MIDDLETOWN: FREE THE WEEKLINGS

Famed musicmakers Glen Burtnik and Bob Burger (aka Lefty and Zeek) Beatle-boot their band The Weeklings, for a free Tuesday night concert outside the Middletown Arts Center. 

Let no man question the Beatle bona fides of Glen Burtnik — not when the Jersey music legend, hit songwriter, former member of Styx (and occasional fronter of the current version of ELO) boasts a resume highlighted by scores of performances as Paul McCartney, in the Broadway production of Beatlemania.

It’s a credential that could conceivably be hard to match — even by Bob Burger, the veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist and attorney who’s logged countless sets in the watering holes of the Jersey Shore, and collaborated with Burtnik on songs for Styx and others. But then, who else among us could top this little career highlight for pure Fab Four thrills?

All of which serves to confirm that Burtnik and Burger mean Beatle-booted business when it comes to delivering an authoritative sonic salute to the MopTops, as they did a few seasons back at the Middletown Arts Center. But when Glen and Bob return to the north lawn outside the MAC this Tuesday evening, August 8, they’ll be respectively answering to the names of Lefty and Zeek — the double-sided hitmakers of the band known as The Weeklings.

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RED BANK: FAB FAUX TO SPIN FAB FOUR’S 45’S

fab fauxThe Fab Faux makes its 15th annual appearance on the Count Basie stage this Saturday night, fortified by horns, strings and a formidable folio of the Beatles’ greatest hits.

It’s as sure a sign of the summer as the 35-miles-per-hour speed limit on Sea Bright’s Ocean Avenue — the appearance of the Fab Faux, the super-sessionman pet project that makes its 15th annual stand on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre this Saturday night.

Co-fronted by a couple of professed Beatle buffs and virtuosic veterans from famed TV talk-show bands — bassman Will Lee (David Letterman) and guitarist Jimmy Vivino (Conan O’Brien) — the celebrated band has outdone every Wanna-Beatle combo in general circulation, with a show that transcends the wigs-and-costumes Beatlemania approach in favor of a thrillingly detail-intensive homage to the recorded legacy of the Liverpuddlian lads.

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RED BANK: HOMAGE, SWEET HOMAGE

Abba ManiaThe members of Abba Mania bring their top-touring tribute to the Scandinavian pop conquerors back to the Basie, in a week that also boasts spot-on salutes to The Beatles and Janis Joplin.

Tribute acts! For dedicated music fans of the baby-boomer era, the alarming loss of one AM/FM legend after another is tempered only the demand for a newer, bigger breed of hard-touring sonic soundalikes. It’s an experience that’s shockingly “Even Better Than the Real Thing” in many cases, when stacked up against the stooping shoulders and flattening voices of those aging 60s-70s-80s survivors — and for venues like our Count Basie Theatre, it’s a crowd-pleasing and seat-filling brand of fun fantasy that manifests itself three ways from here to next Sunday.

From Broadway to birthday parties, the epochal 1970s hits of international pop sensations ABBA have never even come close to going out of style – and with the savvy Swedes having stuck Beatle-like to their guns regarding any prospect of reunion, the market for maximum mamma-mia has been the province of acts like Abba Mania, the theater-scale tribute show that takes the Basie stage this Saturday, February 20, for what promises to be a “respectful and enjoyable” sound-and-fashion sojourn through such polyester pacesetters as “Voulez Vous,” “Dancing Queen,” “Winner Takes It All,” “Super Trouper” and then some. Take it here for tickets ($25 – $39) to the 8 pm show — and take it to the other side of the record for more.

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RED BANK: BEATLE BOOTS AND SPIFFY SUITS

Beatlemania_Stage_Show_Sgt_Pepper_OfficialBeing for the Benefit: Lincroft’s own Lucien Nocelli (right, as John Lennon) leads his Beatlemania Stage Show mates back to the Two River Theater on Sunday.

When he’s just being his own, talented self, Lincroft-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and music educator Lucien Nocelli plays and records as a fast-fingered fusion fretmeister. But whenever there’s a cause to be supported, Nocelli suits up as John Lennon – whether in “Ed Sullivan” era garb, colorful “Sgt. Pepper” uniforms or “Abbey Road styled apparel” – and puts out the call to his mates in the Beatlemania Stage Show.

Based on the long-running Broadway smash that framed the Fab Four’s music in period costumes and projected images of the tumultuous Sixties, the musical multimedia presentation has summoned the Beatles back into being every August for the past several years with a benefit show on the stage of Red Bank’s Two River Theater.

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MIDDLETOWN: BURGER, BURTNIK, BEATLES

BurgerBurtnikJimmyLeahyBob Burger and Glen Burtnik (left and center in photo, with Jimmy Leahy) bring a pedigreed and pro-ey tribute to The Beatles out on the lawn at Middletown Arts Center, this Tuesday evening.

