Search Results for: "Chuck Lambert"

RED BANK: CHUCK LAMBERT HITS A MILESTONE

chuck lambert bandChuck Lambert, seen above performing at Riverfest in Marine Park in 2012, turns 65 years old Saturday, when he and his band are scheduled to play Jamian’s Food and Drink. Below, Lambert in downtown Red Bank in 2006. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Chuck LambertIn a way, it’s just another gig for a hardworking musician, one of maybe 250 he does each year in bars, clubs and on sidewalks on the Greater Red Bank Green, as well as in New York, Philly and Atlantic City.

But when Chuck Lambert plugs in at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank Saturday night, this one will be special for the local guitar legend, and not just because it’s occurring on his 65th birthday.

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RED BANK: STREETLIFE BUSKS OUT ALL OVER

Luminous hula-hoop artist Eryka Andrex in performance during a past edition of Red Bank StreetLife, the weekly summer sidewalk concert series that returns to town Saturday. 

If it’s the start of June, it must be time for the return of Red Bank StreetLife, the summertime Saturday series of live entertainment that commandeers the sidewalks, storefronts and bumpouts of the borough’s business district beginning — and, for the first time in its 17-year history — on the third Thursday of June and July.

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LINCROFT: CLEARWATER FLOWS AGAIN

Dawg Whistle Paul Whistler Vini LopezShore music legends Paul Whistler and Vini Lopez team up as Dawg Whistle, while fellow famed musicmakers Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger (below) suit up for the Weeklings, when the 41st annual Clearwater Festival returns to the Brookdale campus this weekend.

Burtnik BurgerIt’s all about the message, when you get right down to it, one of care and respect and vision for this coastal place where we make our home. But when the Clearwater Festival returns to Lincroft for a frankly amazing 41st annual edition this weekend, attendees might be forgiven for thinking that it’s equally about the music — an attraction that’s drawn the participation of some pretty awesome figures over the years.

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RED BANK: BASIE (AND JOHNNY), 365

keith marks 082214“Pied Piper of Jazz” Keith Marks keynoted a new slate of free outdoor jazz concerts on August 22 — a Count Basie 365 Cultural Series that continues Friday evening with vocalist Valarie Adams and showband.

Like a lot of institutions in the town that birthed the great “Count” Basie, it honors the “Kid from Red Bank” who became one of the pivotal bandleaders of jazz’s golden age — a living link that’s rooted in a place where the likes of Al Wright and Joe Muccioli continue to uphold the tradition.

Continuing for the next three Fridays at West Side Park (aka “the pocket park”) on the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue (aka DJ2 ‘n Shrew), the third annual Count Basie 365 Cultural Series also pays tribute to a real unsung hero of the art form — Ralph Gatta, longtime proprietor of Johnny’s Jazz Market, and an aficionado whose exuberant passion and expertise on all things jazz were second to no one’s.

A project of the mayor-appointed Red Bank Borough’s Vision Committee, the series kicked off on August 22 with a concert by a frequent summer-season guest performer — jazz flautist Keith Marks. The music resumes on September 5 with the return of another staple of summer concert stages, Valarie Adams and the Dimensions, with the dynamic showband bringing their encyclopedic setlist of soul/ Motown/ funk favorites beneath the stars at 6:45 pm.

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RBPL UNCORKS A TASTEFUL FUNDRAISER

KristiNiroSusanHaugenesCork maven Kristy Niro brings the holiday wines, and Susan Haugenes brings the live music, when Red Bank Public Library hosts a Wine Tasting fundraiser on November 12.

A selection of holiday season wines, live music, a gift auction and hors d’oeuvres make for a memorable night at the Eisner Memorial Library, when the newly established Foundation for the Red Bank Public Library presents a Wine Tasting Benefit on the night of November 12.

Cork maven Kristy Niro, a wine expert who’s been a frequent presence at special tasting events around the greater Red Bank green, will select and present a range of wines suitable for holiday entertaining and other cold-weather occasions.

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ON THE GREEEN: A FAB, JAZZY WEEKEND

Susan Haugenes and Chuck Lambert perform with his full band in a free concert in Little Silver Sunday evening. Dead Bank is at the Walt Street Pub Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Friday, August 2:

RED BANK: Fixx presents a lineup of live bands starting at 8 p.m. with Diego Allessandro & Lot 25 playing a few songs from their next album. Also on the bill: the Trouble, Frances Jones & the Saviors, Exit 117, Oblivion and headliner Negative Traction. No cover; 26 West Front Street.

