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It wasn’t a week that started or ended on a high note for the musicky scene here in the place Where People Actually Live — from the cop crackdown on the boardwalk drummers, to the abrupt shuttering of The Press Room rock club (after just six months, several visits by Springsteen, a slew of well-received shows and a positive write-up in the New York Times), and the coup de grace, the announcement on Friday that the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival would NOT be returning to Asbury as heavily promoted, but would beat a hasty escape to Manhattan’s Pier 36.
A couple of black eyes for the town Where Music Gotta Wear Shades, to be sure — still, the city Where Music-types Fib has survived worse in its toughened-up decades, and no matter what explanations you’ve heard for the abovementioned setbacks (everything from complaining merchants, unpaid hotel bills and infighting owners to landlord money problems, vendor money problems and money-man money problems), it all boils down to money — who’s footing the tab, who’s secretly not as moneyed-up as you might think, and whose money thinks it can tell everybody’s else’s money what to do. In the tug of war twixt Music and Money, we point out that no one ever called this the place Where Money Lives.
Cockeyed optimists that we are, we’re always looking on (and for) the bright side, and in this week’s litter of picks we pheel the phrenological bumps of a brighter phuture. It’s a phuture that includes the arrival of a favorite hyper-international cult band to our favorite hyper-local rockbar; the debut of some pleasingly site-specific entertainments (Point Plez Jazz Fest, Bolero Red Bank), and the continuation of some events that truly help to make our beloved Upper Wet Side what it is: Songwriters in the Park, FilmOneFest — and Sand Blast Weekend, the big happy gay machine that brings thousands of guests to town; shows them a good time, lets them roam freely (plus spend $$$) throughout the city, and inspires them to come back and maybe even make the city their home or workplace. A festival done right.
There’s lots more going on in terms of music, theater, film, words and weirdnesses in the day ahead, and we needn’t tell you which side of the pixelated page it’s printed on…
MONDAY! Joe Piscopo and His Big Band at Surflight. We all know way-Jersey Joe Piscopo from his 1980s-era tenure on Saturday Night Live — as well as a handful of bad movies, painful commercials and that whole bizarre bodybuilder interlude that made his post-SNL career more of a punchline than the never-funny “What Exit?” Well, some thirty years later a still-smilin’ Joe has not only maintained a toehold in the business of show through countless charity functions and pro-bono appearances — he’s actually parlayed his old parody of Frank Sinatra into a seriously musical nightclub act that even won him his own nightclub (Club Piscopo at Resorts AC) for a spell. Teamed with his longtime music director (and our pal) Joe “Mooche” Muccioli and the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra, Piscopo deals a slick supperclub-style act that spotlights singing impressions (The Boss of course, as well as The Chairman), comical characters and some surprising multi-instrumental dexterity. The original Jersey guy and Mooche’s marvelous organization take the stage of Surflight Theatre, as part of the summertime comedy/ concert series presented in partnership with Catch A Rising Star. Keep it tuned for the slate that further features Robert Klein (7/18). Jackie Martling (7/25), Judy Gold (7/30), David Brenner (8/8), Pat Cooper (8/20), John and Bucky Pizzarelli (8/22), Uncle Floyd (8/29), and John Cafferty (9/29). Surflight Theatre, Beach and Engleside Aves., Beach Haven • 8pm/ $60
MONDAY! Radio Moscow at The Brighton Bar. Score another one for the Home of Original Music on the Jersey Shore — and on a Monday yet; that night of off-peak rates and the occasional surprise booking. Tonight, the psych-infused garage stomp of Iowa’s Radio Moscow — an internationally touring trio with a Mad Alchemy light show — squeeze the Brighton into their itinerary between big-city gigs in NYC and Baltimore. The headliners hit the famous Brighton stage at 11, preceded by The Dirty Secrets (8pm), Buzzard Wagon (8:45), Iron Front (9:30) and The Loose Roosters (10:15). Brighton Bar, 121 Brighton Ave., Long Branch • 8pm/ $7
WEDNESDAY! Robert Klein at Surflight. While the mainstage schedule at LBI landmark Surflight Theatre is light on celeb candepower this season (last year’s memorable schedule offered extended stays by everyone from Justin Guarini and Judd Hirsch to Cindy Williams and Eve Plumb), the summertime comedy/ concert series presented in partnership with Catch A Rising Star continues to impress with some talent worth hitting the Causeway for. A worthy contemporary of Pryor and Carlin — and like those late legends, a skilled storyteller who built his career on album-sized routines instead of just playing off drunk hecklers — standup, actor, writer, interviewer Robert Klein provides a textbook example in How It’s Done in an age of diminished expectations. Keep it tuned for the slate that further features Jackie Martling (7/25), Judy Gold (7/30), David Brenner (8/8), Pat Cooper (8/20), John and Bucky Pizzarelli (8/22), Uncle Floyd (8/29), and John Cafferty (9/29). Surflight Theatre, Beach and Engleside Aves., Beach Haven • 8pm/ $60
THURSDAY! Cabaret for Life at the Supper Club. The nonprofit, nonpareil troupers at Ocean Grove-based Cabaret for Life, Inc. continue their productive partnership with Tim McLoone’s Supper Club — and as part of their ongoing 2012 series of showcase events, that sophisticated space-age saucer on the Asbury Park boards hosts this year’s edition of the annual fun(d)raiser mirth-and-music revue to benefit The Center in Asbury Park and its ongoing assistance programs for local people living with HIV/AIDS. The Glitter of Oz brings a cast of area stage pros together (under the direction of CFL’s Andrew DiPrisco) in a loose salute to what could only be called The Ultimate Road Movie; tix can be reserved by calling 1.877.CFL.TKTS — and if you miss this one, they’ll be doing it all over again next Thursday, July 26. Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Ave. (at Fifth Ave.), Asbury Park • 7pm/ $25
