RED BANK: KEVIN SMITH FILM TO DEBUT HERE

yoga-hosers-johnny-deppHarley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp and Lily-Rose Depp co-star in “Yoga Hosers,” the new feature film by Kevin Smith. Below, the cake that Cake Boss Buddy Valastro made for Smith’s birthday appearance at the the Count Basie Theatre in 2010.

ksmithcakebossThe last time filmmaker/ actor/ Smodcaster/ writer/ King of Most Media Kevin Smith commandeered the Count Basie Theatre for a public birthday celebration, it was with an August 2010 Q&A session that saw his milestone 40th and magnificent head immortalized in buttercream by a fellow Jersey celeb soon to establish Red Bank cred: “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro.

The multi-platform cult figure (and self-described “fat guy who got thrown off the plane”) may have left Leonardo for Los Angeles years ago — but as he approaches his 46th birthday, he returns to the borough of his birth; the town he gae its big-screen close-up in features like “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma;” a burb that sits at the nexus of the comix multiverse courtesy of the Smith-owned Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash and the AMC TV series Comic Book Men.

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RED BANK: BURDON OF DREAMS AT THE BASIE

Eric BurdonRock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon (above) rolls into Red Bank for a Wednesday retrospective of his 50-year classic rock legacy, with Edgar Winter (below) along for the “Free Ride.”

Edgar Winter copyEven as the alt-rock bands of the 1990s become this summer’s headliners on the oldies circuit, many of the most formidable classic rock kingpins of the ’60s and ’70s are scarcely ready to surrender the stage.

On Wednesday night, the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank showcases a couple of silver foxes who successfully bridged the realms of hard-driving R&B and transistor-radio pop over the course of a collective century of touring and recording.

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RED BANK: WHO’S NEXT FOR PHOENIX? YES.

Jonathan Jacob Phoenix TommyJonathan Jacob (top right, above) heads the young cast, and Victoria Keiser (below) is the seductive “acid queen” Gypsy, in Phoenix Productions staging of  “Tommy” this weekend.

Victoria Leigh Phoenix TommyIf it’s July at the Count Basie Theatre, then it must be time for the now-traditional summer musical from Phoenix Productions, the borough-based theatrical company that continues its long and productive residency at the venerable Red Bank venue.

With scores of aspiring actors of high school and college age currently between semesters, the troupe’s midsummer offerings have represented a showcase for young performers, with especially energetic and ever so slightly edgier selections (“Rent,” “Hairspray”) than the family-friendly fare (“Mary Poppins,” “Little Mermaid,”) that’s proven so successful for the Phoenix brand.

When the Count’s curtain goes up this Friday night, it will usher in a two-weekend stand for a Broadway sensation with a psychedelic countercultural pedigree: “The Who’s Tommy.” Read More »

RED BANK: MOVIE SATURDAY ON INDIE STREET

The trailer for “65 Percent,” a documentary by Mike and Jon Altino of Middletown, screens at the Red Bank Middle School at 1 p.m.

indie street logo 2Saturday-morning cartoons, a locally made documentary and shorts-in-a-bunch enliven Saturday’s schedule of the Indie Street Film Festival, which got underway in Red Bank Wednesday night and continues through Sunday afternoon.

Click the “read more” for the full schedule and a sampling of delightful and outrageous movie trailers. Read More »

RED BANK: FRIDAY’S INDIE STREET LINEUP

isff 070616 1Sand artist Joe Mangrum creating a temporary painting at the festival opening-night cocktail party on the Count Basie patio Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

indie street logo 2

Screenings at four Red Bank venues fill Friday’s schedule of the Indie Street Film Festival, which got underway Wednesday night and continues through Sunday afternoon.

Click the “read more” for the full schedule and a sampling of delightful and outrageous movie trailers.

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RED BANK: A MOVIE FEAST ON INDIE STREET

A documentary about people who eat white dirt adds some grit to the first full day of the Indie Street Film Festival. 

indie street logo 2Scandalously long, beautiful legs. A guy with a compulsion for commandeering buses and trains. Geophagy, or dirt-eating.

These and other delightfully strange and wondrous topics fill the schedule of Red Bank’s Indie Street Film Festival as it enters its first full day of screenings and other events Thursday.

Click the “read more” for the full sked and a whole dirtload of delightful and outrageous movie trailers.