MIDDLETOWN: In honor of the 36th anniversary of “the King’s” passing, the Middletown Arts Center presents two nights of free, hip-shaking Elvis Presley tribute performances. Bring blankets, chairs and snacks. Night one of the weekend concert, “Memories of Elvis,” begins at 8 p.m. 36 Church Street; parking is free.

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RED BANK: TALKIN’ HOT JAZZ IN JULY

He plays seashells by the seashore: trombonist and “seashellist” Steve Turre  brings his quintet to the Two River Theater on Friday and Saturday.

By TOM CHESEK

Whoever coined the phrase “Le Jazz Hot” might well have been thinking of the muddy, muggy banks of the Navesink in the months of July and August, as the borough that birthed Count Basie tends to fill its superheated summer days and trez-cool nights with the sorts of sounds that honor the legacy of the legendary Kid from Red Bank.

The musical fireworks start Thursday, when the waterfront walkways of Riverside Gardens reverb with the first of this year’s open-air Jazz in the Park junkets. Then, on Friday and Saturday, the Marion Huber room at Two River Theater is transformed once more into  a cool cavern of candlelit tables, classic coffeehouse vibes and close-up concert dynamics — when the series known as Summer Jazz Café turns that “black box” space into the area’s best-kept-secret nightspot.

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RED BANK: PARK IT HERE SUMMER NIGHTS

A full slate of movies, music and workouts is scheduled for Riverside Gardens Park, but minus a songwriters’ series.  (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Despite the loss of a perennial favorite, Red Bank’s Summer Series in Riverside Park is still poised to draw plenty of fanfare with a busy schedule, packed with plenty of movies, music and fitness events over the next couple months.

After nearly a decade, Brookdale Raido’s Songwriters in the Park series will move from Red Bank to Belmar, according to Parks and Recreation Director Memone Crystian.

“Belmar was able to offer the program full funding, which we, unfortunately, could not,” Crystian told redbankgreen. “Basically, it was an offer they just couldn’t refuse.”

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FINDING MR. WRIGHT, ON A STEAMY NIGHT

Blues and reggae specialist Gary Wright comes to the historic Woman’s Club of Red Bank for the latest in a series of Reckless Steamy Nights. (Photo by Terri GO Seminoles Walliczek)

By TOM CHESEK

It was no less an old bluesman than John Lennon who said, “the blues is a chair, not a design for a chair or a better chair… it is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at. You sit on that music.”

Of course, when the person in the chair is someone with the skills and savvy of Gary Wright, that functional piece of furniture can be a throne of kings. The Red Bank-based singer and guitarist (who, just to clear things up, is not this Gary Wright) shares a passion for the blues with a great many other veteran performers on the Shore soundscape — but in the hands of this southpaw stringbender, the legacy of the earliest blues recording artists comes alive. You hear the wise cat’s instinctive sizing up of the room and the audience, the troubador’s sense of social justice, and the crossroads at which the scholar’s pure research transmutes into joyous poetry.

A Red Banker for the past 28 years, the Long Island native would become known as co-fronter (with ex-wife Jennifer Wright on vocals) of Terraplane Blues, a band that released two CDs, played several major blues festivals, opened for some pretty legendary acts, and even made it to the finals of the 2000 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

In the years since the Terraplane was permanently garaged, Wright has gigged extensively with reggae unit Predator Dub Assassins; sat in with his friend Chuck Lambert; produced the forthcoming CD by Richie Havens Band veteran Poppa John “Bug”; taken part in multi-artist benefits (such as a recent event in Asbury Park organized by the nonprofit Musicians on a Mission), and even showed up at the odd house party sort of affair — including, in the interest of full disclosure, a 2011 happening that took place at this correspondent’s digs inside the Stephen Crane House.

This Friday night,Wright becomes the latest guest performer to join in the Shore’s longest-running house party — the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation’s renewed series of Reckless Steamy Nights at the Woman’s Club of Red Bank. It’s a rescheduling of a November 2012 date that was postponed due to structural damage to the venerable venue — and if you’ve yet to attend one of these unique and intimate events inside the historic Anthony Reckless estate on Broad Street, you owe it to yourself to take in some fine and fascinating sounds, take a tour of the landmark house, and take a break for conversation and refreshment with likeminded music fans.

