BY THE WAY, WHICH ONE IS ‘PINK?’

Pigs_on_the_wing__500x5002Light on his hooves: Pink Floyd’s pig, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, floats into the Count Basie Theatre on Saturday.

By TOM CHESEK

Roosevelt Stadium, June 1973. A capacity crowd in this Jersey City deco landmark is getting its first real look at a “new” band that’s somehow navigated below U.S. radar for some six years and eight LPs.

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As a full moon rises in a smoggy pink sky and a specially trucked-in quadrophonic sound system beats out the tattoo of a familiar heartbeat, Pink Floyd lapses into a full-length, lip-to-label, LIVE recreation of its instant-classic new album THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, while flaming model planes spark and sizzle overhead and thousands of Boone’s Farm-stoked brains scream “This… is… our… WOODSTOCK!”

Other Floydian milestones would ensue, from treks into the city to catch “Laser Floyd” at the planetarium, to nights spent trying to sync up DARK SIDE with “The Wizard of Oz.” There were WISH YOU WERE HERE and ANIMALS; THE WALL and all of its horse-flogging spinoffs. There was the 180-gram virgin vinyl DARK SIDE reissue and the 5.1 channel DSD Surround Sound 30th Anniversary Super Audio CD. And, eventually, there were the afternoons spent minivanning the kids to their Paul Green School of Rock all-Floyd rehearsals.

With the definitive four-piece Floyd lineup of Roger Waters, Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright having long since splintered into little more than competing oldies acts, however, what’s been missing from your life has been that definitive recapture of what you felt that night in the toxic Turnpike haze. You need the Pink Floyd experience, or at very least a reasonable simulacrum.

Enter, as if on cue, The Pink Floyd Experience, “a celebration of the music, the themes, and the theatrical experience of a truly innovative band” that makes an encore appearance at the Count Basie Theatre on Saturday, March 1.

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REEL GEMS: FREE FLICKS AT THE BASIE…

CasablancaIlsa crashes Sam’s pity party at the Café Américain in ‘Casablanca.’

By TOM CHESEK

We’ll always have Red Bank.

Beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5:00p, the Count Basie Theatre kicks off a series of free classic film screenings with Bogart, Bergman and a bevy of indelibly entrenched screen characters in that Academy Award-winning movie quote machine known as Casablanca.

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It’s the first of nine offerings presented under the title “Take 9 at the Basie: 9 Decades of Film Classics,” and it’s a program designed to salute the historic 1926 venue by featuring one film from each of the nine decades in which the Monmouth Street auditorium has operated.

Or, well, sort of: actually, there are two films from the 1970s and none from the 1920s.

In any event, the series offers an increasingly rare opportunity to catch such films as the often revived (The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain) to the seldom screened (Unforgiven, Woodstock) on what remains the biggest movie screen in Monmouth County.

Plus, it’s a comfortable alternative to the gnats and gnoise of those summertime movies-in-the-park deals that usually seem such a good idea until you spread out the towel.

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…AND A SERIES WE’D REALLY LIKE TO SEE

Lassie_come_homeHEY! That’s our DOG! Roddy McDowall with the original Red Bank-bred ‘Lassie’ in 1943’s ‘Lassie Come Home.’

By TOM CHESEK

While redbankgreen applauds the slate of picture shows on display in the Count Basie Theatre’s “Take 9 at the Basie: 9 Decades of Film Classics” series, we couldn’t help but have some fun with our very own list of nine alternate choices — all of them drawn from the 80-year history of the place variously known as the Carlton, the Monmouth Arts Center and the Basie.

Each, as you’ll see, has its own special connection to Red Bank.

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ANOTHER DONOVAN’S DEAL FALLS APART

Donovans_1007_2Might there be another summer of cocktails on the beach after all?

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

For the second time in six months, the owners of Donovan’s Reef are back to square one in their effort to sell the beachfront bar, redbankgreen has learned.

A proposed $5 million sale to Stone Enterprises of Toms River announced in Octoer is off the table, and the owners are looking for another buyer, says Bob Phillips of Avon, one of three partners in the oceanfront nightclub.

Stone, a condominium builder, backed out of the deal, Phillips said, though he declined to discuss specifics.

“Life goes on,” Phillips said.

Last year, the Borough of Sea Bright considered, and then rejected, the idea of buying the club, located next to its borough hall. Councilman Tom Scriven said last week that the cost of the property was too high to be practical.

