RED BANK: HOLIDAY SHOWS ROCK THE BASIE

darlene-loveRock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, above, and not-so-secret Santa Brian Kirk, below, return to the Count Basie stage for their respective holiday shows this Friday and Saturday.

brian-kirkA holiday tradition bit the fake-snow dust in 2014, when a retiring David Letterman hosted musical guest Darlene Love in her umpteenth and final annual performance of the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

But Red Bank audiences can vouch that Ms. Love and her Christmas-pop signature are alive and well. And when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer returns to the Count Basie Theatre stage this Friday,  she’ll bring along some special friends with a Jersey Shore connection — while kicking off a weekend that boasts another special sleighride from a locally homegrown Santa: Brian Kirk.

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RED BANK: CHRISTMAS BASIE, C’MON HOME

Tim mcloone 2011Tim McLoone and Holiday Express (above) make their annual fundraising whistle-stop on the Count Basie stage this Thursday, followed on Friday by the “Souled Out” (but still very much on sale) return of Christmas Baby Darlene Love (below).  

darlene-loveNo matter how many times Darlene Love appeared on David Letterman’s show to deliver her soaring signature “Christmas (Baby please come home),” it somehow stayed fresh across four decades, five presidential administrations and countless hairstyles.

Likewise, Holiday Express manages to keep it fresh despite spending most of the year in a crisper, only to be taken out for a blizzard of seasonal performances.

And somehow, the Count Basie Theatre does it up in style every December with crowd-pleasing sets by both acts, which roll into Red Bank in the nights ahead.

Read on for details…

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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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WEEKEND: A HOMECOMING FOR NJ SUPERSTARS

jacquie1It’s a Count Basie Homecoming for JACQUIE LEE — seen here performing at a 2012 Rockit! concert in Red Bank — when the VOICE runner-up who wowed everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Lady Gaga returns as part of A SOULED-OUT CHRISTMAS on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ms. Lauryn Hill (below) has rescheduled her Sunday “Homecoming” show at the Basie to February 7, 2014.

Friday, December 20:

RED BANK: “Life can get pretty hectic and crazy the week before Christmas,” says Gerda Liebmann, the internationally exhibited multimedia artist who established Gallery 135 in the second-floor space shared by Red Bank Community Church. With that in mind, Liebmann comes to The Oyster Point Hotel for a special opening event that “gives everyone a chance to take a little step back from the madness, and enjoy some artwork that hopefully will induce a little serenity into their holiday season.”

view_image.aspThe artist will be present for a Friday evening reception (6 to 8 pm) for a display of encaustic paintings — an ancient technique that uses beeswax, resin and pigments melted together — that includes a set of banners based on the Christmas narrative, and abstract paintings (on wood and paper) that include tea and tea leaves. The paintings remain on display at the Bodman Place hotel through the end of December, and are available for purchase as a unique Christmas gift — call Gerda at (732)687-3580 for more info.

RED BANK:  One week after celebrating the feast days of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a procession that brought hundreds of marchers out on a frosty Red Bank evening, the Music Ministry at St Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church takes it indoors — with a special Christmas concert presented in association with the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library. The 8 pm event,   a performance of Handel’s Messiah and traditional Christmas carols, spotlights the Trenton Diocesan Festival Choir and Orchestra under the direction of Shawn T. Mack — with soloists Lauren Walters (soprano), Jody Doktor (mezzo soprano), Justin Gonzalez (tenor), and Wilbur Lewis (bass). Call (732)747-0813 ext. 10 to reserve tickets ($20.00 adults; $10.00 students). Church doors open at 7 pm as part of a silent auction and raffle of gift baskets, to benefit the Friends of the RBPL and their work on behalf of the Library.

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CHRISTMAS BABY RETURNS TO THE BASIE

LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMANDarlene Love, the original “Christmas Baby,” joins the great Ben E. King at the Basie in a show entitled LOVE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

It’s almost universally regarded as the greatest Christmas album of all time — a multigenerational favorite that’s lost none of its power and appeal, even as the Bad Santa who brought us A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector serves a 19-to-life sentence for second-degree murder (a fact apparently known to all but the author of his official bio).

If anyone has worked overtime to rescue and reclaim the legacy of that glorious Wall of Sound, however, it’s Darlene Love — the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Spector studio session stalwart who was featured most prominently on the 1963 LP’s original cover (released, as lousy luck would have it, on the day of JFK’s assassination).

Love, who actually subbed as the Crystals on the breathtaking breakthrough “He’s A Rebel,” lent her big and warm leads to four songs on that holiday platter — “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “It’s a Marshmallow World” and the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a tune that she’s performed on David Letterman TV shows across four decades, five Presidential administrations and countless hairstyles.

On Wednesday, Love returns to the Count Basie Theatre for the first time since 2009 in Love for the Holidays, a concert that teams her with another great voice from one of pop music’s most fertile eras, Ben E King.

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