RED BANK: O’REE & ROCKIT ROCK OUT SUMMER

The Matt O’Ree Band, above, and a teen band from the Rockit program at the Count Basie Center for the Arts, below, performed for about 1,000 concertgoers in a free show at Riverside Gardens Park Friday night.

Check out the photos below from a delightful late-summer evening beside our beautiful Navesink River. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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RED BANK: ROCKIT & A RASCAL TO ROCK BASIE

The classic-rock conservatory kids of the Count Basie’s Rockit! program hit the Basie boards Saturday with a salute to the Summer of Love. 

It goes without saying that none of the dynamic young vocalists and instrumentalists of Rockit! at the Basie were around for 1967’s fabled Summer of Love — and chances are excellent that few if any of their parents were, either. So perhaps their grandparents could tell them a thing or two about life a half a century ago, when the air was charged with ready-or-not change and momentum, not to mention patchouli oil.

Of course, you didn’t have to be there with flowers in your hair to recognize that the year was a pivotal one for the popular culture in general, and a fast-maturing rock music in particular. So when the kids from Rockit! take to the famous stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank this Saturday evening, they’ll be channeling the spirit of the era’s most game-changing album — and welcoming an in-the-flesh veteran of a genuine hit-making institution.

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RED BANK: BASIE, FRIENDS JOIN FOR BIG GIVE

basie-marquee-111416Press release from Count Basie Theatre

“Giving Tuesday,” founded in 2012 by New York City’s 92nd St. YMCA and the United Nations Foundation, was originally a “response to commercialism and consumerism” during the holiday season. It has since turned into an international day of giving.

Tomorrow, November 29, the nonprofit Count Basie Theatre will join forces with radio station  94.3 The Point and The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, to raise funds for both the theatre’s sensory-friendly programming, and for POAC Autism Services.

“Giving Tuesday” at the Basie will kick-off at 5:30 a.m., with a day-long broadcast from 94.3 The Point / WJLK-FM Radio. Listeners will be invited to drop by and give donations in person, or to make donations via theBASIE.org.

The organizations will also use the day-long effort and radio broadcast to raise funds for POAC Autism Services of Brick. Two dollars from every Count Basie Theatre ticket sold on November 29 will be donated to the group, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children and adults with autism achieve their fullest potential by providing quality education, support and recreation at no cost to participants.

“Reaching all audiences with the highest level of the performing arts is part of our not for profit mission,” said Adam Philipson, CEO and President of the historic Count Basie Theatre.  “We strive to be inclusive and create barrier-free experiences and these shows will support our guests and families with special needs including autism spectrum disorder.”

“We are looking forward to partnering with the Count Basie Theatre in bringing the Jersey Shore together to support this important cause,” said Steve Ardolina, Regional Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Group New Jersey, which owns WJLK.

In addition, the Jersey Shore-based Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, which uses philanthropy to increase citizen activity and economic development opportunities through the arts, healthcare and education, has generously agreed to match all donations up to $25,000.

“The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation is proud to be able to work with a great non-profit partner like the Count Basie Theatre,” said executive director and Basie board member Jeremy Grunin. “The ability to support POAC Autism Services in their mission coupled with further showing the power of the arts through the Basie was too powerful an endeavor to ignore.”

Earlier this year, the Basie team worked with POAC to train staff in advance of the theatre’s first-ever sensory-friendly mainstage performance.

“POAC is so thrilled to be involved with Count Basie Theater’s sensory-friendly programming and their fundraising efforts on Giving Tuesday,” said Simone Tellini, Director of Program Development at POAC. “Children and adults on the autism (ASD) spectrum often have sensory issues that make it difficult to participate in and enjoy community-based activities, especially those involving the arts. These activities are essential, especially for children, and vital to their growth in so many ways.

“Last February,” Tellini continued, “the Basie provided a wonderful show that, for many children, was their first experience with live theater. The management and staff went above and beyond to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted.  We applaud the Count Basie’s commitment to our families and look forward to future events and programs.”

The live “Giving Tuesday” broadcast will feature performances from students of the Count Basie Theatre Performing Arts Academy’s Jazz Arts Project, Rockit! and Voices vocal ensemble. In addition, cast members from the Tony Award winning ONCE, playing that evening on the Basie stage, will go on air to perform the musical’s signature hit, “Falling Slowly.”

ON THE GREEN: MUSIC, ART, WIND AND SEA

zero-waste-1

Dip a toe into the first wave of “zero waste” art…stick a finger into the winds of environmental activism…try one’s hand at any of the many recreational pursuits of coastal life as Local Summer continues apace on and near the ocean, bay and riverfront shores of our local parks.