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ZONERS: CHUBBY’S NEEDS PARKING PLAN

RenderingAn architect’s rendering of The Bank, the proposed sports bar on the present site of Chubby’s.

A Zoning Board hearing on the proposal to raze Chubby’s Waterside Café and replace it with a new sports bar and restaurant catering to family events such as baby showers ended last night without a decision.

The sticking point: parking.

Michael Gilson, the owner of Chubby’s, says his proposed two-story restaurant topped by a pair of apartments covering two more floors wouldn’t increase the footprint of the present building, at 26 West Front Street, and would only marginally increase the parking demand.

He also came in with something that pleasantly surprised at least one member of the board: a letter from the manager of the Globe Court Garage, owned by Riverview Medical Center, saying that the garage has between 200 and 350 empty spaces his customers could use beginning in mid-afternoons most days.

The garage is about 600 feet from Chubby’s, a parking consultant hired by Gilson told the board. Gilson himself said that’s closer to his property than the White Street municipal lot, which twice in the past has been the proposed location for a borough parking garage.

Still, the board wanted more — more parking options, more solid commitments.

“I’d like to see something firmer with Riverview guaranteeing a number of spaces” for patrons of the The Bank, as Gilson’s new eatery would be called, board member Kevin Moss said.

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BROMBERG HITS RED BANK ‘ONE MORE TIME’

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By TOM CHESEK

For a man who quit an established recording career in order to study the fine art of making violins, David Bromberg sure knows how to work a room.

A veteran sideman to Dylan, Ringo Starr and Jerry Jeff Walker, as well as a solo performer and bandleader of
more than 40 years standing, the bearded and bespectacled Bromberg may have kept a low profile through the so-called MTV era. But he didn’t sleep through the more recent recording industry implosion and its attendant rise of the Pod People. Rather, he took his boundary-busting energy back to the live stage, with Red Bank playing a big role in this master entertainer’s game plan.

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The multi-instrumentalist and musicologist has made the Count Basie Theatre a crucial pit stop in his annual tour schedule for each of the last four years. For his Friday night show, Bromberg has some exciting things to promote, among them his first album in 17 years, “Try Me One More Time,” a solo set (nominated for a Grammy in the Best Folk Album category) that comes around full circle from his one man/one guitar debut album in 1971.

Ticketholders will also no doubt be interested in the fact that Friday’s show is scheduled to be recorded for a concert DVD release.

While Bromberg may take the spotlight for an unaccompanied number or two, it’s his role as bandleader and raconteur that prompted the New York Times to brand him “electrifying.” A performance by the 12-piece David Bromberg Big Band fireballs forward like a bull in a used record shop, tracing its own musical logic — Bob Wills to Bob Dylan to Bo Diddley to Dave Dudley — with station stops anywhere from Sam Cooke to “a bluegrass tribute to Ethel Merman.” Not to mention some fondly remembered originals from his vintage albums (some of which featured great cover art by such famed cartoonists as B. Kliban and Gahan Wilson) and a lot of things that you thought had been written by the Grateful Dead, Patsy Cline, Cab Calloway or even the Clash.

Speaking from his office at David Bromberg Fine Violins (the Wilmington, Del., shop where he spends much of his off-the-road time), Bromberg opened up to redbankgreen about his recent experiences in the belly of the Grammy beast and his special rapport with the Basie.

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THEY CALL HIM ‘MIS-TER VEGAS’

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By TOM CHESEK

The flying saucer descends to the stage of the Vegas Hilton in a swamp-gas riot of dry-ice foggers and gelled lights.

Through the actual haze (and the one brought on by the showroom’s three-drink minimum), the audience discerns the silhouette of a figure in silvery space suit and mirrored helmet. When the cosmic emissary at last stands revealed in the spots, he imparts to us his message.

The welcoming sign-language of the
Close Encounters” clothing-optional ETs? The pacifist ultimatum of Klaatu from “The Day the Earth Stood Still“? Actually, it’s, “Far…we been travelin’ so far…,” the opening lyrics of “America,Neil Diamond’s epic anthem from his 1980 remake of “The Jazz Singer.”

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Less than an hour later, Wayne Newton has this early-show crowd of bus-trip seniors, buffet sightseers and budget-inn smugsters by the short and curlies. A Tom Jones pelvic thrust here, a banjo solo there and this master entertainer — they call him MISter Las Vegas — has once more produced the stuff that’s made him the only showbiz shaman to stake a credible claim on the legacies of both Elvis and Bob Hope.