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RED BANK: TURN HERE FOR INDIE STREET

The festival flickers to life with “Morris from America” on the big screen at the Count Basie Theatre. Here’s the trailer.

indie street logo 2Day One of the first-ever Indie Street Film Festival gets underway in Red Bank Wednesday, kicking off five days of heaven for movie lovers.

The opening day schedule is light, with one just one film lighting up the giant silver screen of the Count Basie Theatre and two parties. But the festival shifts into high gear Thursday with daylong screenings and other events at five venues, and keeps up the pace through Saturday before winding down Sunday.

Check in with redbankgreen throughout the week for festival coverage and next-day schedules with tons of trailers to help you decide which darkened room to bring your popcorn to. Meantime, here’s the first-day lineup:

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RED BANK: INDIES INVADE THIS WEEK

rb indie film mural 070416A mural on Monmouth Street near Maple Avenue touts the five-day Indie Street Film Festival, which flickers to life Wednesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

indie street logo 2For the first time since 2007, Red Bank will swarm with screening maniacs this week as independent films, filmmakers and cinephiles invade the downtown — and one or two nearby outposts.

Encompassing nearly 100 feature-length and short films, four screening venues and a handful of bars and restaurants, the five-day Indie Street Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, promising to liven up a post-Independence Day interval when the borough traditionally slips into an early doldrums.

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RED BANK: MAKS & VAL DO IT THEIR WAY

The TV-tested brother act known as Maks & Val, seen her on the Ellen Show in February, bring the dance-infused “narrative of their life story” to the Count Basie for a two-night showcase this week. 

Maks and ValIf nothing else, the long-running network TV sensation “Dancing with the Stars” has helped make even greater stars of the professional dancers whose job it is to lift up the sometimes dubious celebrities they’ve been paired with.

So it is with Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the Ukrainian-born brothers and superstars in the world of competitive Latin dancing who have each won first place titles on DWTS. And for two nights this week, Maks & Val will be telling it in music and motion on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.

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RED BANK: FAB FAUX TO SPIN FAB FOUR’S 45’S

fab fauxThe Fab Faux makes its 15th annual appearance on the Count Basie stage this Saturday night, fortified by horns, strings and a formidable folio of the Beatles’ greatest hits.

It’s as sure a sign of the summer as the 35-miles-per-hour speed limit on Sea Bright’s Ocean Avenue — the appearance of the Fab Faux, the super-sessionman pet project that makes its 15th annual stand on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday night.

Co-fronted by a couple of professed Beatle buffs and virtuosic veterans from famed TV talk-show bands — bassman Will Lee (David Letterman) and guitarist Jimmy Vivino (Conan O’Brien) — the celebrated band has outdone every Wanna-Beatle combo in general circulation, with a show that transcends the wigs-and-costumes Beatlemania approach in favor of a thrillingly detail-intensive homage to the recorded legacy of the Liverpuddlian lads.

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RED BANK: SPIRITS AND SOULS ARE WILLING

marianne-w-thechalkboardmagBest-selling author and spiritual lecturer Marianne Williamson takes the Count Basie stage on Thursday night, and “happy medium” Kim Russo (below) channels spirits in a June 23 appearance.

kim-russo-2014-bio-photo-1600x1999They don’t sing, they don’t dance, they don’t “work blue” with the jokes, and they don’t even perform live cooking demos on the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

But self-help authors, celeb motivators and superstar mediums of the current touring circuit remain a major attraction for audiences across the continent — and Red Bank’s most venerable of venues continues to be a welcoming home for many of them and their fans.

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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN GETS INSTANT MURAL

rb mural 060416 4A team of painters, including 13 students from the visual arts program at Red Bank Regional, worked on the mural throughout the day Saturday and into early Sunday. (Photos by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb mural 060416 3Racing to finish before an expected rain, a team of artists and volunteers painted a two-story mural in downtown Red Bank over the weekend.

Overlooking the parking lot for Buona Sera restaurant at Monmouth Street and Maple Avenue, the mural promotes a film festival scheduled to light up movie screens in town next month.

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RED BANK: MONKEES SWING BACK TO BASIE

Monkees Micky Dolenz Peter TorkOriginal Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork — or the 2016 editions of same — celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Pre-Fab Four” with a Sunday night return to the Count Basie stage. 

