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SouthsideBasieNewYrsThe champagne corks are poppin’ as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue a Count Basie New Year’s Eve tradition this Saturday night.

HOT-TOPIC_03Here at the tail end of a year that many people are all too anxious to put in the rear view mirror, there’s still sufficient cause to keep the party percolating right up to the last ball-drop. And in the bars, restaurants and performance spaces of the Greater Red Bank Green, revelers have a choice of options that range from an intimate table at a favorite bistro to a big event that’s become the toast of all New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas in the state of New Jersey.

Here’s a sampling from Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright nightspots.

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Docs-of-Rock-EditThe Docs of Rock — a band of moonlighting medical professionals and educators, led by Dr. Lawrence Sykoff, Ed.D. (fifth from left) — take it back to the Downtown on Sunday for a fundraiser for Lunch Break.

They’re called the Docs of Rock — a classic-rock combo of medics and academics, one that collectively boasts more legit degrees than Bruce or BonJo can claim honorary doctorates. And when the pager sounds for a good and worthy cause, the members of this sheepskin’d showband lose the white smocks and suit up for action — as will happen this Sunday when they return to the Downtown in Red Bank for a fundraiser for borough-based Lunch Break.

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050315 downtown  butler3 Downtown bartender John Butler makes PieHole a fresh strawberry margarita.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


050315 downtown margarita4Maybe it was the sterling weather this past weekend, or maybe it was the swarm of happy folks packing the restaurants and bars in town that put us in a celebratory mood.

Remembering that Cinco de Mayo is this week, PieHole made its way to the Downtown in Red Bank with its enormous open front window view of Broad Street. Finding a couple of empty bar stools at the ready, we joined the already cheerful customers.

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DrLarryRetired Ranney School headmaster Dr. Lawrence Sykoff, Ed.D. — seen at right jamming with Tim McLoone and Holiday Express — leads his band, the Docs of Rock, to the Downtown for a fall fundraiser supporting Lunch Break of Red Bank.

Press release from Lunch Break of Red Bank

To kick off its October 20 fundraising Gala — and to celebrate more than 31 years of dedicated service to the community — Lunch Break is having a party at the Downtown, and everyone’s invited.

Scheduled for 7 to 10 pm on the evening of August 10, the event will feature live entertainment by the Docs of Rock, founded by Dr. Larry Sykoff, Ed.D. (Ranney School Headmaster Emeritus, Senior Consultant). Guitarist Sykoff is joined by keyboard player Scott Woska, M.D., (Interventional Pain Management); vocalist-veterinary dentist Kristin Scott, D.V.M.; drummer and dermatologist Ken Grossman, M.D., and bass player/ orthopedic surgeon David Lessing, M.D.

It’s a serious night of fun for Lunch Break, the borough-based nonprofit whose executive director Gwen Love said, “Many people think Lunch Break is just a soup kitchen, but we are so much more.”

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brittninesAbove: Britt Savage and the Nines recall those 1980s nights of 75-cent ‘kazis and roses for the ladies, when they reunite for a throwback Friday at the Downtown… while below, Ziggy Shock turns Fair Haven’s K of C hall into the best kept secret on the Shore music scene. 

Friday, January 24:

ziggy-shock-would-be-johnny-cashRED BANK: With recent overnight temps threatening to put the Greenland into the greater Green, being “dressed to the nines” has tended to mean wearing nine extra layers of unfashionably lifesaving thermals.

But for just one cold dark night, clubgoers of all ages can wayback to those 1980s summers when the drinking age was 18, closing time was 3 a.m. — and the mega-barbands ruled a clubscape dotted with fortress-like institutions like the Tradewinds, Fountain Casino and Club Xanadu. Tonight, the Downtown welcomes what might just be the first-ever Red Bank appearance by one of the era’s most fervently followed cover combos — the Nines, featuring vivacious vocalist Britt Savage. Now based in Nashville, the in-demand session singer (and 1992 grand prize winner on TV’s Star Search) reunited with her classic band lineup — guitarist Adam Roller, bassist John Rogers, drummer Mick Gormaley, and Bill Dellicato subbing for the late keyboardist Bobby Gordon — for a July 2013 show in Asbury Park that brought in so much love, they up and did it again during the recent Light of Day music festival. Britt and the boys will be taking it upstairs at the double-wide Downtown for several sets of VICE-vintage favorites that could reasonably include everything from “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Kids in America” to some radio-ready originals from Britt’s recent Music City projects. And you can take it right here for a full interview with this most noble of Savages, or take it just around the corner for more frosty fun at the jiggle end of January.

