RED BANK: SEND IN THE COLLINS

bohoGrammy-winning Renaissance woman Judy Collins returns to Two River Theater in a Friday concert presented by MusicWorks.

She’s made her mark in so many places over the course of some 50 years — as a novelist, children’s book publisher, record label exec, Oscar-nominated filmmaker and spokesperson for mental health/ suicide prevention issues — that to brand her a “singer-songwriter” is akin to calling Superstorm Sandy a “post-tropical cyclone.”

While her own compositions have included a tribute to her father and a one to Che Guevara, it’s as an interpreter (more like owner) of other people’s songs — be it Joni (“Both Sides Now”), Dylan (“Mr. Tambourine Man”), Leonard (“Bird on a Wire”), Lennon-McCartney (“In My Life”), Sondheim (“Send In the Clowns”) or Sunday school (“Amazing Grace”) — that Judy Collins has staked her place in the Village coffeehouses and canyon patios of pop music heaven.

Graced with a voice that hasn’t faltered at the age of 75 — and with an activist edge that hasn’t dulled since her association with Abby Hoffman and the Yippies — Collins returns to the main auditorium of Two River Theater this Friday, July 18, for the latest in what’s shaping up to be a string of regular visits to Red Bank.

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RED BANK: DOG DAY DIVERSIONS @TWORIVER

The musical act Early Elton — featuring members of the Asbury Jukes and the Fab Faux — brings its tribute to Elton John and Bernie Taupin to Two River Theater in a Saturday night benefit show.

The start of the 20th Anniversary stage season at Two River Theater is still more than a month away, but even as Tony- and Oscar-winning actor/director Joel Grey rehearses his cast for the upcoming production of On Borrowed Time, the stage of the Bridge Avenue performing arts center is abuzz with activity in these dog-day afternoons and evenings.

It’s a late-summer slate that kicked off with this past Sunday’s Beatlemania benefit concert — and which continues tonight with a sold-out screening of the locally produced documentary feature Destiny’s Bridge.

The sights and sounds and screenings roll on right to Labor Day’s doorstep, with a Saturday night benefit concert that captures the soulful spirit of an international music superstar’s introspective early albums.

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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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