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Canadian singer and guitarist Shawna Caspi headlines the latest in a slate of Earth Room Concert at the Unitarian Meetinghouse this Saturday.

Music fans here on the Greater Red Bank Green know that you can tune in to just about any genre in the area’s clubs, concert halls, community rooms and colorful festivals. From choral classics to classic rock; big band jazz to bluegrass Americana; a capella doo wop to alternative DIY, there’s always been a little something for every ear — although for the longest time, folk music aficionados had to bide their time between summertime special events and the odd little coffeehouse jam.

That all changed in 2016, when Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation hosted the first in a quietly ambitious Earth Room Concert Series — a slate of events that has matched international acts on the cutting edge of the contemporary folk scene with an appreciative local fanbase.

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With a slate of public-welcome activities that includes the free weekly Sunday Dialog lectures, regularly scheduled social action film screenings, community forums, meditation/Tai Chi sessions and the well-received Earth Room Concerts series, the Lincroft meetinghouse of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County is a resource that leaves the lights on for its neighbors year-round.

This Saturday evening, the UUCMC addresses its lighting bills with an annual event that stands as “the largest FUNdraiser” on its busy calendar.

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Folk singer Joe Crookston takes the mic at the Unitarian Meetinghouse this Saturday at the latest in the slate of Earth Room Concerts.

A little more than a year since sounding its first note in spring 2016, the Earth Room Concert Series at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation has established itself as a successful and genuinely “alternative” outpost in the midst of a big music-mad backyard.

Even as other area towns and venues have made a name for themselves as go-to places for classical music, jazz, blues, bluegrass and rock, the organizers of the Earth Room series sensed something of a deficit when it came to connecting folk music fans with national/international touring acts — the kind who often couldn’t stake out a place to play, other than the odd summertime festival.

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Toronto-based folk musicians the Young Novelists (above) and Pittsburgh’s Brad Yoder (below) play the Unitarian meetinghouse Saturday night.

In just one year as a regularly scheduled feature on this planet, the Earth Room Concert Series at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation has managed to make a big noise — in its own relatively quiet, intimately scaled fashion.

Internationally known touring and recording artists who otherwise couldn’t stake a claim at any of the Jersey Shore’s many concert halls, rock clubs and coverband bars have found snug harbor — and connected with passionate audiences of folk/ roots/ Americana music fans — within the welcoming walls of the UUC’s West Front Street meetinghouse.

This Saturday evening, the series that’s spotlighted the talents of singing spouses (the Kennedys), sisters (the Nields), surviving partners (Tracy Grammer) and stalwart solos (Matt Nakoa) introduces the Greater Red Bank Green to another couple of musically minded marrieds: the Toronto-based group known as the Young Novelists.

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Kirsten Maxwell, above, and Matt Nakoa, below, perform Saturday night at the latest in a series of Earth Room Concerts.

While local folk music artists have occasionally been able to get face-to-face with audiences at annual festivals, coffeehouses and libraries, there just hasn’t been a consistent venue for national folk performers to ply their trade among the rock clubs, cover-band bars and theater-size stages of eastern Monmouth County.

That is, until the folks at Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation initiated their series of Earth Room Concerts.

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Press release from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County

On the evening of Saturday, February 18, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County will be the setting for a special Voices of Black Experience presentation, under the theme “Inspiring Us to Resist the New Jim Crow.” A Black History Month followup to the February 3 screening of the film 13th, which examined the connection between the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution and the imprisonment of African Americans, the 5 p.m. event will feature a trio of guest speakers.

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Spike WilnerThe “Earth Room” of Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse is the setting this Sunday, for a free winter’s afternoon jazz concert featuring pianist Mike “Spike” Wilner.

Its “Earth Room” sanctuary has served for years as the greater Red Bank green’s go-to venue for guest lectures on progressive causes, in addition to regularly scheduled Social Action Film screenings of hot-topic documentaries — and, beginning in 2016, a slate of concert events that’s placed some internationally acclaimed modern folk music artists in front of Monmouth County audiences for the very first time.

This Sunday afternoon, January 29, Lincroft’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County becomes a jazz club, albeit one that trades the candlelit-cool night owl vibe for the streaming light of the stained glass windows and the afternoon delights of pianist Spike Wilner.

