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red bank nj count basie hackensack meridian marqueeThe new name, Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, applies to the historic performance space, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)


It may always be best known to locals as ‘the Basie,’ but Red Bank’s oldest and most prominent entertainment venue is nothing if not prolific with monikers.

On Friday, yet another new one went up on the Monmouth Street marquee that bears the name of the town’s most famous son.

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Signage touting the Asbury Park Press brand will be installed in front of the stage and projected elsewhere in the venue before and after shows. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


After some 90 years as a lights-down sanctuary from the outside world, visitors to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre will be greeted by heavy pre- and post-show branding by the Asbury Park Press starting Tuesday.

According to an “exclusive” report about itself Monday, the Neptune-based Press will have its name in lights throughout the entertainment space: in front of the stage, on a drop-down screen, and on the walls before and after performances and during intermissions.

“You will be seeing an act that is performing on the Asbury Park Press Stage,” Basie CEO Adam Philipson is quoted as saying.

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darlene-loveRock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, above, and not-so-secret Santa Brian Kirk, below, return to the Count Basie stage for their respective holiday shows this Friday and Saturday.

brian-kirkA holiday tradition bit the fake-snow dust in 2014, when a retiring David Letterman hosted musical guest Darlene Love in her umpteenth and final annual performance of the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

But Red Bank audiences can vouch that Ms. Love and her Christmas-pop signature are alive and well. And when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer returns to the Count Basie Theatre stage this Friday,  she’ll bring along some special friends with a Jersey Shore connection — while kicking off a weekend that boasts another special sleighride from a locally homegrown Santa: Brian Kirk.

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Tim HuttonAcademy Award winner Timothy Hutton (above) joins CLERKS star Brian O’Halloran (below) on the panel of esteemed adjudicators who will select finalists in the Count Basie Theatre’s annual Project FX competition for New Jersey student filmmakers. The deadline for entries has been extended until March 1, 2016.

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Brian O'HalloranThe Count Basie Theatre has extended its entry deadline and announced its panel of esteemed judges for Project FX, its statewide student film festival presented by Bank Of America and Sony Pictures Classics.

Students aged 16-25 and presently enrolled in a Garden State-based high school or college now have until midnight on March 1, 2016 to enter their films at www.projectfxbasie.comThe top vote-getter in each category will win a paid internship experience with Sony Pictures Classics in New York, as well as a screening during the first-ever Indie Street Film Festival in Red Bank in July. Second place winners in each category will receive Sony video cameras, while third-place finishers will receive a $500 cash prize.

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basie marquee 1 090213Those in the know count the upstairs rehearsal room as another cool space at the Basie. Below, Lorraine “The Wisdomkeeper” Stone. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

wisdomkeeperObservers of the Red Bank arts scene could tell you that some of the most interesting stuff often happens one flight above street level (think of a place like McKay Imaging Gallery) — and the same notion applies to the Count Basie Theatre, where the landmark building’s second-floor “Studio 99” rehearsal space represents a hidden-in-plain-sight venue for events that are intimately scaled in relation to the venerable venue’s famous auditorium.

It’s a place that’s hosted past offerings from Dunbar Repertory Company, the African American community stage troupe founded by Brookdale Community College faculty member (and participant on the Basie board) Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. This Sunday, Studio 99 presents the first of three “professional staged reading” theatrical presentations from the Dunbar fold in spring 2015.

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Tim Kirk Love BobClockwise from top left: Jinglebell fundraiser concerts featuring Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express (December 18), Brian Kirk and the Jirks (December 20), Darlene Love (December 21) and Bobby Bandiera (December 22) provide the driving soundtrack to the holiday homestretch in the nights ahead.

The countdown to Christmas 2015 represents anything but a wind-down at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, where a fast-moving flurry of high-profile benefit concerts promises to keep the place buzzing like Santa’s workshop-slash-fulfillment center during the holiday homestretch.

From the most big-hearted of local music mainstays, to the vintage hitmakers whose records landed on many a Boomer-era wish list — and on into the next generation of Shore scene stalwarts — the Basie boards will resound with a Wall of seasonal Sound, every note of it dedicated to a great cause and an all-’round generosity of spirit.

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gloriaQueen of Disco Gloria Gaynor appears with special guests The Village People in a September 6 benefit concert, dedicated to the Michael Fux Foundation’s local children’s hospital project. 

Press release from Count Basie Theatre

Gloria Gaynor, the “Queen of Disco” whose dance-floor hit “I Will Survive” went on to become the greatest disco anthem of all time, will headline a special “Disco Fever” benefit concert on Saturday, September 6 at the Count Basie Theatre.

