brian-setzerStray Cat topcat turned big-band ringmaster Brian Setzer, above, tunes up Santa’s souped-up sleigh — and Beat Root Revival (below) lights the way — as the season of nearly non-stop holiday music at the Count Basie Theatre commences Monday.

beat-rootThe official tree has yet to find its base in Red Bank’s Riverside Gardens Park, and the horse-drawn carriages and surrogate Santas have yet to be sighted on the downtown streets.

But the elves at the Count Basie Theatre, the Greater Red Bank Green’s unofficial Capital of Christmas, already have their workshop in overdrive on a packed slate of Christmastime confections that runs right up to the doorstep of the New Year.


Ranging from seasonal standards to all-seasons secular, it’s a schedule that begins early and in earnest Monday night with the return (no doubt via fuel-injected, souped-up sleigh) of Grammy-go-getter Brian Setzer and his big-axe Orchestra.

Commencing at 7:30 p.m., the show represents another Red Bank encore for the onetime Top Cat of the MTV-era hitmakers the Stray Cats, back on the road for his 13th annual Christmas Rocks! Tour. The blond-pompadour’d singer/ guitarslinger — who made his mark with stripped-down barnburners like “Stray Cat Strut,” “Rock This Town” and “Sexy + 17”—  has grown into his role as ringmaster of his 19-piece touring organization. He’ll suit up for a set that tumbles selections from his four (yes) albums of Yuletide yippee  with Stray Cat signatures and vintage jukebox juggernauts from the likes of Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley and more.

The holiday hullabaloo that opens with an intimate mug of eggnog, courtesy of a set by the Irish-English folk duo Beat Root Revival. The tuneful twosome of Andrea Magee (guitar, bodhran, Irish whistles, flute) and Ben Jones (guitar, bass, piano, drums, harmonica, organ, ukelele, banjo, mandolin) are making their first appearance in front of a Shore area audience on the momentum generated by their self-titled debut album.

Take it here for tickets ($38 – $118) — or go here for more info on the many upcoming holiday-themed concert events at the Basie, including Jackie Evancho (11/25), the Wizards of Winter (11/26), and the annual Holiday Doo Wop show (12/3).