van zandtMiddletown’s own “Little” Steven Van Zandt — photographed outside the Count Basie Theatre in 2008 — is one of the inaugural recipients of the Basie’s Vanguard Awards, honoring lifelong devotion to the arts in New Jersey. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

When the students of Rockit! at the Basie take the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre on Friday for their annual summer concert, A Tribute to Woodstock and The Age of Aquarius, they’ll be sharing the boards with a genuine Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — Middletown’s own contribution to E Street history (and King of Most Media) Steven Van Zandt.

The musician, arranger, producer, actor, writer, director, human rights activist, and international radio DJ will be taking time out from his myriad of projects to accept one of the Basie’s inaugural Vanguard Awards, honoring lifelong devotion to the arts in New Jersey. He’ll be joining his wife Maureen Van Zandt, Monmouth County Freeholder Lillian Burry and Monmouth County Arts Council executive director Mary Eileen Fouratt during a ceremony at the August 22 event.

Springsteen’s Lillyhammer‘d lieutenant — whose latest endeavors include a social studies curriculum, set to be introduced at Middletown High School South, called Rock and Roll: An American Story — will also be lending an assist with the programming of the Rockit! set, culled from the music of a time when Van Zandt was assembling a lineup of the Sundance Blues Band that featured Southside Johnny Lyon, Garry Tallent, Vini Lopez and (briefly) Bruce.

Take it here for full details on the first class of Vanguard Award recipients, in the AllGood section of redbankgreen — and here for tickets ($20). A limited number of VIP packages, including an intermission reception and meet and greet / photo opportunity with Mr. and Mrs. Van Zandt will also be available.