It’s Grad Season at colleges and universities across the country, and young people from all over the greater Red Bank Green are among the many thousands of Class of 2014 members who received their degrees in May and June.


Patrick Fermo, Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Kevin Hennessy, Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC.

Tyler Cuming, Bachelor of Arts in History and French from Merrimack College in North Andover, MA.

Kendra McKechnie, Bachelor of Arts in French from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Alexandra Sarlo, Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Continue reading for a list of grads from Fair Haven, Little Silver, Middletown, Rumson, and Shrewsbury.

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Sandra Bullock and George Clooney assess the GRAVITY of the situation, as Middletown Township Public Library hosts a month-of-Mondays worth of recent box office hits, Oscar nominees and critical faves.

While it doesn’t have the red-carpet, press-party glamour and cachet of the Academy Awards, the June series of free film screenings at Middletown Township Public Library does boast a lot of the same spotlight films from the last Oscar ceremony — with the possible added bonuses of NO celebrity selfies, NO celebrity-on-celebrity mispronunciation mayhem, and NO live mic handed to Matthew McConaughey.

The 2:30 pm events inside the library’s air-conditioned Community Room begin on Monday, June 2 with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s end-of-your-tether space suspenser Gravity, a seven-time winner at the 86th Oscars and a bonanza for box offices and Bullock alike.

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The Veterans Monument on Monmouth Street is the scene of an annual Memorial Day observance on Monday, one of several going on around the Green.

From Red Bank to Rumson; Shrewsbury to Sea Bright; Little Silver, Middletown and Fair Haven, Memorial Day is more than just a paid day off and a chance to fire up the grille. The various municipalities, first responders and volunteer organizations of the greater Green will be honoring the service of those who sacrificed all for their country, in a series of hometown events that take place this Monday morning.

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3muskThe Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School staging of THE THREE MUSKETEERS won Outstanding Drama honors at the ninth annual Basie Awards, Wednesday night.

Productions of Evita by Middletown High School South and The Three Musketeers by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School took top honors at Wednesday evening’s Basie Awards, the ninth annual installment of the Count Basie Theatre’s celebration and recognition of excellence and achievement in high school theatre.

Both Evita and The Three Musketeers nabbed Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Production trophies for their respective categories – Evita for musicals and The Three Musketeers for drama. Combined, the productions took home an astounding ten Basies, including The Three Muskeeters’ Christopher Brodsky for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama, Christopher Tuttle for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama and the trophy for Outstanding Lighting Design in a Drama.

In addition to earning hardware for overall production and direction, Evita also earned awards for Outstanding Choreography (Jacqui Mazza) and Outstanding Chorus in a Musical.

The Basies also bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan and Robert Rechnitz, who founded the renowned Two River Theater Company two decades ago.

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Press release from Middletown Arts Council

The Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council is excited to launch a brick campaign to celebrate Middletown’s 350th Anniversary and raise funds for arts programming. A 50-year time capsule will be buried on the lawn at the Middletown Arts Center, surrounded by an “Anniversary Plaza” designed with personalized  bricks. Donors who purchase a brick will have their special message be part of this beautiful plaza for years to come, and also will help the Arts Council continue its mission of bringing enriching arts programming to the community.

The Arts Center’s Executive Director Maggie O’Brien has been thrilled to receive donations of bricks from several of her volunteers. “These are individuals who have donated their time and now their dollars to express their appreciation for the organization,” said O’Brien. “It’s touching to read their messages and realize just how much the Arts Center means to them. It’s also wonderful to see members of the community express themselves in these bricks.”

Nineteen-year-old CJ Marsini of Middletown stepped up with a brick donation. Marsini, who will be attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music this fall,  performed in the Arts Council’s first talent show at the age of seven. He has grown up on the Middletown Arts Center’s stage and has volunteered at the MAC in numerous capacities from performer to summer camp counselor. His mother, photographer Tammy Marsini, serves on the Board of the non-profit Middletown Township Cultural and Arts Council, which operates the Arts Center.

To Kathy Rauffer and her late husband, Walt Rauffer, a pioneer in television broadcasting and engineering, the Middletown Arts Center meant more to them than just bricks and mortar. Walt donated his expertise and time to create the Art Center’s state-of-the-art theater sound and lighting system and worked the equipment for performances. The Rauffer Family purchased a brick in his honor.