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TOP THAT: ‘MACBETH” BOOSTS TRTC PROFILE

BusesAmong the records broken at the Two River Theater in its smash ‘Macbeth’ run: most students attending one of its plays.

Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
In evils to top Macbeth.

Well, yeah, as characters go, he is a bit of a homicidal beast. But as a stage production, Shakespeare’s bloodsoaked ‘Macbeth‘ has proven quite the charmer for the Two River Theater Company.

First, there’ve been the fannies in the seats. Final figures aren’t in yet, but theater officials confirm the show, which closes Sunday after an extended run, topped all prior ones in the company’s 14-year history.

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Then there’s the unprecedented attention the show has drawn, mainly thanks to the integration of dazzling magic by Teller, of Penn & Teller fame. National Public Radio did a piece on the production. The Washington Post ran a feature hat was picked up by newspapers across the U.S. The Wall Street Journal called for the show to move on to New York, “which as you can imagine is a regional theater’s dream,” said company founder and executive producer Robert Rechnitz.

And finally, there’s the buzz among patrons and potential converts. Right up until the last, callers have been clamoring for tickets. We’ve even heard that some of the ‘Macbeth’ banners hung from streetlamps around the Red Bank theater got swiped as souvenirs.

It would seem, for this little regional company, that it can’t get much better. But ask managing director Guy Gsell how the TRTC will top itself, and he calmly draws a gradually rising line in the air.

“We’re just hitting our stride,” he says.

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GENERATION “BOOM” ROCKS BCC STAGE

Tick_tick_blue2Sebastian Garcia, Spiro Galiatsatos and Kaitlyn Kurkemelis in “tick, tick… BOOM!”

By TOM CHESEK

That insistent ticking you hear at the outset of the musical “tick, tick…BOOM!” is explained away by its central character as “the sound of one man’s mounting anxiety.”

It’s a sound that Dave Cruse has experienced firsthand; part of “that old dilemma when you turn 30…like, is this REALLY the end of youth?”

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CHURCH OFFER: COMMUNITY CENTER SITE?

Img_3231The white building at far right and other property is available for a community center, says Rev. Terrence K. Porter.

The push for the creation of a Red Bank community center has a new element to it: an offer of free land on the West Side.

The Pilgrim Baptist Church on Shrewsbury Avenue is willing to donate property it owns next door to its house of worship as the site of community center, says church pastor Rev. Terrence K. Porter.

The property is just north of the church at Earl Street, and is occupied by two structures that the church uses for storage. With those structures removed, there’s enough room to accommodate a building to house a full-length basketball court, a computer lab, offices and other other space, Porter says.

“What we put on the table is that we would be open and receptive to participating with the city to build a community center,” Porter tells redbankgreen. “What we’re saying is that we have the land, and we’re willing to enter discussions about using the land.”

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ASHES CITED FOR OVERCROWDING

Img_3198The second floor is off-limits for now at Ashes Cigar Club.

Turns out the Internet Café wasn’t the only joint in town to come under the scrutiny of Red Bank safety inspectors in recent weeks.

Ashes Cigar Club was shut down in the early hours of Feb. 2 after inspectors found the restaurant and lounge overcrowded by about 100 patrons, redbankgreen has learned.

The first-floor of the Broad Street facility has since reopened, but the second-floor bar remains off-limits until the reaturant’s owners obtain approvals for a number of changes made without permits, said Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.

Among the violations: turning a pantry into a DJ booth, running television wires through a fire exit, penetrating a fire-rated stairway, installing a door that opened in the wrong direction and using open candles, Sickels said.

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INTERNET CAFÉ: CONNECTION TERMINATED

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By TOM CHESEK

The news has at least two generations of local residents disappointed and disgusted, but the Internet Café is “throwing in the towel,” says owner Joe Cullity.

In the wake of an incident that saw a recent show shut down by Red Bank inspectors, things had been touch-and-go at the all-ages club and coffeehouse that’s spotlighted everything from hardcore mini-megafests to Christian open mic nights.

But a sign posted at the venue’s alleyway entrance yesterday spelled out in no uncertain terms that iCafé has closed. Ditto for the venue’s website, on which the dates “1995 – 2008” loom like a headstone inscription.

According to the notice credited to the iCafé’s management, “the rents, loss of customer base on the North side of town and rules artificially limiting the number of patrons that could attend our shows have finally taken their toll and made it impossible for us to continue.”

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TWO JAKES, A JACK, AND SHAKESPEARE

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By TOM CHESEK

It’s not uncommon for a stage troupe to throw some local kids in with a cast of more seasoned professionals whenever the script calls for a couple of young performers.

