Locally connected guys Brian Williams and Jon Stewart pictured during one of the NBC news anchor’s frequent appearances on THE DAILY SHOW team up on December 16 for a Hurricane Sandy Relief fundraiser at the Count Basie, with tickets going on sale at noon today.
By TOM CHESEK
Ask anyone who’s ever wound up in line with him at Welsh Farms or Super Foodtown. Scroll through those tweets and Facebook posts from your sister-in-law who was seated at the very next table from him at Blue Water Seafood. Remind yourself that of all the refuges in this great land, the most recognized political satirist of our time chose to make his double-wide domicile on the Red Bank side of the Navesink (a scoop first reported right here on redbankgreen). No two ways about it Jon Stewart is a Local Guy.
Then consider the case of the internationally renowned newsman, whose first job in media was delivery boy for the old Courier weekly in Middletown. A major figure on the national scene, whose interviews are frequently peppered with references to Brookdale Community College, or the former Perkins Pancake House on Route 35. From his days at Mater Dei High School to his time as a volunteer firefighter, Brian Williams remains at heart a Local Guy.
Although the host of The Daily Show and the anchor of NBC Nightly News have sometimes blurred the discussion of “which one’s the journalist, and which one’s the jokester,” the two titans of television have forged a fast friendship over the years guesting on each other’s shows (with Williams tallying more than 20 shots on Stewart’s cablecast), and joining forces for the occasional tandem appearance. That is, when they’re not variously hosting the Oscars, reporting from war zones, interviewing heads of state, or drawing over 200,000 people to a rally at the National Mall.
On Sunday, December 16, the two locals team up once again for a one-time, one-of-a-kind live appearance this time on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre, where they’re scheduled to sit down with moderator (and New York Times media reporter) Bill Carter in a free-form event from which all proceeds go to benefit Monmouth and Ocean Counties for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and for which tickets go on sale at noon today, December 5.
An eleventh-hour addition to the Basie’s traditional December slate of Christmas concerts, Sinatra salutes, talent showcases, Nutcrackers, Scrooges and Southsides, An Evening with Brian Williams and Jon Stewart expands upon the pair’s joint participation in last week’s ‘Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together’ Relief Benefit in NYC an event that further featured fellow townie Bruce Springsteen, the man credited with inspiring Stewart’s Red Bank residency. While there’s no indication that the veteran broadcasters have been rehearsing a breezy song and dance act for the occasion, the December 16 offering promises to be a vivid session of personal reminiscences and personality-packed stories from two of the most prominent people in the modern mediascape with Carter (the author of the must-read talk show tomes The Late Shift and The War for Late Night) a savvy choice to interview the interviewers. Take it here for a link to purchase tickets for the 7 pm presentation, priced at $75, $99, $150 and $250 (limit of six tickets per transaction).
The Stewart-Williams duet is just one of the highlights in a month full of special fundraiser events at the Count’s place, a few more of which follow here.
Holiday Express. This year represents the 20th season of activity for Tim McLoone and the big-hearted big band that is Holiday Express an anniversary rendered all the more poignant by the fact that the aftermath of Sandy finds a lot more New Jersey neighbors in need than ever before. Despite having taken their own share of hits from the season-souring superstorm, McLoone (whose longtime flagship Rum Runner restaurant in Sea Bright was nearly sunk by Sandy) and his crew of musicians and support staff are continuing their traditional November-December tour of childrens hospitals, senior care facilities, group homes for the disabled places that most people would rather not think about at all, not even during the holidays.
When the Express rolls back into station stop Red Bank for its annual fundraiser show at the Basie, they’ll be bringing that set list that ranges from the sacred and serene (“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night”) to the secular and silly (“Run Rudolph Run,” “Disco Santa”) for one very public performance that serves as “a significant source of support for the all-volunteer, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization.” Take it here for tickets to this perennial sellout show, and bring a nonperishable food donation for St. Johns Soup Kitchen in Newark. Thursday, December 13 at 7:30pm $25 – $125
Nancy Scharff’s Christmas: When Love Was Born. Back on stage for her sixth annual musical celebration of Christmas, Middletown’s own Christian music artist Nancy Scharff a globe-trotting singer-songwriter, choirmaster, music educator, producer, conductor, facilitator and something akin to a shepherdess tending her flock assembles a massive Ecumenical Choir, Children’s Choir, Gospel Choir, full orchestra and six-piece pop combo for a program of traditional and contemporary Christmas favorites. The longtime music director at King of Kings Lutheran Church in New Monmouth will be spotlighting some of her own originals as well, and as has been the case for the past several years, proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the greater Red Bank area chapter of Love INC. (Love In the Name of Christ), a nationwide organization that helps the homeless and impoverished achieve stability and self-reliance. The show will also benefit local food banks, with attendees encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items. Reserve tickets right here. Friday, December 14 at 7:30pm $15 – $25
Sea Bright Rising presents Santa for Sea Bright. In addition to fronting one of the Shore’s best-known partystarter bar bands, Brian Kirk has long been identified as the mastermind behind the annual “Dunesday” benefit concerts at Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright. With the landmark beach bar now little more than a summer memory in Sandy’s wake, the man whose charitable efforts have included raising funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina has turned his energies closer to home to the devastated community that “has been my home in more ways than one…it’s where I met my wife, where I spent my youth and is the home base for my cover band, Brian Kirk & the Jirks.”
Kirk will be joined on the Count Basie boards by Jill Hennessy and other “special guests and surprises,” in a show that promises all the “awesome music and offensive jokes” of a classic Sunday night at Donovan’s. All proceeds go toward “rebuilding businesses, houses and helping residents get their homes and lives back.” Check here for tickets and check back to redbankgreen for more on this event. Thursday, December 20 at 8pm $35 advance, $40 d.o.s.
The Hope Concert VI featuring Bob Bandiera and friends. In an interview with Bob Bandiera that appeared here on redbankgreen last August, the veteran musical go-to guy told us, “at this point in my life I know that music opens the door to the left and the right, it gets things accomplished. While Im still walking, breathing, playing instruments, if I can help by doing what I love best, I will do the best that I can.”
The Jukes guitarist, touring member of Bon Jovi and captain of the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue has done even better than that bringing Boss Springsteen, JBJ, Southside Johnny, Nicole Atkins and “almost every significant artist on the Jersey Shore” to the Basie boards for past editions of his Yuletide rock show (events documented in cellphone-footage snippets like this). This sixth edition of the surefire sellout extravaganza will be dedicated to Red Bank’s all-volunteer, free facility Parker Family Health Center, as well as the New Brunswick-based Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the sole National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Garden State. The sought-after tickets (including a top-tier $500 VIP option that includes a special reception with the stars at Buona Sera) go on sale this Friday, December 7 at noon; check here for a link to purchase. Sunday, December 23 at 8pm $50, $100, $500 (tickets on sale Friday 12/7 at noon)