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: ANOTHER SIDE OF BOBFEST

Pat_GuadagnoPat Guadagno saddles up his Tired Horse for the 16th annual Dylan’s birthday celebration concert BOBFEST, Thursday night at the Count Basie. 

When Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme Pat Guadagno brings his annual Bobfest concert back to Red Bank on Thursday, May 22, it’ll more than merely mark the birthday of Bob Dylan, the American original who turns 73 years “Forever Young” this Saturday.

The 8 pm event will be celebrating its own sweet sixteenth edition — its third consecutive turn at the Count Basie Theatre, hallowed home to several other musical birthday salutes (Sinatra, Elvis), and the ‘fest’s venue of choice since it outgrew the 350 seat mainstage of Two River Theater.

Here in 2014, the tribute that began life as an impromptu toast at the old Downtown Cafe will be reuniting Guadagno with his all-Shore dreamteam band known for this occasion as Tired Horse — and for the first time offering up a golden-anniversary twist on the now-traditional sets of Dylan signatures and secret treasures.

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RED BANK: KEEPING BOBFEST FRESH

Shore troubador Pat Guadagno returns to the Count Basie Theatre Thursday for the 2013 edition of the Bob Dylan birthday bash known as BOBFEST. (photo by John Posada)

By TOM CHESEK

Like the grandest and most history-steeped Chuck E. Cheese on the planet, the Count Basie Theatre has been the setting for some special birthday parties across the years — including crowdpleasing annual tributes to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

Beginning in May 2012, the Basie boards have also played host to a homegrown event that honors a decidedly still-alive-and-kicking music icon: Bobfest, a salute to Bob Dylan‘s birthday created by and starring Monmouth County’s own Pat Guadagno.

It’s a logical progression for the springtime tradition that began life in 1999 as an impromptu birthday-boy toast to Dylan at the old Downtown Cafe — and evolved from a loose jam at various local taverns to a tightly constructed stage extravaganza that spent six years in residence at the Two River Theater.

Having attracted international attention from diehard Dylanites — and having outgrown the 350 seats of Two River’s mainstage Rechnitz Theater  — Guadagno moved Bobfest a couple of blocks east to the Count’s place last year. This Thursday night — on the eve of the 72nd birthday of the former Robert Zimmerman — the self-described “saloon singer” of 1,001 tap rooms and watering holes returns to Red Bank with his allstar combo Tired Horse, for the 15th edition of a project that he characterizes as “not a tribute — a celebration, and a really polished show.”

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