“Walt started volunteering in 2007. He felt the organization was truly community focused and he loved the diversity there,” says Kathy. “With so many threats to the arts, Walt wanted others to see the value the Arts Center offered, and he praised its value every chance he had. He wanted people to embrace it, and get behind everything it offered.”

Walt was Technical Director for the Children’s Television Network’s Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and many other commercial sets. He worked with stars like Big Bird, Jim Henson and the Muppets, Misterodgers and Bill Cosby.  Highlights from Walt’s career include the creation of the first mobile news truck,  the creation of Sesame Street’s first tape room at its 81st Street Theater set, and a 1978 Emmy Win for Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

According to Kathy,  “Walt told me that when he graduated from RCA Institute and told his father he was getting a job in television, his father said ‘why don’t you get a job in something that will last?’ — Walt just knew when something felt right and had the potential to grow and take off.  That’s the way he felt about the Middletown Arts Center –he knew it would succeed. ”

The Arts Center relies on donor contributions to maintain its affordable, year-round arts and cultural programs. In 2013, the MAC  boasted over 60,000 visits from area residents of  all ages and abilities. Those interested in purchasing a brick can download an order form at or visit the Arts Center.

The public is invited to the Time Capsule Celebration on June 21. This free, family friendly event will feature a parade, the burying of the time capsule, entertainment and more!  Brick donors will be recognized at this event and the “Anniversary Plaza” will be dedicated later in the year.


This Thursday evening, May 14, the public is invited to take part in “an honest discussion about the legal, health and personal consequences of alcohol and drug abuse,” during the 11th annual Reaching Out community conference in Middletown.

Presented by the Middletown Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the 7 pm event will be held in the auditorium of the Middletown Arts Center, adjacent to the train station on Church Street.

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JustinManciniMichaelRandazzaBobMiraJohnMaschioAbove: The cast of LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR brings the Monmouth Players’ “Season of Simon” to a rollicking close in Navesink…while below, SHREK: THE MUSICAL kicks off the 2014 slate of shows from Red Bank’s Phoenix Productions at the Count Basie.

Fiona-ShrekWhen the borough-based Phoenix Productions returns to the Count Basie Theatre this weekend, it’ll be kicking off its 2014 season of musical entertainments at the venerable venue — a local tradition that has seen the 25-year old Phoenix company up the ante considerably in terms of production values. Beginning Friday, April 25, the community stage troupe will be commandeering the Basie boards for six performances of a family favorite that’s as recently minted as it is minty green: Shrek the Musical, the stage adaptation of William Steig’s children’s book characters (and more to the point, the even more popular Dreamworks animated films). Jay Giberson stars as the unseemly ogre (and unlikely hero), with Carly Nelson as feisty Fiona, Aaron Lee Battle as wisecracking sidekick Donkey, and Anthony Preuster as Lord Farquaad, the bad guy with a ‘short’ temper. The show under the direction of Rick Joyce continues for two weekends, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm, through May 4. Tickets are priced between $20 – $32, and can be reserved right here, with tix also on sale for the upcoming Phoenix stagings of Grease and The Sound of Music.

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Hungry-for-Change copyNo empty calories here: Middletown Township Public Library is the setting for a free Wednesday night screening of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE, the doc feature that aims to blow the pop-top off the mega-billion dollar diet industry.

It’s the documentary that THEY didn’t want you to see; the one the industry just HATES — and for just this once, those claims might not be so much sour persimmons. Released in 2012, Hungry For Change takes a produce-squeezing hard look at the food, diet products and weight-loss industries — a veritable Axis of Eatville consuming billions of dollars in the service of a body-image ideal that’s downright unnatural for the majority of humans. Packed with “interviews with best selling health authors and leading medical experts, plus real life transformational stories with those who know what it’s like to be sick and overweight,” the advocacy documentary film by James Colquhon and Laurentine ten Bosch screens Wednesday evening at Middletown Township Public Library, in a 7 pm event that’s free of charge, to the public at large.

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GerdLucianPianist Gerd Nowaczyk — pictured at left, with flautist and Monmouth Symphony associate conductor Lucian Rinando — performs a solo concert at Middletown Township Public Library on Tuesday afternoon.

“Whoever planned the library must have had a great knowledge and love for music,” the Monmouth Conservatory of Music exec director Vladislav Kovalsky said of Middletown Township Public Library, in a 2008 interview here on redbankgreen. “It seems to go against all laws of acoustics and building materials, but it’s been a wonderful place for music.”