The Blues Desk at redbankgreen went looking for Mr. Wright, in advance of what promises to be his first (and, hopefully, far from his last) full-band solo showcase.

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THEY’RE ALIVE! OYSTERFEST RETURNS SUNDAY

Slurping and pulling at the 2011 edition of the Oysterfest, held in Red Bank’s White Street lot. (Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Think you’ve never eaten anything alive before? If you’ve tried a raw oyster on the half shell, guess again – or so claim the authors of the no-doubt-definitive Wikipedia entry on the bivalve, who state emphatically that oysters must be eaten or cooked alive. They’re also chock-full of zinc, iron, and calcium, as well as Vitamin A.

Also: they go well with Guinness.

Residents of (and visitors to) the Green might keep those culinary tidbits in mind as they turn their attention to next Sunday’s Red Bank’s Guinness Oyster Festival, slated to take over the White Street lot for an afternoon full of flavor and fun.

Modeled after the 57-year-old Galway Oyster Festival, the day is a celebration of the opening of oyster season.

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GETTING JAZZY FOR JOHNNY JAZZ


Red Bank’s jazz royalty gathered in an unassuming pocket park at Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard Friday night as the Al Wright Unit, above, the Chuck Lambert Band and other acts performed for a packed-in crowd of about 100.

The occasion: the third and final of the summer in the Count Basie 365 Cultural Series organized by the borough parks and rec department. The show was a tribute to the late grocer and jazz enthusiast Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta(Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

A CHANGE OF SEASON, A HAPPENING WEEKEND

Red Bank musical movers and shakers Chuck Lambert, Joe Muccioli and the Al Wright Unit’s Ruth Wright pay tribute to the late Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, in a special outdoor concert Friday.

While there’s still technically plenty of summer sand left in the hourglass, the coming of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the greater Red Bank Green adds an ever so slightly melancholy touch to the senior-diet Dog Days of August. We detect a nagging hint of Back to School seriousness; a wrapping up of outdoor entertainments; a change of gears and seasons that’s keynoted by a tuneful tribute, a look ahead to Halloween and a merrily Menopausal musical.

redbankgreen has assembled an even dozen diversions in this pre-Labor Day interlude, starting with a handful of things going on beneath the setting sun and stars.

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BUSKING IN THE GLORY OF STREET LIFE

Clockwise from top left: A Cool Blues Duo, Jeff & Elaine, The Al Wright Unit and Peas & Carrots are among the acts taking it to the streets for Red Bank Street Life, the 2012 slate of which kicks off this Saturday evening.

It happens right about the time that Riverfest sounds the keynote to summertime in Red Bank. The sidewalks, storefronts and greens of the Shore’s favorite beach-free destination town ring out with great evening music every Saturday night in the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Other towns may stake a claim to being Where Music Lives, but when Red Bank StreetLife returns on June 2, it will transform the Borough of Basie into that place where Music greets visitors who arrive by rail; where Music provides an eclectic soundtrack to shopping and dining; and where Music gets mobile on the streets of the downtown and West Side business districts.

Presented by Red Bank Rivercenter (with funding assistance from the Monmouth County Arts Council), Street Life offers up a shuffle-mix that ranges from acoustic Americana to ethnic, and from sweet-Adeline harmonies to a little bit of harmonic dissonance.

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TAKING IT TO THE RIVER FOR THREE-DAY FEST

A weekend’s serving of cheek-bulging chow and hip-shaking music take up residence in Red Bank’s Marine Park this weekend. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge.)

By TOM CHESEK

It was the subject of a behind-the-scenes brouhaha that rivaled the most spirited Battle of the Bands: a “take back the weekend” campaign that pitted some of the mainstays of the Red Bank business community against an established event that many locals believed had both outgrown and turned its back on its host community.

When the calendar flipped to the first weekend in June, 2011, however, the consensus was that Riverfest was a refreshing breath of sweet summertime air off the Navesink — a successful revival of a seasonal signature that Lynda Rose, president of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, calls “a perfect fit for the town, the businesses and anyone who enjoys being in Red Bank.”