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labyrinth_uucmcAn indoor “labyrinth” walk at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse — and an outdoor excursion in the fresh and bracing air of Sandy Hook — offer opportunities for reflection and community on New Year’s Day.  

sandy hook sign 070415The resolutions that we make on New Year’s Eve may represent some bold and fearless talk, but in the cold light of New Year’s Day, it’s not always so easy to walk that walk.

Fortunately, some forward-thinking neighbors on the Greater Red Bank Green are inviting all members of the community to start 2017 off on a good foot or two.

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UUCMCNJPress release from Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County

The holidays are a time that can be difficult for those who may not have family close by to share in cheer. This Christmas Day, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County — a non-creedal congregation that encourages each person to articulate their own faith, and to listen deeply to what calls them to life — is opening their doors to all members of the local community.

Whether they find themselves separated from loved ones or are looking to start their day in a meaningful way among friends and neighbors, people of all faiths are welcome to attend this special December 25 gathering.

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United WE SingA scene from a past edition of “United We Sing,” the 16th annual presentation of which returns to Lincroft’s Unitarian Meetinghouse this Sunday, November 20.

At a time when it seems the various voices of the American choir are in discord, each shouting out a different tune, it seems more than ever that we could use a little bit of “United We Sing.” And as if on cue, the event of that same name returns to Lincroft this Sunday for a session that encourages neighbors to “come together from our different cultural and faith traditions, to proclaim and celebrate our rich diversity.”

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“Postmodern, mythic” American folk music icon Tracy Grammer makes a rare local appearance at the Unitarian Meetinghouse. 

For the latest (and last of 2016) entry in a recently minted series of Earth Room Concerts, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft presents a performance Saturday night that’s as much about an artist whose absence will be deeply felt as it is about the acclaimed singer/storyteller whose presence promises to make it a special occasion.

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the-nieldsThe Nields — folk-singing sisters Nerissa and Katryna — make a rare local appearance Saturday at the latest in a new series of Earth Room Concerts at the Unitarian Meetinghouse.

The inaugural event may have happened way back in April, but when the Earth Room Concerts Series resumes in Lincroft this Saturday night, it will more than maintain its mission to “fill a local gap” by bringing nationally known folk musicians — acts more commonly seen and heard at festivals and venues in New York — to a friendly port of call on the Greater Red Bank Green.

That happy harbor is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, where the stained-glass sanctuary (known for the occasion as the Earth Room) offers an environment that’s acoustically and aesthetically well suited to the sophisticated songcraft and sparkling harmonies of Nerissa and Katryna Nield — the Massachusetts-based sister act known for the past quarter-century as the Nields.

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Neil F BrownThe Shrewsbury Chorale welcomes new permanent music director Neil F. Brown — and sounds a keynote to a milestone 60th season —  with a public-invited, informal performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” on August 16.

In a history highlighted by performances at places like Carnegie Hall and Washington’s National Cathedral, it’s an undeniable milestone: the Diamond Anniversary of the Shrewsbury Chorale, the community arts group that prepares to embark upon its 60th season of choral classics and popular repertoire in 2016.

It’s a season that begins in earnest this coming December, with the chorale’s annual presentation of holiday hymns and carols. But before that, the organization founded back in the 1950’s by Alden Hammond stays attuned to the more casual pace of the current season with an August 16 Summer Sing event that invites everyone who holds a song in their heart, as it welcomes a special person to the podium.

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643_TheKennedysfinal1It’s called the Earth Room Concerts series — mainly “because of the attractive stained glass in the sanctuary where concerts are held,” but also in a way that the new slate of programming at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County takes a more expansive worldview of the kinds of music currently in regular rotation on Shore area stages.

Designed to “fill a local gap” by bringing nationally known folk and singer/ songwriter artists to Monmouth County — acts that are more commonly seen and heard at festivals and venues in NYC and North Jersey — the series fulfills its mission from the get-go in its inaugural show this Saturday evening, April 23, when the UUCMC Meetinghouse gives the greater Red Bank audience its first-ever local look at an acclaimed modern folk duo that’s been enchanting listeners on both sides of the Atlantic for decades: the husband/wife team known as The Kennedys.

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Chorale_Group_wo_conductorThe Shrewsbury Chorale is looking to corral some new voices — and for the next two Tuesday evenings, the public is invited to join in the chorus of community.  

