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HOPE SWINGS ETERNAL FOR BANDIERA

lBob Bandiera brings his all-star jinglebell-jam rock spectacular back to the Basie on Monday night with Hope Concert V.

In an interview we did with Bob Bandiera a couple of seasons back, the veteran musical go-to guy fessed up to the effect that “I’ve got about 95 guitars. My wife is not happy about it — she allotted me two rooms for my music. But you know it’s fun to have that arsenal.”

What the Hardest Working Man in the Shore Music Business also appears to have is a “little black book” of friends that must rival the Oxford Unabridged for sheer heft — that, or a Rolodex the size of the “Big Wheel” from The Price Is Right.

On Monday night, December 19, a few of those friends — otherwise known as “almost every significant artist on the Jersey Shore” — will meet up with Bobby B in Red Bank town to take part in a little fundraiser show by the name of Hope Concert V, a local tradition that makes a much anticipated (and very much SOLD OUT) return to the boards of the Count Basie Theatre.

Going up at 8pm, the Yuletide rock show marks the first Hope Concert since 2008 — a particularly memorable edition (well documented in cellphone-footage snippets like this) that found bandleader Bandiera wrangling a merry crew that included Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny Lyon (helpfully introduced as “The Grinch” by The Boss), Nicole Atkins, Gary U.S. Bonds and pretty much anyone with the power to tear a full house of people away from home, hearth, holiday shopping and football.

One of many recurring high-profile events in the “Santa Basie” month of December, the all-star jinglebell jam took a hiatus after Hope Concert IV (a benefit dedicated to Red Bank’s Parker Family Health Center). In the ensuing interlude, Bandiera stepped up his activity as touring guitarist for Bon Jovi — this when not serving as Southside’s lieutenant in the Asbury Jukes, planning the latest in his Basie-based series of Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul themed concerts, hopping the goodwill train of Holiday Express, and simply flying solo (or as part of an allstar “supergroup”) at one of Tim McLoone’s Monmouth County establishments.

For the fifth edition of this increasingly buzzworthy endeavor, Bandiera (can we call him “Bob Hope?”) will be raising funds for The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the sole National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Garden State, and a New Brunswick facility that’s described in the event’s promo materials as “dedicated to improving the prevention, detection, treatment, and care of patients with cancer, through the transformation of laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, and by offering its patients access to the latest cancer research studies and experimental therapies.”

Bandiera, who was honored by the Monmouth County Arts Council in 2009, has said for his part that “Hey, at the end of the day I’m playing music in the spirit of fun.”  For the audience members who paid up to $500 a head (for a VIP ticket that includes a pre-show meet-and-greet with the musicians), the chance to make a welcome contribution — and to take part in an event “we’ll tell our grandchildren about” — should help keep the Hope Concert springing eternal, here in the town Where Christmas Music Lives.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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