THURSDAY! Plays and Musicals Continue, on the Upper WET Side! The Summer Shakespeare Ensemble at Brookdale Community College presents a cast of returning Shakespeareans and newcomers in The Merchant of Venice, out on the lawn adjacent to the Performing Arts Center on the Lincroft campus. Admission to all performances is free; so call 732.224-2411 for weather-related updates and additional info on parking and such. Brookdale Community College, Newman Springs Rd., Lincroft • 7pm/ FREE/ also FRIDAY and SATURDAY at 7pm; SUNDAY at 6pm… The Starving Artist at Days in Ocean Grove teams once again with producer-director Nick Montesano (NENAproductions Theater Project) to Celebrate Summer, the latest in a series of musical revues (presented on the restaurant’s porch) that are as part of the season in OG as, well, a Dtwo-scop cone from Days. Montesano (who co-conceived the show with Jessica Berger) directs a cast that spotlights Jennifer Nelson, Casey Grady Surgent, Heather McLaughlin, and Bryan Vitalo — as well as Berger, Montesano and Starving Artist co-owner Arnold Teixera — with musical direction by Jeff Brown. Reserve at 732.988.1007. The Starving Artist at Days, 47 Olin St., Ocean Grove • 7:30pm/ $20/ also FRIDAY and SATURDAY at 7:30pm… In Tony Glazer’s American Stare — currently in its world premiere engagement at New Jersey Repertory Company — a South Florida trailer park is “a microcosm for all that’s gone cattywampus with the American Dream.” Evan Bergman directs this dark comedy of despair, dipsomania, dumbass schemes and possibly the Devil himself that 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.” New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway (at Liberty St.), Long Branch • 8pm/ $40; also FRIDAY and SATURDAY at 8pm; SUNDAY at 2pm… The relationship between the 26th President and his famous First Daughter is at the heart of Teddy and Alice, the musical slice of Americana (adapted from music by none other than John Philip Sousa) now playing inside the unique and historic Woods Theatre at Monmouth U. Tickets can be reserved by calling 732.263.6889, or taking it here. Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, Cedar and Norwood Aves., West Long Branch • 8pm/ $25 – $35/ also FRIDAY at 2pm and 8pm; SATURDAY at 8pm; SUNDAY at 7pm (through July 29)… Producer-director Mark Fleming and the folks at Asbury Park’s Premier Theatre Company return to The Premier Room — their all-new, custom-crafted, 120-seat space inside the ever-accommodating Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel — for a fresh look at the Kander-Ebb classic Cabaret, the bracing musical that’s set in a seedy German nightclub on the eve of the Nazi era. Tickets for any of the eight scheduled performances can be reserved via the Premier website or by calling 732.774.STAR. Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 Ocean Ave. at Sixth Ave., Asbury Park • 8pm/ $28 (discounts for students and seniors)/ also FRIDAY and SATURDAY at 8pm; SUNDAY at 2pm…
FRIDAY! The Fairlanes reunited at Chico’s. We all know Billy Hector as the ubiquitous master of brine-basted Jersey Shore blues (see Saturday’s Blues Fest item, below), but the man has mastered many contexts in many bands over the years — the best of which was The Fairlanes, the late-1980s bluesrockpop combo that he co-fronted with longtime partner Suzan Lastovica. A long battle with MS forced the ever-stunning Suzan out of the everynight band biz (though she’s continued to pen songs and join her “hippie married” husband on stage every now and then), but this Friday night at Chico’s House finds the much-missed lineup of the ‘lanes — Billy, Suzan, harmonicat Bill Lilley, bassist Tim Tindall and iconic drummer Ernest “Boom” Carter — sharing the stage for the first time since 1987; a “once in a lifetime concert event” that unfolds at the earlybird hour of 6pm. Call 732.774.5299 for more info. Chico’s House of Jazz, 631 Lake Ave. (Shoppes at the Arcade building), Asbury Park • 6pm/ $10
FRIDAY! Mindy Smith at Riverside Gardens. The Songwriters in the Park slate continues at Red Bank’s jewel-in-the-downtown-crown Riverside Gardens, for a seventh(?) season by Brookdale Community College listener-supported radio station 90.5 The Night. The template involves pairing a genuinely buzzworthy, better-radio approved, national-profile act with a likeminded local/regional artist — and placing them in a setting that’s insanely convenient to the best of in-town life, with great sight lines all around, excellent sound and of course those aforementioned complimentary Navesink sunsets. Tonight it’s Mindy Smith, a Nashville-based New York transplant who’s billed with Emily Grove, one of the most acclaimed young performers on the Asbury music scene, and an artist who proved to us that the Neptune iHop is where the true talents on the scene congregate. Riverside Gardens Park, West Front St., Red Bank • 7pm/ FREE
FRIDAY! Sand Blast Weekend presents LOST AT SEA in Convention Hall. The flagship party of the annual Sand Blast Weekend in Asbury Park commandeers the Grand Arcade and beachside balconies of Convention Hall with libations, turntable chanteys and landlubber cruising at the Beach Bar (where Watermark’s Russell Lewis and Adam Kentner work the spiral scratch) and the Aqua Bar on the north side of the boardwalk landmark (with DJ Whitney Day plus “fist pumping music by one of Asbury Park’s favorite sons, DJ James Anthony, who returns to the Jersey Shore to make his Sand Blast debut”). Tix at door or online (18 to enter/21 to drink) or free with purchase of weekend pass. There’s lots more Sand Blast activity going on Friday on the city’s beaches, boardwalk and boulevards (including the 10pm – 5am DEEP BLUE party at the Berkeley); take it here for a full schedule. Convention Hall, Ocean and Fifth Aves., Asbury Park, Asbury Park • 8pm-2am/ $15 cover (incl. in all weekend passes)
