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Joe Sent Me: Internationally acclaimed jazz scholar, globetrotting conductor, arranger and artistic director of Red Bank-based Jazz Arts Project (plus host of some of the most eagerly awaited backyard BBQs of the Cool Year) Joe “Mooche” Muccioli opens up his formidable Little Black Book of contacts for a new round of SUMMER JAZZ CAFÉ, the annual series of sophisticated speakeasy sessions going up this weekend at Two River Theater (see Friday’s picks for deep-dish deets).
It’s been close to a decade now since we’ve made our base of operations in Red Bank, but we remember well those annual KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink blowouts; those exponentially expanding extravaganzas that turned every parcel of property along the river (including and maybe especially our old digs at the Colony House apartments) into a fully thronged thriller each July 3rd. We recall also the parking-spot fistfights, the street closings, the clueless rent-a-cops, the paralyzing traffic and the day-long atmosphere of powderkeg tension that set otherwise tolerant people at each other’s throats until after the last drunkass litterbug stumbled onto the NJ Transit train without his cellphone, ID or left-hand opposable thumb. So we note with interest the fact that the quaintly upscale borough — following a ridiculous (and ridiculously expensive) three-day “KaBoomFest” last year that turned the former small-town sloshfest into a simulcast Would-stock that actually boasted paid “VIP” fireworks viewing — has passed on setting off so much as a a sparkler here in 2012. It’s a surprisingly “Dead Bank” move to which we give two not-at-all-blasted-off Thumbs Up; a season of rest and an opportunity to reboot the franchise in a possibly simpler and saner direction.
Not that there’s any rest for the bleary-eyed here in the week of mass-market beer and corn-on-the-cob rolling off greasy paper plates onto the water-starved dust of your brother in law’s back yard. Turn that pixelated paper over, for our ever-opinionated picks regarding the Week That Was That Will Be…
MONDAY! Arlan Feiles and Emily Grove at Labrador Lounge. Far be it for us to recommend a jaunt down to the Seaside end of Route 35 on pretty much any day between Memorial Day and the first painful contractions of Labor — but we reckon that Mondays are still your best bets to approach the Ocean County corridor with some hope of having your way, and a check-in with Marilyn Schlossbach‘s original bastion of staycation cuisine reveals the occasional pleasing junket by some of our favorite diplomats from Asbury’s embassy of cultural dominance. Ask any veteran Wet Side musician worth his/her salty opinions and they’ll name Arlan Feiles to the short list of most sublime singer-songwriter types working the circuit — and we’d scarcely be the first to name Emily Grove (pictured above) to that exalted lot. They’re teaming up to crime — if by “crime” we mean the almost criminal neglect shown these talents by the knuckledraggin’ masses — via a series of relaxed sets beginning at pm, and booked by Marilyn’s musical hot-sauce honcho Peter “Deadly” Mantas. Labrador Lounge, 3581 Route 35 North at Peterson Lane, Normandy Beach • 7pm
TUESDAY! Southside Johnny at Stone Pony SummerStage. In an interview that you’ll find archived here on upperWETside, the honorary Toastmaster General of the United States known as Southside Johnny said of his now-traditional Independence Week concerts, “We never do a standard set list for these shows; I try to read the crowd instead — if they’re feeling angry, we’ll give ‘em something a little more dark like ‘The Fever.’ But the guys in the band are all pros, they can hit my curveballs.”
