RED BANK: ROCKIT & A RASCAL TO ROCK BASIE

The classic-rock conservatory kids of the Count Basie’s Rockit! program hit the Basie boards Saturday with a salute to the Summer of Love. 

It goes without saying that none of the dynamic young vocalists and instrumentalists of Rockit! at the Basie were around for 1967’s fabled Summer of Love — and chances are excellent that few if any of their parents were, either. So perhaps their grandparents could tell them a thing or two about life a half a century ago, when the air was charged with ready-or-not change and momentum, not to mention patchouli oil.

Of course, you didn’t have to be there with flowers in your hair to recognize that the year was a pivotal one for the popular culture in general, and a fast-maturing rock music in particular. So when the kids from Rockit! take to the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank this Saturday evening, they’ll be channeling the spirit of the era’s most game-changing album — and welcoming an in-the-flesh veteran of a genuine hit-making institution.

That album, as you might have guessed, is the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the ambitious, multi-layered opus that truly raised the bar and ushered in the album-rock era for keeps. In a year of similarly visionary platters (the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, The Who Sell Out, the Beach Boys’ aborted Smile sessions) and significant debuts (by Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, the Velvet Undergound, and the Grateful Dead), Sgt. Pepper became the one to aspire to. And for the 7 p.m. concert, the students of the classic-rock conservatory program founded by veteran drummer Bruce Gallipani will take on milestone songs that include “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m 64,” and “With a Little Help From My Friends.”

Speaking of friends, the onstage band will be joined by special guest Eddie Brigati, who, as vocalist and co-songwriter for the great Jersey-based band the Rascals, helped warm the nation’s transistor radios with such super hits as “Groovin,” “Good Lovin,” “People Got to Be Free,” “A Beautiful Morning,” “How Can I Be Sure?” and “Lonely Too Long.” Brigati, who made his Broadway debut in the The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream — a show produced by Basie board member, E Street Band member and friend-of-Rockit Steven Van Zandt — will lend his voice to several of the great tunes he co-wrote with Felix Cavaliere and lend a hand as the Rockit kids take on a selection of other musical milestones from a time 50 years ago today, when Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.

It’s a performance for which, we’ve pointed out previously here on redbankgreen, you don’t have to be related to the onstage talent to appreciate — and at a retro-rocking ticket cost of $15 (available right here), it’s one of the most popularly priced ways of enjoying Monmouth Street’s very own great American music hall.