FRIDAY! Shonen Knife at Asbury Lanes. It’s survived management and ownership changes, watched more ruthlessly financed operations fall by the wayside, and emerged as pretty much the Last Thing Standing on its battered block of Fourth Ave. But the recently renovated retro rec room that is Asbury Lanes continues to survive AND surprise, and even score a genuine coup or two in the realm of band bookings as it cements its place in the short list of truly legendary clubs in the region. With a new album (Pop Tune), a long-awaited US tour and a 30th anniversary to celebrate, the tireless Nipponese cult-punk sensations Shonen Knife take the center Lanes for the first time, with White Mystery, The Recordettes and DJ Jack the Ripper setting up the pins in the spirit of international friendship and progress. Asbury Lanes, 209 Fourth Ave., Asbury Park • 8pm doors/ $12
FRIDAY! INHERIT THE WIND in Holmdel. It’s a controversy ripped screaming from the headlines — in 1925, that is, when the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” brought the Creationism vs. Evolution debate to a head in a Tennessee court of law. With the issue somehow remaining a bugaboo of American life well into the 21st century, the folks at Holmdel Theatre Company have reached back to the 1950s — when the Jerome Lawrence-Robert Edwin Lee play Inherit the Wind built a fictionalized but enduring drama around the courtroom rivalry between aging legal lions Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan (their names respectively changed in the script to Henry Drummond and Matthew Brady).
For this latest offering from what’s become one of the most exciting semi-pro stage troupes in New Jersey, Tom Frascatore (Holmdel’s Taming of the Shrew) directs a large cast of top-notch players, highlighted by Michael Kroll (like Frascatore, a veteran of many Billy Van Zandt-Jane Milmore comedies) as Drummond and Ed Schiff (whose many roles have ranged from King Lear to the Gorton’s Fisherman) returning to the part of Brady. Michael Irvin Pollard (Night Train and many other premieres from New Jersey Repertory Company) plays a cynical reporter based on legendary journalist H.L. Mencken, while Volney Stefflre is cast as the young teacher at the center of the controversy. Inherit the Wind runs through August 4 at the charmingly rustic Duncan Smith Theater (adjacent to Holmdel High School on Crawfords Corner Road);tickets can be reserved online or by calling the box office at (212)868-4444. Duncan Smith Theater, Crawfords Corner-Everett Rd. (at Holmdel High School), Holmdel • 7pm/ $22 (senior and student discounts); also SATURDAY at 8pm; SUNDAY at 2pm (through August 4)
FRIDAY and SATURDAY! BOLERO RED BANK. Yeah, we took a dim view of this whole idea last week, but having gotten a look at it in rehearsal, well, color us pleasantly surprised. Designed exclusively for the Red Bank area audience, choreographer Larry Keigwin‘s dance project uses the magnificent musical merry-go-round of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” as the soundtrack to a celebration of the greater Red Bank area — and the things that the people who live here love the most about it — starring a cast of some 60 local “pedestrians” and at least one dog. Encapsulating the spirit of summertime recreation and Shore life through movement, humor, and accessories (ranging from from roller skates, boogie boards and hula hoops, to metal detectors, kites and Frisbees), Bolero Red Bank will be performed on the mainstage of Two River Theater as the centerpiece of an 8 pm program that also features four short works (Caffeinated, Love Songs, Triptych and Contact Sport) spotlighting the professional dancers of the Keigwin + Company troupe. Tickets ($20, $37, $42) are still available and can be reserved right here. Two River Theater, Bridge Ave., Red Bank • 8pm/ $20 – $42
FRIDAY! POETRY U in Red Bank. A relatively recent arrival in town, Robert Langdon’s Gallery U and Boutique continues to set the pace in artier Red Bank circles — and beginning tonight, this rather Unique and Unorthodox artspace inaugurates a local edition of Poetry U, a monthly poetry reading series that saw success at the gallery’s flagship Montclair location. Langdon himself joins Josh Dogmatic, Yolanda Torres and couple of our absolute favorite Monmouth County wordsmiths — punk poet laureate Gregg G. Brown and pure creative dynamo Kathy Polenberg — for a free event during which light refreshments will be served (and enlightening thoughts will be lobbed your way). Langdon’s looking to spotlight 5 to 7 local creatives at each monthly outing, so if you think your kung foo is king, send samples of your work to email@example.com. Gallery U and Boutique, 80 Broad St., Red Bank • 8-10pm/ FREE
FRIDAY! Donavon Frankenreiter at the Stone Pony. A successful surfer could tell you that you’ve got to keep all the various components of body and board working in concert, and down on the Asbury boards, there’s synergy in spades to be found when iconic surfer, recently minted recording sensation and Billabong spokesman Donavon Frankenreiter rules the waves as headline attraction atop a Stone Pony that further features Rayland Baxter. During the 2012 edition of what’s fast become a traditional Asbury stop by Frankendude, each ticket buyer receives a free copy of his new CD, Start Livin’. Stone Pony, Ocean and Second Aves., Asbury Park • 8pm/ $21 advance, $26 door