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AEPoolSlideThe cover band Almost Easy is among the featured entertainment during a January 16 fundraiser event at The Downtown, to benefit Red Bank’s Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen.

While Jon Bon Jovi’s pay-what-you-can restaurant JBJ Soul Kitchen has made it a core part of its mission to feed hungry bodies on and around the Jersey Shore, every so often it becomes necessary to Feed the Soul — and on January 16, an alliance of professional organizers, party planners and performers is throwing a bash for the benefit of Soul Kitchen and other area nonprofits.

Presented by the business-to-business networking organization Monmnouth County Referral Group, the third annual “Night of Hope to Feed the Soul” returns to The Downtown for an evening of live entertainment, auctions and refreshments — all dedicated to the ongoing endeavors of Soul Kitchen, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. Comedian John Svenda is joined on the West Front Street nightspot’s upstairs stage by musical guests Scott Elk, Courtney McManus, Strumberry Pie, and Almost Easy.

Tickets to the 7 pm event are $75 per person (a limited $500 VIP package includes four tickets, two bottles of wine and preferred seating), and the club will be offering cash-bar drink specials for the duration of the three-hour affair. Take it here for full details.


poppa_and_gary_j_posada_shotPoppa John Bug (left, with Gary Wright) and Xenia Sky (below) are among the locally based luminaries performing on the debut project by The Downtown All Stars of Red Bank. The release of the CD will be celebrated tonight with a special fundraiser mega-show, upstairs at The Downtown. (Poppa John photo by John Posada)

Preservation Hall had its Jazz Band; The Stone Pony its house band Asbury Jukes. Joey Dee and the Starliters taught ’em how to do “The Peppermint Twist” at that namesake Lounge — and beginning tonight, The Downtown on West Front Street marks its own milestone, with the debut event featuring The Downtown All Stars of Red Bank.

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As defined by Larry Sherman, Downtown All Stars is not so much a gigging band as it is “a community organization formed of local musicians and supporters who are working together to raise money for local charities…using the power of music.”

For their maiden-voyage event, Sherman and his fellow members of the All Stars’ Board of Directors will be presenting a CD Launch Party celebrating the release of Bright Lights on Broad Street, a compilation of original songs written and recorded by eighteen locally connected bands and solo artists.

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lunch break 1 091813lunch break 2 091813Dozens of Lunch Break supporters turned out at Red Bank’s Downtown Wednesday night to help kick off a drive toward a major fundraising gala for the the borough-based food pantry to be held October 21 at the Navesink Country Club. Local musical favorites The Haven were joined onstage by singer and Lunch Break trustee Susan Haugenes, at right with a fan, Mike Rovere. (Click to enlarge)


siblingAlina and Justin Zimmerman are Sibling Rivalry, and they continue making their Sunday night stand at the doublewide Downtown.

Justin and Alina Zimmerman (ages 17 and 15 respectively, last we checked) have been winning over audiences at places that wouldn’t serve them so much as a Zima for several years now — not to mention the streets of downtown Red Bank, where they helped a guy get the gal of his dreams a few months back.

Now, though, the dynamic duo is doubling down, dowtown, at The Downtown.

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davidjoThe man with one of the biggest voices, mouths and hearts in all of music — David Johansen — is the special guest ringmaster as MAD Wednesdays continue at the Downtown.


It was a dark and stormy night the first time that David Johansen hit the streets of Red Bank for a gig. With a cancelled outdoor set at one of those Jazz and Blues Festivals — the kind that always seemed to get called on account of rain, sleet or fog —  the glam-punk pioneer turned roots-music raconteur found himself with time on his hands, a willing coterie of famous friends, and no place to play.

Ask anyone who happened to be there that night, whether in the room or pressed up against the windows in the rain, and they’ll tell you about the night that David Jo and an all-star crew of music legends — among them the Band’s Levon Helm and Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin — made their way up Wharf Avenue from Marine Park and commandeered the now-defunct Olde Union House restaurant for an impromptu jam that got about two songs deep, before the borough FD busted in and unceremoniously de-funked the premises.

“Whaddaya gonna do,” shrugged the man who once famously proclaimed that “rock stars never dress for the weather,” as he hustled his skinny frame into his girlfriend’s car. “That’s the big-time music biz for ya.”

This Wednesday, the veteran vocalist of the New York Dolls — a guy who once flirted with household-name fame via his alter ego Buster Poindexter — returns to the banks of the Navesink for his first proper solo show in Red Bank: up the hill, around the corner and under the roof of the doublewide Downtown on West Front.