It’s one of those local treasures whose activity in the community extends back nearly 60 years, as the Shrewsbury Chorale prepares to embark upon its 59th season of choral classics and popular repertoire, presented in settings that have ranged from the modestly-scaled historic churches of Monmouth County to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and Carnegie Hall.

For the next couple of Tuesdays, the community arts organization gets back to its roots, extending an invitation to all interested singers to join in a pair of open rehearsals hosted at the Chorale’s regular Tuesday evening rehearsal venue, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft.

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UUCMCNJThe Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse offers an opportunity for quiet reflection on New Year’s Day — and some spirited dialogue every Sunday morning thereafter.  

The resolutions that we make on New Year’s Eve may constitute some bold and fearless talk — but in the cold light of New Year’s Day, it’s not always so easy to walk that walk. Fortunately, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County offers all members of the community the opportunity to start 2016 off on a good foot or two, by “walking the labyrinth” for some moments of quiet reflection and meditation as you begin another journey around the sun with the best of intentions and hopes for the months ahead. The (temporary) labyrinth will be installed inside the Earth Room at the Unitarian Meetinghouse between the hours of 3 to 6 pm on Friday, and there will be light refreshments served up in the nearby Community Room, with all attendees invited to contribute a dessert to this free and all-welcome event.

While New Year’s Day comes and goes in a flash, the UUCMC’s Sunday Dialogs events remain a year-round happening at the West Front Street place of worship — and the long-running lecture series on timely topics will be wasting no time getting down to the matter at hand here in 2016, as the Meetinghouse welcomes guest speaker Russell Binaco to the lectern this Sunday morning, January 3.

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njso chamberThe Chamber Players of the NJ Symphony Orchestra (above) come to Navesink’s Old Stone Church Sunday. Piano prodigy Michael Davidman (below) tackles keyboard classics at Red Bank’s Monmouth Conservatory.

mike davidAh, to have the ability to be in three places at once. This Sunday offers a trio of riches for Red Bank-area music lovers in the 4 p.m. hour — beginning with one that takes interactivity to the next level.

Back for a 15th edition, the annual “United We Sing” Celebration once again invites people of all faiths to lend their voices and join in an intercultural service of music, word and dance at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County on West Front Street in Lincroft.

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As part of the Social Action Film Series, the documentary feature ‘Wings of Life’ screens for free this Sunday evening at the Unitarian Meetinghouse in Lincroft.

We’ve long looked to “the birds and the bees” as fleet-flying messengers of the Facts of Life — but just as crucial to the maintenance of life on earth are the butterflies, the bats, and the blossoms.

On Sunday, a worship space in Lincroft plans to host a free screening of Wings of Life, a DisneyNature documentary feature narrated by Meryl Streep that explores the often unheralded ways in which some of the world’s most endangered species hold the key to the continued existence of all living things on the planet.

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Seeger-KillianClearwater Festival founder Bob Killian, seen here with folk legend Pete Seeger, makes two anniversary appearances this weekend. (Photo by Mike Berry)

Updated from previous post on redbankgreen‘s All Good page.

It began back in the mid-1970s as a free festival of music, food and environmental awareness at Sandy Hook.

Inspired by the work of the iconic folk singer and pioneer activist Pete Seeger and his Hudson River excursions with the sloop Clearwater — and founded by Bob Killian, a Shore-based singer and songwriter best known for his hyperlocal anthem “I Like The Jersey Shore” — the all-volunteer Clearwater Festival has soldiered on through the years in several locations, most recently at Long Branch’s Pier Village.

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Press release from Shrewsbury Chorale

Do you like to sing? Shrewsbury Chorale invites all interested local singers to participate in our Open Rehearsals on September  22 and 29, 2015, from 7:45 to 10 pm. We practice weekly on Tuesday evenings at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, 1475 West Front Street in Lincroft.

The Chorale is a mixed chorus serving Monmouth County for almost 60 years. As we begin our new season, we welcome  Mark C. Cook as our interim conductor. Mr. Cook is a familiar face to our audiences. He has performed admirably as our accompanist for the past four years. Mr. Cook has accompanied soloists and choral ensembles throughout the United States and Europe. Currently, he serves as Organist/Music Director for the Church in Brielle. We are fortunate to be able to employ his many talents in this new capacity of interim Conductor/Accompanist.

