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.
As the calendar strikes October — and those unmistakable breaths of sweater-weather air creep beneath your front door — a spot of tea seems a jolly good idea. This Sunday, the Music Ministry of Red Bank’s St. Anthony of Padua Church brews up a pot of seasonal warmth, as the Bridge Avenue house of worship hosts “Three for Tea at the Piano.”
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)
While efforts are underway to restore oyster populations in the local waterways that once boasted them in abundance, Red Bank celebrates the opening of oyster season by, well, opening a few thousand oysters — not to mention a beverage or two.
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.
For years, music lovers here in the borough that birthed Basie have enjoyed something of a best kept secret exclusive to Red Bank: the “Reckless Steamy Nights” series of house party concerts, hosted on the last Friday of the month at the Woman’s Club of Red Bank (aka the old Anthony Reckless Estate). While those presentations by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation have become the stuff of legend, the third Friday of the month has been gathering its share of buzz in recent times — and on September 22, the JSJBF offers up another next-gen look to the future of roots music, with the latest in a slate of Youth Open Mic events.
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.
The Clearwater Festival is a “party with a purpose,” in the words of Ben Forest, environmental policy/coalitions liaison for the Red Bank-based nonprofit New Jersey Friends of Clearwater. And when the purpose is the care of the coast that’s our home, the mission remains the main attraction of the environmental awareness fair, which returns to Brookdale Community College for its 42nd annual edition this Saturday and Sunday.
But still — what a party!
When the folks at Two River Theater Company launch a new slate of mainstage shows next month, they’ll be bringing in the 2017-2018 season with a fresh look at a genuine American classic — A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama of a black Chicago family’s struggle to achieve their dreams.
Before the “raisin” of the curtain, however, the Red Bank institution will be raisin’ the roof this Thursday evening with a community “block party,” a public-welcome affair that boasts live music, dancing, food and a a meet-and-greet opportunity with cast members from the show that opens officially on September 15.
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.
Butcher Stew Goldstein is the new owner of 110 Monmouth Street, where Max Olivera and Alberto Bautista, below, plan to open a restaurant called El Azteca Grill next door to Monmouth Meats. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
With a butcher shop, recording studio and, until recently, a restaurant under its roof, 110 Monmouth Street could serve as a neat little microcosm of downtown Red Bank.
Now, with butcher Stew Goldstein‘s recent acquisition of the modest-sized two-story brick building, plus a deal to fill the first-floor restaurant vacancy with a new Mexican-American eatery, the tableau seems to have been secured for the foreseeable future.
For a performer whose torchy, bluesy vocalizings are normally a study in confidence and timing, Eryn Shewell lost complete control of the situation during a crucial moment of a December, 2016 gig at Asbury Park’s storied Wonder Bar. That’s when her guitarist, Matt O’Ree, halted her cover of the Christmas pop classic “Santa Baby” (on the line “forgot to mention one little thing… a ring”) and proposed to her before a cheering crowd, right there on the stage of the circuit landmark where the two had met some 10 years prior.
From star-kissed surf and free-range country to plein-air pickin’ and fresh-air film, the season of outdoor diversions remains very much in effect on the Greater Red Bank Green. We’ve got the roundup of public-welcome events under the summer sky — and over the next seven days and nights — all of them free as a breeze.
It all starts tonight, weather permitting, with the latest installment of the Summer 2017 Movies in Riverside Gardens Park series, sponsored by Red Bank Parks and Recreation and brought to you by Shore Flicks.
Let no man question the Beatle bona fides of Glen Burtnik — not when the Jersey music legend, hit songwriter, former member of Styx (and occasional fronter of the current version of ELO) boasts a resume highlighted by scores of performances as Paul McCartney, in the Broadway production of Beatlemania.
It’s a credential that could conceivably be hard to match — even by Bob Burger, the veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist and attorney who’s logged countless sets in the watering holes of the Jersey Shore, and collaborated with Burtnik on songs for Styx and others. But then, who else among us could top this little career highlight for pure Fab Four thrills?
All of which serves to confirm that Burtnik and Burger mean Beatle-booted business when it comes to delivering an authoritative sonic salute to the MopTops, as they did a few seasons back at the Middletown Arts Center. But when Glen and Bob return to the north lawn outside the MAC this Tuesday evening, August 8, they’ll be respectively answering to the names of Lefty and Zeek — the double-sided hitmakers of the band known as The Weeklings.
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.
According to Maria Sorensen, the Basie’s Vice President of Development, the grant in the amount of $18,750 “will support our school bus-in program, as well as our Performing Arts Academy’s children’s opera camp.”
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.
In fast-moving, forever evolving, Retail Churn-ing Red Bank, well-entrenched local traditions are increasingly rare. So when it comes to a decades-spanning institution like the Red Bank Sidewalk Sale, the benefit can be as much about providing continuity for longtime locals as it is about the thrill of discovery for relative newcomers.
One’s a platinum-plated instrumentalist whose smooth stylings have seen him top the charts as a bandleader and make beautiful music with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Stevie Nicks. The other’s a pioneer of slapping/thumping funk bass technique who wowed the crowd at Woodstock, climbed the Billboard R&B charts and took his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Together on the road this summer, Dave Koz and Larry Graham are living proof that jazz is a big tent, and when the co-headliners roll into Red Bank this Wednesday, they’ll be sounding the keynote to the 2017 Summer Jazz Fest schedule at the Count Basie Theatre.
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.
There’s a chance to imagine yourself as part of the biggest franchise in film fantasy history. Some power pop on the dock. A heat-blast of Latin-flavored jazz in the park. A little beach-music soul on the sands. And one of the world’s most beloved plays on yonder grassy knoll.
It’s all going on beneath the setting sun and stars of the Greater Red Bank Green — and all fabulously free of charge in the evenings to come.