lacombe_jacques2Above: Conductor Jacques Lacombe carries the baton to the Basie for the year’s first visit by the NJ Symphony Orchestra, with the internationally acclaimed cellist Daniel Müller-Schott along for the ride…while below, Judith Krall-Russo brings the Downton-y delights of the Edwardian Manor to the MTPL. 

Friday, January 10:

krallrussoLINCROFT: You say you’re feeling cabin feverish after being housebound throughout much of our recent epic weather wackiness? You say you’re still unsure about how best to re-assimilate into mainstream society? Fortunately there’s a way to “stay home” while venturing beyond the garden gate, as the 24th annual winter edition of the Jersey Shore Home Show commandeers the Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College for the Shore area’s premier expo of home improvement contractors, vendors and manufacturers. Kicking off Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 pm, the event offers up a strolling smorgasbord of product showcases and demos — a brick ‘n mortar bazaar of everything from spas to sponges, bath stalls to burglar alarms, flagpoles to floor coverings, stonework to solar panels, windows to water treatments, and every helpful/ healthful thing between. Whether you’re a diehard DIY’er or a domestic dilettante, you can get pleasantly lost in this midway of merch and services, checking out the latest super-absorbent shammy or water-repellant shingle. You could even get a back rub — and for the first time, you can get your tickets ($8 adults, $6 seniors, free for age 17 and under) online. The Home Show continues Saturday (11 am – 8 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 5 pm), with free parking in BCC’s parking lots 6 and 7.

dogmaticJosh Matson — the poet-painter-performance artist known as The Dogmatic Experience — is among a trio of local-organic wordsmythes making a stand at Red Bank Library’s monthly River Read.  

Saturday, January 11:

SHREWSBURY: With a new season of Downton Abbey causing many of us to take a good hard look at our own domiciles — in the process pronouncing them more Duck Dynasty than Downton — a call goes out for help, and the call is answered by Judith Krall-Russo, the region’s resident food historian, tea specialist, and authority on classically elegant living. This afternoon at 2 pm, the Fords resident makes one of her frequent forays to the greater Green when she pays a visit to the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library for a presentation on social customs, dining protocol and all-around Life at the Edwardian Manor. It’s free of charge as always, with no registration required.

RED BANK: For the first 2014 installment of the monthly series of River Read: Words by the Navesink poetry events at the Red Bank Public Library, hosts Linda Muhlhausen and Gregg G. Brown offer up a homegrown hat trick — an afternoon spotlighting “three thoroughbred poets from NJ pastures” that begins at 1 pm with a public-invited workshop that affords the opportunity to “get inside the heads of these three writers as they collectively inspire you to create some on-the-spot poems you otherwise may never get around to writing (or maybe you would anyway, but why leave it to chance?).” Then at 2:30 pm, the three-fer thrills commence with an appearance by the “well-bearded’ wordsmythe who was recently named Poet Laureate of Asbury Park in the 2013 Asbury Music Awards at the Stone Pony — Joshua J Ballard, a two time Grand Slam Champion of Loser Slam Poetry and a nationally touring performance poet whose book “i keep going” was published by Piscataway House Publications in 2012.

Ballard will be joined by two fellow Piscataway House publishees — Andrew “INK” Feint, and former Asbury Poet Laureate Josh Matson, the self-styled “infection of the Jersey arts and music culture” who, d/b/a Dogmatic (or The Dogmatic Experience), has represented Loser Slam at the National Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry Slam, all while making a name for himself as a “live painter” of hundreds of portraits at live events and benefit shows. It’s all free — with complimentary panoramic seasonal views of the Navesink — and it’s capped with the now-traditional River Read open reading.

RED BANK: For their first appearance of the new year in Red Bank, conductor Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra return to the Count Basie Theatre for “a fifth of Beethoven” and then some — actually Beethoven’s 7th and 8th symphonies in their entirety, illuminated by the guest appearance of German cellist (and International Tchaikovsky Competition winner) Daniel Müller-Schott. Violinist Brennan Sweet and oboist Robert Ingliss are also spotlighted for the U.S. premiere of “Cadenzas for Oboe and Violin,” by jazz pianist and film scorer turned serious composer-conductor (and Mia Farrow ex) Andre Previn. As with all NJSO events, tickets for the 8 pm program ($20 – $85) are available NOT from the Count Basie Theatre box office, but by calling 1.800.ALLEGRO.

Sunday, January 12:

MIDDLETOWN: Featuring songs by William Finn (Falsettos), a Tony-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin — and so much room for improvs, ad libs and audience interaction that many members of the public have found themselves pressed into service as onstage participants in the quirky proceedings — the economically scaled Off Broadway show The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee became a surprise Broadway transplant in 2005, and a natural choice for school drama clubs in the years since. At 2 pm, the Middletown High School North Theatre Ensemble makes a Sunday sojourn to the Middletown Township Public Library for a free performance of songs and excerpts from their upcoming production; a sneak preview that also includes an interactive audience spelling bee. The show can be seen in its entirety on January 23 and 24 at 7 pm in the MHSN Auditorium, with tickets ($5) available at the door.