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)

SANDY HOOK: BEACH CONCERTS ARE BACK

The season of free Sandy Hook Beach Concerts lets fly its first note Wednesday evening, with the Brian Kirk and the Jirks head back to the beach when the free concert series on Sandy Hook returns Wednesday evening.

If you’ve got sand in your (flip-flop) dancing shoes…picnic provisions in your cooler…the salty sea air at your back…and a classic party-starting song in your head, courtesy of a plugged-in professional band…you just might have found yourself at the Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series, the 2017 schedule of which serves up its first volley tomorrow evening, June 14.

Going up around 6 p.m. at Beach Area E on the Hook, the long-running Wednesday series of free-for-alls is sponsored by the nonprofit Sandy Hook Foundation, and arrives complete with sandy sitdown seating, all-natural A/C, and complimentary picture-perfect sunsets.

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SANDY HOOK: PARTY ON, PARTNERS

Brian Kirk, pictured at a past edition of the Jersey Shore Partnership Summer Celebration, helps the nonprofit ring in summer 2017 at Monday night’s annual event. 

They call themselves “The Sand on the Beach People” — and each and every year about this time, the folks who make up the nonprofit Jersey Shore Partnership host an official welcome to the warm-weather primetime season on Sandy Hook.

This coming Monday, June 5, a cast of political dignitaries, business leaders, entertainers and members of the Shore’s culinary community will gather at the northern end of the peninsula for the 2017 edition of the annual Summer Celebration.

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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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A BIG-TENT CELEBRATION ON SANDY HOOK

Brian Kirk and the Jirks 2016Brian Kirk and the Jirks signal the pre-season start of summer on Sandy Hook, as the Jersey Shore Partnership marks a milestone during its gala event on June 6.

Press release from Jersey Shore Partnership

The public is invited to help the Jersey Shore Partnership organization celebrate its 25th anniversary — and kick off summer at the Jersey Shore — at the Partnership’s annual Summer Celebration on Monday, June 6.

Scheduled from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and hosted in a huge party tent overlooking Sandy Hook Bay at historic Fort Hancock, the event offers attendees an opportunity to promote your business and network in an informal atmosphere with 500 guests from Cape May to North Jersey, who share a mutual goal to preserve the future of the Jersey Shore coastline and economy.

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RED BANK: SING OUT WITH BRIAN AND RYAN

Brian KirkBrian Kirk and the Jirks (above) play Santa for Lunch Break, in a Saturday night benefit at the Basie…while Dr. Ryan Brandau (below) and the Monmouth Civic Chorus premiere a new Christmas choral arrangement on that Sunday stage. 

director-brandauThey may seem hard to reconcile musically, in their oil-and-water realms of choral-canon classics and party-starting pop hits. But, each in their own signature manner, the organizations known as Brian Kirk & the Jirks and The Monmouth Civic Chorus have earned a place in the hearts of their fervent followers here on the greater Red Bank green. And, every year at this time, the Jersey Shore’s premier cover band and the award-winning vocal ensemble give back to the community, with a couple of highly anticipated events at that Capital of Christmas cheer — the Count Basie Theatre.

The final weekend of the Yuletide countdown kicks off on Saturday, December 19, when cap’n Kirk and his enterprising bandmates suit up and play Santa for Lunch Break, the borough-based community resource that provides year-round meals (and a whole lot more) to Red Bank families and residents of all ages. A sequel to last year’s successful big-beat benefit (and the fourth such “Santa for…” soiree that Kirk and company have staged since 2012), the “three-hour jingle balling of a show” commences at 8 pm with the chief Jirk (whose summertime “Dunesday” beach-bash benefits have been a Shore tradition unto themselves) promising a mix of danceable tunes, “Kirky Style” comedy and special musical guests, in a variety presentation that’s sponsored by “generous anonymous donors” and dedicated in full to funding the ongoing mission of Lunch Break’s volunteers, and their ever-expanding range of charitable, educational and support services for our community neighbors. Take it here for tickets ($35 – $75); bring a non-perishable food item for Lunch Break’s holiday food drive (or make a separate cash donation here) — and read on for more.

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A GALA ‘LUNCH’ FOR RED BANK NONPROFIT

LunchBreakPress release from Lunch Break of Red Bank

On the evening of Monday, October 19, the Red Bank-based nonprofit Lunch Break will host its sixth annual gala, “Under One Roof,” celebrating 32 years of dedicated service to the community.

Taking place from 6 to 10 pm at Navesink Country Club in Middletown, the event will celebrate the successful completion of the capital campaign that once again brought all of Lunch Break’s services together under one roof.

