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CHRISTOPHER CROSS SAILING INTO RED BANK

Grammy’d-up singer-songwriter Christopher Cross comes to Red Bank’s Two River Theater for an Intimate Evenings concert (and a benefit for Sandy Relief) on Thursday.

By TOM CHESEK

To a huge cross-section of humanity, his songs are integrated with the Soundtrack To Our Lives — whether the number one hit ballad “Sailing” was on the turntable during a certain memorable moment in your adolescence, “Ride Like the Wind” was part of the choral curriculum in your fifth-period music class, or you just heard “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” piped into the Shop-Rite not ten minutes ago.

Yet for all of the units he sold back in the 1980s; for all of the awards that have made his trophy case buckle and groan — no less than five Grammys, a Golden Globe, and even an Oscar for that theme to the 1981 Dudley Moore comedy — we tend to know precious little about Christopher Cross.

Even if you do happen to know a thing or two about the smooth-tenor voiced (but low-key as regards his public persona) singer and songwriter, you might be surprised to find that the San Antonio native divides his residential time between his Texas stomping grounds and Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. You probably wouldn’t be at all surprised to know that he continues to release new albums of precision-crafted pop music, and to play dozens of live concerts every year – a line of endeavor that brings him to the stage of Two River Theater this Thursday night, January 17.

The 7:30 pm show is the latest in an ongoing series of “Intimate Evenings” events produced by MusicWorks Entertainment, co-founded by former Count Basie Theatre Foundation CEO Rusty Young. In keeping with the MusicWorks mission, portions of proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation and its network of locally based humanitarian and restoration efforts.

The Pop Desk at redbankgreen spoke to the affable, down-to-earth Cross somewhere between the Moon and Red Bank Borough.

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UP A LAZY RIVER OR TWO WITH LEON REDBONE

Master of back-porch blues, song-sheet pop and hobo-camp folk music Leon Redbone pulls up a stool the Two River Theater Red Bank Sunday.

By TOM CHESEK

The seersucker suit and the straw boater; the smoked glasses and the Groucho-greasepaint ‘stache; the Kentucky-colonel tie and the Walking Stick made famous in song — who else could it have been but Leon Redbone?

Yet, when we happened upon the veteran performer at a Tony Bennett show in Atlantic City — and greeted him with a smooth and sophisticated “Hey, you’re Leon Redbone” — all we got by way of acknowledgment was an “Oh, I don’t know ’bout that…,” delivered in the inimitable drawl that sounds like Al Jolson and Dean Martin knocking back a few Old Fashioneds at the 1919 World Series.

Since he materialized on the national stage in the mid-1970s, serenading Saturday Night Live viewers with songs like “Ain’t Misbehavin” and “Shine On Harvest Moon,” the man of mystery named Leon Redbone has by and large spoken to the world from beneath a vintage hat, behind a novelty-shop nose ‘n glasses, and between the lines of of a bygone era of Tin Pan, back-porch, popular music. Granting few interviews over the years — and remaining purposely vague and contrary on those occasions he did — the master musicologist and ace guitar-picker introduced several new generations of listeners to songs like “The Sheik of Araby” and “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” popping up from time to time in the occasional beer commercial, TV talk show or major motion picture even while pointing the way toward the more stripped-down, laid back rootsy styles that would take hold in the wake of the music industry meltdown.

On Sunday evening, August 19, Redbone brings his timewarp talents and hoary sense of humor to Red Bank as the latest in the summertime series of Intimate Evenings concerts, produced by MusicWorks Entertainment and presented on the stage of Two River Theater. The Americana Desk at redbankgreen was fortunate to get the man on the Ma Bell (following at least one false start); what follows is certainly one of the most cantankerous and curmudgeonly Q&As we’ve ever conducted in this space — but imagine it delivered with a wink, a chuckle and an attitude that’d make W.C. Fields proud, and flip that wax 78 over for more.

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AN OLD ‘GIRLFRIEND,’ A SWEET RETURN

Electric and eclectic singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet celebrates the 20th anniversary of his smash album GIRLFRIEND, in an Intimate Evenings concert at Two River Theater on Friday, June 15.

By TOM CHESEK

To be sure, Matthew Sweet has a lovely wife and a home studio that’d be the envy of any DIY rocker — not to mention a pleasing professional partnership with the ever-stunning Bangles frontwoman Susanna Hoffs, with whom the Nebraska native has collaborated on two volumes of 1960s and ’70s pop covers.

Still, when the road brings Matthew Sweet to the stage of Two River Theater this Friday, June 15, it’ll be all about a certain 1990s Girlfriend.

The album of that name — a savvy set of plain-spoken power pop songs purveyed with a supercharged, guitar-drunk sensibility — celebrated the 20th anniversary of its release recently. It’s a milestone that sent the 47-year-old Sweet (whose area gigs have included some at the late and lamented Trade Winds Nightclub in Sea Bright) back to the East Coast on a jaunt that brings him to Red Bank for the first time, as part of a renewed summer series of Intimate Evenings events at the Bridge Avenue arts center.

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EDER’S BACK, AND TWO RIVER’S GOT HER

Star of Broadway and bluejeans Linda Eder returns to Red Bank when she performs in concert at Two River Theater, with a salute to her favorite SONGBIRDS Thursday. (Photos by Carolina Palmgren)

By TOM CHESEK

Who knew that there were so many “other sides” to Linda Eder?

The singer and stage actress who made her mark on Broadway as the female lead in Jekyll & Hyde — one of several shows that she did with her then-husband, composer Frank Wildhorn — is arguably no stranger to multiple personalities. Having honed her chops as an Atlantic City lounge singer, she achieved household-name status as an undefeated champion on Star Search, and fronted big-time orchestras as a performer of songbook standards and Tin Pan Alley perennials.

When last we saw Linda Eder here in Red Bank, the footlights diva had traded in her ballgowns for bluejeans, touring in support of her country-pop album The Other Side of Me. And when she comes to Two River Theater this Thursday, June 14, Eder will be putting forth not only All of Me (the name of the show she’s toured with in recent years) but summoning several of her favorite Songbirds for a set that keynotes a renewed summer series of Intimate Evenings concert events at the Bridge Avenue arts center.

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