FRIDAY! The Royal Teens at The Supper Club. During their short-short time in the limelight as one-hit purveyors of the 1950s hit “Short Shorts,” the Jersey-bred Royal Teens created a swingin’ summertime anthem that would live on in Nair commercials — but who knew then that the band was led by Four Seasons singer/songwriter (and pop music mastermind) Bob Gaudio? Original Teens drummer Tom Austin has assembled a new gigging edition of the band whose Number 3 hit was co-written by him, and it’s these fully experienced Teens who’ll take the stage of Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, sophisticated saucer-shaped scene of some pretty memorable visitors from the first rollicking decade of the Rock Era, with their Crazy Chicks, Kate and Becca (“these two extremely talented young women wearing their short shorts consistently light up the room”). Call 732.774.1400 to reserve table. Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Ave. (at Fifth Ave.), Asbury Park • 8:30pm/ $15 (show only)
SATURDAY! FilmOneFest in Atlantic Highlands. Speaking of Who’s Got Short Shorts: the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council and filmmaker Robert O’Connor present the Main Event of the year at the borough’s beautiful Municipal Harbor; a festival of SHORTshort (like, literally Gone in Sixty Seconds) films from all around the world (from Southeast Asia to, well, Atlantic Highlands) that’s preceded by a street fair beginning at 12pm, and a set of live music by Sibling Rivalry (augmented by clowns, stilt walkers and other colorful diversions) at 7pm. First film on the big inflatable screen at 9pm; admission’s free (bring your own lawn seating) and best entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of film critics and industry pros. Look for more on this year’s FilmOneFest right here on the upperWETside red-carpet roomba. Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor, foot of First Avenue • 7pm/ FREE ($10 VIP seating)
SATURDAY! Sand Blast Weekend presents SIREN OF THE SEA Pool Party. It’s Sand Blast Weekend in Asbury Park, and the opportunity continues to “join the hottest women from up and down the east coast to party with at our new and improved location: the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel pool.” There’s music spun by DJ Susan Levine, plus “frosty drink specials and hot Go-Go girls from the Jersey Shore for eye candy poolside all day!” And, there’s lots more Sand Blast activity going on Saturday on the city’s beaches, boardwalk and boulevards; take it here for a full schedule. Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 Ocean Ave. at Sixth Ave., Asbury Park • POOL PARTY: 11am-6pm/ $15 advance, $20 door
SATURDAY! Point Pleasant Jazz & Blues Fest. Dennis Eschbach and his all-volunteer crew at the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation present the second of three day-long outdoor Blazz-a-thons — considered as a whole, the spiritual successor to the old weekend-long blowouts that got blown out of Red Bank a few years back. For this first-ever installation at Pernt Boyo’s Riverfront Park, the “dynamic fusion mix” of Burr Johnson sounds the keynote at noon. He’s followed on the bill by Outside the Box (1:15 pm), Eryn Shewell (2:35pm), violinist Yuri Turchyn’s Grupo Yuri (3:50 pm), and the Blackberry Blues Band (5:10pm). A true signifier of the Shore scene, bluesbender Billy Hector (pictured above) headlines at 6:30pm, just 24 hours after reuniting with his great 80s band The Fairlanes in Asbury Park — and the JSJBF wraps up their festival season in Long Branch on August 25. Riverfront Park, Maxson Ave. and River Rd., Point Pleasant Boro • 12-8pm/ FREE
SATURDAY! Sand Blast Beach Party in Asbury Park. It’s Sand Blast Weekend in Asbury Park, and the centerpiece event unfolds on the sands of the city’s top-rated beach with a BIG beachtop dance floor, and music by “Masterbeat’s Meistro” Brett Henrichsen. There’s lots more Sand Blast activity going on Saturday on the city’s beaches, boardwalk and boulevards; take it here for a full schedule. Sixth Avenue Beach, Asbury Park • 12-7pm/ $60 advance, $75 door
SATURDAY! Wynonna & the Big Noise in Ocean Grove. Even though her catalog includes the requisite Silverado-lode of chart-topping hits, both solo and with momma Judd, when Wynonna comes to the Ocean Grove’s great wooden flagship of family entertainment she’ll be fronting a more rock-oriented new band (featuring fiancee Cactus Moser on drums) and dealing out some “rocking new covers that fans are loving” — surprising choices that range from Rufus (“Tell Me Something Good”) to Lenny Kravitz (“Are You Gonna Go My Way”) — making this, despite the obligatory nods to GodFamilyUSA, potentially the edgiest show going on this season at the Great A. Ticket reservations can be had right here. Great Auditorium, Pitman Ave., Ocean Grove • 8pm/ $45 – $55
SATURDAY! Summerland Tour at Pee ‘N See. And so it has come to pass. The bands you thrilled to on the radio back around the mid-90s have put aside their petty beeves (not really), propped each other up like walkers and hit the road in one of those package tours that have long since assimilated the likes of Journey/ Foreigner/ Kansas. Of course when the Summerland Tour — Everclear (pictured above), Lit, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms and Marcy Playground — comes to the hyperbaric-chamber world that is the PNC Bank Arts Center, they’ll be assuming that you’ve “grown” and moved on to a higher income bracket; not necessarily the norm anymore but try telling that to the handlers of these late-epoch dinosaurs from the last days of the oldschool music biz. Tix from Live Nation, with all the restrictions, surcharges, pat-downs, confiscations, mark-ups, waits, walks and weather issues that make summer in the Holmdel hills such a magical interlude. PNC Bank Arts Center, Garden State Parkway in Holmdel • 8pm/ $30 – $105