The more hometown kids in the show, the logic goes, the more family members buy up whole blocks of tickets. Witness all those revivals of “Annie” and “The Sound of Music” teeming with cherubic little faces.

But when the script is Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and the producers have promised a horror show in so many words, all that onstage make-believe can turn deadly serious.

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In the Bard’s blood-soaked tragedy of murderous ambition, the character of Young Macduff is part of a bloodline whose very existence threatens the regal destiny of the increasingly unbalanced Macbeth. So the monarch sends a pair of assassins to do away with the entire Macduff household.

In the violent, effects-laden version now onstage at Two River Theater Co., the boy is viciously dispatched in plain view by a hulking thug, who then drags the kid offstage as the last embers of a too-short life fade from the child’s limp form.

Not exactly an assignment for just any after-school amateur.

And so, as they’ve done whenever the situation called for a young man of pre-teen age and grown-up chops, the folks at the Two River called on The Two Jakes.

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MONMOUTH PLAYERS IN A SPIRITED REVIVAL

Lori_renick2Actor-director-administrator-set decorator-artistic director Lori Renick readies the detail-intensive set of ‘Blithe Spirit’ for Saturday’s opening at Monmouth Players. (Photos courtesy of Diana Moore)

By TOM CHESEK

It’s a busy Monday evening at Middletown’s Navesink Library, and Lori and Paul Renick are putting the finishing touches to another of their typically labor-intensive set designs even as they begin the crucial final week of rehearsals for their latest show.

At the moment, they’re trying to rig up a plate so that it will fall off the wall on cue.

“Actors like to make things as complicated as they can,” says director-stage manager-set designer and sometime actor Paul. “I try to make things as fail-safe as possible.”


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Carpenters and remodelers by trade, the Highlands couple are charged with reinforcing the physical and spiritual foundations of Monmouth Players, the area’s longest continuously operating theatrical company. And as workaholic visionaries and creative perfectionists, the Renicks have recently added a whole new experimental wing to the venerable institution, rewiring the Players to compete on a slicker, more sophisticated level here in the 21st century.

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INTERNET CAFÉ UNPLUGGED, FOR NOW

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By TOM CHESEK

Anyone know exactly what’s going down down at the Internet Café?

It seems that dozens of ticketholders to an all-ages rock show last Friday night were refused admission to Red Bank’s grooviest grotto, leaving a lot of peed-off band parents and pink-haired teens to freeze outside in the courtyard alleyway.


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Details are sketchy, but redbankgreen has learned that the person manning the door told showgoers that the event — promoted by Avail Entertainment and headlined by the popular MySpace-spawned combo Eyes Set to Kill — had been “oversold.” To say nothing of overcrowded, always a panic-button issue in a town that tends not to look the other way when large groups of people intersect with heavily amplified music.

Patrons who stepped outside were snipped of their plastic wristbands and denied re-entry, while some band members were reported to have had difficulty retrieving their equipment.

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PET PROJECT: THE BACKSTORY

Check out the new commercial for the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, produced by Red Banker and self-styled “multimedia darling” Judie Luszcz.

In an email to redbankgreen, graphic artist Luszcz gives props (OK, we admit we have still no idea what ‘props’ are) to a whole slew of people who had a hand in the production. Reading it, one begins to get a sense of why those entertainment industry awards shows go on for so long.

Who knew it took so much talent and effort for a 60-second spot?

The unsurprising thing, of course, is that so much of the talent is local.

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NYT ON ‘MACBETH:’ GORY, ITCHY & QUICK

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A review in today’s Jersey section of the New York Times of the Two River Theater Co.’sMacbeth‘ takes note of the over-the-top spillage of blood.

It’s a production, writes reviewer Naomi Siegel, that “oozes, drips and squirts forth a river of crimson horror.”

From the review:
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This must be fun, one presumes, for the large and talented cast melodramatically sporting the ketchup-colored goop, but how about the backstage minions who have to make stage, costumes and actors pristine before the next blood bath?

Taking its cue from the Grand Guignol tradition and with magic tricks courtesy of Teller, the play, co-produced with the Folger Theater in Washington, revels in the ghoulish and the bizarre. When one of the Weird Sisters is run through with a sword, the body disappears into thin air. Lady Macbeth, in her sleepwalking scene, bloodies herself with a mere swipe of her hand.

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FASHION FORWARD

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Each year, the Buccaneer Booster Club at Red Bank Regional High School gives out thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors and grants to teachers.

