep, right?

YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY. SO WE’RE MOVING.

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Spykes, the risqué undergarment and footwear store that opened four years ago on Shrewsbury Avenue, has reduced its hours. A handwritten note on the door says the business is now open only from 3 to 6p Mondays and 12 to 6p Wednesdays.

A large “sale” sign is hung across the store’s display window, and another says the place is for rent. But the purveyor of lambskin thigh-high stiletto boots and lacy bustiers isn’t going bust: it’s relocating, according to the note. To where, it doesn’t say, and owner Mary Jennings couldn’t be reached for details.

We hear, though, that Spykes is moving around the corner to the former Gasper Sign shop on Bridge Avenue, opposite the train station. If that turns out to be wrong, spank us.

TO THE BIG HOUSE, BUT NOT ON WARD AVE.

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Rev. Joseph W. Hughes was sentenced to five years in state prison yesterday for stealing $2 million from the Holy Cross Church in Rumson and living a swell life with the dough.

The heavy sentence, handed down by Superior Court Judge Bette E. Uhrmacher, was a clear rejection of Hughes’ claims, in pleading for leniency, that he is by nature excessively charitable and gave away much of the pilfered cash. But prosecutors contended there wasn’t a shred of evidence that any of the money was deployed for charity. Instead, they maintained, it went to luxury travel for Hughes and paid for a home, a Porsche and a BMW for a parish employee Hughes favored.

Hughes agreed to repay the parish $120,000. But the 63-year-old cleric and doesn’t have "two nickels to rub together," his lawyer told the judge, and Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin acknowledged that the sum probably won’t be returned, according to the Star-Ledger.

Hughes is now in the Monmouth County Jail but will probably do his time in a minimum-security prison.

HOUSEQUAKE!

Summer got off to a literally shaky start at 8:23a on June 1, 1927, when New Jersey’’s strongest-ever earthquake struck the northern Jersey Shore.

Attributed to “a renewed slipping of an old fracture known as Logan’s Fault,” the quake was felt as far away as Jersey City, New Brunswick and Toms River. But the real action was right here in Monmouth County.

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Three shocks over the course of 12 minutes “made medicine bottles dance upon the shelves of an Ocean Grove pharmacy,” according to the next day’’s New York Times; “heavy rolls of newsprint in the plant of the Asbury Park Press were moved.” Chimneys fell, and plaster came crashing down from the ceiling of an operating room of Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch. “Red Bank, N.J., felt the shocks so distinctly that they were believed to have been caused by a heavy explosion,” the Times reported. “Panes of glass in greenhouses in Navesink Village were shattered by the shocks.”

No one was killed or injured.

Why the history lesson? Because today, on the 79th anniversary of that Jazz Age temblor, redbankgreen debuts, and the Quake of ’27 seems an apt metaphor for what this site is about. We, too, hope to shake the ground, bust some plaster, maybe rattle the local media a bit – —all without injuring or killing anyone.

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THE SOUNDS OF SUMMER

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STAY OUT OF TOWN this weekend if you dislike food, music, the outdoors or crowds. The 20th annual Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival sets up camp for three days of live music, arts & crafts, partying, maybe a little politicking, and truckloads of diet-wrecking finger foods, all in the cozy confines of Marine Park. It’s the traditional start to summer in these parts, and about as laid-back or high-voltage as it gets, depending on the hour.

By no small coincidence, redbankgreen premieres this weekend, and among our first offerings are items about two hard-working musical artists who would blow the doors off the festival, if it had doors.

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RED BANK: WORKING UP A SWEAT

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Chuck Lambert’’s day job is not exactly the kind of gritty, back-breaking slog typically associated with the blues: he’’s a “membership services associate” at Red Bank’’s Community YMCA. That’s right, he’’s the guy who’’ll give you the orientation tour, set you up with access to the Cybex machines or heated indoor pool, and do it all with purring, irresistible charm.

But Lambert has also had glimpses of “the seamier side of what the world can show you,” he says, —and he’s not just talking about the men’’s locker room at peak occupancy. For starters, some of the musicians Lambert has played with have been run over by the music biz, or drugs, or just plain bad luck, without having any sort of safety net for themselves or their families. “Music— — the blues in particular— — has its pitfalls,” he says over tonic water at the Downtown Café. “Next thing you know, they’re having a benefit concert for you.”