SATURDAY! Darlene Love at The Supper Club. It’s Christmas in July, quite literally — when Darlene Love takes the stage of Tim McLoone’s Supper Club as the latest guest of honor in the “Masters of Music” series, produced by Sammy Boyd and hosted by McLoone on the stage of the fabuluxe Howard Jetsons hotspot above the Asbury boards. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Phil Spector studio session stalwart (’twas her who actually subbed as the Crystals on the breathtaking breakthrough “He’s A Rebel”) is best known for her work on A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector — in particular the soaring “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” a tune that she’s performed on David Letterman TV shows across four decades, five Presidential administrations and countless hairstyles. She returns to Mr. McLoone’s, backed by Tim and the Shirleys, with special guest Bob Bandiera — a master of music who knows a thing or ten about Christmas shows, famous friends and an encyclopedic knowledge of pop history. Call 732.774.1400 to reserve table. Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Ave. (at Fifth Ave.), Asbury Park • 8pm/ $25 – $60
SUNDAY! Sand Blast Weekend presents Rip Tide Pool Party and Tea Dance. It’s Sand Blast Weekend in Asbury Park, and the annual poolside party returns to the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, with patio sounds from LA’s DrewG, NY’s Corey Craig and NJ’s Steve Sidewalk. It’s followed at 5pm by the official Closing Party, with DrewG spinning the coda. There’s lots more Sand Blast activity going on Sunday on the city’s beaches, boardwalk and boulevards; take it here for a full schedule. Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 Ocean Ave. at Sixth Ave., Asbury Park • POOL PARTY: 11am-8pm/ $20 advance, $25 door • TEA DANCE: 5-8pm/ $5
SUNDAY! Matisyahu at the Stone Pony SummerStage. Trying to nail down a “current” photo of Matisyahu has suddenly become a tricky deal, as within recent months the one-time uber-recognizable Hasidic pop-reggae toaster has shaved his beard, lost the hat, regrew the beard, restored the yarmulke, relost the beard, showed up with a blond highlight job and inadvertently kicked off a rumor that we was actually Andy Samberg. What the ever-morphing looks seem to suggest is that this unlikely pop star remains a seeker in more than album title only — and when Matthew P. Miller takes The Stone Pony Summer Stage on Sunday evening, he’ll be working his latest release Spark Seeker and working his American Cat Stevens thing with, if you close your eyes, an earnest degree of consistency. The Dirty Heads and Moon Taxi open outdoors; doors open at 3pm inside the club for sets by Set It Free, Small Town Scoundrels, Scott Paul & the Parlay, X Phase, Turning Down Harvard, Matty Soms AND one of our new local organic favorites, Solo for Dolo — then there’s a “special late show” back inside the Stoney with Loose Fit. Stone Pony, Ocean and Second Aves., Asbury Park • 3pm/ $30 advance, $35 door ($10 after 10:30pm)
On a week in which Long Branch-born Funk-Key Friend (and esteemed Member of Parliament) BERNIE WORRELL is due to receive the Key to the City of LB…see picks for Saturday, 6/30…another Local Boy Makes Good from a place that you may not have been aware of. Ocean Township native TIM HAUSER (third from left in the toon above) leads his fellow members of MANHATTAN TRANSFER back to the Count Basie Theatre, the venerable venue named for the iconic “Kid from Red Bank,” with whom Hauser and company actually collaborated back in the 1980s! Expect a special tribute to the Count at Thursday’s concert, exclusively for the hometown audience…and expect everything you’ll need to know and THEN some at the flip of the paperless page…
Kendal Hartse IS Yitzhak, and Chris Hall IS Hedwig in quiet-riot rehearsal, as they prepare for the L!VE Asbury Park presentation of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH at The Press Room on Bangs Ave — a show that’s offered both as a civilized evening of legitimate theatah AND a midnight-madness standing-room sensation.
Live theater in Asbury Park! What could operate more smoothly, and be more of a license to print money? We kid, of course: we’re well aware of the obstacles that regularly stare down those who are, after all, only looking to Put On a Show — whether professional or community; come-as-you-are or cast-o’-thousands.
This, however, is a story about three local companies who are snatching some semblance of victory from the jaws of deflated ego — including one fledgling concern that’s addressing the lack of a home-stage space by throwing out the rule book on how shows are presented to the public; even the question of who that theatergoing public IS. Another veteran company, given up for roadkill by some observers not so very long ago, reappears with a new home, a new season, and a renewed sense of purpose. Then there’s the established troupe that’s dealing with an unexpected setback by offering their fans an equally unexpected surprise.
This Thursday night, June 21, the people of L!VE Asbury Park — the all-new “entertainment company” formed by a cool and creative cabal of former regulars from ReVision Theatre regulars (producing partner Alecia Brooks, director Carlos Armesto, music director Michael Thomas Murray) present the first of five performances in what stands as their first fully staged musical production — a new look at the howlingly outrageous Off Broadway smash Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Like their one-nighter salute to Dusty Springfield a couple of months back, it happens inside The Press Room, that Bangs Avenue bandbar/ beergarden (co-owned by Brooks) which, in its comparatively short life, has been blessed with a video shoot AND an impromptu set by the Boss; hosted musical acts of every conceivable stripe, and received some decidely rah-rah writeups in every intelligencer from here to — just this past weekend — the New York Times (this after naming itself in memory of the building’s long-departed tenant, the Asbury Park Press).
