It’s just about the last of the big holiday-themed entertainment events to take the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank each December — a frankly awesome rock and roll extravaganza that plants a glittering star atop the tree at an eleventh hour when various Scrooges, Nutcrackers and vocal choirs have scurried off to their last-minute shopping excursions.
Ask Bobby Bandiera and he’ll probably tell you that a dose of charitable spirit is more important than ever in the final countdown to Christmas and Hanukkah — and that the day-to-day survival of our neediest neighbors doesn’t take a holiday break when the rest of the community settles into its family traditions.
As commanding officer of the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue — and as a saloon singer supreme performing over the decades in the clubs, concert halls, tiki decks, taverns and dimly lit corners of coastal New Jersey — Bobby Bandiera has pretty much paid tribute to them all: the Beatles and the Stones; the Sun rockabillies and Motown soulmen; the AM radio one-hit-wonders and the FM rotation heavies.
So in a long, strange trip that’s taken him from smoke-choked pool halls and piano bars to the sold-out arenas of his road gig with Bon Jovi, there’s really only one career that still cries out for a proper salute: his own.
On Saturday night, Bandiera returns to Red Bank to address that glaring omission, with an “Autobiography” concert that assembles a rocking Rolodex of talented friends on the stage of one of the man’s favorite places to play, the Count Basie Theatre.
Clockwise 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.
Locally connected guys Brian Williams and Jon Stewart pictured during one of the NBC news anchor’s frequent appearances on THE DAILY SHOW team up on December 16 for a Hurricane Sandy Relief fundraiser at the Count Basie, with tickets going on sale at noon today.
By TOM CHESEK
Ask anyone who’s ever wound up in line with him at Welsh Farms or Super Foodtown. Scroll through those tweets and Facebook posts from your sister-in-law who was seated at the very next table from him at Blue Water Seafood. Remind yourself that of all the refuges in this great land, the most recognized political satirist of our time chose to make his double-wide domicile on the Red Bank side of the Navesink (a scoop first reported right here on redbankgreen). No two ways about it Jon Stewart is a Local Guy.
Then consider the case of the internationally renowned newsman, whose first job in media was delivery boy for the old Courier weekly in Middletown. A major figure on the national scene, whose interviews are frequently peppered with references to Brookdale Community College, or the former Perkins Pancake House on Route 35. From his days at Mater Dei High School to his time as a volunteer firefighter, Brian Williams remains at heart a Local Guy.
Although the host of The Daily Show and the anchor of NBC Nightly News have sometimes blurred the discussion of “which one’s the journalist, and which one’s the jokester,” the two titans of television have forged a fast friendship over the years guesting on each other’s shows (with Williams tallying more than 20 shots on Stewart’s cablecast), and joining forces for the occasional tandem appearance. That is, when they’re not variously hosting the Oscars, reporting from war zones, interviewing heads of state, or drawing over 200,000 people to a rally at the National Mall.
On Sunday, December 16, the two locals team up once again for a one-time, one-of-a-kind live appearance this time on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre, where they’re scheduled to sit down with moderator (and New York Times media reporter) Bill Carter in a free-form event from which all proceeds go to benefit Monmouth and Ocean Counties for Hurricane Sandy Relief, and for which tickets go on sale at noon today, December 5.
By TOM CHESEK
Does guitarist and vocalist Bob Bandiera‘s musical versatility have any limits?
When he’s not busy maintaining a longstanding lieutenancy with Southside Johnny and the Jukes, the veteran of over 40 years’ worth of local barband gigs might be globetrotting as a touring guitarist with Bon Jovi. Back home in Jersey, Bandiera’s been known to plan the occasional holiday-season Hope Concert (a star-studded series that’s boasted the participation of Bruce Springsteen, Southside, JBJ and more), travel with Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express, and, somewhere in there, prosecute a solo career that’s seen him play everywhere from theater-scale venues to the barstool in the corner at your favorite hometown watering hole.
But it’s the intermittent supergroup one-nighters by the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue at the Count Basie Theatre that have remained the best showcases of Bandiera’s virtuosity and encyclopedic mastery of pop music. Fronting a jukebox Justice League of talented friends from the regional bandscape, the guy who cut his teeth in such classic cover combos as Holme and Cats has conceived and performed tributes to favorite artists (Roy Orbison, Eric Clapton, the Bee Gees), as well as a Tribute to Trios, One Hit Wonders, Bands of Brothers and about a half dozen other theme-perfect entertainments.
On Friday, August 17, the-14 piece “Basie House Band” reconvenes at the Monmouth Street landmark for a special salute to the music of the Beatles. Special, because it’s a tribute to their solo careers, a rich vein of material from the years in which the former MopTops continued to write and make guest appearances on each other’s recordings provided they didn’t all have to be in the same room together. The Legacy Rock Desk at redbankgreen spoke to Bandiera on why the 8 pm event may be even more special than we reckoned. Flip the record over for more.
Bob Bandiera brings his all-star jinglebell-jam rock spectacular back to the Basie on Monday night with Hope Concert V.
In an interview we did with Bob Bandiera a couple of seasons back, the veteran musical go-to guy fessed up to the effect that “I’ve got about 95 guitars. My wife is not happy about it she allotted me two rooms for my music. But you know it’s fun to have that arsenal.”
What the Hardest Working Man in the Shore Music Business also appears to have is a “little black book” of friends that must rival the Oxford Unabridged for sheer heft that, or a Rolodex the size of the “Big Wheel” from The Price Is Right.
On Monday night, December 19, a few of those friends otherwise known as “almost every significant artist on the Jersey Shore” will meet up with Bobby B in Red Bank town to take part in a little fundraiser show by the name of Hope Concert V, a local tradition that makes a much anticipated (and very much SOLD OUT) return to the boards of the Count Basie Theatre.