You can hardly call Johnny Lyon a holiday humbug when he’s got TWO pretty much all to himself (with the ball having dropped on Dick Clark, his December 31 gigs in Red Bank make him MISTER New Year’s Eve) — and when Southside and his 2012 Jukes re-take The Stone Pony Summer Stage on Tuesday, they’ll be remembering old friends and making new fans with the same aplomb they brought to their 2010 appearance (a show for which we were pleased to be in attendance) and their 2011 (a show for which we enjoyed every note and word of stage banter loud ‘n clear through our living room window). It’s a well-rounded evening of homespun entertainment, with the precision surf drill team known as The Brigantines setting the scene inside the club with The Loan Sharks, and with Nashville transplant/ honorary Shore guy John Eddie opening the open-air action with a full country-band set. Outside the Box takes it inside the box for a now-traditional late-show wrap at 11pm. Stone Pony, Ocean and Second Aves., Asbury Park • 5pm/ $34 advance, $39 door ($10 after 10:30pm)
TUESDAY! Trixie & Monkey’s All American Burlesque Circus at Asbury Lanes. Leave it to the recently renovated retro rec room that is Asbury Lanes to light the fuse on an evening of exotic entertainments from the Burlesque underground; as purely American a pursuit as could be found here on Independence Eve. Acrobatic variety artists Trixie Little and The Evil Hate Monkey are joined by “fancy juggler” Sean Blue, “singing comedienne” Lady Scoutington and “6 ft. 7 in. circus giant” Mr. Gorgeous for a round of beer, bowling and Burly-Q — kicking things the way your grandfather did, back when all kicks were hard-earned. Asbury Lanes, 209 Fourth Ave., Asbury Park • 8pm
WEDNESDAY! Oceanfest in Long Branch. You haven’t been trapped in Shore traffic until you’ve been stuck behind the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile for close to two hours; breathing in porkbelly nitrate exhaust and trying in vain to pass around the extra-plump bun (without getting turned to slaw by the incongruously pretty college intern driver in the weiner wheelhouse) as a perfect storm of beach/ mall/ racetrack jammers bottlenecks into a single lane of seething subhumanity. We’re not sure if the Weinermobile or its sister advertising icons make house calls to the event anymore, but when the 22nd annual edition of Oceanfest, “the biggest Fourth of July celebration in NJ,” returns to the sands and strolling promenades of Long Branch, it’ll have a clearer path to glory than ever, thanks in large part to Red Bank’s KaBoom event having gone KaPut. It’s a star-spangled strip of beach, boardwalk and boulevard, with diversions that include family friendly activities, food and craft vendors, circus-type performers, live music on the Great Lawn from, among others, Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso (2-4pm) and Bob Burger (7-9pm) — and arguably the festival’s signature feature, the always-amazing display of sand sculptures by some of the best in that ephemeral-art business. It’s all capped off with fireworks over the Atlantic at 9pm, with musical simulcast on 95.9 The RAT. Long Branch Oceanfront Promenade (between Seven Presidents Park and Ocean Place Resort & Spa) • 10am-12am/ FREE
THURSDAY! AMERICAN STARE at NJ Rep. To gleefully quote from our own review in the Asbury Park Press: “Every so often, the folks at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch offer up an example of the sort of thing they do better than pretty much anybody else — the kind of darkly comic, devastatingly satirical ensemble piece that other ‘suburban’ companies would hesitate to go near. In Tony Glazer’s American Stare — currently in its world premiere engagement at NJ Rep — the doublewide duchy of Sunshine Villa is a microcosm for all that’s gone cattywampus with the American Dream.”
Set among the often violent, vulgar, beat-down-by-life-and-outlandish-circumstance denizens of a South Florida trailer park, this dark comedy of despair, dipsomania, dumbass schemes and possibly the Devil himself pushes the envelope of the audience’s comfort zone in its “pointed parable that seethes with the playwright’s projected frustration over an America seemingly lost to the ages.” Evan Bergman directs an ensemble cast of NJ Rep newcomers that features Brad Holbrook as the Devil (in the person of chemical-company agent Mr. Stimptner) — a “catalyst for a set of plot points that careen from sitcom surrealism, to straight-to-Redbox horror” and a snake-oil suit who you KNOW is going to claim the most hellaciously great speech in the show. Continues tonight through July 22; Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway (at Liberty St.), Long Branch • 2pm/ $40 preview $35
FRIDAY and SATURDAY! Summer Jazz Cafe at Two River. Hey, remember that Seinfeld episode where George gains entry to a world of ultra-exclusive supermodel nightspots by, well, lying? And when his little scam inevitably collapses, that way-cool club-without-a-name has apparently vanished without a trace? Well, it’s kind of like that, except you needn’t fib to get in — although if you wait too long, you’ll be left out in the dark, double-checking that address scribbled on a matchbook.
We’re talking of course about the Summer Jazz Café, the annual series of swinging sets hosted inside the Marion Huber performance space at Two River Theater. Presented by the borough-based nonprofit Jazz Arts Project and artistic director/ jazz impresario Joe “Mooche” Muccioli, the Friday and Saturday sessions transform the “black box” into an environment that boasts big-city tableside seating, subdued lighting, great coffee and desserts, and some top-shelf talent hand-picked from Mooche’s formidable “little black book” of A-list friends.
