When Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno brings his annual Bobfest concert back to Red Bank on Thursday, May 22, it’ll more than merely mark the birthday of Bob Dylan, the American original who turns 73 years “Forever Young” this Saturday.
The 8 pm event will be celebrating its own sweet sixteenth edition — its third consecutive turn at the Count Basie Theatre, hallowed home to several other musical birthday salutes (Sinatra, Elvis), and the ‘fest’s venue of choice since it outgrew the 350 seat mainstage of Two River Theater.
Here in 2014, the tribute that began life as an impromptu toast at the old Downtown Cafe will be reuniting Guadagno with his all-Shore dreamteam band known for this occasion as Tired Horse — and for the first time offering up a golden-anniversary twist on the now-traditional sets of Dylan signatures and secret treasures.
This year represents the 50th birthdays for a pair of Bob masterworks, The Times They Are a-Changin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan. The two 1964 releases, his third and fourth albums respectively, would cement the young Minnesotan’s standing as a game-changing writer of new and original folk songs; one who fully merited the mantle of Seeger and Guthrie. Stark, socially conscious recordings like “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” would give way in short order to meditations on maturity (“My Back Pages”), relationship politics (“It Ain’t Me Babe,” “All I Really Want to Do”) and playful dark humor (“Motorpsycho Nitemare”) that would point the way toward his electrified outings to come.
Guadagno and company — a group that’s historically included Mary McCrink, Rich Oddo, Andy McDonough, Phil ”Red River” Rizzo, Yuri Turchin and Rene Woolley — will perform the two LPs in their entirety, and with their own sonic signature and stamp. As redbankgreen wrote of the bandleader last year, “with a genial old Jersey Shore casual style, and a physical presence that evokes David Crosby more than it does the dour Dylan, Guadagno neither looks nor sounds the part of a ‘Legends In Concert’ lounge-act impostor — a fact that’s allowed the seasoned interpreter of classic pop songwriters to put his own spin on the Bob songbook, snatching harmony and melody from the jaws of Dylan’s own sinusy sing-speak and raggedy arrangements.”
Once again, and for the eleventh consecutive year, Guadagno will donate a portion of the Bobfest proceeds to the Anthony X. Guadagno Rock and Roll Music Fund, a scholarship named for his late brother and longtime bass player that allows young New Jersey musicians to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Tickets for Bobfest 2014 are priced at $19.50 – $39.50 and can be reserved right here — and you can catch Pat flying solo every Monday night, continuing a longstanding Red Bank tradition at Jamian’s Food and Drink.