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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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AN OLD ‘GIRLFRIEND,’ A SWEET RETURN

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.

By TOM CHESEK

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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EDER’S BACK, AND TWO RIVER’S GOT HER

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)

By TOM CHESEK

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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GETTING INTIMATE WITH AIMEE MANN AT TRT

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.

By TOM CHESEK

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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