LINCROFT: CLEARWATER FLOWS AGAIN

Dawg Whistle Paul Whistler Vini LopezShore music legends Paul Whistler and Vini Lopez team up as Dawg Whistle, while fellow famed musicmakers Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger (below) suit up for the Weeklings, when the 41st annual Clearwater Festival returns to the Brookdale campus this weekend.

Burtnik BurgerIt’s all about the message, when you get right down to it, one of care and respect and vision for this coastal place where we make our home. But when the Clearwater Festival returns to Lincroft for a frankly amazing 41st annual edition this weekend, attendees might be forgiven for thinking that it’s equally about the music — an attraction that’s drawn the participation of some pretty awesome figures over the years.

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RED BANK: CHUCK LAMBERT HITS A MILESTONE

chuck lambert bandChuck Lambert, seen above performing at Riverfest in Marine Park in 2012, turns 65 years old Saturday, when he and his band are scheduled to play Jamian’s Food and Drink. Below, Lambert in downtown Red Bank in 2006. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Chuck LambertIn a way, it’s just another gig for a hardworking musician, one of maybe 250 he does each year in bars, clubs and on sidewalks on the Greater Red Bank Green, as well as in New York, Philly and Atlantic City.

But when Chuck Lambert plugs in at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank Saturday night, this one will be special for the local guitar legend, and not just because it’s occurring on his 65th birthday.

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RED BANK: BASIE (AND JOHNNY), 365

keith marks 082214“Pied Piper of Jazz” Keith Marks keynoted a new slate of free outdoor jazz concerts on August 22 — a Count Basie 365 Cultural Series that continues Friday evening with vocalist Valarie Adams and showband.

Like a lot of institutions in the town that birthed the great “Count” Basie, it honors the “Kid from Red Bank” who became one of the pivotal bandleaders of jazz’s golden age — a living link that’s rooted in a place where the likes of Al Wright and Joe Muccioli continue to uphold the tradition.

Continuing for the next three Fridays at West Side Park (aka “the pocket park”) on the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue (aka DJ2 ‘n Shrew), the third annual Count Basie 365 Cultural Series also pays tribute to a real unsung hero of the art form — Ralph Gatta, longtime proprietor of Johnny’s Jazz Market, and an aficionado whose exuberant passion and expertise on all things jazz were second to no one’s.

A project of the mayor-appointed Red Bank Borough’s Vision Committee, the series kicked off on August 22 with a concert by a frequent summer-season guest performer — jazz flautist Keith Marks. The music resumes on September 5 with the return of another staple of summer concert stages, Valarie Adams and the Dimensions, with the dynamic showband bringing their encyclopedic setlist of soul/ Motown/ funk favorites beneath the stars at 6:45 pm.

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ON THE GREEEN: A FAB, JAZZY WEEKEND

Susan Haugenes and Chuck Lambert perform with his full band in a free concert in Little Silver Sunday evening. Dead Bank is at the Walt Street Pub Friday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

Friday, August 2:

RED BANK: Fixx presents a lineup of live bands starting at 8 p.m. with Diego Allessandro & Lot 25 playing a few songs from their next album. Also on the bill: the Trouble, Frances Jones & the Saviors, Exit 117, Oblivion and headliner Negative Traction. No cover; 26 West Front Street.

MIDDLETOWN: In honor of the 36th anniversary of “the King’s” passing, the Middletown Arts Center presents two nights of free, hip-shaking Elvis Presley tribute performances. Bring blankets, chairs and snacks. Night one of the weekend concert, “Memories of Elvis,” begins at 8 p.m. 36 Church Street; parking is free.

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FINDING MR. WRIGHT, ON A STEAMY NIGHT

Blues and reggae specialist Gary Wright comes to the historic Woman’s Club of Red Bank for the latest in a series of Reckless Steamy Nights. (Photo by Terri GO Seminoles Walliczek)

By TOM CHESEK

It was no less an old bluesman than John Lennon who said, “the blues is a chair, not a design for a chair or a better chair… it is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at. You sit on that music.”

Of course, when the person in the chair is someone with the skills and savvy of Gary Wright, that functional piece of furniture can be a throne of kings. The Red Bank-based singer and guitarist (who, just to clear things up, is not this Gary Wright) shares a passion for the blues with a great many other veteran performers on the Shore soundscape — but in the hands of this southpaw stringbender, the legacy of the earliest blues recording artists comes alive. You hear the wise cat’s instinctive sizing up of the room and the audience, the troubador’s sense of social justice, and the crossroads at which the scholar’s pure research transmutes into joyous poetry.

A Red Banker for the past 28 years, the Long Island native would become known as co-fronter (with ex-wife Jennifer Wright on vocals) of Terraplane Blues, a band that released two CDs, played several major blues festivals, opened for some pretty legendary acts, and even made it to the finals of the 2000 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

In the years since the Terraplane was permanently garaged, Wright has gigged extensively with reggae unit Predator Dub Assassins; sat in with his friend Chuck Lambert; produced the forthcoming CD by Richie Havens Band veteran Poppa John “Bug”; taken part in multi-artist benefits (such as a recent event in Asbury Park organized by the nonprofit Musicians on a Mission), and even showed up at the odd house party sort of affair — including, in the interest of full disclosure, a 2011 happening that took place at this correspondent’s digs inside the Stephen Crane House.

