Singer/songwriter Jeffrey Gaines, seen here at the Downtown a year ago, returns to the banks of the Navesink for the club’s Wednesday night Music, Arts & Drafts series.


At first blush, a job like Chris Masi’s looks to be an enviable gig indeed.

As music director at  The Downtown on West Front, the veteran Shore musician and go-to guy gets to lord over the festivities at the destination nightspot that’s regularly packed ’em in since remodeling and reopening two-plus years ago.

Still, it can’t be too easy programming seven nights and two floors of music each week, particularly in the season when crowds are naturally drawn to the region’s beachier burgs. And for every self-sustaining tradition over at the double-wide Downtown — the long-running Monday night stand of Pat Guadagno; the Thursday Rock and Roll Karaoke clambake — there’s a spot on the schedule that could use a freshening up.

Enter Music, Arts & Drafts, a new Wednesday night series established as a value-priced Humpday hootenanny that’s designed, as Masi tells redbankgreen, to “create a little bit of that Downtown magic — a night full of great original music, art and beer.”

The series, which thus far has paired an array of local bands with exhibits by featured visual artists — plus a standard $3 cover and recession-busting refreshments to help the medicine go down — takes it up a notch in August, with the Red Bank return of a nationwide favorite, and a regional breakout act that’s poised to get a boost from the presence of the MTV cameras.

More →