You remember Hedwig — the glam-rock guignol (with songs by Stephen Trask, and book by original star John Cameron Mitchell) about an “internationally ignored” East German superstar wannabe, whose bollixed sex change (leaving her with that titular “angry inch” of flesh and an entirely appropriate name for her backing band), and stalker-grade obsession with backstabbing rockstar Tommy Gnosis leads to tragedy, frustration and an epic monologue punctuated by songs like “The Origin of Love,” “Angry Inch” and “Wig in a Box.”
The 9pm Thursday opening night will be a sit-down affair at The Press Room (as are the 8pm performances on Friday and Saturday), with tableside seating for 89 officially SOLD OUT all three nights as we post this (although a very limited number of bar-seating admissions may be available for $20). That’s just dandy all around, but that’s not what’s making this production of Hedwig so unique in how it’s being put in front of the public — that would be the fact that the dynamic downtown nitespot will also be hosting Hedwig for two standing-room-only midnight shows on Friday and Saturday; a move that we applaud as a savvy fusion of the rock-musical experience with the rock-bar clientele that tends to live life on a later schedule than your typical first-nighter.
No stranger to the blues, GARY CAVICO is himself the beneficiary of some Blue Cheer this Saturday, when an allstar assembly of cronies and contemporaries gather at Chico’s House of Rouse to jam him out of a jam. That, plus the fact that he’s just so easy to draw, give Cavico the nod over the lovely (but LEAVING…see Wednesday’s picks) ANJELIA PELAY for this week’s featured townie toon.
Well, when he “woke up that mornin,” we’ll wager that even as experienced a bluesman as Gary Cavico never reckoned he’d be having THAT bad a day. But several months back, the veteran Shore saloon singer — a guy who’s long been one of those performers you could count on to put his Muddy where his Wolf is at fundraisers and benefits of all shapes and sizes — suffered one of those born-under-a-bad-sign setbacks that tend to sandbag you from all fronts. A vehicle fire at his home managed not only to damage his house, but also destroy both his car (within which were “two of his Fender guitars, an amp, a substantial amount of cash, his wallet, and other valuables”) AND his van, the mobile “office” for his dog grooming business.
This Saturday, June 23, a gang of Gary’s friends, Romans and countrymen send forth some friendly fire, as they gather at Chico’s House of Jazz to help put Cavico’s livelihood back on track. Featured in the matinee hootenanny will be Jo Wymer (2pm), followed at 3:15 by Sandy Mack and Friends (Sonny Kenn, Marc Ribler, Eryn Shewell); The Incinerators (4:30); Stone Blue with Gary Neuwirth (5:45) and the Chuck Lambert Band (7-8pm). There’s NO truth to the rumor that a canine chorus of Cavico clients might join in on howling harmonies — but there’s always a chance that the guest of honor may be persuaded to join his fellow musical do-goodniks. Chico’s House of Jazz, 631 Lake Ave. (Shoppes at the Arcade building), Asbury Park • 2-8pm/ $15 suggested donation
Still, this ain’t but a momentary blip within all that’s going on round the Upper Wet Side this week. For MORE ‘pinionated picks pertaining to the days and nights ahead, turn that record OVAH…
What does Captain Obvious say when he answers his Cap-Signal? “I’m Captain Obvious.” And unless you’re Oblivious to the subtle signals we’ve sent out these past months, you’ve probably pinned to the effect that The Obvious represent one of our absolute favorite new(ish) bands on the here in the region Where Music Glibs. The PostPopPunk combo fronted by the obviously amazing Surojanie “Angie” Sugrim (cartooned above) works hard for their no-money; brandishing band-battle scars and writhing around on some of the frankly filthiest floors and sidewalks in the club industry. This Wednesday night Angie and the guys are poised to get painfully obvious once more, and we’ve got that PLUS a passel of picks for the week ahead, right here in this selfsame space…
Its famous ghosts notwithstanding, our home base at Asbury Park’s historic Stephen Crane House is known for being as public a “private” residence as the city has ever seen — and while we didn’t exactly move here for the peace and privacy, we do prefer to keep tabs on whatever noisy polter-guests are currently raising a ruckus at any given moment. So when we heard a multitude of voices coming from downstairs last Monday night, we grabbed our circa-1900 “indoor baseball bat,” crept through the darkened theater and parted the curtain to the reception room at the back of that rambling old cottage. The surprise that awaited us lies, as you might expect, right around the bend of a paperless page…
His BIG annual Bobfest celebration of Dylan’s birthday has grown to notch its first edition at the Count Basie Theatre…he’s performed the Nat’l Anthem at BIG League ballparks…and he counts among his BIG Scary Friends the Lt. Gov of NJ (aka his sister-in-law). That said, Pat Guadagno isn’t above scaling down his bigger ambitions to grace practically every bar up and down the Upper Wet Side with his presence all throughout the calendar year; rescuing the noble calling of “saloon singer” from Sinatra tux-’n-toupee stereotype and playing every room like it’s Camden Yards. This Wednesday, the veteran entertainer racks up another BIG credit…when he plays the Ed McMahon/ Doc Severinsen role to BIG Joe Henry, as the supersized DJ presents a live taping of a new radio variety show at the ONLY venue that’s round enough to contain him: McLoone’s Supper Club!