The singer whose signature song marks its 35th anniversary this year — and whose other great hits include “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “Let Me Know (I Have a Right)” — will be joined for the occasion by special guests The Village People, featuring Asbury Park’s Felipe Rose.

Proceeds from the concert (and an after-party on the Basie patio) will help The Michael Fux Foundation create a family center at a hospital in Monmouth County. The Foundation, established in 2006 with the mission of helping sick and underprivileged children and their families, helped create the Michael Fux Family Center at Miami Children’s Hospital in Florida, and has set its sights on implementing a similar vision for the local area.

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Derek Holland gives a goofy interview in this undated YouTube video. (Click to enlarge)

Nearby concertgoers applauded when Texas Ranger Derek Holland was thrown out of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre Monday night, one witness tells the Asbury Park Press.

Countering Holland’s version of events, narrated in a series of tweets, 40-year-old Amy Sloan of Howell described the lefty pitcher as “being really obnoxious” and ruining the enjoyment of the  Counting Crows fans seated nearby.

From the Press story, published Friday:

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picture_jay_and_grant_at_computerGrant Wilson (left) and Jason Hawes (right) are the SyFy network’s GHOST HUNTERS, and they’re coming to the Count’s castle for a Thursday night appearance.


Tag along on any of the Red Bank Walking Lantern Ghost Tours that wind through the downtown business blocks every Friday night through Halloweekend and you’re likely to hear told about the tradition of the “ghost light” — and why historic old auditoriums like the Count Basie Theatre have found it prudent and necessary to keep a bulb burning for the restless entities who are often said to haunt the catwalks, catacombs and balconies.

On Thursday night, October 20, the Basie gets a visit from Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes, New England-based bosses of the Atlantic Paranormal Society and — thanks to the long-running hit SyFy Channel series Ghost Hunters — internationally renowned (and even somewhat reluctant) TV stars.

The pair of regular-joe tradesmen (they also famously operate a Roto Rooter franchise by day) and lifelong history buffs haven’t been called to the Count’s castle to flush out a clamorous poltergeist, or even snake out a sluggish floor drain. When they step out onto the stage that’s hosted many of the biggest names in show business, the men from TAPS won’t be tap-dancing, singing or telling jokes, but offering up a refreshingly matter-of-fact presentation on the nature of their work, the fascinations that led them to their passionately pursued avocation, and the real reasons why they spend so many nights lurking around allegedly haunted houses all over the United States — including, we kid you not, the house where this correspondent lives (more on that in a moment).

The Paranormal Desk at redbankgreen spoke to the well-traveled Grant Wilson in what could be called his most frequent haunt — behind the wheel of a moving vehicle on an interstate highway. Following is what we found when we reviewed the recording.

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imageThe 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys — with John Cowsill at far left, plus Bruce Johnston and Mike Love front and center — returns (minus John Stamos) to Red Bank on August 23.


It’s been a long time, longer than the days prior to the passing of Dennis and Carl Wilson, since the original members of The Beach Boys shared a ride – or the same side of the conference table at a lawyer’s office.

The American institution that’s fast approaching its golden anniversary in show business split into two factions around the time of the landmark Pet Sounds sessions in 1966 — the studio-bound residency of Brian Wilson and the hard-touring, crowdpleasing roadshow skippered by Mike Love. And despite intermittent attempts at reconciling for albums and tours, the dichotomy abides to this day in the more or less separate-but-equal live shows fronted by the first cousins turned frenemies.

When the 2011 touring edition of the Beach Boys rolls into the Count Basie Theatre for a late-summer’s indoor concert on Tuesday, August 23, the core of Mike Love and Bruce Johnston (the successful singer/ songwriter/ producer whose 45-year history with the band hasn’t stopped him from being “the New Guy”) returns to the scene of some well-received sets of recent years — as well as memorable nights featuring Brian and his band The Wondermints. The two senior Boys will preside over a pretty awesome cavalcade of canonical hits delivered by a crack team of craftsmen that includes veteran John Cowsill (from the bands that gave us both “867-5309 JENNY” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things”) — although the on-again, off-again stuntcasting of TV star John Stamos as drummer/ vocalist appears not to be in the cards for the Count’s crib.

