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Close To YouLisa Rock (center) and her band pay homage to the 1970s pop hits of The Carpenters in the stage show ‘Close to You,’ coming Thursday to the Count Basie. Jenna O’Gara (below) is among the singers going Back to the Eighties with Jessie’s Girl in a Friday night concert.   

Jenna O'Gara Jessie's GirlIt’s a non-alternative fact that some of the most legendary names in the music business — the Beatles, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead — have plied their trade on the boards of Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre, represented (in spirit if not flesh) by a bold new breed of note-perfect, big budget traveling tribute extravaganzas.

Following on the heels of a weekend that saw the annual appearance of the ever-popular Elvis Birthday Bash (and a genuinely star-studded, sold-out recreation of The Band’s Last Waltz concert), the Basie keeps the tributes going this Thursday and Friday with some spot-on salutes to the 1970’s pop of The Carpenters, as well as the superstars (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince) who defined the MTV era of the 1980s.

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img_3012Double Trouble: Scot Bruce and Mike Albert ARE the King, as the tenth annual Elvis Birthday Bash returns to the Basie on Friday night.

Hard as it may be to fathom the fact that the son of Gladys and Vernon Presley would have turned 80 years old this past Thursday, it’s even more mind-blowing to consider that our own Count Basie Theatre is home to a Kingly homage that marks a full 10 years of burnin’ love this Friday.

Scheduled for 8 pm, the annual Elvis Birthday Bash teams two masters of Presley-digitation — Scot Bruce and Mike Albert — for a two-act tribute concert that examines the many ages of Elvis, from his early days as a shockingly loose-hipped punk kid out of Memphis (channeled by LA-based actor and theme-park performer Bruce), to the King who reigned supreme over the Vegas strip (as embodied by Albert).

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The Elvii Cometh: Scot Bruce and Mike Albert return to the Count Basie Theatre on January 20 for the eighth annual Elvis Birthday Bash.

In an interview a couple of years back, Scot Bruce offered that “When you introduce someone to the music of Elvis, it’s like you’re handing them the key to the universe.”

The LA-based soaps actor (Days of Our Lives) and veteran Elvis Presley tribute artist has worked that cosmic connection with TCB tenacity for much of the past couple of decades, taking his Kingly kung fu to such pop-cultural ports of call as Faith Hill videos, numerous TV commercials, a long-playing gig at Disneyland — and Red Bank’s own Count Basie Theatre. There, on the night of Friday, January 20, he’ll once again be part of an event that’s become the stuff of local tradition, a little thing called the Elvis Birthday Bash.

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