KimBandieraLt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Shore music legend Bobby Bandiera are among the luminaries to be honored by the Count Basie Theatre on August 29, with the second annual Vanguard Awards.

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

The Count Basie Theatre has announced honorees for the 2015 Vanguard awards, honoring lifelong devotion to the arts in New Jersey. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, musician Bobby Bandiera, and Investors Bank’s Richard Spengler will be recognized as Vanguards on Saturday, August 29, with tickets going on sale at noon this Friday, July 24 through, phone charge at (732)842-9000, and – at the Count Basie Theatre box office.

Also on August 29, Rockit! At The Basie will present its annual summer concert, The Who’s TOMMY In Its Entirety and Other Sounds of ‘69. The show will feature curation, guidance and performances from Bandiera, 2014 Vanguard winner Maureen Van Zandt and very special guests, and monies raised from the concert will go towards partnership program scholarships and other initiatives that fall within the Basie’s mission of providing arts education and outreach programs.

“I am honored to be recognized by one of Monmouth County’s leading music venues with a Vanguard Award,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno, a lifelong advocate for the arts, and as a Monmouth County resident, a longtime Basie supporter.  “As Lt. Governor and Secretary of State, I am proud to lead our vibrant arts community and will continue to ensure that the arts flourish throughout New Jersey.”

Fellow honoree Bobby Bandiera has performed on the landmark Basie stage dozens of times, but most notably as creator and bandleader behind the theatre’s legendary HOPE Concerts, the annual holiday concerts that have included cameos from dozens of world-famous musicians, and have raised nearly $2 million dollars for area nonprofits.

“I am happy and proud to be part of such a caring and giving community,” Bandiera said, hinting that he hopes to assemble a ninth HOPE concert to be held at the Basie later this year.

“As a Monmouth County resident for over 25 years, I deeply appreciate receiving this recognition from the Count Basie Theater,” said Investors Bank Chief Lending Officer Rich Spengler, “and (I) invite the community to help support this exceptional arts institution.”

“The 2015 Vanguard awards will continue to shine a light on the Count Basie Theatre’s education and outreach programs and especially support the Theatre’s partnership programs such as Rockit, JazzArts and the Central Jersey Youth Chorale,” stated Count Basie Theatre President and CEO Adam Philipson. “This year’s three honorees aren’t just supporters of the Basie’s mission, but advocates for the importance of the arts in everyday life around our region.”


Rockit!’s performance will open with a set of music from 1969, with songs from artists like Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, King Crimson  and more. Included will be historical information culled from the Rock & Roll Forever Foundation’s Teachrock program, founded by 2014 inaugural Vanguard nominee Steven Van Zandt. The second half of the evening will feature The Who’s famous TOMMY rock opera, performed in its entirety.

Partnership programs are yet another way the Count Basie Theatre fulfills its nonprofit mission to the people of central New Jersey. Rockit! and the Jazz Arts Academy  are audition-based programs housed at the theatre for aspiring musicians with one-on-one instruction and lessons on music theory and instrumentation from world-class, professional teaching musicians and culminating with onstage performances.

Tickets to the Basie’s Vanguard Awards, priced at $25, go on sale Friday, July 24 at noon through, phone charge at 732.842-9000 and the Count Basie Theatre box office. A limited number of VIP packages, including an intermission reception and sponsorship of the ceremony, will also be available.