Beginning Friday and continuing into Sunday evening, Riverfest returns to the sloping lawns and waterfront walkways of Marine Park with a three-day, rain-or-shine, strolling smorgasbord of culinary creations, “local organic” music and family-friendly activities.

Billed as “New Jersey’s Largest Food and Music Festival with Free Admission,” it’s both a throwback to an earlier small-town vision of Red Bank, and a summer-season keynote to a new chapter in the borough’s ever-evolving history.

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FAIR HAVEN: AMPING IT UP FOR THE TROOPS

dead-bank-greenDead Bank brings its Grateful Dead salute to the K of C this Saturday as part of a matinee musicfest in support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Asbury Park might get the ink as the city “Where Music Lives,” but the bars, parks and sidewalks of the greater Red Bank Green can surely boast their share of bands, balladeers and bluesfolk.

This Saturday afternoon, a shufflemix of top local talent convenes in Fair Haven for a fundraiser showcase that could only be called Tunes for Our Troops.

A benefit for the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project and its rehabilitative and transitional programs for severely injured service members, the four-hour fest takes place at the Fair Haven hall of the Knights of Columbus – Red Bank Council 3187. Kicking off at 2pm, it’s an event for which active service members will be admitted free of charge.

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WIN A BON JOVI GUITAR. GO NAKED. OR BOTH

Done3In an effort to raise awareness about detectable cancers, two Red Bank shops are organizing an evening of champagne, sweets and beautiful, bare skin.

Another organization is auctioning off a guitar donated by pop star Jon Bon Jovi to help feed and clothe those in need.

Well, one of those got your attention, right?

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DOING LUNCH (AND LIFE) WITH MUSIC

lunch-music4-499x375The Andreach-Chrepta Jazz Duo returns as opening act for LunchMusic, the plein-air performance series running every Wednesday in June. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

In the week when a newly redux version of Riverfest takes back Marine Park in a three-day blast of cooking, crooning, cruising, crafting and kiddie rides, the Shore’s favorite beach-free destination town sounds an even earlier keynote to the season of outdoor tunes — as early as lunchtime Wednesday.

A welcome way-station on the Everest-like hump of the warm weather working week, the free concert events known as LunchMusic return to Riverside Gardens Park this afternoon with a pair of familiar faces — Red Bank’s Andreach-Chrepta Jazz Duo; the selfsame cats who inaugurated Red Bank Rivercenter‘s every-Wednesday-in-June series last year (redbankgreen, of course, was on the scene). The sax-guitar twosome will be playing for “music lovers and any office workers, childcare givers, moms, dads and just anyone who needs a break” between noon and 2pm, with several local eateries also getting into the act by offering some packed-to-go specials designed for noshing by the Navesink.

New for June 2011 are free lunchtime fitness classes at Riverside Gardens, with John Nies of Red Bank’s Power Center conducting a free East West CHI-Camp session from 12 to 1pm, and Dancing Foot Yoga offering an Introduction to Yoga class from 1 to 2pm (it’s bring your own mat and towel).

LunchMusic resumes on June 8 with Pam McCoy & Familiar Faces, and continues on June 15 with Red Bank’s unofficial musical mayor Chuck Lambert joining Susan Haugenes in A Cool Blues Duo. The Tor Miller Band takes the stand on June 22, and the series concludes on June 29 with Howell teens Alina and Justin Zimmerman, a/k/a Sibling Rivalry — who, despite the name, play very nicely together.

That’ll do for lunchtime; if you’re hungry for more music on Saturday nights, RiverCenter is laying out an impressive spread that begins this weekend — with details on the flipside of the paperless page.

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PARK IT HERE FOR FREE MUSIC & MOVIES

thespringstandardsThe Songwriters in the Park series brings the Spring Standards, above, and former Bongos member Richard Barone, below, to Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

richardbaroneIt’s been the backdrop for more wedding party photos than any local scenery this side of the “hobbit” pergola at Deep Cut Gardens, the setting for school commencements, and the preferred parking place for the borough’s distinctive holiday ice boat. A place for kids to congregate on weekend nights, and a place for candlelit vigils and makeshift memorials in the days following 9/11.