The story of the Beach Boys is a way-stranger-than-fiction saga that takes in madness, child abuse, mind control, Charles Manson, multi-generational laboratory-level drug use, untimely death and tons of litigation. The story of America, in other words; all set to a soundtrack of the most achingly gorgeous “teenage symphonies” ever devised in a crossfire of inspiration and aspiration.

redbankgreen spoke to Mike Love — polarizing figure, energizing frontman, boosterizing flagwaver for environmental causes, transcendental meditation and not-so-gentle politics — from the Boys’ tour stop outside Philadelphia; turn the record over for more.

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img_5665112709As usual, several thousand people are expected to pack Red Bank’s Broad Street for a Holiday Express concert and overall merriment Friday night. These pix are from 2009. (Click to enlarge)


Even hardcore humbugs and web-shopping wetblankets can agree that there’s no better time for a bit of light therapy than Black Friday.

This Friday evening, for the 17th consecutive year, Holiday Express — the all-volunteer force of musical goodwill — pulls into station stop Red Bank to perform a free outdoor concert that sounds the keynote to the annual Town Lighting ceremony.

If you’ve spent at least a year of your life in the area, you’ll know the event as the “real” kickoff to the holidays — not just in Red Bank but all around the greater ‘green. And it’s just the tip of the icicle for a sleighload slate of activities that begins in earnest this weekend.

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Jersey 101.5 radio personality Big Joe Henry (pictured here at a past Miss Teen NJ pageant) has confirmed that he’s stepped down as host of the fifth annual Basie Awards for high school stage performers, an event scheduled for Wednesday night at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre.

To the organizers, sponsors and featured guests of the yearly event, it’s “all about the kids” — a chance for talented young performing artists from Monmouth County high schools to be treated like red-carpet royalty for an evening.

But with the fifth annual Count Basie Theatre Awards scheduled for Wednesday night, a simmering controversy has boiled over from the politicial arena, resulting in the eleventh-hour withdrawal of the event’s master of ceremonies, and threatening to cast a plus-size shadow over the proceedings.

On Monday, the Count Basie Theatre announced that the 2010 edition of the program commonly known as “The Basies” will proceed as planned, but without the formidable figure of Big Joe Henry, the Garden State radio personality who was scheduled to serve as guest host.

Described on the venue’s website as a mutual agreement made “so the event can remain focused on the students,” the parting of ways was the culmination of an increasingly public argument that pitted supporters of the New Jersey Education Association against both Basie management and Big Joe’s employer, Trenton-based WKXW-FM (Jersey 101.5). It’s also a fracas that’s continued to snowball from e-mail campaigns and Facebook forums to the region’s major print and broadcast media.

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Hot Topic

Today’s Asbury Park Press takes a look at the four-candidate race for three Red Bank Board of Education seats and labels it a ‘dogfight.’


Hyperbole aside, the article frames the race among the candidates: board Vice President Ann Roseman; recent appointees Toni Brown and Carrie Ludwikowski; and Grace Costa, who served on the board at Red Bank Regional High School for 23 years.

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Bruce Springsteen returned to the Count Basie Theatre last night for an unbilled appearance at the venue he helped refurbish last year.

That presumably multiplied the local-boy-makes-superstardom megawattage already on the stage in the t-shirted form of Jon Bon Jovi, the top name on the storied Red Bank stage for Hope Concert IV.

The holiday season fundraiser — which also featured Southside Johnny Lyon, Bobby Bandiera, Nicole Atkins and Gary U.S. Bonds — raised more than $250,000 for Red Bank’s Parker Family Health Center, the free clinic that BoJo has long championed. Concertgoers also brought more than 10,000 pounds of food donations for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, according to the Asbury Park Press.

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Img_6727Springsteen signs autographs before last night’s show.

Bruce Springsteen gave fans something to gush about last night, according to the accounts we’ve seen so far.

His show with the full E Street Band at the Count Basie Theatre included complete, start-to-finish renderings of two LPs from the mid-1970s: ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town‘ and (after an intermission) ‘Born to Run.’

Never before in concert had the band played even one album straight through, according to the fanzine Backstreets. In one of several rapturous reviews published this morning, Backstreets invoked a six-night run at the Red Bank venue in 1976 (then known as the Monmouth Arts Center):

An E Street Band theater show — finding them packed tighter than ever on a small stage like this, with Nils, Patti, and Soozie all added to the line-up since the theater days — would have been exceptional enough, but the four Perfect Album Sides of the setlist put this one over the top.

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Classicalfaces2Appearing on the Basie stage this weekend are (clockwise from top left): MCC conductor Mark Shapiro; sopranos Sungji Kim and Christine Reber; MSO assistant conductor Lucian Rinando; bass Nathan Baer; tenor Daniel Molkentin; clarinetist/conductor Roy Gussman; and violist Dorothy Sobieski.