Over the past several years, the Red Bank-based MCM and the MTPL have continued to make beautiful music together, via an ongoing series of free afternoon and evening chamber concerts in the library’s Community Room — a slate of offerings designed to bring many of the region’s first-quality classical performers to a broadly based, all-ages audience. The series continues at 3 pm this Tuesday, April 22, with an encore by acclaimed keyboard artist (and Conservatory faculty member) Gerd Nowaczyk.

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TROUBLE_press_1It’s opening weekend for the Two River Theater Company production of TROUBLE IN MIND, above. Below, the kids from Rockit! polish Janis Joplin’s PEARL as part of the annual Brookdale Guitar Festival. (TRTC photo by T. Charles Erickson) 

Friday, April 11 – Sunday, April 13: 

view_image.aspRED BANK: Although the late Alice Childress is known these days primarily as author of the young adult novel A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, among her many firsts and foremosts was becoming the first African-American woman to have one of her plays produced in New York. She also became the first female playwright to win an Obie Award, for a 1955 play entitled Trouble in Mind.

On Friday night at 8 pm, Two River Theater Company opens a new production of the comedy-drama directed by the acclaimed Jade King Carroll, associate director for the recent Broadway Streetcar Named Desire. It’s a “backstage” portrait of a multi-racial theatrical troupe, a play-within-a-play about a Southern lynching, and the fireworks that fly when the show’s black leading lady (Brenda Pressley of TRTC’s In This House) questions the inaccuracies and stereotypes being perpetuated by her white director (fellow Two River returnee Steven Skybell).

Surprisingly resonant today, the oft-overlooked play costars Tony winner Roger Robinson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), with McKinley Belcher III, Jonathan David Martin, Brian Russell, Hayley Treider, Amirah Vann — and Robert Hogan, the octogenarian character ace of stage and screen interviewed here on redbankgreen, when he starred in Two River’s recent On Borrowed Time. The show continues with performances at 3 pm and 8 pm Saturday, as well as 3 pm Sunday; take it here for schedule details and tickets ($20-$65). Then stick around after Sunday’s matinee show (or drop in free of charge at 5:30 pm), when director Carroll is joined by Pressley, TRTC Artistic Director John Dias, and her longtime associate, Tony winning actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, for a panel discussion on “Modern African American Theater (1950s to Today),” presented as part of Two River’s “Exploration of Justice” slate of special events.

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rb street fair 041413A first responder benefitting spring edition of Street Fair returns to Red Bank Sunday while, below, the one and only GROUCHO goes wild, in the person of Frank Ferrante, Friday night at the Basie. 

grouchoRED BANK: “We all want to be Groucho,” Frank Ferrante told us a few seasons back, “to be that wild, irreverent pulverizer of those in power.”

In the acclaimed stage show An Evening with Groucho, the actor-director gets to be all that and more, as his spot-on channeling of the classic comic force of nature Groucho Marx comes to the Count Basie Theatre for the first time. Performed with piano accompaniment, minimal set and trademark makeup, the 90-minute, all-ages friendly tour de farce mixes canonical Marxist quotes, anecdotes from a life in show business, signature silly songs (“Hooray for Captain Spalding,” “Lydia, the Tattooed Lady”), and — in a bracingly contemporary touch — an interactive element that finds Ferrante/Groucho duckwalking the theater aisles. “Fully one-third of it is improvised,” says Ferrante. “That’s what Groucho’s magic was, really – the ability to create comedy on the spot.” Get your tickets ($19 – $49) right here — and when you take it ’round the corner for more Weekender wonderment, tell ’em Groucho sent you.

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Teens who are interested in the art of magic now have a local opportunity to learn how to perform illusions and work with professional magicians, thanks to a new Venturing Crew.

The newly-formed Young Magicians Venturing Crew #123 will hold a free Open House on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, starting 7:30 p.m. at King of Kings Lutheran Church, 250 Harmony Road, Middletown, N.J. This event is open to teens ages 14-20. Parents are also invited to attend. The first crew meeting will be held at the same location on April 23, also at 7:30 p.m.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 123 are sponsoring this new, co-ed youth Venturing Crew to train and mentor teens and young people who are either interested in learning more about magic, including aspiring professional magicians. Seasoned magicians will teach Crew members a variety of illusions and tricks, help them explore the art of showmanship, and how to plan and host magic shows.

Parents and adults who love magic will have the opportunity to become involved as mentors, leaders and volunteers.

