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Red Bank musical movers and shakers Chuck Lambert, Joe Muccioli and the Al Wright Unit’s Ruth Wright pay tribute to the late Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, in a special outdoor concert Friday.

While there’s still technically plenty of summer sand left in the hourglass, the coming of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the greater Red Bank Green adds an ever so slightly melancholy touch to the senior-diet Dog Days of August. We detect a nagging hint of Back to School seriousness; a wrapping up of outdoor entertainments; a change of gears and seasons that’s keynoted by a tuneful tribute, a look ahead to Halloween and a merrily Menopausal musical.

redbankgreen has assembled an even dozen diversions in this pre-Labor Day interlude, starting with a handful of things going on beneath the setting sun and stars.

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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.


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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Singer, songwriter and Little Silver native Greg Trooper opens for Clint Black at The Y’s Goin’ Country for Kids benefit concert Saturday night at the Count Basie.


While he doesn’t usually make the short list of well-known musicians who’ve called the Jersey Shore their home, Little Silver native Greg Trooper has an uncanny knack for being on the scene wherever music happens — or is just about to happen.

The 56-year-old singer and songwriter was present and accounted for when the NYC folk clubs summoned forth a bold new crop of performers in the 1970s and ’80s. He was at large in Austin when that Texas town was tearing up the country music rulebook — and in Nashville when a next-generation Music City began to attract veteran Shorecats like John Eddie and Garry Tallent.

On Saturday, Trooper returns to Red Bank — the setting of many an after-school hangout back in the day — for a major benefit concert presented under the name Goin’ Country for Kids. A fundraiser for the Strong Kids Program at THE Community YMCA, the 8 pm show at the Count Basie Theatre finds Trooper appearing in support of country superstar Clint Black — himself a momentary son of the greater Red Bank green (and if you don’t believe us, check the NJ Wall of Fame at Murphy’s on Broad Street).

The solo acoustic set is expected to draw from his 25-year catalog of recorded work — a discography that includes 2011’s Upside Down Town, in which the darker vocal tones of the mature Trooper make a gritty but satisfying fit with a lyrical style that was always world-weary and wise beyond the composer’s years. The acclaimed songwriter’s songwriter would see his vivid vignettes interpreted by performers from Steve Earle (“Little Sister”) and Vince Gill (“We Won’t Dance”) to Lucy Kaplansky (“The Heart”) and Billy Bragg (“Everywhere”).

Working with such sought-after producers as Buddy Miller, Dan Penn and Tallent, Trooper has employed sensibly spare arrangements (spotlighting fiddles, pedal steel, accordion and some quietly intense guitar) in a way that presaged what we now call Americana — even as it avoided the potential embarrassments of Opryland fad and fashion.

redbankgreen has some Q’s and A’s with Trooper below. If you missed the Clint Black interview earlier this week, thumb it over to here.

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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.


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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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)


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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Not exactly hush-hush: indie pop singer and songwriter Aimee Mann is spotlighted in a Friday evening solo concert at Two River Theater, the first in a new projected series produced by MusicWorks Entertainment.


Viewers of IFC Channel’s Portlandia will recognize her as “Aimee Mann,” a singer-songwriter forced to accept housecleaning gigs by day — and Big Lebowski fanatics might recall her cutting off a toe as part of a failed extortion scheme.

The happy truth, however, is that Aimee Mann has never had to quit her night job — a music career that’s allowed her to transition from one-hit-wonder frontwoman of 1980s band Til Tuesday (“Voices Carry“) to an Oscar and Grammy nominated artist with some 30 years worth of indie cred.

When the LA-based Mann takes the stage of Red Bank’s Two River Theater this Friday night, she’ll be spotlighted in a stripped-down, songs-and-stories format that marks her debut on the greater Green — as well as the premiere of an all-new series that’s being brought to town by a familiar name on the area artscape.

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