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MIDDLETOWN: A DOO WOP TO-DO @ THE MAC

The Grand Central Echoes join the next-generation heirs to the Del Vikings and others for a Saturday night streetcorner serenade at Middletown Arts Center. (Photo courtesy Classic Urban Harmony)

For fans of that purebred strain of vocal soul known as Doo Wop, it’s become almost as much of a cause for discussion as keeping track of group personnel changes, recording dates, and other true-fan trivia. We’re talking here about the situation in which two or more competing groups each lay claim to the name of some classic hitmaking act — whether through the presence of a onetime member or by virtue of rights held by an outside party or promoter. It’s a sticking point that’s too often played out around courtrooms and conference tables, rather than on a battle-of-the-bands stage, where such matters might be more effectively resolved.

When the virtuoso voices transform Middletown Arts Center into an old-neighborhood hangout this Saturday night, the promoters (Coll Productions, teaming with Street Corner Sounds Society) will be spinning this record-hop in a way designed to put aside any “imposter band” acrimony — as A Tribute to Our Doo Wop Legends, in which a collection of veteran regional acts each pay harmonious homage to an earlier golden-age group who inspired them.

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MIDDLETOWN: MUSICAL VIRTUOSO AT LIBRARY

Piano virtuoso Elven Chern performs a free concert Saturday at Middletown Library.

[UPDATE: This concert has been rescheduled for Thursday, August 10 at 7 p.m.]

It’s being promoted as a “Mid-Summer Neo-Classical Dream Piano Concert” — although perhaps the featured artist’s forte could be more precisely described as “Neo-Classical, tango, instrumental pop, easy listening and meditative music.”

If that still doesn’t narrow it down for you, then simply dispense with all categorical pigeonholes and enjoy the atmospheric musical mastery of Elven Chern when the musician, soprano, choral conductor and Argentine tango dancer visits the community room at Middletown Library for a free performance Saturday afternoon.

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LITTLE SILVER: STUDENT FILM A PRIZEWINNER

‘Parallax Dreams,’ directed by and starring Red Bank Regional’s John Tuohy, seen below at the awards ceremony.

An enigmatic short film by a Red Bank Regional sophomore, shot in and around Red Bank, was a double prize winner at a student film festival last month.

John Tuohy, a 16-year-old rising junior from Little Silver took the top prize in the Big Dreams and Silver Screens Festival held in Rahway on June 3.

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RED BANK: NEW MURAL POPS INTO VIEW

A colorful new mural bloomed to life on the Catherine Street wall of Kitch Organic restaurant in Red Bank over the weekend.

Executed by local children — and some adults who pulled a couple of all-nighters — the mural promotes two cultural events: the Indie Street Film Festival, which returns to town for a four-day run starting July 26; and the Crossing Borders Festival, featuring five days of free-admission Latino-flavored plays and food at the Two River Theater beginning August 2.

Artist Misha Tyutyunik, also known as MDot, created the design, reprising his role from the 2016 Indie Street mural on Monmouth Street. Click read more for additional pix. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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SEA BRIGHT: HAPPY HOUR AT EVENTIDE

Eventide Grille, tucked behind a marina, is a favorite of locals at happy hour. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Sea Bright is all hustle and bustle during the summer, so hungry and thirsty beachgoers zipping along Ocean Avenue might might not notice Eventide Grille, which isn’t even visible from the street. Locals, on the other hand, are well aware of this gem of riverside restaurant and watering hole tucked in behind the Navesink Marina.

PieHole stopped by on a breezy weeknight to rub elbows with a happy hour crowd that for the most part arrived on foot.
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RED BANK: DEAD BANK, GRATEFUL AT GIG 200

Dead Bank guitarist Jim Willis, left, and bassist Nash Aliaga at Jamian’s, where the band was conceived six years ago. A photo of the late Jerry Garcia has a place of honor on the stage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE, July 7: Forecast of rain postpones tonight’s Dead Bank show at the Dublin House. The band’s 200th gig will instead be tomorrow night (Friday) at the Dub, weather permitting.]

By JOHN T. WARD

The band’s name, echoing a moniker for Red Bank at its economic low of the 1980s, doesn’t exactly thrill local chamber-of-commerce types, Dead Bank guitarist Jim Willis acknowledges.

“We’ve gotten a lot of crap from the town about it,” Willis said last week. “They’ll never let us play any of their festivals because of it. But I just wanted to see another connotation for ‘Dead Bank,’ a positive one.”

The Grateful Dead cover band is an inarguably local phenomenon, and this week, weather permitting, Dead Bank’s “perpetual tour of of Monmouth Street” brings it to the backyard of the Dublin House Pub for its 200th show.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY BREEZES THRU HISTORY

Cooling breezes and a vivid sunset over our beautiful Navesink River were just two of the rewards for the audience of thousands that set up blankets and chairs Sunday night in Red Bank’s Marine Park. There, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, led by guest conductor Sameer Patel, took listeners on a ‘journey’ through American musical history that included works by Dvorak, Copland, Springsteen and more. The free performance included an interlude in which children were encouraged to meet the musicians and learn about their instruments.

