WEEKEND: IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING

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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WEEKEND: THE GREENHOUSE HEATS UP

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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MTPL NAMES PROVISIONAL DIRECTOR

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.

WEEKEND: HOME TURF ADVANTAGE

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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WEEKEND: VISIONS OF SUGARPLUMS ABOUND

Danu.ColmHenryjpegAbove: Celtic combo Danú brings “An Nollag in Éirinnis” to Santa Basie’s workshop on Friday…while below, young adult novelist Julie Milillo comes home to Middletown for a Saturday discussion of Immortal Sin.

Friday, December 13:

JulieMililloRED BANK: It’s opening weekend for the annual holiday-season family show at Two River Theater, a newly revamped production of the original musical A Wind in the Willows Christmas that mixes Kenneth Grahame’s classic animal characters with “a lot more holiday spirit,” and redesigned costumes that highlight “ears and tails and fur.” Tonight’s 7 p.m. opening is preceded by a special noontime Scout Day preview that allows scout troops a behind-the-scenes look at the production, with games, snacks, photo ops and more. Performances continue at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday; take it here for tickets (adults $20 – $55; ages 18 and under $25) — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for more on Mr. Toad and friends.

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WEEKEND: FOOD, FISHING, AND FUNDRAISING

authorsAuthors May Becker, Susan E. Davis and Lisa Borders appear at libraries and bookstores around the greater Green on Saturday afternoon. Below, Michael Morch, Jennifer Grasso, Laura Gepford and Ian Brown-Gorrell head up the cast in Phoenix Productions’ staging of ‘White Christmas.’

White_Christmas_4bThe days and weeks leading up to Thanks Thursday and Black Friday buy us a little more time to approach the holiday season at our own pace… a chance to chill in the outdoors with a few more hours of autumn sun, or to head home and curl up with some comfort food and a good book.

Friday, November 15:

RED BANK: Or, you could just cut to the chase and surrender to Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the season-closing musical entertainment from Phoenix Productions on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre. Come for tonight’s opening performance at 8 pm, and you’ll get more than just a jaunty romance-in-rhythm packed with Berlin blockbusters like “Happy Holiday,” “Blue Skies” and the title tune — you’ll get a shot at the traditional Phoenix 50/50 raffle and, as is traditional on Opening Night, you’ll get a first look ahead to the borough-based troupe’s 2014 season. Show continues through November 24; take it here to reserve tickets — and here for our feature on some exciting new developments at the Phoenix fun factory.

RUMSON: He’s fronted the 21st century edition of Blood Sweat & Tears; subbed for Belushi in The Original Blues Brothers Band; shared stages with everyone from Boy George to B.B. King, and toured the region’s roadhouses with his own Hudson River Rats (an upstanding organization that boasts legendary drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie). You might recall blues-rock belter and ace harmonicat Rob Paparozzi from those open-air Red Bank Jazz & Blues Fests of yore — but when Rob and Friends take it indoors to Barnacle Bill’s for some Friday night sets, they’ll be tearing the roof from the joint with a harpin’ helpin’ of houseparty hospitality, and the kind of star quality that keeps paparazzi flashbulbs a-poppin’.

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WEEKEND: FRESH AIR, DEAD AIR, PLEIN AIR

deadonMulti-instrumentalist maestro Marc Muller (above right) leads his Dead On Live ensemble back to the Basie Friday night. Keyboard wiz Matt Wade (below) plays a concert for the Boys and Girls Club Saturday in Fair Haven. (Muller photo by Brian Stratton)

Friday, November 1:

matt-wade-1RED BANK: While the greater Red Bank green doesn’t lack for savvy channelers of the Grateful Dead (see our own Jim Willis and his Dead Bank brethren, appearing Saturday at the Walt St. Pub), there exists an even deeper dimension of obsession, and it’s the bailiwick of Marc Muller —— master multi-instrumentalist, sought-after session ace, adjunct professor at Monmouth University, and scoutmaster of the Count Basie Theatre‘s Rock the Basie band-camp program.

A flexibly floating lineup composed of Muller and a rotating roster of talented friends, the entity known as Dead On Live is “deadicated” to the comprehensive transcription (—and note-for-note reproduction) —of the Grateful Dead’s body of officially released recordings. And on Friday, Muller returns to the Basie boards for a Halloween Double Drumming Dance Party that combines psychedelic 60s’ classics (“St. Stephen,” “The Other One,” “Alligator”) with the epic trilogy from Blues for Allah and dual-drummer hits and set standards (“Shakedown Street,” “Touch of Gray,” “The Music Never Stopped”). Take it here for tickets ($19.50 – $45) — and here for our archived feature on Muller and his Dead On Live project.