The organization, which functions as the school’s parent-teacher organization, also raises money for academic and athletic enrichment, staff appreciation and building beautification.

And this is where the money comes from — or a good portion of it. A big annual event.

On Sunday, the boosters will hold a fundraiser disguised as a luncheon fashion show, in which students from the Fashion Club and the mothers of students will model partywear from Marisa, Ellen Ryan Tolen’s boutique on Broad Street in Red Bank.

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TELLER SPEAKETH, AND IT’S A BLOODY MESS

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By TOM CHESEK

It’s the local, live-theater equivalent of a blockbuster movie opening.

Illuminated by star power, ablaze with spectacular stage effects and drenched with enough hemoglobin to drown the lamps of Transylvania, “Macbeth” is coming to Red Bank. Shakespeare’s 400-year-old tragedy of murderous ambition, maddening guilt and most uncool karma begins a month-plus engagement at the thoroughly modern Two River Theater next week.


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The star power, of course, belongs to Teller — the “quieter, smaller” half of the iconically subversive Penn & Teller magic act. He co-directs the show with the Two River Theater Company’s boy-wonder artistic director Aaron Posner.

Famously a man of few public words (though he did deliver a brief monologue in the cult flick “Penn & Teller Get Killed“), Teller is passionately eloquent when it comes to the macabre “Macbeth.”

Calling this week from his digs in Las Vegas, where he’s continued his lucrative gig at the Rio in between labor-of-love redeye jaunts to Jersey, Teller tells redbankgreen that “Macbeth” is “Shakespeare’s weirdest-ass creation… a bold choice, but a risk worth taking.”

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FROM RADIOMAN TO ‘SNL’ TO MEMOIRIST

Herbert_2Herbert Holzberg

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

The 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol envisioned for everyone appears to have arrived, somewhat late in life, for Sea Bright resident Herbert Holzberg.

A veteran of two wars and owner of a successful company that sold radio equipment to broadcasters, Holzberg felt he hadn’t achieved all his goals when he retired. So he began acting professionally at age 68, gaining small parts on Saturday Night Live and two soap operas.

In his self-published autobiography, “I Want to Sing,” the 81-year-old grandfather takes readers through his military service in World War II and the Korean War as a Merchant Marine radio operator (“The U.S. government admired my work so much, they brought me back for an encore,” he writes) and his subsequent career. Also included: anecdotes about his colonoscopy and a delayed flight.

Holzberg has been married to his wife, Shirley, for 53 years and has two grown sons, Bruce and Andrew. He’ll be signing his book at the Sea Bright Public Library at 2p this Sunday. redbankgreen sat down with him this week for a chat.

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TROUBADORS: JUST PASSIN’ THROUGH

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When Retromedia Sound Studios owner John Noll invited redbankgreen over to meet the wife & husband singer-songwriters Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart last month, our first reaction was, “Who?”

Past visits to the studio have introduced us to the somewhat-well-known Canadian heavy-metal act Kittie and, more recently, Joe Piscopo. But Earle and Stuart? A quick glance at their online touring schedule informed us that they didn’t even have a local show coming up that we could trumpet.

But then we scrolled down and got a gander at where they’d been recently, and where they were going. And as soon as we saw that, we thought, “We have got to meet these two.”

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SLEDGER CRITIC: ‘NEPTUNE CITY’ IN TOP 10

Atkins_121107Nicole Atkins and the Sea at Jack’s Music earlier this month.

Among rising global acts such as Arcade Fire and Amy Winehouse, Neptune singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins finds her major-label debut LP “Neptune City” in the top 10 of the year as chosen by pop music critic Jay Lustig of the Star-Ledger.

Not making the list: old warhorse and stay-at-home dad Bruce Springsteen, whose record “Magic” was only good enough for an honorable mention. Which is saying something, given the way the Sledger drools over his every move.

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SEA BRIGHT LANDS SKATEPARK DOUGH

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Sea Bright’s proposed oceanfront skatepark caught some air earlier this month, when Monmouth County came through with a $153,000 open space grant.

Now, says Mayor-elect Maria Fernandes, comes the trick of raising the remaining $214,000 in estimated costs and clearing whatever obstacles the state Department of Environmental Protection might throw up as part of its coastal permitting process.

The borough was one of 11 towns awarded a total $2 million in the latest annual round of Monmouth County Open Space grants. Nine more towns had proposals rejected, including Fair Haven, which sought $250,000 for the cost of new ballfields, lighting and other improvements at Fair Haven Fields.

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