Check out redbankgreen‘s photos below, and let us know what you thought of the event. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: MUSICAL FIREWORKS FOR THE 4TH

Conductor Sameer Patel, below, leads the New Jersey Symphony in an open-air display of musical Americana overlooking the Navesink River from Marine Park Sunday night. (Click to enlarge.)

It’s been five years now since Red Bank heralded the Independence Day holiday with a bang and a kaboom with the cancellation of its long fireworks-on-the-Navesink tradition. But as relatively quiet as things have been of late during the Fourth of July interlude, there’s celebratory music in the air.

This Sunday, two events — one of them a community happening of long standing, the other representing something new down by the riverside — bring the sound and the classic American spirit to the Greater Green.

That something new is a “Sunday in the Park” free performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Marine Park. Before that, the borough’s landmark Tower Hill Church celebrates flag and country with the 29th edition of the annual Liberty Extrvaganza.

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RED BANK: FESTIVAL BENEFITS TWO CHARITIES

The most recent Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest, held in April, raised $15,000 for two charities: borough-based Parker Family Health Center and Shrewsbury-based Holiday Express. Jim Scavone, executive director of event host Red Bank RiverCenter, presented checks of $7,500 to each organization at Wednesday’s borough council meeting.

Holiday Express founder Tim McLoone, above, played at the festival with his side project, The Shirleys. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: UNCLE EBENEZER’S PHISH DISH

Brooklyn-based Phish tribute band Uncle Ebenezer migrates into Red Bank for a Friday night jam at Jamian’s.

Mixed in among one of the busiest bar and restaurant scenes in Monmouth County, Jamian’s Food and Drink has long been a nightlife standardbearer in downtown Red Bank.

In addition to weekly gigs by Shore legends Bobby Bandiera and Pat Guadagno, plus reggae masters Random Test and one of the area’s most enduring open-mics, Jamian LaViola’s watering hole adds to its musical menu this Friday with a special catch-of-the-day: Phish tribute band Uncle Ebenezer.

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RED BANK: SANSONE TO TURN UP THE STEAM

Johnny Sansone (left) is joined by guitarist John Fohl (right) for a special “Reckless Steamy Nights” house party that brings a blast of N’awlins heat to Red Bank’s Woman’s Club Friday night.

For the latest in their long-running series of monthly Reckless Steamy Nights live music events, the folks at the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation are cranking up the burners and serving up a fiery gumbo laced with the flavors of New Orleans.

Going up this Friday at the old Anthony Reckless estate (home of the Woman’s Club of Red Bank), the 8:30 p.m. house party throws open the door for a Big Easy bluesman of impeccable credentials: singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Sansone.

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MIDDLETOWN: WHEREFORE ART ROMEO? HERE.

For years, it’s been the resident community theater group at a local landmark church nestled in a corner of Middletown. But if that description suggests a slate of shows no more challenging than the umpteenth revival of Arsenic and Old Lace, then let it be known that the Stone Church Players aren’t about to be intimidated by the likes of William Shakespeare.

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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: A JAZZY ‘TONIGHT’ SHOW AT CBA

Longtime ‘Tonight Show’ bandleader Kevin Eubanks is this year’s spotlight attraction at the annual jazz concert fundraiser at Christian Brothers Academy.

The recent graduation ceremony may have marched to the traditionally stately strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” but adhering to a recently minted tradition at Christian Brothers Academy, the close of the academic session is being given a jazzy jam-session coda, courtesy of this year’s edition of the CBA Jazz Series.

Tonight, the 350-seat Henderson Theatre at the Lincroft school hosts the sixth annual entry in the fundraiser concert series, an event that appropriately enough stars the onetime leader of TV’s Tonight Show band, guitarist Kevin Eubanks.

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RED BANK: ‘BOBFEST’ OF DYLAN, WAR & PEACE

A promo video recaps the history of the annual Bobfest salute to Bob Dylan, which returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday night.

When he first offered an impromptu birthday toast to Bob Dylan during a 1999 set at the old Downtown Café in Red Bank, Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno didn’t harbor any thoughts of making Bobfest an annual thing, let alone an ever-expanding phenomenon with a life and passionate following all its own.

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RED BANK: SYMPHONY TO PLAY MARINE PARK

Music lovers are expected to line the slope at Marine Park to hear the New Jersey Symphony. Restrooms now under construction are visible at top left. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

RiverFest may be off the calendar, but there will be at least one night of music in Red Bank’s Marine Park this summer.

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra plans to christen the newly refurbished park with a free, open-air concert in July.

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RED BANK: A FRONTIER FUNDER AT TWO RIVER

Two River Theater.

Although it’s a brand-spanking-new addition to the growing crop of world premieres from Red Bank’s own Two River Theater Company, the upcoming production The Ballad of Little Jo represents the culmination of a years-long process, through which the borough-based stage troupe nurtured and developed the highly anticipated musical adaptation that closes out its 2016-’17 season in grand style.