Whatta weekend: rained upon torrentially while hustling home from the Clash Fest tribute at The Press Room on Fri-dur-day night; rained upon intermittently while trying to meet up with some friends at Sunday’s Pride Fest. Stayed on the Dry Side for First Saturday’s round of gallery opening events, and took in the afternoon Pride Parade from the corner of our (alternately Sesame and seedy) block, under skies the color of 1960s-vintage Blue Laws.
But enough about you: we’re wringing out the mildew from our fave bowling shirts, and with a seven-day slate of activity staring us into submission, we’re primed to milDEW it AGAIN, beginning with the first of our June 4-10 picks that pick up right around the cattywampus corner…
Hello, Lloyd: One of the biggest events of the Whole Kid Year returns to Asbury town this weekend, when madcap mogul Lloyd Kaufman brings the TROMADANCE Festival back to the center Lanes for TWO big nights, May 4 and 5!
The MayDay claxon’s already sounded; things are getting tensely tight around Asbury Parque (and by extension, the Upper Wet Side) in anticipation of the blizzardlike blitzkrieg that is the Bamboozle Fest — a wristband Woodstock that not only corrals “the kids” for three days and nights within a space where people actually sorta/kinda live, but THIS year invites their fiftysomething parents to stay and do something other than idle in queue at the designated pickup/dropoff areas. More on THAT as it happens midmonth — for now the pace picks up considerably in and around the place Where Music Lollygags, and if you dare to stray from the clearly demarcated Festival Area you’re SURE to find something weirdly wonderful…
FRIDAY and SATURDAY! 13th Annual TromaDance Festival at Asbury Lanes. You don’t have to be a conventioneering connoisseur of the Troma Films brand to have a blast at this yearly freewheeling filmfest, but it helps to enter into the bargain with some working knowledge of the MegaLoBudget sleaze cinema “studio” that gave the world The Toxic Avenger (plus associated kid cartoons, sequels and Off Broadway musicals) — a brand that continues to survive, maybe thrive, in a climate where the Drive Ins, the home video market, and even FILM as we know it have effectively joined the body count of motion picture arts and sciences.
Originally kickstarted in Park City, Utah as a freebie flip-off to the corporate-indie Sundance suckfest, TromaDance returns in its 13th annual edition to the atom-age Asbury Lanes this Friday and Saturday (May 4-5), with that most Fellini-esque of neighborhood rockbars playing host for the fourth(?) time to a no-charge, “No VIP” event in which “celebrities and fans are treated equally.” Lording over the affair once more is that Disney of Disturbia, that David O. Sleazenik, that Louis B. Mayhem mogul of madness — Troma chief, producer, director and sometime actor Lloyd Kaufman.
Some three dozen shorts from filmmakers all over the world (none of whom need to pay an entry fee) will be screening over the course of the weekend, with each night also spotlighting a new feature-length fracas. Friday’s full-lengther will be Manborg, a “cult-tastic throwback to 80s sci-fi action films like ROBOCOP and THE TERMINATOR” from Steven Kostanski and the Astron-6 Video collective — in which “a soldier, brought back to life as a cyborg, fights alongside a band of adventurers against demon hordes in a dystopian future.”
That latest from the director of Father’s Day will show at 8pm on May 4 (program starts at 7pm) — and at that same hour on Saturday, it’s a free screening of The FP, a grindhouse gangbang co-directed by the sibling tagteam of Jason and Brandon Trost, the amped-up cinematographers behind the likes of Crank: High Voltage and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Brother Jason stars in this story of “two gangs locked in a turf war in rural wasteland Frasier Park, in the deadly arena of competitive dance-fight video game” — a “fury of fierce footwork, triumphant montages and neon street wear” that features as narrator none other than James Remar of The Warriors (and, lately, Dexter). Take it here for Dorothy Creamer’s interview with Yale alumnus (and former GWB classmate) Kaufman, conducted for our old Red Bank oRBit site and archived for your enlightenment here on the upperWETside. Asbury Lanes, Fourth Ave., Asbury Park • 7pm/ FREE!
That ain’t even the one-sixth of it; flip the record over for more…
The creative cabal behind L!VE Asbury Park — Carlos Armesto, Alecia Brooks and Michael Thomas Murray — have announced their inaugural season, and it kicks off later this month with a special one-night show at The Press Room.
“We’re the Dream Team!” enthused Carlos Armesto from the stage of The Press Room, the Bruce-blessed, downtown AP destination rockbar co-owned by Alecia Brooks. “We know we’re gonna do this…we’re confident that we have the support and know-how to get it all done!”
That’s the sort of supercharged, uber-the-top language that begs backing up under most any circumstances — but when the speaker is the founder of NYC’s theatre C and the guy who’s directed several of the most dynamite professional stage productions ever seen round these parts, well, we’re listening; we’re listening.
The occasion was a little thing called IGNITION!, the official launch party for L!VE Asbury Park — the newly formed, not-for-profit theater and entertainment concern which, as reported back in January on upperWETside, is gearing up to present its inaugural slate of musically-minded stage shows here in various corners of the city Where Music Lives. Armesto (the troupe’s Artistic Director) and Brooks (Creative Producer) were joined last week at the Bangs Ave watering hole by fellow members of the L!VE Board of Directors (including board prexy Robert Weiner), as well as resident music impresario Michael Thomas Murray and a roomful of invited guests, dignitaries and wellwishers. When the fuse was lit, the crowd got a luminous look at the first of the events to sail under the L!VE banner.