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WEEKEND: OLD MASTERS, HISTORIC HAUNTS

mikesuperIllusionist extraordinaire Mike Super materializes for an evening of large-scale prestidigitation at the Basie tonight.

Friday, October 25:

RED BANK: At the Count Basie Theatre — where a “ghost light” is kept burning for passing Lantern Tours and house phantoms — the newly minted tradition of “Harley-ween” is kickstarted with the theater-scale area debut of America’s Favorite Mystifier, illusionist Mike Super. Last seen in an appearance at Brookdale College, the winner of the NBC TV competition Phenomenon materializes on the Basie boards with a spectacular 8 pm show that promises a live murder-mystery round of CLUE, a demonstration of voodoo mind control, and an outright repeal of the law of gravity. Most potentially amazing is the fact that all ticketholders are eligible to ride away with “the vehicle that Mike will make appear on stage” — a little item from Harley-Davidson of Long Branch. Tickets ($39 – $69) right here.

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MIDDLETOWN: PLAYERS PLAY ON AT LIBRARY

reading roomThe former library, newly rebranded the Navesink Arts Center, is transformed into a spacious reading room and reception area for Monmouth Players productions. Below, Lori Renick (left) co-stars in the current production of Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’  (Photos by Robert Kern; click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

BrightonBeachIt sits at the relatively quiet corner of Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown Township, on a parcel of land that boasts an ample parking lot and a couple of asphalt tennis courts, a fixture of some hundred years’ standing, in a history-steeped village of Old Stone Churches and Little Red Stores.

And yet, even some longtime residents of the township’s Navesink and Locust neighborhoods might be at a loss to tell you anything about the old Navesink Library.

When Middletown Township Public Library decommissioned its branch locations earlier this year, the library buildings in Lincroft and Port Monmouth were shuttered; their collections and equipment donated, sold or assimilated into the MTPL main branch on New Monmouth Road. Over in Navesink — a tiny one-room facility, with a small but comfortable auditorium in back, that had served as the township’s first library headquarters as far back as 1921 — the books were left to the nonprofit entity that had maintained the historic building for decades, and to the tenant that had called the place home since the 1950s: Monmouth Players.

As the curtain came up on their mind-boggling sixtieth season of productions this fall, the Players found themselves the new stewards of a genuine local landmark — and as theatergoers arrived this past weekend for the opening of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” they entered a venue that’s been reborn and rebranded as the all-new Navesink Arts Center.

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WEEKEND: OF TEA, TIME AND TAG ART

OBT(horiz)COLORTime’s running out: Oakes Fegley and Robert Hogan co-star in director Joel Grey’s staging of ‘On Borrowed Time,’ now in its final weekend at Two River Theater. Below, spraypaint specialist Demer judges taking the Jersey Shore Aerosol Art Battle Against Hunger, at Colorest.

Friday, October 11:

demer_00599RED BANK: Take a late afternoon/ early evening tea break and head upstairs to 135 Monmouth Street in Red Bank, where internationally exhibited multimedia artist (and Red Bank Community Church co-pastor) Gerda Liebmann presents a special opening event at Gallery 135, the must-see space located inside the second-story loft shared by the RBCC. An eclectic array of works in multiple media on the theme of one of the world’s favorite beverages, “Fifty Shades of Tea” spotlights the artistry of Debbie Jencsik, Ellen Martin, Wesley Sumrall, Linnea Tober — and Liebmann, who explains that “the concept of this exhibit is to have the visual reality of art and the multi-sensory reality of tea complement each other to create a truly immersive esthetic experience.” Also offered at the free 6 pm opening event will be a tasting of special-teas from Tea4U of The White House in Oakhurst. Additional exhibit hours will be offered on Saturday (3-5 pm) and Sunday (1-3 pm); call (732)687-3580 for more info.

RED BANK: It’s the final weekend of performances for “On Borrowed Time” at Two River Theater. Broadway legend Joel Grey — who appeared in Paul Osborn’s play as a child back in 1941 — directs this “Americana fantasy that filters big themes of death, devotion and stubborn determination through a Depression-era small town sensibility (and a vague unease over the gathering storm clouds of the Second World War).” Veteran stage-screen character ace Robert Hogan is a refreshingly tart and salty “Gramps” who tragic circumstance has charged with the care of his young grandson, Pud (the impressive young actor Oakes Fegley). Showtimes at 8 pm Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm Saturday and Sunday; take it here for tickets.

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