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LITTLE SILVER: A HOOTENANNY IN CHURCH

Among the five acts scheduled to perform at Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church this Sunday, the Last Whipporwill Bluegrass Band, above brings traditional bluegrass “as God and Monroe intended it.” 

embury-umc-220x140-9278506Like the jazz-and-blues house parties held on the last Friday of each month at the Red Bank Woman’s Club — and the regularly scheduled classical recitals at the White Street home of the Monmouth Conservatory — the libraries, community centers and places of worship on the Greater Red Bank Green have a long tradition of connecting music lovers with specialized sounds in a way that’s intriguingly under the radar, and off the beaten path.

This Sunday afternoon, another of the area’s “best kept secrets” raises its voice once more, as Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church plays host to a Bluegrass Stage Show and Jam that’s engaging, illuminating — and even interactive, should such things strike your fancy.

mark_miklos-raritan-valley-ramblers-1756566Mark Miklos and the Raritan Valley Ramblers are also among the guest performers lined up for Sunday’s event.

Presented from 1 to 5 p.m. by the “grass roots” organization known as the Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Association of New Jersey (BOTMA), the events are hosted at the Church Street landmark on the third Sunday of each month September through May, and feature performances by a handful of Jersey-fresh acts, served up with light refreshments in a relaxed atmosphere that’s augmented by Jamming Workshops for aspiring musicians. It’s a long-running “quiet” institution that’s attracted the skillsets of veteran suburban songsmiths, Pine Barrens pickers and keepers of the flame for various mountain music, coffeehouse folk and Americana styles.

That said, don’t let the “oldtime” label color your thinking too much. The hootenannies have also caught the attention of a new generation of urban-hipster, “newgrass” devotees, some of whom — like country bandleader Michael Patrick and mandolinist Richard Morris of Brooklyn-based M Shanghai String Band and Red Bank’s own Kül d’Sack — have been profiled in these paperless pages.

This Sunday’s schedule boasts appearances by Dune Grass (1 p.m.), Mark Miklos and the Raritan Valley Ramblers (1:45), Heidi Olsen & the Night (2:30), the Last Whippoorwill Bluegrass Band (3:30) and Bad Dogz (4:15). The lineup for March 19 can be found here.

Heidi Olsen will also be conducting the downstairs Jamming Workshop session — assisted by Bob Nowicki and John McCarthy, “two more experienced pickers and singers who help guide us along the bluegrassical way” (and who “want to help others become better bluegrass jammers”). The public is welcome at all BOTMA events in Little Silver, with an admission charge of $5 (or $4 for members) and additional info available by calling (732) 787-1891.

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