Time to shake those swallowtail tux jackets and evening gloves out of storage; unbag those stoles and tiaras and opera glasses — we’re kicking it classical this weekend.

All right, dress codes aren’t what they used to be, at the symphony hall as at any other place. But it shouldn’t mean that our own homegrown performing arts entities aren’t worth getting dressed up for. If anything, we here in Monmouth are guilty of having taken for granted the fact that our once-rural county boasts an exceptional chorale and a truly first-rate semi-professional orchestra — a couple of innovative, creative organizations, packed with passionate and talented people.

And both, by some way-cool karmic astrology, are storming the stage of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre this weekend.

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The Asbury Park Press is reporting that four people were sent to Riverview Medical Center after a motor vehicle accident on West Bergen Avenue.


From the Press:

Four people suffered injuries this morning when a car and a pick-up truck collided, and then one of the vehicles struck an unoccupied building, police said.

None of the injuries were considered life-threatening, and all four adults were taken to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.

Around 7:15 a.m., a sedan headed south on Bridge Street and a pick-up truck headed west on West Bergen Place collided, said Lt. Darren McConnell.

One of the vehicles then struck the satellite YMCA building, he said.

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The Star-Ledger reports that moptopped singer and would-be beverage industry litigant Bon Jovi will headline a Dec. 21 concert at the Count Basie Theatre that for the last two years has seen Bruce Springsteen play.


Though he’s not mentioned on the Basie website item about the show, the Ledger reports that Jovi

will lead an all-star lineup that night, at “The Hope Concert III.” Tickets will be $100-$500, with proceeds benefiting the Valerie Fund Center at Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch.

Others on the bill include Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bobby Bandiera, the Jersey Shore Rock-N-Soul Revue, Mark Pender and Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg and Tim McLoone & the Shirleys.

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Both the Count Basie Theatre and the Two River Theater Company were major beneficiaries of whopping state funding increases as part of an effort to “create parity” among arts organizations, according to today’s Star-Ledger.


The Basie’s fiscal year 2008 grant from the state Council on the Arts soared by 42 percent, to $223,325, up more than $94,000 from 2007, and the Two Rivers’ allotment doubled, to $139,477, from $69,183.

“We think it represents an acknowledgment by the council of the growth we’ve had over the past couple of years,” Two River managing director Guy Gsell told the Asbury Park Press. “We’re serving a wider geographic area, and have had an incredible period of growth.”

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Bruce Springsteen outside the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank in 2014. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


hot topic red bank njCould Bruce Springsteen be in need of a presidential pardon soon?

The rock star was arrested for DWI and other charges at Sandy Hook in November, federal officials confirmed Wednesday.

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Pilgrim Baptist Church is one of six sites in Monmouth County that will offer the tests. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)hot topic

[UPDATE: The COVID-19 testing scheduled for August 7  has been cancelled due to weather.]

Red Bank-area residents will be able to get free, no-appointment COVID-19 tests starting next month under a program co-funded by Monmouth County and a philanthropic organization.

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The Turtles’ Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan — aka “Flo and Eddie” — return to Red Bank at the helm of the hit-packed Happy Together Tour, the 2017 edition of which buses into the Basie on Saturday.

Everybody on the bus: those merry pranksters of the Happy Together Tour are back on the road for a frankly amazing 33rd annual time-trip back to those transistorized, ever so slightly psychedelicized days when American pop-rock bands took up harmonies against the British invaders — and the bubblegum-music bubble had yet to pop.

When the 2017 tour rolls into Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre this Saturday night, it will once again serve as a fundraising vehicle for the Light of Day Foundation, the nonprofit for Parkinson’s Disease research that each January delivers a jolt of star-quality benefit concerts in Asbury Park and elsewhere. And racing to the head of the class once more will be the tour’s historic headliners, the Turtles.

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erik yngstrom 031716Erik Yngstrom, Democrat. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


One year after Republicans narrowly displaced Democrats as the controlling party in Red Bank government, ending a 25-year reign, voters return to the polls on November 8 with five candidates to choose from for two council seats: one now held by a Democrat, the other by a former Republican-turned-independent.

All five candidates have indicated they’ll participate in the West Side Community Group’s annual candidates’ forum at the River Street Commons at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 18. For more information about the event, take it here.

To help voters compare the contenders in terms of personal background and positions on key issues, redbankgreen emailed them identical sets of questions late last week. Here’s what Erik Yngstrom had to say in response.

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