This Friday night,Wright becomes the latest guest performer to join in the Shore’s longest-running house party — the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation’s renewed series of Reckless Steamy Nights at the Woman’s Club of Red Bank. It’s a rescheduling of a November 2012 date that was postponed due to structural damage to the venerable venue — and if you’ve yet to attend one of these unique and intimate events inside the historic Anthony Reckless estate on Broad Street, you owe it to yourself to take in some fine and fascinating sounds, take a tour of the landmark house, and take a break for conversation and refreshment with likeminded music fans.

The Blues Desk at redbankgreen went looking for Mr. Wright, in advance of what promises to be his first (and, hopefully, far from his last) full-band solo showcase.

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GETTING JAZZY FOR JOHNNY JAZZ


Red Bank’s jazz royalty gathered in an unassuming pocket park at Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard Friday night as the Al Wright Unit, above, the Chuck Lambert Band and other acts performed for a packed-in crowd of about 100.

The occasion: the third and final of the summer in the Count Basie 365 Cultural Series organized by the borough parks and rec department. The show was a tribute to the late grocer and jazz enthusiast Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta(Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

A CHANGE OF SEASON, A HAPPENING WEEKEND

Red Bank musical movers and shakers Chuck Lambert, Joe Muccioli and the Al Wright Unit’s Ruth Wright pay tribute to the late Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, in a special outdoor concert Friday.

While there’s still technically plenty of summer sand left in the hourglass, the coming of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the greater Red Bank Green adds an ever so slightly melancholy touch to the senior-diet Dog Days of August. We detect a nagging hint of Back to School seriousness; a wrapping up of outdoor entertainments; a change of gears and seasons that’s keynoted by a tuneful tribute, a look ahead to Halloween and a merrily Menopausal musical.

redbankgreen has assembled an even dozen diversions in this pre-Labor Day interlude, starting with a handful of things going on beneath the setting sun and stars.

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BUSKING IN THE GLORY OF STREET LIFE

Clockwise from top left: A Cool Blues Duo, Jeff & Elaine, The Al Wright Unit and Peas & Carrots are among the acts taking it to the streets for Red Bank Street Life, the 2012 slate of which kicks off this Saturday evening.

It happens right about the time that Riverfest sounds the keynote to summertime in Red Bank. The sidewalks, storefronts and greens of the Shore’s favorite beach-free destination town ring out with great evening music every Saturday night in the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Other towns may stake a claim to being Where Music Lives, but when Red Bank StreetLife returns on June 2, it will transform the Borough of Basie into that place where Music greets visitors who arrive by rail; where Music provides an eclectic soundtrack to shopping and dining; and where Music gets mobile on the streets of the downtown and West Side business districts.

Presented by Red Bank Rivercenter (with funding assistance from the Monmouth County Arts Council), Street Life offers up a shuffle-mix that ranges from acoustic Americana to ethnic, and from sweet-Adeline harmonies to a little bit of harmonic dissonance.

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TAKING IT TO THE RIVER FOR THREE-DAY FEST

A weekend’s serving of cheek-bulging chow and hip-shaking music take up residence in Red Bank’s Marine Park this weekend. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge.)

By TOM CHESEK

It was the subject of a behind-the-scenes brouhaha that rivaled the most spirited Battle of the Bands: a “take back the weekend” campaign that pitted some of the mainstays of the Red Bank business community against an established event that many locals believed had both outgrown and turned its back on its host community.

When the calendar flipped to the first weekend in June, 2011, however, the consensus was that Riverfest was a refreshing breath of sweet summertime air off the Navesink — a successful revival of a seasonal signature that Lynda Rose, president of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, calls “a perfect fit for the town, the businesses and anyone who enjoys being in Red Bank.”

Beginning Friday and continuing into Sunday evening, Riverfest returns to the sloping lawns and waterfront walkways of Marine Park with a three-day, rain-or-shine, strolling smorgasbord of culinary creations, “local organic” music and family-friendly activities.

Billed as “New Jersey’s Largest Food and Music Festival with Free Admission,” it’s both a throwback to an earlier small-town vision of Red Bank, and a summer-season keynote to a new chapter in the borough’s ever-evolving history.

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FAIR HAVEN: AMPING IT UP FOR THE TROOPS

dead-bank-greenDead Bank brings its Grateful Dead salute to the K of C this Saturday as part of a matinee musicfest in support of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Asbury Park might get the ink as the city “Where Music Lives,” but the bars, parks and sidewalks of the greater Red Bank Green can surely boast their share of bands, balladeers and bluesfolk.

This Saturday afternoon, a shufflemix of top local talent convenes in Fair Haven for a fundraiser showcase that could only be called Tunes for Our Troops.

A benefit for the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project and its rehabilitative and transitional programs for severely injured service members, the four-hour fest takes place at the Fair Haven hall of the Knights of Columbus – Red Bank Council 3187. Kicking off at 2pm, it’s an event for which active service members will be admitted free of charge.

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RED BANK: WORKING UP A SWEAT

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Chuck Lambert’’s day job is not exactly the kind of gritty, back-breaking slog typically associated with the blues: he’’s a “membership services associate” at Red Bank’’s Community YMCA. That’s right, he’’s the guy who’’ll give you the orientation tour, set you up with access to the Cybex machines or heated indoor pool, and do it all with purring, irresistible charm.

But Lambert has also had glimpses of “the seamier side of what the world can show you,” he says, —and he’s not just talking about the men’’s locker room at peak occupancy. For starters, some of the musicians Lambert has played with have been run over by the music biz, or drugs, or just plain bad luck, without having any sort of safety net for themselves or their families. “Music— — the blues in particular— — has its pitfalls,” he says over tonic water at the Downtown Café. “Next thing you know, they’re having a benefit concert for you.”

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