It was a seasonably frigid but frightfully eventful week down at The Press Room, the downtown destination rockbar launched just a week or so ago (by Alecia and Trip Brooks with Tim Donnelly) in the Bangs Avenue bailiwick most recently occupied by Asbury Blues — and, another lifetime ago, by the Asbury Park Press (which reminds us: what the hell is a press room?).
First they packed the place for a first-nighter on a dreadful Jerseyshore January night better suited to Scrabble, Snuggies and Sunny marathons. They brought in migrating Shore songbird Nicole Atkins for an official kickoff that caught a healthy amount of solar wind from the concurrent Light of Day hullabaloo going on about town. They introduced a staff that boasted every unimpeachably accredited music heavy from Hinge to (program director of the much-missed Modern Rock FM 106.3 back in th’ day) Rich Robinson.
Oh, and they accommodated a daytime walk-in customer by the name of Bruce Springsteen, who lensed part of his new video in and around the bar — although we’re told that this well-circulated clip (an effort that’s copyrighted to the Boss himself rather than to Sony) is a “place holder” for a forthcoming, formalized vid that’s expected to feature more than a glimpse of the Press Room.
We’ve had our say on the new Bosssong in this forum, of course, and we could surely be babbling over any one of a number of Brooks-based excitements in the works (including a new Italian ristorante, the ongoing restoration of the Savoy Theatre, and another development so brain-tilting that we’re not sure we hallucinated it all). Still, the next time we ventured over to the Press (as the kids are most surely not calling it), we had an altogether different reason for being there — and a meeting about a pretty intriguing new project that involves Our Mrs. Brooks with two of the more dynamic personalities we’ve encountered on the regional theater scene.
If you’ve come across mention of something called Live! Asbury Park in regard to The Press Room, let it be known that the name connotes a professional company for the presentation of theatrical and performing arts productions at venues around town — with the accent on the ever-morphing sonic legacy of the seaside city Where Music Lives (and laughs, and loves).
The endeavor reunites three creative people who were involved to various degrees with ReVision Theatre — former ReVision producing partner Alecia Brooks as Creative Producer, Carlos Armesto (director of several of the most acclaimed ReVision offerings — including a Spring Awakening that we described as the show in which the troupe had “truly hit its mark”) as Artistic Director, and Michael Thomas Murray (music director for the majority of the company’s rock-infused musicals) as what could ONLY be called music impresario.
Together they’re teaming up to fight crime — or at least the criminal lack of live professional theatrical productions in an arts-charged city that by all rights should be dripping with dramaturgs — with The Press Room as headquarters for the initial phase of the project.
While we’re confident that you’ll be hearing a lot from the Live! Asbury Park triumvirate in the coming weeks, no specific events have been announced or scheduled just yet — that said, upperWETside was pleased and proud to be the first boutique media outlet to introduce you to this crew, and for the deep-dish detail we respectfully turn the floor over to Carlos, Alecia and Mike…
The announcement that fab favorite son James McCartney will be playing his first area gig at Asbury’s Wonder Bar has the place Where Music Lives all a-twitter over the possibility that Sir Mac might make it a knight on the town.
We’re back again, with the first in what’ll at the very least become a weekly roundup of artzen-entertainment news, reviews, abuse…and the steady, suppurating ooze of outlandish rumor and speculation; all of it centered around this nifty nexus we call the Upper Wet Side of NJ.
Here in a week when an expanded slate of Light of Day events (about which more to come) shines an unnatural but entirely welcome light upon January’s midwinter lulldrums, it kind of figures we’d be off looking underneath some darker rocks for our livelihood, but away we go…
I ‘BURY’D PAUL: Just announced for The Wonder Bar on the night of February 3 is what looks to be the NJ debut of James McCartney, the moonfaced Moptop scion (and hair apparent?) whose following in the fab footsteps of Zak Starkey, Dhani Harrison and Sean Lennon brings him to the Colonies for the first time as a headlining touring musician later this month — and to the same crossroads that’s hosted the likes of Nick Clemons, Bill Haley Jr. and John Carter Cash.
The rumor mill — which is already “Paul Is Dead” wrong as far as this being young Jimmy Mac’s US debut (he visits the Sundance Film Festival and gets in at least a couple of NYC appearances before 2/3) — has been abuzz ‘n a-Twitter over reports that patriarch Sir Paul McCartney has “been spotted in the area;” a slice of Shore in which the elder McCartney’s Jersey-born newlywife Nancy Shevell is said to own some property on the balmy Atlantic coast.
Talk of The Sir making like The Boss for the Friday night fracas at Der Vunderbar is just exactly that — but we continue to dig the reinvented, reinvigorated circuit signifier as the looser, friendlier, more playful alternative to the Stone Pony’s stultifying sense of self; not the least reason for which is the human/humane Tillie-face put upon the operation by longtime linchpins Lance and Debbie. It’s an attitude more corner bar than corporate branding, with a musical menu that ranges from oldschool reverent to ever so slightly experimental, plus a neighborhood touch that extends from the ever-popular Doggie Yappy Hour to our fave sidewalkside snack bar, and the fact that passersby can enjoy the featured acts gratis courtesy of the north-side windows and convenient smokers-deck loudspeaker — the very antithesis of the Stoney’s stonewall fortress feel.
More in store here — including some potential personnel shakeups at a high-profile local venue, a rumored game-changer arrival to downtown Asbury, and a plea from a hard-luck former figure on the Jersey Shore rockarena…