The four-weekend schedule begins this Friday, July 6, with the first of two “Weekend in Brazil” programs featuring percussionist Mauricio Zottarelli and his Trio. Bossanova-bop trumpeter Claudio Roditi (above) returns to Red Bank for the occasion, with sultry singer Fabiana Masili fronting the band on Saturday, July 7. Newark-born jazz chanteuse Cynthia Holiday brings her blues-infused songbook stylings to the Jazz Café on the weekend of July 13 and 14. Mooche and company line up a special generations-spanning treat for jazz buffs on July 27 and 28, when the legendary seven-string guitar patriarch Bucky Pizzarelli comes back to Red Bank, paired this time with another returning crowdpleaser from Jazz Cafés past — twentysomething “jazz violinist, mandolinist, arranger, and bow-tie rights activist” Aaron Weinstein — as well as with longtime Pizzarelli collaborator, guitarist-vocalist Ed Laub. The series extends its vibe into August (and wraps things up with “a cherry on top”) with a Jazz Arts Project regular — saxman Bruce Williams, who leads an allstar group of “Jazz Legends and Lions” on August 3 and 4, preceded by a special showcase set starring the students of the Jazz Arts Academy Summer Camp — an accomplished group of young players who’ve worked closely with Williams in his role as an Academy faculty member and workshop clinician.
Adult tickets for all 8 pm events in the series are $22 (with a choice of four events available for $75) with a $3 box office fee, and can be reserved right here. Two River Theater, Bridge Ave., Red Bank • 8pm Friday & Saturday/ $22
FRIDAY! ReVision Theatre 5th Anniversary Concert. As we hepped you thusly a couple of weeks back, ReVision Theatre has ReVamped, ReBounded and practically ReZurrected itself from that scary place where old not-for-profit theatrical companies go to fade away (a farm upstate, we think, where they can do Shakespeare in the Park and a singalong version of Pajama Game) — ReTurning for a fifth season with a new home stage (the former St. George Greek Orthodox Church), a new creative team, and a ReAssuring continuity in its cast of ReTurning faces and voices. The troupe, which will be opening Pippin at St. George later this month, comes to the Paramount proscenium for one night, with a Fifth Anniversary Concert that’s emceed by Richard Skipper (who channeled Carol Channing in the company’s inaugural fundraiser staging of Hello Dolly!). Joining in the ReVue will be veteran ReVisionaries Ephie Aardema, Julia Arazi, Brett Colby, Pippin star Bernard Dotson, Spiro Galiatsatos, Anita Welch and Julia Whary — with Andy Hertz directing a musical menu that offers a ReTrospective of tunes from past shows like Hair, Tommy and Spring Awakening. ReServe tix online, or by calling (732)455-3059. Paramount Theatre, Ocean and Fifth Aves., Asbury Park • 8pm • $20 – $100
SATURDAY! Middletown Jazz & Blues Fest. Talk about Le Jazz Hot: when the first annual Middletown Jazz & Blues Festival set up shop at the Middletown Arts and Cultural Center last July, it did so on the most torrid afternoon of 2011 — a potential vibe-killer that nonetheless failed to thwart the enthusiasm of event producer Dennis Eschbach and his all-volunteer crew for doing it all over again this Saturday, July 7. The first in the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation‘s three-part series of daylong events for summer 2012 — followed by fests in Point Pleasant (July 21) and Long Branch (August 25) — the M-town affair keynotes the successor series to the JSJBF’s weekend-long blowouts that occupied Red Bank’s Marine Park through June of 2009.
As free of charge as it is easy to get to — the site is literally steps from the NJ Transit train platform at station stop Middletown, itself literally seconds from station stop Red Bank — Saturday’s sunlit soiree kicks off at noon with a plein-air appearance by saxophonist, keyboardist, composer and music educator Dan Wilensky — a man whose eclectically cool mastery of technique has allowed him to play alongside everybody from Joan Baez, Cab Calloway and James Brown to David Bowie, Steve Winwood and Debbie Harry. He’s followed on the bill by the Red Bank Blues Band (1:20 pm), The Gordon James Band (2:35 pm), Dean Shot (3:50 pm), and cowboy-hatted Red Bank evergreen Stormin’ Norman Seldin (5:10 pm). Another borough perennial, Sonny Kenn (pictured above in an image by our pal, cznapshot czar Dennis Czund) headlines at 6:30 pm in front of an Upstage Jam Band that features such Asbury aces as Ricky DeSarno and Vini Lopez. There’s much more under the midsummer sun, including a beer and wine garden, food vendors, family-friendly activities and a special 3 pm indoor concert for the young’uns starring local “kindie rocker” Miss Sherri. Middletown Arts & Cultural Center, Church St. (at train station) • 11am-8pm/ FREE
SATURDAY! Backyard Superheroes at the Brighton. We’re gonna put aside our threadbare policy of having scouted out every one of our recommendations at least once, by going ahead and printing the PR more or less verbatim here, to wit: “Don’t miss your chance to see Backyard Superheroes in their first ever headlining show!!! Judging on the past experiences, you are in for a treat. Whether it’s Gary, the Boy Blunder running around the room handing out free goodies/knocking things down or the entire room jumping in unison, it is sure to be a good time! Joining them on this magnificent stage are allies of the Superheroes who wish to join forces and take on the enemy…we just don’t know who that is yet…” The band is joined by Slick Mick & the Dirty Dales plus Whatever’s Clever and Balancing Act for a special 2pm all-ager at The Brighton Bar, 121 Brighton Ave., Long Branch • 2pm/ $10
SATURDAY! Diana Krall at Great Auditorium. It was Jonathan Richman who said it in “Someone to Care About,” from the first album sessions by the original Modern Lovers — “I don’t want some cocaine sniffing tramp in the bar/ I don’t want a tramp in the car/ I don’t wanna make a rich girl Krall.”