Along a media superhighway studded with pop-cultural milestones, one boulder-size birthday looms especially large here on the threshold of summer 2016. And this Memorial Day weekend, the Count Basie Theatre does its part to celebrate the golden jubilee of a genuine boomer-era phenomenon when it hosts a 50th-anniversary tour appearance by the Monkees.

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RED BANK: A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO BOB DYLAN

Pat Guadagno John PosadaPat Guadagno (above) celebrates Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday on the Count Basie stage, while Arlan Feiles (below) takes it to the patio, during Thursday night’s 18th annual “Bobfest.” (Top photo by John Posada)

Arlan FeilesDon’t look now, but Tuesday marks the milestone 75th birthday of Bob Dylan, the American original whose distinctive songcraft and famously Neverending Tour have served as voice and inspiration to a generation and then some.

In the case of Pat Guadagno, a lifelong admiration for Dylan’s words and music inspired the Jersey Shore “saloon singer” supreme to forge his own lasting contribution to the legend of the Bard of Hibbing, Minnesota — a highly anticipated annual event called Bobfest, which returns to Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre for its 18th edition Thursday.

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RED BANK: ZOMBIES AND RASCALS @BASIE

zombiesRod Argent and the 2016 edition of seminal British band the Zombies, above, will be joined on the Basie stage by Felix Cavaliere and his Rascals for a Tuesday two-fer throwback thriller.

Felix CavaliereIt’s a double bill that brings together a seminal British band that experienced its greatest success after breaking up, and a late-60’s hitmaker whose group has been branded by no less an authority than Steven Van Zandt as “the first rock band in the world.”

While you ponder that, make a pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre Tuesday night, when the venerable Red Bank venue hosts a pair of acts who regularly scaled the pop-chart heights in that music-mad decade of the 1960’s and have returned to the touring circuit with an inspired vengeance: the moody British Invasion quintet the Zombies, and the Young Rascals ringmaster Felix Cavaliere.

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RED BANK AREA SCHOOLS BIG BASIE WINNERS

OPENING-NUMBER-BASIE-AWARDS-2016A multi-school ensemble, led by Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama winner Laura Diorio, opened the Basie ceremony. (Photo by Andrew Musser – Count Basie Theatre)

HOT-TOPIC_03Students and faculty from five Red Bank area schools dominated the balloting in the 11th annual Basie Awards, presented  Wednesday night to honor excellence in Monmouth County high school theatrical productions.

Musicals and dramatic presentations from Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank Regional, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, Mater Dei Prep and Middletown High School South combined to take or tie for top honors in 17 of 27 categories.

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RED BANK: PRIMA BAND COMES TO THE BASIE

Next-generation swing-king Louis Prima Jr. and his Witnesses bring their brand of raucous rhythm and jet-fueled jive to Red Bank Thursday night.

If they know anything at all about the legendary singer, songwriter, jazz trumpeter and popularizer of hepcat slang Louis Prima, most folks might stop at “Just a Gigolo/ I Ain’t Got Nobody,” a rockingly over-the-top medley that was famously revived note-for-note by Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. Those a bit further in the know could vouch that Prima was the guy who wrote the original version of Benny Goodman’s big-band epic “Sing Sing Sing,” and who provided the voice of King Louie in Disney’s 1960s animated feature The Jungle Book.

While a cerebral hemorrhage silenced the catalyzin’ King of Swing 41 years ago, his spirit is alive and well — and this Thursday night, Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses testify to that effect, on the Red Bank stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

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RED BANK: WHO’S UP FOR BASIE AWARDS?

MHSS American Idiot Ayo OladejiThe Middletown South production of Green Day’s “American Idiot” (above) score big in musical nominations — while RBR’s Patrick Monaghan (at right below, with Davis Bush) earned a dramatic acting nomination for “Amadeus.”  (Photo above by Ayo Oladeji)

Amadeus Davis Bush Pat MonaghanIt’s Red Bank’s own homegrown answer to the Tonys, the Obies, and any other major accolade for live stage performance. What else but the BASIES, the awards that honor tomorrow’s talents today — or rather this Wednesday, May 18, when the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank once again celebrates excellence in dramatic and musical productions among Monmouth County high schools, with the presentation of the 11th annual Basie Awards.