Ever since Riverside Gardens took shape on the former site of the long-gone apartment house of the same name, a generation of Red Bankers has wondered how they ever got along without the West Front Street park along the Navesink. No more so than in the weeks after the end of the school year, when the waterfront walkways host a beach-blanket brigade of neighbors in search of some music and movies, under the setting sun and stars. It all comes to you courtesy of the hardworking folks at the borough’s Department of Parks and Recreation, working in concert with sponsors and co-organizers public and private.

It’s that warm and breeze-kissed time of year when the municipal government — the people who normally incur your wrath over not filling in potholes fast enough — gets to fill your evenings with music and all-around good vibes.

Beginning this week, Riverside Gardens will see the return of three proven and popular attractions — Movies in the Park, Jazz in the Park and Songwriters in the Park — all presented free of charge (with complimentary river sunsets) throughout July and much of August. It’s a slate of entertainments that was preceded by an appetizer in the form of June’s LunchMusic series — and the menu continues, right after the break.

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ADDING LUNCH TO THE SONIC SMORGASBORD

lunchmusic

From left: Matt Wade, A Cool Blues Duo (featuring Chuck Lambert and Susan Haugenes), Kati Beddow Brower and  Virago pack the Tunes-To-Go, as Red Bank RiverCenter inaugurates a new LunchMusic series at Riverside Gardens.

By TOM CHESEK

If you’re a music fan of eclectic disposition, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, on summertime Saturday nights, a carelessly distracted connoisseur could literally stumble over the next big thing on the streets of Red Bank.

Beginning June 5 and continuing Saturday nights through August (save for July 3’s KaBoom fireworks night), the outdoor mini-concert series known as Red Bank StreetLife returns to the the sidewalks and storefronts of the Basie-birthing borough — an open-air musical bazaar produced and presented (as it’s been each year since 2001) by the folks at Red Bank RiverCenter.

It’s a regular sonic smorgasbord of jazz stylers and blues howlers, folk strummers and world drummers, bell choirs and barbershoppers and more, spotlighting performers who’ve competed for the coveted StreetLife slots in a series of judged auditions, as redbankgreen detailed here in April.

Before all that, however, RiverCenter is serving up an exciting appetizer to the season’s musical menu — an all-new Wednesday lunchtime entertainment series that begins June 2 at noon in Riverside Gardens Park and continues through the month under the name LunchMusic.

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IN oRBit: WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit does it up in shades of Blue and Brown — courtesy of a boisterous benefit bash that’s toplined by some of the Shore’s finest Blues masters and mistresses, along with a revival of a musical adapted from the works of a true philosopher king of the funnies.

That show is You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the stage adaptation of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts characters and the latest family-friendly offering from Two River Theater Company. It’s a fresh look at the timeless humor of that most sublime strip, and we’ve got a Q&A with Charlie Brown himself — otherwise known as Doug Hara (above), the actor who, believe it or no, played the manipulative messenger of mischief Puck in TRTC’s recently wrapped production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

After that it’s a break for lunch — an unusually late lunch, on Thursday night down in Bradley Beach, where roots-music impresario Michael Patrick  presents a special Jam Away the Blues benefit for Red Bank’s own Lunch Break nonprofit. With the likes of Sonny Kenn, Matt O’Ree and Chuck Lambert on board, the event’s got cred to spare — and we’ve got the roadhouse rundown, only in Red Bank oRBit!

In oRBit: ‘NEWGRASS,’ BLUES & JAZZ

Noworbiting_iconRichardMorrisMandolin player and (Rumson-Fair Haven grad) Richard Morris can claim no credit for arranging this Saturday’s appearance of the M Shanghai String Band in Atlantic Highlands, though he’s a member of the Brooklyn-based urban-bluegrass band and a resident of neighboring Highlands.

But Red Bank oRBit‘s interview with Morris in today’s edition does give us entree to the both the wonders of M Shanghai, a shambling dozen or so musicians who found their home in a Chinese restaurant. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the healthy bluegrass community in the greater Red Bank area — and the key role in it played by one of Little Silver’s most
historic locales

From newgrass to old blues, we take it down to the Wonder Bar in Asbury
Park, where the club is hosting a two-night tribute to the late and lamented
Jason’s jazz and blues club in the former South Belmar (now Lake Como).

Among the veteran
blues-hounds on tap are some familiar Red Bank names, including Chuck Lambert, Sonny Kenn — and Phoebe Holiday Ryan, the RBR senior last seen on
our site in Two River Theater’s Melissa Arctic.