Several individuals and groups will be honored at this special event for their steadfast commitment to the mission of Lunch Break. This year’s honorees will be Trudy and Charlie Parton, who will receive the Norma Todd Service Award; Foodstock NJ, the recipient of the Beacon of Service Award; Christian Brothers Academy, honored with the Charitable Youth Award; and Lunch Break’s Homebound Volunteers, who will collectively be honored with the Heart to Hand Award.

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RED BANK: THE WORLD’S OUR OYSTER SUNDAY

oysterfest 2012 1The Guinness Oyster Festival returns to the White Street lot in Red Bank Sunday. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb oysterfest 3 092312Consider the oyster: a fabled food-of-love aphrodisiac to many, and a must-to-avoid mollusk to others. A naturally nurturing jewel-box to hunters of precious pearls, and mere hapless-prey packaging to the otter, The Walrus and The Carpenter.

But whether you shuck ’em or shun ’em, there’s no doubting that the briny bivalve has a certain star-quality luster as the centerpiece of some increasingly popular post-Labor Day events — particularly when paired with the “Irish aphrodisiac” known as —Guinness. And here on the banks of the Navesink, the coming of autumn signals the oyster’s turn to shine as the featured attraction of the Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival, the sixth annual edition of which returns to the White Street municipal parking lot Sunday. Read More »

SANDY HOOK: BEACH BLANKET FREEBIES

kirk jirks 072013 3Brian Kirk and the Jirks head back to the beach when the free concert series on Sandy Hook returns Wednesday evening. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Grab those beach chairs from the garage and shine up your best dancing flip flops: the season of free outdoor summer concerts is upon us, with the local action keynoted as always by the Sandy Hook Beach Concert Series.

Presented at 6 pm each Wednesday by the Sandy Hook Foundation at Beach Area E, the long-running slate of all-ages, all-welcome celebrations comes equipped with sandy seating, natural A/C and complimentary sunsets. It all begins anew on Wednesday with a season starter starring Brian Kirk and the Jirks.

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SANDY HOOK: A GALA START TO SUMMER

brian kirk 061612The tents will be pitched, the dress will be casual, and Brian Kirk will sound the season’s keynote, at the annual Jersey Shore Partnership Summer Celebration this Monday evening at Fort Hancock.

They call themselves The Sand on the Beach People — a privately funded initiative dedicated to “raising the awareness of state and federal officials and the general public to the need for safeguarding the shoreline through beach restoration and other shore protection methods.”

Born out of the devastating coastal storms of the early 1990s — and with a resolve strengthened all the more by Superstorm Sandy — the Jersey Shore Partnership is serious about its mission. None of which is going to stop the JSP from having its share of seasonal fun, as the big tent is pitched for the annual host “friend raising/fundraising” Summer Celebration this Monday evening, June 8.

Going on between 5:30 and 9:30 pm (and with a rain date of Tuesday, June 9), the gala affair assembles a collection of local dignitaries, public/private sector VIPs and philanthropic-minded individuals in a scenic Fort Hancock setting overlooking Sandy Hook Bay. But leave the tux and gown at home — the dress is casual, and the overall vibe is beachy, thanks in large part to veteran beach-bar entertainers Brian Kirk and the Jirks.

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RED BANK: JIRKS AND SERAPHS UNITE

kirkJirks bandleader Brian Kirk plays springtime Santa with a benefit concert for Middletown’s Mater Dei Prep high school, Thursday night at the Count Basie.

STSemailIn an interview that appeared previously here on redbankgreen, businessman and bandleader Brian Kirk discussed what it takes to put on a big benefit concert — musing to the effect that “maybe I get whatever organizational skills I have from my mother, who used to work as a volunteer at St. Mary’s Thrift Shop in New Monmouth — they ran a tight ship over there!”

A party-starting pro with an ear for a crowdpleasing tune and an eye for a serious cause, the man who produces the annual “Santa for…” shows at the Count Basie Theatre (and who brought us years of Dunesday beach-concert benefits in Sea Bright) returns to the Red Bank stage on Thursday — this time rallying to the aid of Mater Dei Prep, the Middletown-based Catholic high school (and companion institution to both his elementary-school alma mater and that legendary thrift shop).

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RED BANK: SANTA BASIE, HURRY DOWN

Tim Kirk Love BobClockwise from top left: Jinglebell fundraiser concerts featuring Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express (December 18), Brian Kirk and the Jirks (December 20), Darlene Love (December 21) and Bobby Bandiera (December 22) provide the driving soundtrack to the holiday homestretch in the nights ahead.