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ice-boat-011011-500x375It’s an open house icebreaker when the nation’s longest-established ice boat club welcomes the public in from the cold for a Saturday of tours and presentations. Below, Bobby Bandiera brings the Rock ‘N Soul Revue back to the Basie for a Brill-iant bow to the hitmaking “American Troubadors.” 

Friday, March 21:

BobbyBandieraHallmarkIIok_zpsc164352eRED BANK: Taking the old recruitment slogan, “Join the Jovi and See the World” to heart, Bobby Bandiera has done his share of  globetrotting as touring guitarist with Bon Jovi. But when the veteran of more than 40 years’ worth of local barband gigs puts in to Shore, he tends to “relax” by staying audibly visible everywhere from the barstool in the corner at your favorite hometown watering hole to the Count Basie Theatre, where he intermittently assembles the jukebox Justice League known as the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue for a special salute to the “American Troubadors.”

When the 11-piece “Basie House Band” reconvenes Friday night at 8 pm, Bandiera and bandmates (including star-quality songbird Lisa Sherman, and Joe Jackson’s longtime bassist Graham Maby) will be paying trib to the great songwriter-performers of what’s commonly called the “Brill Building” era of late 50s-early 60s pop – a teenaged Tin Pan Alley that spawned some of the earliest and most immediately exhilarating work of Carole King (“The Loco-Motion”), Neil Diamond (“I’m a Believer”) and Burt Bacharach (“Baby It’s You”). Tickets ($25 – $99) can be reserved right here.

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Press release from the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County 

On the afternoon of Sunday, March 30, the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County invites the public to a screening of the award winning documentary feature Between Iraq and a Hard Place.

Presented at 3 pm in the Middletown Arts Center, the event is the first military outreach initiative of 2014 for the local MHA, as the Shrewsbury-based organization continues to expand efforts to address the mental health needs of returning service members, veterans, and their families. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online or at the Middletown Arts Center Box Office.

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stPatsThe second annual Rumson St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes to the borough streets on Sunday. Below, the Moody Blues.

Friday, February 28:

MoodysRED BANK: From the harmonies of their early, raw recordings to the dramatic sweep and ambitious scope of their orchestral masterpieces – to their repeated reunions, and a new century of crowdpleasing tours – one might be tempted to call them the British Beach Boys.

But the Moody Blues have done what they’ve done without all the meltdowns, litigation, and endless appearances on the county fair circuit of their American cohorts. And this weekend, the longtime trio of Justin Hayward (guitar), John Lodge (bass) and Graeme Edge (drums) comes to Red Bank for two consecutive nights (Friday and Saturday, 8 pm) at the Count Basie Theatre, on a Timeless Flight Tour that promises to mix those lush album-era radio classics (“Tuesday Afternoon,” “Question,” “Ride My Seesaw” and the game-changing “Nights in White Satin”) with more recent vintage oldies (“Your Wildest Dreams,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”) and highlights from solo projects past. Leaving the symphony orks at home, the core Moodies are joined by an auxiliary corps of young musicians on keyboards, flute and extra drums. Tickets ($50 – $145) can be reserved right here.

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ChampianTuzzoAbove: 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:

SantuRED 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.

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Home-Free-Colder-Weather-The-Sing-Off-VideoAbove: The champion vocalists from the NBC show THE SING-OFF come to Red Bank for two Friday night shows…while below, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ben E. King is the “Stand By Me” special guest, during a Saturday benefit concert at Red Bank Regional HS. 

ben-e-king-1337080315-view-0Friday, February 21:

RED BANK: Time was, a hidebound rule of show business stated that people would never pay to attend a live version of something they could see for free on TV each week — but nowhere has that been disproved more than the Count Basie Theatre, the venerable venue that’s regularly booked sold-out events starring some of the most fervently followed singers, comics, emcees, psychics, ghost hunters, dog whisperers, cake bosses and skinnygirls this side of the flat screen. Tonight, the Basie adds another hi-def highlight to the mix, as they host the first-ever touring edition of the hit NBC talent contest The Sing-Off. Home Free, the winners of this past season’s a capella competition, headline a program that also features fellow finalists Voiceplay and The Filharmonics — with a special guest performance by The Princeton University Footnotes. It’s a chance for fans to “be up close and personal with their favorite groups as they perform with no instruments and voices only” — and response has been such that they’ve added a second, earlier show (5:15 pm) to the 8 pm main event. Tickets ($29.50 – $69.50) can be reserved right here.

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The Middletown Township Public Library and the Township of Middletown recently announced the appointment of Kim Rinaldi as Provisional Library Director, beginning on February 24, 2014.