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Cowspiracy-1The cow-troversial documentary feature COWSPIRACY: THE SUSTAINABILITY SECRET screens for free at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House in Lincroft, as a Sunday presentation of NJ Farm Animal Save.

It’s been called “the most destructive industry facing the planet today” — and unlike many things that might come to mind, it sits snugly on a sesame seed bun. Large-scale factory farming — particularly the production and process that brings BEEF to the take-out bag or table — is the bogeyman and bugaboo in COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret, the feature-length documentary by Frisco-based filmmaker Kip Andersen that’s been credited with everything from “saving the planet,” to “regurgitating common myths” (this last from Beef Magazine).

Making the case that livestock production is accelerating environmental and public health crises through water and grain consumption, deforestation, soil depletion, methane emissions and obesity rates, the “shocking yet humorous” doc positions Andersen and co-producer Keegan Kuhn as figures caught up in a web of cover-ups and threatened reprisals — not just from Big Cattle, but from trusted “leaders in the environmental movement” as well. The 2014 film, which has been made available to community groups for free screenings nationwide, comes to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County Meeting House on West Front Street this Sunday, January 11, as part of the ongoing Social Action Film Series.

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sandyhook-npsThe beaches and walkways of Sandy Hook’s northern tip in winter are the subject of the 39th annual New Year’s Day Beach Walk, hosted by the local chapter of the American Littoral Society.

Somewhere between the stale aftertaste and inevitable comedown of New Year’s Eve — and the litany of resolutions that begins with a groaning “never again” — there exists an opportunity for locals to truly hit the “refresh” button on the lifestyle routine. Even if you’re stopping just short of taking the Polar Bear plunge, you’ve still got a chance to take in a couple of lungfuls of bracingly frosty air and truly experience some extraordinary scenery, courtesy of the Sandy Hook-based regional chapter of the American Littoral Society.

Named in honor of the Society’s late director who initiated the annual tradition, the 39th Dery Bennett Memorial New Year’s Day Beach Walk commences at 11 am on Thursday, January 1st from 18 Hartshorne Drive (aka Building 18) in the Fort Hancock area of the Hook. Littoral Society naturalists conduct the free, public-welcome walk that proceeds from the Society’s headquarters, out to North Beach and beyond — and, while at the tip of the Hook, the group will attempt to communicate with Northeast Chapter coast walkers, across the Bay in New York.

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Press release from The Shrewsbury Chorale

Do you like to sing? The Shrewsbury Chorale, a 50-member mixed chorus under the direction of Anthony LaGruth, invites all interested local singers to participate in Open Rehearsals on the nights of January 6 and 13, 2015.

Scheduled to run from 7:45 to 10 pm, the Tuesday evening sessions take place at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, 1475 West Front Street in Lincroft.

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UUCMC Amahl and the Night VisitorsIt starts with the appearance of an unusually large star in the desert night sky — and for a young boy named Amahl, it heralds the appearance of three kings at his family’s humble home, seeking shelter for the night as they make their way to a place called Bethlehem.

First performed as a live TV special in 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors quickly took its rightful place among the Yuletide season’s best-loved musical masterworks — and continuing a local tradition, the contemporary opera will be staged at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County Meeting House on West Front Street this Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14.

Presented at 7 pm on Saturday, and encoring at 6 pm Sunday, the family-friendly favorite is the second in a four-part Performing Arts Series at UUCMC; directed by Elaine Held (with co-musical direction by Louise Chernosky), and starring not one but two young local actresses as Amahl: Tara Lieneck of Middletown (at right in photo) featured on December 13, and Clara Randel of Aberdeen (left) taking over the role on December 14.

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United WE SingIt’s an event that traces its origins to the aftermath of September 11, 2001 — an event of which the organizers observe, “the healing effect of the evening led us to repeat the event with presentations over the last thirteen years from the Muslim, Jain, Christian, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Native American, and UU communities.”

On Sunday, November 23 at 4 pm, the annual “United We Sing” Celebration once again invites people of all faiths to lend their voice and join in an intercultural service of music, word and dance at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County Meeting House on West Front Street. Subtitled “Music of Gratitude” — and sponsored by the  Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought (MCWRET) and the Social Action Committee of the UUCMC, the “intercultural service of music, word and dance presents voices of different faiths raised in joy and gratitude.”

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