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RED BANK: FILM FEST MURAL GREENLIGHTED

rb IFF Mural 051116A scan from a flyer given out at Wednesday’s council meeting shows a rendering of the proposed mural, at left, and the building it would go on. At bottom right is a 150-foot-tall mural the artist, Misha Tyutyunik, helped create in SoHo. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03A prominent black wall in downtown Red Bank may soon be covered with a two-story-high, somewhat psychedelic mural.

The borough council greenlighted the makeover Wednesday night after an organizer of a film festival scheduled to hit town this summer offered it as what he called a “gift” to the town.

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RED BANK: COUNCIL OK’S BASIE PARKING DEAL

rb parking 041316 2The Count Basie Theatre, seen at right above, will be allowed to charge patrons park in the Red Bank two areas of the borough hall lot, including the new section, above, with the town getting half the revenue.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

LicPlate1It’s a scenario all too familiar to civically minded citizens and, ahem, the occasional reporter: you arrive at Red Bank’s borough hall as much as an hour ahead of a government meeting, and already the parking lot is packed with cars belonging to patrons of the Count Basie Theatre across the street. And good luck finding a space nearby.

But now, borough officials say they’ve resolved the turf war that flares up whenever the Basie has an event at the same time as a municipal meeting.

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RED BANK: TWO NIGHTS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC

Ron LevyPiano virtuoso Ron Levy (above) guests with the Monmouth Symphony in a season-capping event, Saturday night at the Count Basie. Up on Tower Hill, baritone Gerald Metz (below) is among the vocal artists teaming up in HEAVENLY HARMONY for the Monmouth Civic Chorus.

Gerald Metz

There are surely worse dilemmas to be had in this world; more difficult choices to be made. But for local lovers of the classical repertory, this weekend poses quite the pickle, with two Red Bank venues hosting must-see events presented by a couple of the best-loved borough-based performing arts organizations.

It begins up on Tower Hill this Friday, when the Monmouth Civic Chorus continues its current season at First Presbyterian Church with a display of Heavenly Harmony that draws from the “visionary and triumphant” work of some choral music masters.

Then, on Saturday, down on Monmouth Street, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra concludes another successful season at the Count Basie Theatre with an eclectic concert highlighted by an audience favorite that’s been called the ultimate musical marital aid and audio aphrodisiac. Read More »

RED BANK: BETTER DEAD, OR LED?

Dark StarDark Star Orchestra brings its jamband brand of symphony and scholarship back to the Basie stage, this Thursday night, followed on Friday the 13th by the act that brands itself “The American Led Zeppelin.”

We’ve said it before, but here in what’s stacking up as some sort of Season of the Dead, the alarming loss of one AM/FM legend after another has only served to reinforce the demand for a newer, bigger breed of hard-touring sonic soundalikes. And whether your favorite band of the baby-boomer era has been claimed by death, artistic differences, litigation, “nervous exhaustion” — or worse, an inability to cede the spotlight despite stiffening fingers, flattening voices and dwindling looks — there’s an act for that; poised to serve and in many cases “even better than the real thing.” It’s a lucrative corner of the live music marketplace that the folks at the Count Basie Theatre have worked to great advantage, as well as a crowd-pleasing, seat-filling brand of fun fantasy that lights up the famous stage in the nights to come.

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RED BANK: AXE THE EXPERTS

Generation AxeAn allstar panel of guitar godzillas stomps the stage at the Count Basie this evening, with the coming of the Generation Axe package tour. 

While it’s always been a voice-friendly venue for singers of all stripes, the Count Basie Theatre has also served as a guitar-shredder’s showcase for major players like Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny and recent Red Bank returnee Joe Satriani. But when the allstar tour known as Generation Axe rolls into town tonight, May 9, devotees of such instrumental Illuminati may find themselves seeing and hearing quintuple.

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RED BANK: CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

anderson menna 050115Mayor Pasquale Menna, right, at last year’s inaugural Red Bank Mayor’s Charity Ball. The fundraiser returns to the Oyster Point Hotel on Friday as one of several benefit events around the borough this week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The month of May flowers into full effect with more than just greenery and colorful scenery — it’s also prime time for charity galas and other fundraising vehicles, dedicated to the benefit of some of our area’s hardest-working nonprofit organizations.

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