Bobby Bandiera and Friends performing Neil Young’s ‘Like a Hurricane’ in 2011. (Click to enlarge.)


Two big-draw local musicians are slated to play concerts against the backdrop of the Navesink River in Red Bank this summer, redbankgreen has learned.

Bobby Bandiera (July 27) and the Matt O’Ree Band (with a special guest, August 24) will take the stage in Riverside Gardens Park as part of an effort to spotlight local club offerings, says Jamian’s Food and Drink owner Jamian LaViola, who’s organizing the shows.

The Matt O’Ree Band playing his ‘Black Boots’ in a studio earlier this year. Below, Jamian Laviola in his Monmouth Street restaurant’s rooftop garden in 2013. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge.)

The concerts, approved by the borough’s special events committee earlier this week, feature Shore-based guitarists and vocalists who’ve built large fan bases on, in Bandiera’s case, a vast array of musical styles in the R&B and rock realms and, in O’Ree’s, finesse as an electric blues dynamo.

While the borough Parks and Rec department hosts an annual jazz concert series in Riverside Gardens Park (this year’s begins July 5), “this is good old fashioned rock and roll,” LaViola said.

LaViola said the shows were born out of his desire to spotlight Red Bank’s nightlife scene. While clubs in Asbury Park get more attention, several Red Bank bars — the Downtown, the Walt Street Pub, Teak and Jamian’s among them — consistently provide a stage for local acts and a dancefloor for their audiences, he said.

“There is some great music going on in this town,” he said. “Red Bank does its own thing.”

Both the Bandiera and O’Ree shows are scheduled for Friday nights when no big acts are currently slated for Summerstage in Asbury Park or the PNC arena in Holmdel, he said. Social media and fliers will be used to encourage concertgoers to head over to a Red Bank bar or two afterward, he said. The effort will also boost Red Bank RiverCenter’s StreetLife music offerings.

The concert openers will be “kid bands” chosen from the Rob Dye-curated open mics held Sunday nights at Jamian’s, where LaViola said he “would feel bad going up on stage after some of these kids, they’re that good.”

The events will also feature 50/50 raffles, with the proceeds to be donated to the Red Bank schools music program.

There’s a pay-it-back motivation, LaViola said, noting that he started his career at age 15 as a short-order cook at a long-gone East Front Street eatery, the Garden Restaurant, and later held management positions at the Molly Pitcher and Oyster Point hotels and Ashes restaurant before he opened Echo, now called Jamian’s, 18 years ago.

“It’s for the town more than anything,” he said. “I feel like somebody’s got to do it.”

No rain dates have been scheduled.