The people at the Monmouth County Arts Council define “zero waste” art as that which uses all available materials; creating new objects of beauty and inspiration from formerly discarded castoffs — and when the first-ever Zero Waste Arts Fest comes to the Fort Hancock area of Sandy Hook this weekend, September 17 and 18, there won’t be a wasted moment or a wasted opportunity for family-friendly fun. Going on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, the festival highlights partnerships between locally based artists, art galleries and environmental activism organizations, as well as an interactive “live art” project coordinated by Lisa Bagwell (whose recycled-materials sculptures are a colorful and clever commentary on our disposable consumer culture). There’s live music (from Red Bank’s Rockit Live and others), kids’ activities, informative displays from a host of partner organizations, plus giveaways, shuttle bus tours of the Hook, and a whole lot more (including an after-hours Saturday night “1940s swing event” under the stars). Take it here to the All Good section of redbankgreen, for full details on events and entertainers, plus a complete rundown of participating co-sponsors and presenters.

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SANDY HOOK: ZERO WASTE, MAX FAMILY FUN

Lisa Bagwell PizzaRecycled-materials sculptures by Lisa Bagwell are among the art works featured during the Zero Waste Arts Fest, going on September 17 and 18 at Fort Hancock on Sandy Hook.

Press release from Monmouth County Arts Council

On Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, the Monmouth County Arts Council invites the public to take part in a weekend of free family fun — in which the arts intersect with the wonders of our local environment — during the inaugural Zero Waste Arts Fest (ZWAF).

Going on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic Fort Hancock area of Sandy Hook, ZWAF represents a partnership  between Monmouth Arts and Gateway National Recreation Area Sandy Hook Unit. The event also marks the culminating phase of a larger Gateway to the Arts grant project, a $20,000 award that Monmouth Arts received from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2016, to honor both the 50th anniversary of the NEA and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

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RED BANK: ROCKIT AROUND THE SPROCKETS

Drummer_Carmine_Appice_(right)_works_with_Basie_Rockit!_students_in_advance_of_their_Vanguard_Awards_performance_on_August_29th.Legendary drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck) is shown working with students of the Count Basie’s Rockit! program in 2015. The classic-rock conservatory kids hit the Basie boards on Saturday with a program entitled, “Rock and Roll Goes to the Movies.”  

It’s been an unfathomably long time — at least a couple of generations before any of the student musicians of Rockit! at the Basie were born — but there was a day when the presence of a youth-oriented rhythm bopper like “Rock Around the Clock” on a major-studio movie soundtrack represented a societal sea-change, one that threatened to spill soda-fountain milkshakes into the riot-torn streets and tilt the earth off its axis more surely than the atomic arsenals of any Commie (or possibly Martian) power.

Since then, of course, Hollywood has more than made its peace with the jukebox. Uncle Oscar and cousin Grammy soon discovered a mutually lucrative method of keeping the cashboxes ka-chinging. Entire film vehicles were engineered around performers who had never so much as appeared in a school pageant. Rockers became actors and even directors. The carefully curated and licensed soundtrack album became an art form unto itself.

On Saturday night, the kids from Rockit! return to the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank for a whirlwind tour of that cultural crossroads where “Rock and Roll Goes to the Movies.”

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MIDDLETOWN TEEN GIVES VOICE TO A CAUSE

bandpiconeAllison LaRochelle, Middletown, and Tristan Garrity, Red Bank, perform with their Jersey Shore rock/blues group Crimson Sky. The two musicians also lend their musical abilities to aid victims of domestic violence, at a monthly yoga class.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

By most measures, Allison LaRochelle is a very accomplished young artist. The vocal major at Red Bank Regional High School‘s Visual and Performing Arts Academy (VPA) has studied voice from the age of seven, and has been an active part of the Count Basie’s Rockit! youth performance program since its inception. Her powerful, Janis-Joplinesque voice has prompted such descriptions as “a mature woman trapped inside a teenager’s body.”

The Middletown senior is also the lead singer and co-songwriter for her locally based band, Crimson Sky. The rock/blues band has recently made it to the final round in the Stone Pony’s Rock-to-the-Top Contest, with the final competition occurring in January of this year.

She is also an excellent student, having earned entrance into the National Music, English and National Honor Societies. The member of RBR’s Chamber Choir recently joined the Harp ensemble, and has also been selected to the prestigious All Shore Choir.

Even with all that on her plate, one of the most rewarding gigs Allison LaRochelle has ever undertaken came about unexpectedly, when she attended a yoga class conducted by Eleonora Zampatti — a unique class known as Ode to the Moon, developed to bring awareness to the often-taboo topic of domestic violence, with class donations benefiting the Monmouth County-based nonprofit 180 Turning Lives Around.

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