RED BANK: SANSONE TO TURN UP THE STEAM

Johnny Sansone (left) is joined by guitarist John Fohl (right) for a special “Reckless Steamy Nights” house party that brings a blast of N’awlins heat to Red Bank’s Woman’s Club Friday night.

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 Woman’s 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.

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RED BANK: BARRIS TO JAZZ UP A STEAMY NIGHT

Mike_Barris_Performs_at_Art_Alliance_Red_Bank_NJ_December_2010Noted music scholar, journalist and guitar ace Mike Barris is scheduled to play as Reckless Steamy Nights return this Friday to the Woman’s Club of Red Bank.

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 Woman’s 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.

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RED BANK: NOW YOU HAS JAZZ

Sweet WhiskeyVocalist Maggie Worsdale fronts the Sweet Whiskey Band in a set of “Songs Under the Influence,” Friday and Saturday at Two River Theater. (photo by Roberto Muolo)

April may be National Jazz Appreciation Month  — a fact driven home locally and yearly by Joe Muccioli‘s Talkin’ Jazz series at the Count Basie Theatre — but things really heat up jazzwise in this Basie-birthing borough during the month of July, an interlude during which several weekends’ worth of Summer Jazz cafe events at Two River Theater are keynoted by open-air Thursdays at Riverside Gardens’ Jazz in the Park series.

The 2014 slate of outdoor concerts (presented by Red Bank Parks and Recreation Department) continues on the evening of July 24 in a classically cool vein, when drummer Darwin B. Oden and his combo return to the banks of the Navesink for some improvisatory, exploratory sets ‘neath the setting sun and stars. The music kicks in at 7:30 pm (weather permitting; call Parks and Rec at 732-530-2782 for day-of-show updates); bring lawn chairs or blankets, and dress comfy casual  — then go home, get dressed for a sophisticated night on the town, and reconvene at Two River for an extra special Friday and Saturday session.

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FINDING MR. WRIGHT, ON A STEAMY NIGHT

Blues and reggae specialist Gary Wright comes to the historic Woman’s Club of Red Bank for the latest in a series of Reckless Steamy Nights. (Photo by Terri GO Seminoles Walliczek)

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 Foundation’s renewed series of Reckless Steamy Nights at the Woman’s 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.

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