No one will ever question the Beatle bonafides of Jersey music legend Glen Burtnik — not when the veteran solo artist, hit songwriter, and former member of Styx boasts a resume highlighted by scores of performances as Paul McCartney in the Broadway production of Beatlemania. It’s a pedigree that the New Brunswick-bred Asbury Park resident has put to dazzling good use, during his many retro-rocking revues at the Count Basie, and occasional Beatlefest sets with his Liverpool project.

What, then, could Bob Burger possibly do to top Burtnik at his Fab Four game? After all, it’s not as if the singer-songwriter-guitarist-attorney was ever called upon to…oh. That. All of which serves to prove that Burger and Burtnik — frequent songwriting partners (for Styx and others) and jam-session buds — mean Beatle-booted business when it comes to delivering a sonic salute that’s backed with authority and real affinity. They’ll be doing just that, and for free, when they take it to the north lawn outside the Middletown Arts Center this Tuesday evening, August 12, for a concert event that kicks off at 7 pm.

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RED BANK: BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF…

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The Beatlemania Stage Show — featuring Lucien Nocelli, Lincroft’s answer to Lennon— returns for its annual benefit concert at Two River Theater this Sunday afternoon, August 3.

The original Lads lineup may have crossed that pedestrian walkway to the other side — but like some jukebox Justice League, it often becomes necessary to summon The Beatles back into being whenever there’s a cause to be supported; a wrong to be righted. And so it is that every now and then, Lincroft-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and music educator Lucien Nocelli assembles his mates, suits up in moptop wigs, matching suits and Beatle boots, and takes to the stage for a musical multimedia presentation that can only be called The Beatlemania Stage Show.

Based on the long-running Broadway smash that framed the Fab Four’s music in period costume changes and projected images of the tumultuous Sixties, the regional touring act presents Nocelli — a fast-fingered fusion fretmeister on his own recordings — as John Lennon, an artist he’s channeled both in these Beatlemania shows and in intimate solo settings. He’s joined by Bob Halligan Jr. (Paul), Joe Nocco (Ringo) and James Striffolino (George) for a polished tribute that returns to the stage of Two River Theater on Sunday, August 3.

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RED BANK: SOME BLACK ‘N WHITE NIGHTS

hardThe Fab Four run free-range in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, with a free screening Wednesday night at the Count Basie as a special 50th anniversary event.

After blowing out the last of winter’s drab watercolors, you’d think the last thing we’d be willing to do is sacrifice summer’s brilliant Roy-G-Biv for another trip to grayscale gardens. But some of the most vividly colorful films in existence are in black and white, and this Tuesday and Wednesday, local audiences will be treated to a couple of favorites that are as free of charge as they are free of hue, tint and saturation.

On July 15, Shore Flicks returns to Riverside Gardens for the latest in a slate of Summer 2014 movies under the setting sun and stars, with Gene Wilder inheriting a retro castle and mad laboratory in Mel Brooks’ laughingly loving horror homage Young Frankenstein. Photographed with the misty glow and sparking electricity of a 1930’s Hollywood soundstage talkie — and packed with shticky gags that were already antiques in the Herbert Hoover administration — the 1974 comedy screens just after sundown, with attendees encouraged to bring nonperishable food items (for Lunch Break and other local charities) along with the folding chairs and beach towels.

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BANDIERA & BAND TAKE ON ‘SOLO’ BEATLES

Bandiera on the Run: Guitarist Bob Bandiera (at right) assembles the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue at the Basie Friday for a tribute to the post-Beatle careers of the Beatles.

By TOM CHESEK

Does guitarist and vocalist Bob Bandiera‘s musical versatility have any limits?

When he’s not busy maintaining a longstanding lieutenancy with Southside Johnny and the Jukes, the veteran of over 40 years’ worth of local barband gigs might be globetrotting as a touring guitarist with Bon Jovi. Back home in Jersey, Bandiera’s been known to plan the occasional holiday-season Hope Concert (a star-studded series that’s boasted the participation of Bruce Springsteen, Southside, JBJ and more), travel with Tim McLoone’s Holiday Express, and, somewhere in there, prosecute a solo career that’s seen him play everywhere from theater-scale venues to the barstool in the corner at your favorite hometown watering hole.

But it’s the intermittent supergroup one-nighters by the Jersey Shore Rock ‘N Soul Revue at the Count Basie Theatre that have remained the best showcases of Bandiera’s virtuosity and encyclopedic mastery of pop music. Fronting a jukebox Justice League of talented friends from the regional bandscape, the guy who cut his teeth in such classic cover combos as Holme and Cats has conceived and performed tributes to favorite artists (Roy Orbison, Eric Clapton, the Bee Gees), as well as a Tribute to Trios, One Hit Wonders, Bands of Brothers and about a half dozen other theme-perfect entertainments.

On Friday, August 17, the-14 piece “Basie House Band” reconvenes at the Monmouth Street landmark for a special salute to the music of the Beatles. Special, because it’s a tribute to their solo careers, a rich vein of material from the years in which the former MopTops continued to write and make guest appearances on each other’s recordings — provided they didn’t all have to be in the same room together. The Legacy Rock Desk at redbankgreen spoke to Bandiera on why the 8 pm event may be even more special than we reckoned. Flip the record over for more.

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