For years, music lovers here in the borough that birthed Basie have enjoyed something of a best kept secret exclusive to Red Bank: the “Reckless Steamy Nights” series of house party concerts, hosted on the last Friday of the month at the Woman’s Club of Red Bank (aka the old Anthony Reckless Estate). While those presentations by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation have become the stuff of legend, the third Friday of the month has been gathering its share of buzz in recent times — and on September 22, the JSJBF offers up another next-gen look to the future of roots music, with the latest in a slate of Youth Open Mic events.
For the latest in their long-running series of monthly Reckless Steamy Nights live music events, the folks at the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation are cranking up the burners and serving up a fiery gumbo laced with the flavors of New Orleans.
Going up this Friday at the old Anthony Reckless estate (home of the Womans Club of Red Bank), the 8:30 p.m. house party throws open the door for a Big Easy bluesman of impeccable credentials: singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Sansone.
It’s a time of year when any perceived steaminess is probably just one’s breath fighting its way into the arctic air. But over at the old Anthony Reckless estate (home of the Womans Club of Red Bank), things are heating up with the first in a new season of Reckless Steamy Nights music events.
The intimate, house-party style concerts — a long-running monthly series that takes a holiday hiatus each November and December — remains a genuine “best kept secret” within a fast-changing nightscape of borough life, a presentation of the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation that raises spirits even as it raises funds for a scholarship program of the JSJBF.
The Mimi Nowak Project raises the roof at the Red Bank Woman’s Club for a Reckless Steamy Friday Night on January 30 — while the Jazz and Blues Foundation returns to raise some funds on February 6. (Photo by Sarah Pritchard)
Music fans who’ve been faithful houseguests for Reckless Steamy Friday Nights have a double-shot of good times coming their way in the week ahead — keynoted by the return of the long-running series of monthly house parties hosted inside the historic Red Bank Woman’s Club at 164 Broad Street (and presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation) this Friday, January 30.
Running between 8:30 and 10:30 pm, the event represents an intimate audience with The Mimi Nowak Project, the purveyor of classic blues and rock songs that pairs vocalist Nowak with a five-piece band of likeminded souls (keyboardist Bob Stasiak, guitarist Steve Sadowski, sax and flute man Dan Kiely, drummer Paul Levinsky, bassist Joey Van Winkle) that competed in the regional finals of the 2014 International Blues Competition. It’s a best-kept-secret attraction that’s uniquely Red Bank — and it’s BYOB, so drop on in; have a look around the historic home and simply enjoy an experience you’ll not likely duplicate anywhere else. Admission ($10) is dedicated to the JSJBF Scholarship Fund as well as the Woman’s Club — and the Jazz and Blues folks return to the old Anthony Reckless house on February 6 for a bluesy bonus feature.
It’s a house party unlike any other — and a best-kept-secret attraction that’s uniquely Red Bank. Hosted at the historic Woman’s Club on Broad Street and presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation, the long-running series of Reckless Steamy Friday Nights has granted music connoisseurs an intimate audience with American sounds that range from Delta blues, Dixieland and Chicago styles, to West Coast cool and Manhattan cabaret.
For the last-Friday-of-the-month session on August 29, the old Anthony Reckless house welcomes a crew of Red Bank neighbors — Uncle Funky, a five piece combo (Bo Pezzullo on guitar, Mike Bukarica on bass and vocals, Joe Febb on drums and vocals, Jim Beckerman on piano/accordion and vocals and Drew Bolognini on vocals and harmonica) that brings its brand of “bluesy Nawlins rockin’ roots” to the parlor for a visit that offers “roof-raising twists to some of the best songs of all time,” in a manner that “refuses to live in the past…instead, we drag the present down to our level.”
Above: Champian Fulton, Bob Tuzzo and Tony Corrao take the bandstand when the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra presents “An Enchanted Evening of Song” at Two River Theater. Below, twentysomething European conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali makes his NJ Symphony debut at the Basie.
Friday, February 28:
RED BANK: While it admittedly ain’t Shakespeare, the interactive “environmental” phenomenon known as Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding can be said to be one of the most influential theatrical offerings in a generation — even indirectly spawning a stroll-through spin on Macbeth at a seedy Manhattan hotel.