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rb-late-nightBars and restaurants are doing their job keeping doors open late, some say, but more merchants must stay open to attract more visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


As Red Bank continues to claw its way out of an economic hole it hasn’t seen since the we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-it Dead Bank days, Mayor Pasquale Menna tends to periodically jab downtown’s retailers with a reminder that it’s going to take work to bring Red Bank back as a top destination in the region and beyond.

Lately, though, he’s taken a firmer approach.

At a council meeting last month, when two requests for car shows on Broad Street appeared on the agenda, he paused from the typical rubber-stamping of such requests.

“This is a chance to tickle, pinch, smack our retailers to stay open on Sunday,” Menna said, and then pointed to Red Bank RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams, who was seated in the audience. “Get the word out. Tell them to stay open on Sunday. I might start smacking instead of pinching.”

It was another lash at a limp horse he’s been flogging since before Red Bank’s business dipped with the national economy. For years, Menna has been urging merchants to move away from the nine-to-five mindset and keep the lights on after dark and on Sunday, when too many stores, he says, are closed.

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school-of-rockWorkers took down the Summit Music signs and  prepped the Monmouth Street building for School of Rock signage last month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


After a brief pause, 52 Monmouth Street is plugged back in. rcsm2_0105081

From mom-and-pop op to corporate giant, the space is once again open to young shredders, ivory ticklers and timekeepers in the Red Bank area.

School of Rock, the national titan of the music lesson and performance industry, reopened its doors on a once-thriving block of music education late last month.

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kaboom-firecrackerFirecracker says the Kaboom Committee is half-way to its $275,000 funding goal. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


In a big change from this time a year ago, the KaBoom Committee is brimming with confidence as it readies the giant July 3 fireworks extravaganza in Red Bank.

Despite a still-sagging economy, sponsorships for this year’s three-day celebration have skyrocketed, and fundraising efforts have put the committee back in the black far earlier than last year, chairman Charles Moran has said.

With two days to go until the festival kicks off, the committee is making a final push to bring in more dollars to cover the $275,000 price tag — up from the normal $250,000 because of additional police presence — for the largest fireworks show in New Jersey, and one of the largest in the U.S.

“The committee is confident the fundraising goal will be met,” member Judy Musa said in an email.

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hypnotism-dayA self-hypnotizing exercise. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Without knowing what was going on, anyone walking into The Downtown bar Tuesday evening might have been quite perplexed.

People gathered in front of a speaker on the bar’s upstairs stage, eyes closed and holding index fingers to the top of their heads, while others walked around to different tables set up on the main floor, getting back massages, sampling perfumes and reading up on financial planning.

Was this some sort of Hokey Pokey-bazaar?

It was an educational evening on West Front Street, bringing together the curious, an olio of businesses and a lineup of professionals to mark Red Bank’s first celebration of World Hypnotism Day, an event purposed for networking and clearly defining the oft-misconceived practice of hypnotism.

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eddiecon11A cadre of ‘Cousin Eddies’ made their way around Red Bank Saturday night in a successful bid to get loopy and raise some money. (Photos courtesy of Robert Kern. Click to enlarge)


Eighteen area men took to Red Bank’s bars and restaurants dressed in bathrobes and trapper hats Saturday night.

In a twist on Santacon, a somewhat raunchy gathering of faux Santa Clauses held annually in New York and elsewhere, the men did a pub crawl dressed as their favorite movie character: “Cousin Eddie,” from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Led by Chris Kenny of Shrewsbury and Dave Carr of Rumson, the mostly thirty-something robesmen hit more than a dozen watering holes on both sides of town, eating, indulging in cold beverages and shaking a pail all along the way to raise money for the Monmouth Day Care Center.

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w-forum1Heather Cosimano and Shari LaRosa outside The Downtown, where they’re putting on women-focused forums each Wednesday night. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


A few years ago, Shari LaRosa, a working mother of two, made new friends and helped a lot of women with a weekly lunchtime seminar in Red Bank. The lunches, which featured guest speakers covering a range of topics geared toward working mothers, made a lasting impression with women from all over the region, from Holmdel to Long Branch, she said.

But she ended the forum two years ago to dedicate more time to her two children.

Now that they’re in school, and after receiving two years’ worth of questions from women about when she’d bring it back, LaRosa’s decided to make her return.

“I ran into a lot of women during these two years who were thanking me,” LaRosa, 37, said. “It just felt like a really good thing I had done.”

Teaming up with life coach and friend Heather Cosimano, LaRosa returns to Red Bank tonight with the W Forum, at The Downtown, marking the relaunch of a new, nocturnal and more diverse version of what LaRosa established years ago.

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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.

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