Ms. Rinaldi comes to the Middletown Township Public Library after having served as the Library Director of the Margaret E. Heggen Free Public Library in Washington Township.  During her tenure there, Ms. Rinaldi managed 26 employees and a $2.5 million annual budget.  Ms. Rinaldi has also served as the Director of the Brielle Public Library and as a Senior Librarian at the Ocean County Library, Long Beach Island Branch in Surf City, New Jersey.

Ms. Rinaldi holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from Texas Womens College and has extensive experience in library administration, budgeting and project management.  Ms. Rinaldi is credited with outsourcing material cataloging and processing at the Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library, reducing annual operating costs by $150,000.00.  Ms. Rinaldi, who will earn an annual salary of $95,000,  also managed a successful $2 million library building project.


Students from all around the greater Red Bank green — not just the borough, but Fair Haven, Little Silver, Middletown, Rumson, and Shrewsbury — were named to the fall 2013 semester Dean’s List for their respective schools.

At The College of New Jersey in Ewing, some 34 local students made the list by meeting the requirements of 12 or more credits for the semester, and a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. They include Red Bank seniors Matthew Erickson (major in Management), Cecilia Muscarella (Early Childhood), Kayla Riddleberger (English) and Justin Wagner (Computer Science); juniors Jessica Gonzalez (Education) and Alexander Spence (Civil Engineering); as well as sophomores Madeline Liskiewicz (Psychology) and Anna Mitarotondo (Open Option — Arts and Communication).

Also named to the list were Fair Haven junior Eileen Goepfert (major in Spanish) and two residents of Little Silver: sophomore Sarah Perry (Psychology) and freshman Elise Schoening (Open Option — Humanities and Social Sciences).

Middletown students named by TCNJ include seniors Casie Fitzgerald (major in  Secondary Education), Kelly-Ann Gesuelli (Chemistry/ACS — Research), Danielle Hungerbuhler (Spanish), Katarina McKee (Mathematics Second) and Elizabeth O’Brien (Early Childhood — iSTEM); juniors Cally Connelly (Criminology) and Jessica Glynn (Political Science); sophomores James Tomasullo, Colleen Dean (both Finance), Dylan Kret (Communication Studies), Lauren Hymanson (Open Option — Science), Cole Playter (Psychology), Justin Sorrenti (Civil Engineering) and Jenna Vitale (Interactive Multimedia); in addition to freshmen Sarah Conger (Special Education), Kristen Hassenkamp (Psychology) and William Recanatini (Accountancy).

TCNJ also recognized Shrewsbury seniors Emily Cotenoff (Psychology), Alexa Tortoriello (Early Childhood) and Sally Milnes (Communication Studies); juniors Rebecca Havens (Special Education) and Olivia Porada (Music Performance), as well as sophomore Theresa Soya (Communication Studies).

Click for more area names from the Dean’s Lists at Cornell University, Merrimack College, Quinnipiac College, Salve Regina University, the University at Albany, the University of Hartford, the University of New Haven, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Vermont.

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snowprojectAbove: Maxine Snow and the Snow Project lend a jazzy chill to the Steamy Nights house party at the Woman’s Club while, below, Quincy Mumford brings a warm and beachy vibe to Jamian’s.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHGot 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.

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Senior Thomas Ferrick of Middletown has been named to the Provost’s List at Hofstra University, an achievement for which the Exercise Science major met the eligibility requirement of a 4.0 grade point average.

CLASS-ACT_MIDDLETOWN1-209x220The West Hempstead, NY campus also named sophomore Laura Bellini to the Dean’s List for the fall 2013 semester. The Political Science major became one of more than 2,000 high-achieving students to meet the 3.4 GPA requirement.

Other township natives to make Dean’s List at their respective schools include Jonathan Harmon, a Social Work major at Castleton College in Castleton, VT. Junior Colleen O’ Leary (Providence College in Providence, RI) and fourth-year Biology major Francis Matuszak (St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, NY) were also honored for their academic achievement.

At James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, no less than five Middletowners made Dean’s List for fall 2013 — Meghan Calabro (sophomore majoring in Health Sciences), Gina Franciosi (sophomore majoring in Comm Sciences and Disorders), Kassie Gesuelli (freshman majoring in Marketing), Alexandra Heidt (sophomore majoring in Health Sciences), and Jaclyn Lino (senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies).


