RED BANK: BASIE OFFERS BOY, ROY AND MORE

culture-clubBoy George (above, second from right) reunites with Culture Club for a Tuesday night concert at the Count Basie…while Bob Bandiera (below) presents a long-awaited tribute to Roy Orbison on Friday.

BandieraThe highly anticipated reunion of one of the most attention-compelling hit machines of the Reagan years…a delayed tribute to a musical guardian angel…a decades-spanning retrospective of radio hits, from the cats who were there…and the return of a platinum-plated band from the aughties that refuses to be regarded as oldies; all coming to the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre in the nights ahead.

It all begins tomorrow night, September 6, with the long-overdue return to our shores of a group that scored multiple smash hits, netted even more magazine covers, and turned mainstream pop culture topsy-turvy back in the golden age of MTV. Reconvening with the original lineup of Culture Club (Jon Moss, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay) for the American leg of a well-received international tour, Boy George has managed to remind back-in-the-day fans (and next-generation converts) that he and his mates were pretty much the top pop group of their mid-1980s moment; topping the US charts with “Karma Chameleon” and scaling the Billboards with a string of hits that included “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Time,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” and “The War Song” to name but a few. Take it here for tickets to the 8 p.m. show ($69 – $149) and here to purchase the $350 “VIP Experience” — then flip the record over for more vibrations on the Basie boards.

As a veritable walking pop music encyclopedia, guitarist-singer Bobby Bandiera can regularly channel an entire Hall of Fame’s worth of legends — but we suspect that the late great Roy Orbison has always held a special place in the bandleader’s heart; a fact borne out by Bandiera’s 1988 single “C’mon Caroline” and its carefully chosen b-side: a version of “Mean Woman Blues” that paid particular homage to Orby’s own soaring, growling, thrilling take on the much-covered chestnut. While Bandiera contemporaries from the Boss on down have long acknowledged their debt to the one-of-a-kind performer with the dark glasses and the operatic voice (Bruce was among the assembled allstars backing the “rediscovered” Orbison in the cable concert Black and White Night), plans for an all-Roy tribute show at the Basie with the Bandiera-led Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul revue had to be postponed earlier this year, in order to address the passing of David Bowie. This Friday, September 9, it’s at last The Big O’s turn, as Bobby and friends journey through a slew of signatures that promise to include “Oh Pretty Woman,” “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “In Dreams” and many others. Reserve tickets for the 8 p.m. show ($29 – $99) right here.

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It’s described as being anything but a tribute act — even as a core group of five seasoned session cats run through a carrying-case of transistor radio hits by everyone from The Four Seasons, Tommy James & the Shondells and Three Dog Night, to Carly Simon, Jim Croce and Elton John. The big difference between a show band, wedding band or casino band and The Hit Men is that these guys — founder Lee Shapiro (keyboards), Russ Velazquez (vocals), Larry Gates (bass, vocals), Jimmy Ryan (guitar, vocals) and Steve Murphy (drums, vocals) — can stake a genuine claim to the success of these songs; having been there in the studio when they were recorded, or on the road with the original artists in their prime. When The Hit Men take it to the Basie stage for the first time on Saturday, September 10, they’ll be presenting a multimedia show that “will take you behind the scenes with ‘insider’ stories about what it was like on the road and in recording sessions with Frankie, Tommy, Carly, Cat, Jim, Elton and many more.” They’ll also be dedicating the performance as a benefit for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, in a nod to bandmate Gates and his own experience with MM diagnosis and a successful stem cell transplant. The bassman will share his story during the 8 p.m. “celebration of life,” for which tickets ($25 – $49) can be had right here.

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For a band that didn’t register on the pop cultural radar until the turn of the new millennium — a major invasion that came equipped with a sextuple-platinum debut album (“The Better Life”) and a signature hit single (“Kryptonite”) — 3 Doors Down seem to have lived the history of a far more seasoned bunch of legends; having endured the passing of a co-founder, the drug-related dismissal of another charter member, and a revolving personnel situation that looks to have settled in the wake of their sixth and latest release “Us and the Night.” Through it all, frontman and  constant presence Brad Arnold has navigated the Mississippi-based group through a string of platinum-plated recordings, multiple Grammy nominations, a trophy case of awards and accolades, and a tour itinerary that’s kept the band front and center with audiences on several continents. When Three Doors Down make their Red Bank debut on Sunday, September 11, they’ll be headlining a rare triple-feature Basie bill (co-sponsored by Jersey-based rock radio stations WDHA and WRAT) that boasts opening sets by Pop Evil and Red Sun Rising — plus a VIP Soundcheck Party upgrade ($125) that includes a meet/greet and photo op with the artists, plus premium seating and the all-important “crowd free merchandise shopping.” Base tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show ($35 – $95) can be reserved right here.