The countdown to Christmas 2015 represents anything but a wind-down at Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, where a fast-moving flurry of high-profile benefit concerts promises to keep the place buzzing like Santa’s workshop-slash-fulfillment center during the holiday homestretch.

From the most big-hearted of local music mainstays, to the vintage hitmakers whose records landed on many a Boomer-era wish list — and on into the next generation of Shore scene stalwarts — the Basie boards will resound with a Wall of seasonal Sound, every note of it dedicated to a great cause and an all-’round generosity of spirit.

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RED BANK: KIRK PLAYS NOT-SO-SECRET SANTA

Brian KirkThe Jersey Shore’s premier cover band Brian Kirk & the Jirks will return to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre on Saturday, December 20, for a concert benefitting Lunch Break of Red Bank. The 8 pm show marks the third annual edition of a “Santa For…” event that began at the Basie in 2012, with a successful Santa for Sea Bright fundraiser presented after Superstorm Sandy.

In 2013, Brian Kirk told redbankgreen that he and the Jirks would like to make the “Santa for somebody or something” concert a December tradition in Red Bank. They did, and they’re back this year. All net proceeds from the performance will benefit Lunch Break, and generous anonymous donors are underwriting the concert.

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MIDDLETOWN: LUNCH BREAK MARKS 31 YEARS

NickDawes BrianKirkNick Dawes of the PBS series ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is the guest auctioneer — and Brian Kirk and the Jirks provide the soundtrack — as Red Bank’s Lunch Break celebrates 31 years of service during the annual Gala at Navesink Country Club.

Press release from Lunch Break Inc.

On Monday, October 20, Lunch Break will host its fifth annual Gala at the Navesink Country Club in Middletown. Presented under the theme of “Hope Happens Here,” the evening will celebrate 31 years of dedicated service to the community by the Red Bank-based nonprofit, in addition to honoring several individuals for their steadfast commitment to the Lunch Break mission.

Presentations will be made of the “Norma Todd Service Award” to Paul and Margo Hooker, the “Heart to Hand Award” to Inice Hennessy and Pamela Elam, the “Beacon of Service Award” to Carol Ingaro and Leigh Stoecker of Fringe Marketing, and the “Future Charitable Leaders Award” to Katie and Taylor Gill.

The evening will also include a spirited dinner reception, live and silent auctions, and a 50/50 raffle, with live entertainment provided by Brian Kirk and the Jirks. Special guest will be one of this country’s most experienced charity auctioneers — Nick Dawes, Vice President of Special Collections for Heritage Auctions in New York, and a familiar figure to millions through his expert appraisals on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow since the first season in 1996.

All net proceeds from the Hope Happens Here Gala will directly support Lunch Break’s critical programs.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the impact of the lingering economic downturn on the hungry and working poor among us.  In fact, the New Jersey Poverty Research Institute concludes in a 2013 report that 25 percent of New Jersey residents are living in poverty.  No wonder the demand for Lunch Break’s services has grown dramatically — and, to respond to that increasing demand and better serve the community, in March Lunch Break launched “Step Up To The Plate,” its $5 million capital campaign to enlarge the size and increase the functionality of its facility.

When the two-story addition is completed, the seating capacity in the dining room will be nearly doubled and there will be a new, larger, and more functional kitchen to serve the growing number of clients.  The expansion will also provide space for a clothing “boutique,” a “choice food pantry,” reception and waiting areas, private social service and intake offices, a donation drop-off area, administrative offices, a conference and meeting room, data stations, a maintenance office, and restrooms.

Gwendolyn Love, Executive Director of Lunch Break, said at the March groundbreaking for the updated facilty that, “Thirty-one years ago Lunch Break began serving hot lunches to Red Bank residents. Today our reach has expanded and we serve our most vulnerable neighbors who come from every town in Monmouth County, and from many in Ocean County.

“Last year, we served over 61,000 hot meals. Our food pantry provides, on average, groceries to over 750 families every month.   Our volunteers deliver meals to the homebound six days a week.  In addition, we have a clothing distribution center that includes our Suited for Success Program that provides business attire for job interviewees.  We also have an Adopt-a-Family holiday gift program, a Children’s Cooking Class, and a Gardener’s Market every Tuesday morning, year round, that distributes donated fresh produce.  We offer internet services, employment information, and social, as well as health and wellness resources.”

