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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A VINTAGE DOLL TAKES IT DOWNTOWN

davidjoThe man with one of the biggest voices, mouths and hearts in all of music — David Johansen — is the special guest ringmaster as MAD Wednesdays continue at the Downtown.

By TOM CHESEK

It was a dark and stormy night the first time that David Johansen hit the streets of Red Bank for a gig. With a cancelled outdoor set at one of those Jazz and Blues Festivals — the kind that always seemed to get called on account of rain, sleet or fog —  the glam-punk pioneer turned roots-music raconteur found himself with time on his hands, a willing coterie of famous friends, and no place to play.

Ask anyone who happened to be there that night, whether in the room or pressed up against the windows in the rain, and they’ll tell you about the night that David Jo and an all-star crew of music legends — among them the Band’s Levon Helm and Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin — made their way up Wharf Avenue from Marine Park and commandeered the now-defunct Olde Union House restaurant for an impromptu jam that got about two songs deep, before the borough FD busted in and unceremoniously de-funked the premises.

“Whaddaya gonna do,” shrugged the man who once famously proclaimed that “rock stars never dress for the weather,” as he hustled his skinny frame into his girlfriend’s car. “That’s the big-time music biz for ya.”

This Wednesday, the veteran vocalist of the New York Dolls — a guy who once flirted with household-name fame via his alter ego Buster Poindexter — returns to the banks of the Navesink for his first proper solo show in Red Bank: up the hill, around the corner and under the roof of the doublewide Downtown on West Front.

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IN oRBit: A BLUES LEGEND ON THE BOARDS

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit takes it down to Asbury Park, a music town where several generations of blues musicians could tell you a thing or five about the blues — its history, technique and that certain something that draws a line between those who study it and those who live it.

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When Hubert Sumlin comes to town “with a vengeance” on Thursday, the innovative stylist who most famously played guitar lieutenant to Howlin’ Wolf for years will be causing those generations of bluesguys to bow ‘n genuflect. He’ll appear at the lovely Langosta Lounge rather than a place that evokes the southern juke joints and midwest roadhouses of his formative years. In our exclusive interview, we talk to Sumlin about the long road that brought him to this day and place (including a strange case of giggus interruptus that happened right here in Red Bank), and the road that still winds ahead for the 77-year-old legend.

It’s there for your perusal in Red Bank oRBit — the only online source for local arts and entertainment news that lives the blues!