Beginning tonight, and continuing for four more performances this weekend, lovebirds Tony Nunzio and Tina Vitale repeatedly renew their vows in a production presented by the Count Basie Theatre — hosted NOT at the venerable Monmouth Street venue, but practically next door, at the nearby Buona Sera Ristorante. It’s there that guests can “eat, drink, dance, converse and get caught up in the festivities” as they stand in for Tony n’ Tina’s various extended family members and frenemies. The comedy and the comedic “drama” unfold with seatings at 7:30 pm Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, and 12 and 6 pm. Sunday. Tickets ($100) include the ceremony, reception, baked ziti dinner, champagne toast, wedding cake, music and dancing. A $150 VIP option includes a “classic Italian meal and seat up close to the action.” Check here for reservations, close to selling out as we post this — and toss that bouquet for some more great catches and matches, as we Mach it into March.
Got anything going on this weekend? Even if your plans don’t include those twin national pastimes (handicapping TV commercials and scanning for wardrobe malfunctions in the hoary halftime air), there are still any number of alternative ways to socialize in the coming days and nights — and we’ve got a few of them right here.
Friday, January 31:
RED BANK: Those of you easily panicked by a Friday night forecast of SNOW should know that this time, the cool chills are localized beneath the roof of the Woman’s Club of Red Bank on Broad Street, where the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation hosts the first in a new 2014 series of Reckless Steamy Nights house party concerts at the old Anthony Reckless estate. The multi-talented visual artist, writer and performer Maxine Snow – co-organizer of the annual Women of Song events at the historic house – is joined by her bandmates in the Snow Project (keyboardist Kendall Scott, bassman Joseph Peterson, guitarist Mike McKernen, drummer Tony Tomaino) for an unplugged evening that mixes music, spoken word and live art painting to “bring back jazz to the masses.” It all happens between the hours of 8:30 and 11 pm, and it’s BYOB, with a $10 donation requested at the door (proceeds benefit the JSJBF scholarship programs). Call (732)933-1984 for more info.
Above: Juke Joint Jonny brings the real-deal folk blues to a season-ending Steamy Night at the Woman’s Club…while below, the real live author Dave Cicirelli brings his FAKEBOOK saga home to the M’town Library. (click to enlarge)
Friday, November 29:
RED BANK: Black Friday is many things to many folks — but here in the area’s capital of Christmas and holiday hootenannies, it’s all about the Friday Night Lights, as the wondrous Wall of Sound that is Holiday Express flips the switch on a new season of events, activities and jinglebell commerce in downtown Red Bank. The annual free outdoor concert commences at 7 pm at Broad and Canal streets; take it here for our feature story with the details on tonight’s festivities (including the return run of the Santa Express train).
RED BANK: If the Town Lighting crowds aren’t your scene, habitual stay-at-homes can be both housebound and social — during the final installment of 2013 for Reckless Steamy Nights, the monthly series of intimate house party concerts presented by the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation inside the Woman’s Club of Red Bank (a.k.a. the old Anthony Reckless estate, Broad Street between Reckless and Leroy Place). Tonight between the hours of 8:30 and 11 pm, the JSJBF sends you out into the bracing chill of the holiday season, with warm fuzzy feelings kindled by Juke Joint Jonny, the Newark-native specialist in acoustic folk blues whose whiskey-stinging/ whiskey-smooth style can make an inviting roadhouse out of the most stately old manor. It’s a special “Dennis’ 60th Birthday Party,” and it’s BYOB, with a $10 donation requested at the door (proceeds benefit the JSJBF scholarship programs); call (732)933-1984 for more info.
Grace and the Nocturnals bring a bit of ooh-la-la to the Basie tonight. Bar Bounce bops into Red Bank for Hurricane Sandy relief Saturday. (Click to enlarge)
Friday, February 22
RED BANK: Two River Theater continues its presentation of August Wilsons Two Trains Running, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $24 to $42 and are available online. 21 Bridge Avenue.
RED BANK: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, whose songs have been featured in popular television shows over the years such as Greys Anatomy and One Tree Hill, bring their blues, folk, and alternative rock sounds to the Count Basie Theatre at 8 p.m. for a set of tunes off their new album, The Lion The Beast The Beat. Tickets are $29.50, $34.50, and $39.50. 99 Monmouth Street.
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 Foundations renewed series of Reckless Steamy Nights at the Womans 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.