All this, and more, is provided under the direction of the Board of Trustees along with Mrs. Love, her small staff, and an army of more than 2,000 devoted volunteers, and is supported through the generosity of residents and many organizations and businesses throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties.   Hope happens here.  So, please gather your friends and family and join Lunch Break at their Gala to celebrate 31 years of dedicated service.  Our communities need Lunch Break and Lunch Break needs your support.

Tickets for the Hope Happens Here Gala are $160 and may be purchased online here. For additional information,  please call Petra Vanderven at 732-747-8577, (732)747-8577, extension 3106, or e-mail her at pvanderven@lunchbreak.org.

RED BANK: THIS TOWN IS YOUR OYSTER…FEST

oysterfest-2010-1The Guinness Oysterfest returnS to downtown Red Bank Sunday for an afternoon of sunshine, food, music and eary-fall good spirits.

rb oysterfest 2 092312Although there are those who choose to shun it rather than shuck it, there’s no denying that the oyster has long been celebrated for its aphrodisiac properties. And when the bivalve’s paired with the brackish brew that’s been called “the Irish aphrodisiac” – —Guinness – well, what’s not to love?

Whether you’re a fishy aficionado or strictly landlubber’s menu, there’s much to sink your teeth into this Sunday, when the Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival returns to the White Street municipal parking for for a fifth annual edition. Presented by Red Bank RiverCenter and produced by RUEevents, it’s a seven-hour fleadh of food, music and stout that benefits a pair a pair of regional cancer treatment nonprofits — the Jane H. Booker Cancer Center at  Riverview Medical Center, and the Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ — in addition to helping fund the ongoing events and programs of the RiverCenter partnership.

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RED BANK: ANOTHER RIVERFEST REVIVAL

Brian_Kirk_compressedBrian Kirk and the Jirks — the veteran Shore partystarters who’ve never been shy about taking their act outside — headline the slate of live entertainment at Riverfest 2014, the three-day fantasia of food, folks and fun that commandeers Marine Park beginning Friday evening.

It’s a matchup of sounds, sights and savory flavorings that seems a natural fit to a pre-summer’s weekend on the banks of the Navesink. And, when the fourth annual edition of the revived Riverfest pitches its tents and stages at Marine Park for another three-day stay that kicks off Friday night, it’s as if that whole decade-long layoff never happened.

A presentation of the Eastern Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce with Hoboken-based This Is It! Productions — and an event with roots in the modestly scaled Red Bank Food Festivals of yore — Riverfest came rolling back in 2011, having spent most of the Noughties exiled from the park by the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival. While that event relied on out-of-town food vendors, however, the present-day ‘fest puts the emphasis primarily on a more local base of restaurants, caterers and purveyors.

It also represents a more diverse sonic smorgasbord of sounds, with live mainstage entertainment spotlighting such party-percolating favorites as JoBonnano & the Godsons, Motor City Revue, and Brian Kirk & The Jirks. There’s also a Rock the River Stage programmed by the Asbury Park-based nonprofit Musicians on a Mission, and featuring a full schedule of regional acoustic acts.

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SEAFOOD STARS IN SANDY HOOK CELEBRATION

SandyHookCelebrationMonmouth University and Tim McLoone are among the people and institutions to be honored at the Jersey Shore Partnership Summer Celebration, scheduled for June 9 on Sandy Hook.

Press release from Jersey Shore Partnership

The Jersey Shore Partnership will host its annual friend raising/fundraising Summer Celebration on Monday evening, June 9, in a huge open tent at Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook overlooking Sandy Hook Bay.

Jersey Central Power & Light president Jim Fakult will be the dinner chair, and state Senator Joe Kyrillos and his wife Susan Doctorian are honorary co-chairs of the prestigious event.

Local restaurateur Tim McLoone will be honored with the Tom Gagliano Leadership Award for his commitment to the Jersey Shore. Monmouth University will receive the Outstanding Partnership Award for the University’s collaborative relationship with the Partnership in working toward a more sustainable and resilient coastline. New Jersey American Water will receive the Outstanding Industry Award for the company’s commitment to working with community partners to develop solutions to local environmental issues. The Marine Trades Association of New Jersey will be recognized with the Outstanding Non-profit Industry Award for its ongoing support of its membership in the post-Sandy recovery.

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RED BANK: TASTY LICKS, AT FLAVOUR FEST

BurtnikRiblerBeatle Bones and Smokin’ Stones: Glen Burtnik’s Beatles Tribute and Marc Ribler’s Rolling Stones Tribute (above) join the conceptual coverband Mashwork Orange (below) among the musical headliners adding savour to the International Flavour Festival, Sunday on White Street.

