As commanding officer of the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue — and as a saloon singer supreme performing over the decades in the clubs, concert halls, tiki decks, taverns and dimly lit corners of coastal New Jersey — Bobby Bandiera has pretty much paid tribute to them all: the Beatles and the Stones; the Sun rockabillies and Motown soulmen; the AM radio one-hit-wonders and the FM rotation heavies.
So in a long, strange trip that’s taken him from smoke-choked pool halls and piano bars to the sold-out arenas of his road gig with Bon Jovi, there’s really only one career that still cries out for a proper salute: his own.
On Saturday night, Bandiera returns to Red Bank to address that glaring omission, with an “Autobiography” concert that assembles a rocking Rolodex of talented friends on the stage of one of the man’s favorite places to play, the Count Basie Theatre.
Scheduled for 8 pm, it’s a themed show that marks the milestones of Bandiera’s 30-year musical journey through the songs of the many legendary folks with whom he’s shared the stage — from hometurf talents like Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and Patti Scialfa, to honorary Shorecats like Gary U.S. Bonds, Darlene Love, Graham Parker and Dave Edmunds.
As the Hardest Working Musician in Shore Business (and the type who will return from an exhausting international road trip only to tote his guitar over to Jam Nite at the local watering hole), the man who first came to prominence with coverband kings Cats on a Smooth Surface has made a few friends along the way. And on Saturday he’ll be partnering with a jukebox Justice League that features (among many others) keyboardist-vocalist Carl Gentry, Boss backup singer Layonne Holmes, veteran saxman Tom Labella, and Joe Jackson’s longtime bassist, Graham Maby.
Expect a generation’s worth of signature songs, and more than a few surprises from the musical memory of one of pop’s genuine walking Encyclopedias of Rock. And — given that Bandiera’s regularly coerced the likes of Springsteen, Southside and Bon Jovi to perform in his Yuletide “Hope Concert” series at the Basie — expect something akin to the unexpected. Take it here for tickets ($25 – $99, with the top ticket admission offering access to a post-show meet ‘n mingle with the artists).