The dog-day nights of July and August are that time of year when the waterfront walkways and terraces of Riverside Gardens take center stage in local life with this Thursday seeing the return of the long-running Jazz in the Park concerts, and the weeks to come offering a packed schedule of free family-friendly movies, free evening Zumba sessions, even a free Comedy in the Park event on August 1.
All welcome diversions for a midsummer’s night, to be sure. But tonight, Friday the 13th, marks the long-awaited return of a series that you’ll find nowhere else but Red Bank Songwriters in the Park, a slate of top-shelf artist showcases presented for a seventh season by Brookdale Community College listener-supported radio station 90.5 The Night.
While there have always been such things as songwriters busking for beer money in city parks, this songwriters series is an altogether different animal than most beach-towel-and-lawnchair community events a format that pairs a genuinely buzzworthy, national-profile act with likeminded local/regional artists. Previous outings have spotlighted such well-known performers as Dramarama, Steve Forbert, Jeffrey Gaines, John Wesley Harding, Bongos frontman Richard Barone and the Smithereens Pat DiNizio.
In other words, this is a free concert series that music snobs can really sink their teeth into. And when all the stars in the Sirius sky align superior sound, great sight lines from anywhere in the park, a gentle breeze off the river and those complimentary Navesink sunsets it’s as listener-friendly an experience as any you’ll encounter up and down the Jersey Shore. Even the sounds of a busy downtown Friday night (including the occasional ambulance) add to the unique character of the concerts, making for a welcome alternative to the chirp of suburban crickets.