Mashwork_OrangeCombining many of the best-liked attributes of the old Red Bank Food Festivals and the latter-day Oysterfests, the Red Bank International Flavour Festival returns for a third annual world tour in the White Street municipal parking lot this Sunday, April 27. A fundraiser for borough-based entities Red Bank RiverCenter, Monmouth Day Care Center, and Parker Family Health Center, the happening from promoter RUE Events teams the culinary kung fu of some 25 Red Bank restaurants and food purveyors (take it here for a rundown) with a strolling smorgasbord of vendors that include beer and wine for purchase. Adding sonic spice to the affair is the enhanced musical menu of headline-worthy acts on two stages; a shuffle-mix that spans showband salsa (Ray Rodriguez and Swing Sabroso), Scottish marches (Atlantic Watch Pipes and Drums), Shore partyband perennials (Kirk and the Jirks, The Nerds), and the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it conceptual coverband Kubrickery of Mashwork Orange. The Beatles and The Stones are duly represented as well — as channeled by music-biz masters and sought after songwriter/ session cats Glen Burtnik (Beatlemania, Styx), Bob Burger and Marc Ribler.

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RCDS HEADMASTER SALUTED AT GATOR BALL

RCDSaFrom left: RCDS Board President Shawn Reynolds, Christine Reynolds, Headmaster Chad Small, RCDS Board Vice President Danielle Devine Greene ’79 and Gregory Greene.

Press release from Rumson Country Day School

Family and friends of The Rumson Country Day School community came out to celebrate Headmaster Chad B. Small’s last year at the school, during the RCDS Gator Ball on Saturday, February 8.

Gator Ball is the Parent Council’s signature fundraising event of the year, and benefits a wide variety of educational programs for RCDS students. The black-tie event, which was held at the school’s completely transformed Blake Gymnasium, included entertainment by the popular Monmouth County band Brian Kirk & The Jirks, as well as silent auctions and a live auction led by Nick Dawes from the PBS television series Antiques Roadshow. Among the items auctioned was a final chance to serve as RCDS “Headmaster for a Day” with Headmaster Small, before the school year ends.

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KIRK PLAYS SANTA, WITH HITMAKER HELPERS

LurieKirkKimballBandleader Brian Kirk (center) brings his Jirks back to the Basie stage on December 23, in a Santa for Lunch Break benefit that boasts the chart-topping voices of Elliot Lurie from Looking Glass (left), and Bobby Kimball from Toto (right).

By TOM CHESEK

Over the course of some two decades working favorite watering holes up and down the Jersey Shore — and building a solid following as a go-to group for weddings and corporate events — Brian Kirk & the Jirks have kept the party percolating by specializing in one thing: that attention compelling, wildly eclectic genre known as Other People’s Hit Songs.

This coming Monday, when the guys best known for their long tenure at Sea Bright’s much-missed Donovan’s Reef leave the bars behind for the grand proscenium of the Count Basie Theatre, they’ll be calling in reinforcements on the hitmen front — The Nerds, whose entertaining shtick and awesome chops have broken them out into the big world beyond Jersey. They’ll also welcome a couple of guys from out of town — the sort of men whose names and faces might not be known to all, but whose professional lives are all about The Hits. Who own The Hits.

The occasion is Santa for Lunch Break, a benefit for the borough-based nonprofit Lunch Break of Red Bank, and a sequel to last December’s sold-out Santa for Sea Bright event that raised crucial funds for the seagrass-roots organization Sea Bright Rising. Billed as a “variety show format” with “energetic music, bad jokes, and a little bit of ‘Bruce’ for a great cause,” the 8 pm concert follows in the spirit of Dunesday, the summertime series of beach-bash benefits that the enterprising Kirk maintained even after Superstorm Sandy dispatched Donovan’s to Davy Jones’ Locker — and that drew many thousands of faithful (including an enthusiastic Mr. Springsteen) to its open-air funraisers for neighbor families and community causes.

For the December 23 show in Red Bank, Kirk and his crew will share the stage with a couple of classic voices who are sure to strike a chord with anyone who never left home without a transistor radio or Walkman. Bobby Kimball is the vocalist whose time in Toto resulted in such Top Five hits as “Hold The Line,” “Africa,” and the Grammy winning “Rosanna” — while Jersey guy Elliot Lurie is none other than the singer and songwriter behind Looking Glass, and one of the most recognizable lite-rock bar anthems in all of human history, the 1972 Number One smash “Brandy.”

The Party Committee at redbankgreen spoke to busy bandleader (and owner of Red Bank-based Key Telecom Inc.) Brian Kirk as he made continued preparations for Santa’s wild ride.

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