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ON THE GREEN: WHERE TO WELCOME 2017

southsidebasienewyrs-7907372The champagne corks are poppin’ as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue a Count Basie New Year’s Eve tradition this Saturday night.

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Here at the tail end of a year that many people are all too anxious to put in the rear view mirror, there’s still sufficient cause to keep the party percolating right up to the last ball-drop. And in the bars, restaurants and performance spaces of the Greater Red Bank Green, revelers have a choice of options that range from an intimate table at a favorite bistro to a big event that’s become the toast of all New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas in the state of New Jersey.

Here’s a sampling from Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright nightspots.

tommy-grasso-and-spins-3358185Tommy Grasso (with guitar) and the Spins entertain at a second annual Phoenix Productions New Year’s Eve celebration on Chestnut Street.

That grand tradition is the NYE concert by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, a seasonal signifier that returned in 2015 to the Count Basie Theatre after a one-year detour to New Brunswick’s State Theatre. Back for another cork-popping edition this Saturday night, the event finds Johnny Lyon once again cementing his claim to the mantle of Mister New Year’s Eve — a legacy that the big-band frontman inherits from the long-gone likes of Guy Lombardo and Dick Clark, and a responsibility that he fulfills with far more panache and pizzazz than smiley-guy Seacrest.

Having just recently marked his own 68th lap around the sun, Southside (whose stripped-down side project the Poor Fools returns to Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre stage in spring 2017) masters a ceremony that draws from the Jukes’ prodigious 40-plus year history, a rollicking retrospective that’s sure to include solo excursions, new material and surprise covers (Asbury Park audiences thrilled a few summers back to a Jukes concert that turned into an awesomely unexpected Rolling Stones tribute). The show gets rolling at 9 p.m. with an opening set by an Asbury-now favorite, Des and the Swagmatics — the funk-infused band (fronted by vocalist Deseree Spinks, and boasting veterans of everything from Latino-rock combo deSoL to genderbending Fender benders Geena and Dragster) whose own headline sets have been blasting away doldrums at clubs around the region. Take it here for tickets ($39 – $99).

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Another, more recently minted Red Bank tradition resumes over at the 59 Chestnut Street headquarters of Phoenix Productions, where for the second consecutive year the  theatrical troupe hosts a fundraiser New Years Eve celebration that straddles the change of annum between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Tommy Grasso — a Jersey-bred singer-songwriter-guitarist whose résumé spans experience in the pit bands of top Broadway shows, tours with classic R&B artists and even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part in the Beatles-basted musical film Across the Universe — provides the soundtrack with his band the Spins. The $100 per person ticket includes dinner and open bar (beer, wine and soft drinks), dessert, coffee, and the requisite champagne toast at midnight. It’s a fundraiser from which half of proceeds represent a tax-deductible contribution to Phoenix Productions — and it’s for ages 21 and up (“black tie optional; sparkle is essential”) for which required reservations can be made right here. Call (732) 747-0014 or email [email protected] for additional info.

RED BANK

Take it here for dinner reservations at Teak Restaurant, Bar and Sushi Bar, available anytime between 5 and 10 p.m., with live music by James Michael and drink specials all night.

Over on Broad Street, Gotham boasts “two levels to ring in 2017” with a $40 open bar (tickets here) or table reservations, plus tunes by DJ Greg Groovez and a Veuve Cliquot toast at the turn of the calendar page. Reserve at [email protected].

The Kicks provide the party-starting sounds at The Downtown, where tables can be reserved via credit card anytime after 8 p.m. for a cost of $25 per person — or, pay a $20 “standing room” cover charge and enjoy the music and the vibe at the ever-popular Front Street nightspot.

The celebrated kitchen of Buona Sera Ristorante offers up a four course “family style” dinner that’s chased by music, dancing, and a five-hour open bar that commences at 9 p.m. It’s $150 per person (plus tax and tip), with reservations at (732) 530-5858.

A $40 ticket gets you access to an open bar (9 p.m. to 12 midnight) at Red Rock Tap + Grill, the reborn/rebranded onetime home of Brannigan’s at 14 Wharf Avenue. There’s DJ music and free giveaways in the mix as well, with reservations available at (732) 747-2999.

A novel (and budget conscious) option for a New Years night out, YESTERcades invites gamers 21 and over to enjoy unlimited video games and free food beginning at 10 p.m., for just $25 per person. It’s BYOB (beer/wine only), with champagne toast at midnight. Call (732) 383-7873 to reserve.

FAIR HAVEN

Reserve for dinner anytime between 5 to 11 p.m. at Nauvoo Grill Club, with diners enjoying live entertainment in the lounge by Jersey Shore legend Stormin’ Norman Seldin, and late-nite revelers treated to party favors and champagne toast.

RUMSON

Another longtime Shore favorite, Jose Loo entertains with his band from 9 p.m. forward at Barnacle Bill’s, with no cover charge.

The Famous New Years Eve Gala returns to Salt Creek Grille beginning at 9 p.m., as Exec Chef Robert Belt presents a four course dinner that’s accompanied by a four hour open bar, live music (by “Affair 2 Remember”), midnight toast, and other extras that include a photo booth, party favors and a $20 Salt Creek gift card for attendees. It’s $120 (plus tax and tip) per person, with reservations at (732) 933-9272.

SEA BRIGHT

The Eventide Grille (at Navesink Marina, 1400 Ocean Avenue) serves up a premium buffet (filet mignon, lobster and more) from 8 to 11 p.m., plus four-hour open bar and live music from the Moroccan Sheepherders commencing at 9. Call (732) 530-1414 to reserve at $95 per person.

DJ Angel Manuel keeps the momentum going between the old year and the new, beginning 9 p.m. at Dive! Coastal Bar, with free champagne toast at the top of the clock and more info at (732) 268-7707.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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