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LINCROFT: ROOM FOR TWO MORE, AT UUCMC

Folk singer Joe Crookston takes the mic at the Unitarian Meetinghouse this Saturday at the latest in the slate of Earth Room Concerts.

A little more than a year since sounding its first note in spring 2016, the Earth Room Concert Series at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation has established itself as a successful and genuinely “alternative” outpost in the midst of a big music-mad backyard.

Even as other area towns and venues have made a name for themselves as go-to places for classical music, jazz, blues, bluegrass and rock, the organizers of the Earth Room series sensed something of a deficit when it came to connecting folk music fans with national/international touring acts — the kind who often couldn’t stake out a place to play, other than the odd summertime festival.

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RED BANK: FOOD FEST TO PACK PARKING LOT

More than 20 local food purveyors will be present  when the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest commandeers the White Street municipal parking lot this Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

While the recent cancellation of Riverfest has left a hole in Red Bank’s yearly segue into summer, fans of strolling smorgasbords and top-down tunes needn’t wait too long to get their festival fix — as this Sunday, the White Street municipal parking lot will be the scene for the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest.

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RED BANK: PADILLA ‘WOMEN’ ON THE WING

The cast of ‘The Women of Padilla’ share a cathartic moment in the Tony Meneses play that concludes its world premiere engagement this week at Two River Theater. (photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Beginning with a 1 p.m. performance Wednesday, seven opportunities remain for the general public to catch The Women of Padilla, the latest in an ever-growing portfolio of plays that have made their world premiere on the Red Bank stage of Two River Theater.

Written by Tony Meneses (whose previously produced project here was Guadalupe in the Guest Room), the drama is an ensemble piece that reflects an ongoing commitment by the theater company to develop and promote new works by Latino creators. It’s also a succinct and slightly surreal piece with an underlying universal quality — a glimpse at the home front in a time of seemingly eternal war, as well as the ways in which we find family, build community, and latch onto gossamer wings of hope whenever something important goes missing from our lives.

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RED BANK: THEATER ADDITION APPROVED

A rendering of the proposed addition to the left of the existing theater and fly tower at center, as seen from the northeast. (Rendering by Kaplan Gaunt Desantis Architects. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s Two River Theater won raves from neighbors, and zoning board approval, Thursday night for a plan to expand its non-performance space.

But West Street residents pressed for, and failed to obtain, changes to aspects of the plan that they worry will direct more traffic onto their block, some of it from motorists using the theater lot simply to avoid street traffic.

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RED BANK: RIVERFEST UNPLUGGED, AGAIN

The event, which often drew tens of thousands of visitors to Marine Park, was revived in 2011 after a 10-year absence. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Scratch another big outdoor event from the calendar: this year’s Red Bank Riverfest is off.

The cancellation followed a dispute over money, with the borough claiming it had been shorted last year, and an event organizer saying the town had “nickeled and dimed” the food-and-music festival until it was no longer viable.

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LINCROFT: GLOBETROTTERS RETURN TO BCC

The Harlem Globetrotters (including female recruits “Hoops” Green and “Swish” Young, foreground) return to Brookdale Community College for two appearances this week. 

As their name suggests, they’ve galavanted around the globe in every kind of (atmospheric and political) climate; played in front of Soviet premiers and princes and presidents and popes; and served as cheerfully anarchic ambassadors for the sweet science of basketball, and by extension the sort of barnstorming spirit that made America famous.

But where the Harlem Globetrotters almost met their match was in the run-up to a certain winter-storm-that-wasn’t-quite-all-that, by the name of Stella.

While the most storied franchise in sports entertainment was forced to postpone its March engagement at Brookdale Community College due to a prudent tilt to the side of caution, the nearly annual matchup of courtside vaudeville and venue couldn’t possibly be held back for too long — and on Wednesday and Thursday, the Globetrotters return to the Robert J. Collins Arena on BCC’s Lincroft campus for a two-night stand of slamdunk sleight o’ hoops on their worldwide Winter Tour.

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RED BANK: EASTER EGG HUNT HOPS TO BASIE

This year’s edition of the Red Bank Easter Egg hunt, traditionally held at Eastside Park, will be held Saturday at Count Basie Fields to make it easier for more families to attend, according to Parks and Rec Director Charlie Hoffman.

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RED BANK: EIGHT WOMEN, A WAR AND LOVE

Previews for ‘The Women of Padilla’ start this weekend at the Two River Theater. Below, playwright Tony Meneses.(Click to enlarge.)

In a 2015 redbankgreen interview, Tony Meneses confessed he “had a sense from the start that I was never gonna make money as a playwright, that it had to mean something more to me than that.”

The Guadalajara-born, Brooklyn-based dramatist was speaking about Guadalupe in the Guest Room, a comedy-drama with a personal slant that made its fully staged world premiere at Red Bank’s Two River Theater.

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