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‘DEEP, CLEAR, SOULFUL’

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Saturday night’s festival headliner is Toni Lynn Washington, a well-traveled New Orleans native whose c.v. includes a pop-chart hit in 1965; USO tours of Vietnam during the war; a long stretch away from recording and performing; and a career revival in the mid-’90s that won her the moniker “Queen of the Boston Blues." OK, so that may not sound like a hotly contested throne. But even as a 69-year-old great-grandmother, Washington still draws comparisons Nina Simone, Ruth Brown and even Tony Bennett for what one writer called her “deep, clear, soulful tones.”

Here’s what our friend David Pulizzi, a writer for Jazziz magazine, had to say about her 2003 record, “Been So Long:” “Nearly 40 years ago, Toni Lynn Washington had a minor hit on the pop charts with her self-penned doo-wop ditty ‘Dear Diary.’ Subsequently she toured the Southern chitlin circuit with the likes of Jackie Wilson and Sam and Dave…”

Check out the rest of David’s review. Then go catch the show. Toni Lynn and her band command the Marina stage Saturday starting at 8:30p.

HOUSESTORY

If those old deed books in Monmouth County’s Hall of Records could talk…

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Official records indicate this house was built in 1901, but the date is dubious. Transactions involving the property (whether or not it had a house on it isn’t clear) go back to the days Red Bank was a village within Shrewsbury. And there’s documentary evidence plus some oral history to suggest the house may be as many as 150 years old.

The first owner to show up in the deeds was one of Red Bank’s most prominent citizens, Anthony Reckless, whose mansion is now the home of the Woman’s Club of Red Bank. By today’s standards, his buyer, Joe Parker, would seem to have gotten a deal. But poor Joe either went bust or died broke, because the Sheriff got hold of it and resold it.

For most of the 20th century, the house—at the corner of Irving Place—was home to Audrey Proddow, who, we’re told, was born in it and still living there when she was 89 years old.

Judy Petitti, daughter of a Boston architect, grew up in a 150-year-old house and missed the feel of it. She also longed to be able to walk into a town as vibrant as Red Bank’s. So after 20 years in Rumson, with their kids grown up (one, Rob, plays football for the Dallas Cowboys), Judy and her husband Robert bought this house, paying a premium because it’s zoned for offices. Then they set about replacing all its mechanical systems and sprucing up what had become a drab and overgrown exterior, but retaining the best historical aspects—the original floors, the plaster walls, the windows and more.

“It has great bones,” says Judy, who pronounces this house her favorite of all those she’s ever lived in—or even pondered owning in this area. “It’s been five years, and I haven’t seen one house in town that I wish we’d bought instead,” she says.

‘I… WILL… DRIVE PAST YOUR HOUSE…’

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First, our apologies to Deborah Harry for blowing her cover—if that’s what we’re doing. But surely all flame-haired singers and actresses who patronize the Red Bank Post Office on Broad Street know that some day, one way or another, they’re gonna get outted.

It seems the frontwoman for Blondie has a house on The Green. Records on file in Freehold show that Harry paid $1 million for a 2.1-acre property on Shadow Lake in the River Plaza section of Middletown in April, 2003. The seller was the Edwin J. Dobson III Trust.

OK, so this is three-year-old news. But searches in Google and area newspaper archives turn up just one reference to Harry’s domicile buried deep in an article about a fundraiser that ran last September in one of the Greater Media weeklies. And OK, so one of Harry’s neighbors tells us, in a what-cave-do-you-live-in tone, that Harry’s been a fixture in these parts for way longer than than three years. Still, her presence is news to us and every one of the other townies we asked about it, so we’ll score this as a mini-scoop. And we eagerly await a torrent of clicks from Blondie fans for whom no scoop is too mini.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Recognize this image? Tell us where you think this picture was taken.

The plan is to regularly feature memory-challenging images in this space. Eventually, we hope to give away prizes for correct guesses, but we’re not set up for that right now. So at this point you’re playing for the simple pleasure of showing off your knowledge of The Green.

Post your answer via Comments, please.