Y MLKAt left, Pilgrim Baptist Pastor Terrence K. Porter (center) accepts a proclamation from Red Bank Council members Kathleen Horgan and Edward Zipprich. At right, Middletown HS South senior Aisha Boori (center) displays the Humanitarian Award presented to her during the annual YMCA Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Flanking her are essay contest winners Xavier Norman and Sahar Akbarzai.

A Middletown Township teen was the recipient of an annual Humanitarian Award from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, at a January 20 event that also saw a proclamation honoring the pastor of Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Curch.

During the 25th annual YMCA Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, Aisha Boori was presented with the award given each year to a Monmouth County student who “exemplifies the definition of a humanitarian and conveys the character values of the Y: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.”

The Middletown High School South senior was recognized for her co-founding of a non-profit organization, Dreamers Without Borders, dedicated to collecting food supplies for Afghan refugees who are housed at an immigration center, as well as Tibetan refugees from a village school in India.The award was presented by First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux.

Pilgrim Baptist Pastor Terrence K. Porter delivered the keynote address to a crowd of approximately 300 people gathered at Branches Catering in West Long Branch.The pastor also received a proclamation from Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and council, for his dedicated service to the Red Bank community.

Each year, teens enrolled in Monmouth County YMCA programs are invited to submit essays reflecting on Dr. King’s words, on how they can follow in his footsteps to improve the welfare of others and serve their community.This year’s essay winners were Xavier Norman, a freshman at Monmouth Regional High School, and Sahar Akbarzai, a senior at Old Bridge Regional High School. The essay winners were each rewarded with a $500 scholarship.

The annual breakfast was hosted by The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, and sponsored by Meridian Health and Sunrise Optimist Club.In addition to presenting the awards, the Ys collected non-perishable food items to support Lunch Break of Red Bank.


lacombe_jacques2Above: Conductor Jacques Lacombe carries the baton to the Basie for the year’s first visit by the NJ Symphony Orchestra, with the internationally acclaimed cellist Daniel Müller-Schott along for the ride…while below, Judith Krall-Russo brings the Downton-y delights of the Edwardian Manor to the MTPL. 

Friday, January 10:

krallrussoLINCROFT: You say you’re feeling cabin feverish after being housebound throughout much of our recent epic weather wackiness? You say you’re still unsure about how best to re-assimilate into mainstream society? Fortunately there’s a way to “stay home” while venturing beyond the garden gate, as the 24th annual winter edition of the Jersey Shore Home Show commandeers the Robert J. Collins Arena at Brookdale Community College for the Shore area’s premier expo of home improvement contractors, vendors and manufacturers. Kicking off Friday between the hours of 4 and 8 pm, the event offers up a strolling smorgasbord of product showcases and demos — a brick ‘n mortar bazaar of everything from spas to sponges, bath stalls to burglar alarms, flagpoles to floor coverings, stonework to solar panels, windows to water treatments, and every helpful/ healthful thing between. Whether you’re a diehard DIY’er or a domestic dilettante, you can get pleasantly lost in this midway of merch and services, checking out the latest super-absorbent shammy or water-repellant shingle. You could even get a back rub — and for the first time, you can get your tickets ($8 adults, $6 seniors, free for age 17 and under) online. The Home Show continues Saturday (11 am – 8 pm) and Sunday (11 am – 5 pm), with free parking in BCC’s parking lots 6 and 7.

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lennon 120513 4The 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death finds a traveling exhibit of the Beatle’s artwork camped out in Red Bank.

Friday, December 6:

RED BANK: In the midst of the holiday cheer, this weekend marks the 33rd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon — and it so happens that the traveling “pop-up gallery” exhibit titled “The Artwork of John Lennon” will be stationed in downtown Red Bank for the occasion. Featuring prints and some 100 pieces from the Lennon collection, the show parks it at 21 Broad Street (formerly Agostino Antiques) for three days beginning December 6. Take it here for a redbankgreen feature with complete schedule details and more.

SHREWSBURY: It’s a rare opportunity to get a close-up look at the buildings in the borough’s state and national designated “Four Corners” Historic District, as the Monmouth County Historical Association conducts Holiday Lantern Tours in the area of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue. Tours commence at 6 pm and 8 pm, with reservations required ($15 adults; $8 ages 12 and under) available at (732) 742-1277. Christ Church will be serving up dinner (Moravian Chicken Pot Pie!) with seatings at 5 pm and 7 pm, for an additional $10.

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jukeJointJonny2Above: 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).DaveCicirelli-500x323

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.

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