Quite possibly the edgiest thing you’ll see this season at Ocean Grove’s historic wooden ship of family entertainment (last year it was Tim Conway), serial Grammy winner Diana Krall returns to the Wet Side stage lugging a catalog that’s always spoke to her impeccable taste (Bacharach-David; can’t go wrong with Bacharach-David and if you don’t believe us ask her hubz) — but with Quiet Nights, the cucumber-cool Canuck may have outdone herself; channeling Astrud Gilberto and other Brazilian bossanova jetsetters with just enough clear, cold Canadian atmosphere to make this day-at-the-beach the kind where you’ll want to just gaze at the sea from behind the steam of a warming beverage. Tickets right here. Great Auditorium, Pilgrim and Ocean Pathways, Ocean Grove • 8pm/ $45, $50, $55
SATURDAY! Joe Grushecky at the Wonder Bar. Fa(r)cebook F(r)iend Mike Black reminds us that it was very nearly 22 years from this day that Pittsburgh poet-priest Joe Grushecky played his first hi-profile Asbury gig — opening for Ian Hunter and the lategreat Mick Ronson at Convention Hall back in the John Scher era. The foreman of the Iron City Houserockers has returned to the city Where Music Refuses to Die countless times since then (including for each and every edition of the Light of Day benefits), earning his Honorary ShoreCat tour windbreaker as well as an enduring and bonafide friendship with the Boss of All Bosses. A lanky keeper of the Working Class Hero BIC-lighter flame, the Groosh makes one of his frequent forays to Lance ‘n Debbie’s circuit landmark for a blue-collar blast of bar ballads and saloon stompers. Rockological Ph.D Jon Caspi & The First Gun pull the trigger, with additional reinforcement from the Tangiers Blues Band, featuring that Matthew Brady of things Bruce, Danny Clinch. Wonder Bar, Ocean and Fifth Aves., Asbury Park • 8pm/ $20
SATURDAY! Nicole Atkins at Langosta Lounge. The world may argue long and far into the night over whose chiseled-in-granite likeness might grace an Asbury version of Mount Rushmore with Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Southside (our vote’s on Fred Schneider) — but for many among us the legacy lives on with Neptune native Nicole Atkins — a recording artiste (her debut album for Columbia was branded Neptune City) and a top-shelf talent who seemed forever on the threshold of breaking nationally (to the point of appearing on Letterman and starring in her very own credit card commercial) in the years before the general collapse of the music-biz souffle rendered such reverie quaint. Since decamped to the hipster precincts of Brooklyn, Atkins has nonetheless continued to reappear locally in some often surprising settings (like entertaining at an art opening, or guesting with Marc Muller’s Dead On Live tribute project) — and tonight you’ll find the singing/songwriting Shorebird back on the herringboned hardwoods of the boardwalk, with a gig at Marilyn Schlossbach’s seaside staycation that promises selections from her two long-playing albums, plus some newies, intriguing covers and surprises we can only specualte about. Langosta Lounge, 1000 Ocean Ave. at Second Ave., Asbury Park • 10pm
SUNDAY! America at the Basie. Veterans of the early 1970s soft wars, America overcame the mellow-harshing departure of late co-founder Dan Peek to forge a long-rolling career that’s remained harmonious where other honey-voiced contemporaries have yelled themselves hoarse (“Horse with No Name,” “Ventura Highway” and “Tin Man” are among the portfolio of supper-club standards). Last time out at the Count Basie, the core twosome of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell were riding a so-out-they-re-IN-again high that saw them aided and abetted by such indie-cred rockers as James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne). They return to town with the circus having moved on, but with hometown blonde bombchelle Lisa Bouchelle (hostess of local cable’s Rock Star Kitchen) opening in engaging classic-rawk style. Take it here for tickets. Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank • 8pm/ $25 – $75