Even as the leprechauns and Peeps threaten to drive Valentine’s Day’s candy kisses from the seasonal aisles, Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre is gearing up for an extended holiday weekend of V-day vibrations: sounds that resonate from the school dances of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s to the snapchat here and now.
It all begins this Friday, with the Red Bank debut of a familiar face and voice from the golden age of MTV — Billy Ocean, whose 1980s hits range from “Caribbean Queen” and “Loverboy” to “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” and the Jewel of the Nile soundtrack standout “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.”
The British R&B singer has some older and newer music to share from his 40-year career as well — and now that he’s apparently lost the dreadlocks he sported for much of the past decade, there’ll be no mistaking him for fellow UK video soulman Eddy Grant. Reserve tickets ($39 – $79) right here.
The night of St. Valentine traditionally means a street-corner serenade from the assembled voices of the annual Valentine Doo Wop show — and this year is no exception, as the package tour comes back to Red Bank with some fresh (if nostalgically comforting) faces on board.
Headlining the 2015 event is Shirley Alston Reeves, who as Shirley Owens fronted The Shirelles for a series of girl-group glories that include “Soldier Boy,” “I Met Him on a Sunday,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Baby It’s You.” Shirl’s joined by several returning retro-rockers — including Detroit-bred rockabilly specialist Jack Scott (equally at ease with the swagger of “The Way I Walk” as he is with the swoon of “What In the World’s Come Over You”), Cleveland Still & the Dubs (“Could This Be Magic“), and Larry Chance and the Earls — plus Norman Fox and the Rob Roys, Lenny Dell and the Demensions, Johnny Farina, Maurice Newton, The Fireflies and The Eternals. It’s all overseen by MC Cool Bobby B of Sirius Radio’s 50s on 5; tickets to Saturday’s 7:30 pm performance ($45 – $60) can be reserved right here.
From the candy stores and soda shops of the old neighborhood, we transition to the custom vans, arcades and roller rinks of late 20th century suburbia, as championed by the classic rock institution that is Foreigner. Field-marshaled by founding member Mick Jones, the 2015 edition of the hitmaking machine that gave us “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Urgent,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and many more returns on Monday, February 16 to the Basie stage (where last time out they performed an acoustic retrospective of their cash-cow catalog).
It’s a youngish lineup fronted by Kelly Hansen, the singer who took over from longtime lead voice Lou Gramm several seasons back — and it’s an 8 pm event that’s sold out as per the band’s website, although the Basie’s own site still indicates some available admissions as we post this. Take it here to confirm reservations ($30 – $85).