Your neighbors are up to some tuneful stuff, today and always in Red Bank oRBit.

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SUMMER SOUNDS, IN THE LAND OF THE FREE

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By TOM CHESEK

Picture this: a summer event with your choice of first-come/first-served seating. No parking lot shuttle queues or “parent daycare” zones. No turnstile patdowns. No confiscated cameras, water bottles, umbrellas or Pringles packs. And best of all, no platinum-club pricing levels or service charges. It’s all FREE, so you low-budget Lotharios and daddy-track Don Juans can do your cheap-night-out thing.

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The fact that the talent on display would not be out of place at your local wings-and-brewskis watering hole, your cousin’s wedding — or, in at least one case, your grandparents’ first date — is immaterial. It’s Free Concert Season here in the greater Red Bank oRBit, and the keynote sounds of summer are wafting forth from our bucolic parks and seabreeze-kissed beaches to some of the region’s loveliest parking lots. This means that our local municipal governments, the people who normally incur your wrath for not filling in potholes on Waverly Place, are now endeavoring to fill your warm-weather evenings with music.

The slate of sights and sounds at Riverside Gardens Park previews on KaBoom night with a performance by Tim McLoone and kicks off in earnest on July 8 with the first in a series of free late-model movies (the Comcast Jazz in the Park and Songwriters Showcase offerings start up soon thereafter).

In the meantime, there’s plenty of free music in the days to come, at locations orbiting the Jersey Shore’s favorite beach-free destination — so grab the freshly-webbed lawn chairs and the broken-in blankets; enjoy the complimentary sunsets and the prime people-watching opportunities.

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DOWNTOWN 2.0: CASUALLY TUNEFUL

Img_3658After a total gut job, the Downtown plans to re-open in March as a double-wide.

By TOM CHESEK

“We’re taking a gamble, there’s no doubt about it,” says Downtown co-owner Danny Lynch, as he shows off the impressive results of a massive 18-month renovation.

The favorite Red Bank watering hole’s anticipated return in the coming weeks will happen not a moment too soon for patrons who were lost without it — and who are depending on the completely made-over Downtown to blast away some of the dead-bank doldrums that have crept into town of late.

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But for Lynch and his business partner Matt Wagman — the team behind the nearby Red Restaurant and Lounge — the bar and eatery represents a major investment in structural upgrades, improved facilities and people-pleasing features.

The two-level club and restaurant at 3 West Front Street is now fully twice its former size, having expanded into a neighboring building that had been vacant for as long as anyone could recall (a sign announcing the imminent arrival of a tile store sat in its window for years). And it drops onto the scene just as suddenly MIA businesses, hassles over code violations and bogus “closed for renovations” signs are proliferating in the vicinity of Front and Broad streets.

“It’s a tough market in Red Bank right now,” says Lynch while leading redbankgreen on a sneak-peek preview of what’s now a 9,800-square-foot, brick-and-wood comfort zone. “It’s really diverse in that you have your high-end places and lower-end mom and pop shops, but there’s no middle class.”

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IT’S ON

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Kids

The Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival kicked off to a terrific start Friday night before a light rain rolled in at about 9p during Billy Hector‘s headline show.

Red Bank’s own Chuck Lambert Band, above, stirred the festival to life. And in the natural amphitheater facing the main stage, a trio of kids enjoyed cold treats.

Below, a fan videotapes Hector’s performance.

Today, weather permitting, there’s a full-schedule of acts from noon to 10p, with festival headliner Big Bill Morganfield slotted to go on at 8:30p.

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EIGHT-BAR BLUES: FESTIVAL SHRINKS TO FIT

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The Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival might be forgiven for having one monster case of the blues. In recent years, it’s been battered financially and encountered its fair share of literally stormy weather.

Yet the people who pull it together soldier on, this year presenting what corporate types might call a “rightsized” 21st annual edition of a free event that manages to draw music, food and crafts lovers by the tens of thousands, when the weather cooperates.

And almost as if reaching for a good-luck charm, the festival kicks off tonight amid forecasts of iffy weather with local favorite Billy Hector. The firey blues guitarist reprises a headlining role of a few years back that drew the biggest opening-night crowd in the event’s history.

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