They’ve proven themselves to be hardy perennials on the year-round local music scene, but for fans of the Wag, there’s no denying that the season of outdoor concerts and sun-kissed festivals is the natural habitat for the Middletown-based band that can often be found free-ranging it in settings from the Fair Haven Municipal Dock and Little Silver Gazebo to the sidewalks and storefronts of downtown Red Bank and the great lawn at Lincroft’s Brookdale Community College.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-80s, it was “ten degrees too hot” to draw the usual elbow-to-elbow crowd to the eighth annual Guinness Oyster Festival in Red Bank Sunday, one vendor told redbankgreen.
“The weather is not our friend today,” said Jim Scavone, executive director of event sponsor Red Bank RiverCenter.
Still, the turnout was strong, he said, and “people here having fun, and they’re drinking lots of beer.”
Some pix from the event follow… (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Dozens of local politicians and players in the arts world turned out for the event. Below, Basie board members Steven Van Zandt and his wife, Maureen Van Zandt. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A $23 million expansion of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre formally got underway Wednesday, beginning what’s expected to be a 20-month endeavor to turn the Vaudeville-era venue into a powerhouse for live performance and arts education.
The aim, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt told an al fresco gathering, is “to make Red Bank an example to the rest of the county of what it is possible to do” in elevating the arts.
From the neighbor’s house to the White House, there’s no denying that big rig trucks, emergency equipment and other heavy-duty machines hold a special appeal for kids of all ages — and when the opportunity presents itself to climb into the driver’s seat, it’s a rare treat indeed.
Ask the staff of Red Bank’s Monmouth Day Care Center and they’ll surely agree that the safely supervised combination of kids and trucks is a winning formula — and when the Touch-a-Truck event returns to the parking lot of Red Bank Middle School this Saturday morning, it will mark the eighth annual appearance of a successful FUNraising vehicle that’s well worth waiting for.
Canadian singer and guitarist Shawna Caspi headlines the latest in a slate of Earth Room Concert at the Unitarian Meetinghouse this Saturday.
Music fans here on the Greater Red Bank Green know that you can tune in to just about any genre in the area’s clubs, concert halls, community rooms and colorful festivals. From choral classics to classic rock; big band jazz to bluegrass Americana; a capella doo wop to alternative DIY, there’s always been a little something for every ear — although for the longest time, folk music aficionados had to bide their time between summertime special events and the odd little coffeehouse jam.
That all changed in 2016, when Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation hosted the first in a quietly ambitious Earth Room Concert Series — a slate of events that has matched international acts on the cutting edge of the contemporary folk scene with an appreciative local fanbase.
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.
By SUSAN ERICSON
Timing it just right, PieHole showed up for happy hour at BeachWalk’s Tiki Bar recently to find beers in hand and fishing poles in the Shrewsbury River for a snapper derby competition.
Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright has its fair share of bars, but this might be the only one where you’ll find children and adults competing for bragging rights and the prize of an overnight stay at the attached motel.
While the venerable venue once known as the Carlton can trace its cinematic lineage way back to the silent-screen age, the grand auditorium of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre put in many decades of service giving the local moviegoing audience what it couldn’t always get at home — from glorious technicolor and stereophonic sound to that all-important enticer known as air conditioning.
The Temple Bar at the Dublin House is a lively spot for music lovers on a warm Sunday evening. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
[Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly reported that Dead Bank was scheduled to play at the Dublin House on Saturday, August 5. They’ll be at Jamian’s Food and Drink that night.]
By SUSAN ERICSON
It’s twilight on a warm summer evening when PieHole strolls over to the Dublin House in Red Bank, taking in the sight of customers finishing their meals in the courtyard out front.
But we’re not here for dinner. Making our way through the side alley from Monmouth Street to the rear of the restaurant, we hear the deep, raspy strain of rock music and the low chatter of customers surrounding the bar named for a famous street in Dublin, Ireland: Temple Bar.
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.
[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.
‘Parallax Dreams,’ directed by and starring Red Bank Regional’s John Tuohy, seen below at the awards ceremony.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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)
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.
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 Womans 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.