SEA BRIGHT: OZ FANS PEEK BEHIND CURTAIN

Dr. Oz channeled the Beatles and Bruce in Sea Bright Wednesday. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

There was no yellow-brick road, but local fans of Dr. Oz flocked like Munchkins to EvenTide Bar and Grille in Sea Bright Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the TV personality leading a rock band.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, commonly known as Dr. Oz, is an American-Turkish cardiothoracic surgeon who became a household name through his appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show, subsequently landing his own daytime television gig – the popular “Dr. Oz Show” – in 2009. Though in his regular job Oz mainly focuses on doling out health advice, at EvenTide, he was in full rock-star mode.

Oz, a current resident of Cliffside Park, was in town with his band – called “You! The Band” – to promote National Dine-Out Day, an event chaired by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie, which encouraged New Jersey residents to eat at restaurants that donated a portion of the day’ profits to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund.

Against a backrop of the sparling Shrewsbury River, You! The Band rocked through well-known hits like the Beatles’ “Come Together” and a slew of Bruce Springsteen songs before bringing ‘the Doctor’ onstage to sing “Soul Man” and a special rendition of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” which he performed with his wife, Lisa.

The docks at Navesink Marina were packed with people rocking out to the sounds of the Oz and his band, with both longtime fans and newcomers coming out to spend some time with their idol.

Mary-Pat Bethesda, of Fair Haven, said she heard that Dr. Oz would be coming to the shore that very morning and knew she couldn’t miss the show.

“I’m a huge fan of Dr. Oz,” she told redbankgreen during a break in the band’s set. “I’ve actually seen his show tape [in New York City] a couple times, and even though I work during the day, I Tivo all his episodes so I can still watch them.”

“It’s really fun to see him in kind of a different setting, and also out here supporting the Jersey Shore, since he’s pretty local,” she said. “And I had no idea that he was such a good singer, I was pleasantly surprised.”

Eric Zito, 24, of West Long Branch, said he had no idea the event was going on when he decided to come to EvenTide to meet up with a couple friends, but was also surprised by Oz’s vocal chops.

“I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the show, but I recognized him when I saw him,” Zito said. “I’m not sure I’m in his target demographic, but seeing him come out here to support our area and showing the people or Sea Bright a great time, I gained respect for him.

“Plus, it’s not everyday you show up to a bar and find Dr. Oz up on stage singing, so it was kind of cool,” he added.

Joan and Dani, twins from Scranton, Pennsylvania who declined to provide their last names, were in the area visiting family, and decided to check out the show after seeing a promotion on Dr. Oz’s Facebook page.

“We are fans of Dr. Oz. I mean, my sister is friends with him on Facebook,” Dani told redbankgreen while sharing a cigarette outside the bar with her sister. “When we found out he would be appearing so close, we thought we would come down and check it out. After all, it’s for a good cause.”

“I’ve tried to get tickets to his show before,” Joan said, “but there is a really long waiting list – I think he even mentioned that onstage just now – so it’s fun to see him in-person, even if it’s not his actual show.”

Asked if Oz seemed any different in person, Joan said, “I always thought he was great-looking,and he is in real-life too – and he is actually a pretty good singer, which is always a plus in my book.”

“Yea,” said Dani, nodding her head in agreement with her sister, “but honestly, he was a lot shorter than he looks on TV,” she added quickly.

“Well, maybe you shouldn’t print that,” she joked, before heading back inside with her twin.