Brian Setzer (above) and his swingin’ Orchestra sound the keynote on a week’s worth of music at Basie’s place; a smorgasbord of sounds that includes appearances by Travis Tritt, The Duprees, and the Difford-Tilbrook partnership that brought you Squeeze (below).
Over at the Count Basie Theatre — where the coming of December heralds a packed schedule of Christmastime confections, right up to the doorstep of New Year’s — the twelfthmonth’s earliest days and nights offer up a buffet that includes music both seasonally standard and all-seasonssecular, in addition to the sort of golden oldies that comprise a sacred songbook in themselves. Arriving in town this Wednesday, December 2 atop a hybrid sleigh that’s fuel-injected with a little bit of each, Grammy-getter Brian Setzer returns with his big-axe Orchestra on an annual Christmas Tour that finds the onetime Top Cat of The Stray Cats suiting up for a set that tumbles selections from his three albums of Yuletide yippee with Stray Cat signatures (“Rock This Town,” “Sexy + 17”) and vintage jukebox juggernauts from the likes of Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley and more. It’s a big show that breaks down all humbug resistance with its rockabilly-roadrace pace and the frontman’s road-tested panache in the role of guitar-slinging retro leader of the 18-piece big band. Tim Lowman, the high-energy one-man blues-shock band known as Low Volts, opens the 7:30 pm festivities, so fly here for tickets ($58 – $118) — and flip the record over for more.
His track record speaks of what you might call “the standard meteoric Nashville success story” (more than 25 million sales units; a trophy case full of CMAs and Grammys) — and his interviews have dependably pushed all the requisite NASCAR/ NRA/ Dubya buttons favored by the tight pigeonholes of the neo-Nashville focus groups — but where Travis Tritt truly distinguishes himself from the pack (aside from his trademark lack of headgear) is in a soulfully savvy style that looks beyond Music Row for inspiration; from Rod Stewart’s Faces and bluesman Buddy Guy, to our hometurf guys Springsteen and Glen Burtnik (“Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”). Back on track with a new single after an interlude of record-label weirdness, the No-Hat Guy hits the Basie stage on Thursday, December 4 for an 8 pm show opened up by native Nashvillian Tucker Yochim. Take it here for tickets ($30 – $65).
It’s a big-hall event that’s as intimate as a streetcorner in the old neighborhood, especially given the shout-outs to local candy stores, and other landmarks of long-ago Brooklyn, North Jersey and the Bronx. Substitute the corner lamppost with a candy-striped North Pole and you’ve got the Holiday Doo Wop edition of the popular oldies package-show series, returning to station stop Red Bank on Saturday, December 5. In this latest presentation from promoter LAR Enterprises, a jukebox worth of 1950s (and early 60s) chart-toppers are chased with some period-perfect arrangements of seasonal standards, on a bill headlined by two of the era’s genuine hitmaking machines — Jersey City’s own Duprees (“My Own True Love,” “Have You Heard” and the sublime “You Belong to Me”), and Herb Reed’s 2015 edition of The Platters (“Only You,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “The Great Pretender”). Also wrapping it up with a bow are vintage teen idol Jimmy Clanton, Jay Siegel’s Tokens, and Linda Jansen, original singer of The Angels who told us “My Boyfriend’s Back.” Lineup subject to change, and tickets ($45 – $60) available here.
Making a Red Bank debut in an on again/ off again partnership that runs from a string of memorable recordings in the late 1970s and early 80s, to a comeback trail that’s signposted as The “At Odds Couple” Tour, the singing and songsmithing team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook bring their scaled-down acoustic version of Squeeze to the Basie on Monday, December 7. It’s an intimate evening with a couple of blokes whose wryly sophisticated brand of alterna-pop (“Pulling Mussels from the Shell,” “Another Nail in My Heart,” “Black Coffee in Bed,” “Up the Junction,” “Cool for Cats” and many others) set them far above the pack of skinnytie new-wavers in the picture-disc era; an 8 pm session that finds the longtime collaborators “reflecting on their careers, as part of Squeeze and as solo artists, sharing not only the music but also giving an insight in to what makes the two of them tick as a partnership.” Also promised are a taste of the latest new material from the Squeeze song factory — as well as some decades-old unrecorded items from the duo’s first team-ups (“there are a few corkers in there”). Take it here for tickets ($39 – $79) — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for details on this Sunday’s Sinatra Centennial Birthday Bash, as well as the month-long holiday hootenanny that is December at Basie’s place.