There’s a little Kurt VILE to go with your Willie NILE…an overhauled ENGINE of passionate punkery, and some warmed-up ELTON from pop-cultural pre-history…mixed-doubles TENNIS served up at the Lanes, and a surprisingly “secret” scene sounding off down on the island of ST.JOHN’S. We’ve got your recommended rundown of happenings in and near Asbury town, right here/ right now…and we’ve got your FULL complement of music, movie, art, theater and MORE, exclusively in the printed pages of Asbury Park’s fightin’ weekly, The COASTER!
SOUNDS: Early Elton at House of Indies
Long before the platform boots and peacock glam of the Yellow Brick Road/Capt. Fantastic era, a relatively shy pop performer named Reg Dwight re-invented himself as Elton John, and furnished the fireworks through a sophisticated songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin, plus a series of passionately purveyed studio albums that have stood the test of time. With the unique contribution to the tribute-bandscape known as Early Elton, Asbury Jukes keyboardist Jeff Kazee joins with bass-playing bandmate John Conte and Fab Faux drummer Rich Pagano for an experience that channels those 60s/70s signatures — especially the WABC-FM concert released as the stripped-down and seminal live album 11-17-70 — in fantastic fashion. The trio makes a house call to the House of Independents for a 7:30 pm Friday set for which tix ($30) can be reserved at houseofindependents.com — or from the official box office ‘cross Cookman Ave at Lola’s European Cafe.
STAGES: NEWSIES at the APAC
Patrick Tombs steps into the role of “Crutchie,” as the Disney musical NEWSIES continues for two more weekends at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center.
It was an oddball inspiration for a Disney musical — the real-life Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, a landmark of the American labor movement, and an event that impacted the legendary Newspaper Wars waged by media moguls W.R. Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. While the live-action film Newsies didn’t enter the pantheon occupied by various animated classics from the mouse factory, it spawned a Tony-winning tunefest that comes to the stage of Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center as the latest offering from the Shore area’s newest professional stage company. Broadway veteran Marcos Santana (On Your Feet, In the Heights, Guys and Dolls) directs and choreographs the production that continues for two more weekends, with a young cast of pros delivering a score of songs by Alan Menken, the composer of such Disney favorites as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Little Shop of Horrors.
Jim Schubin tops the cast as Jack, leader of the newsboy resistance, with Katherine Plumber as intrepid and sympathetic reporter Lilly Elliot, and James Judy as the powerful Pulitzer. Of particular interest in the supporting cast are the celebrated vocalist (and originator of the Mary Wells role in Motown: The Musical) N’Kenge — and Patrick Tombs, a mobility-challenged (and exhilaratingly “abled”) actor-singer-cellist in his “bucket list” role as Jack’s sidekick “Crutchie.” The show continues through June 17 with a mix of matinee and evening performances, and ticket reservations ($37-$46) plus full schedule details are available by calling 732-531-9106 or visiting axelrodartscenter.com.
SOUNDS: Defiance Engine at The Saint
With a collective discography that includes such foundational Shore punk/alt/slurm bands as Daisycutter, Dimebag, Dirge, Freak Theater and Solarized — and a decades-long life partnership that’d be the envy of the most Velcro-tight rhythm section symbiosis — bassist/belter Jim “Rex” Hogan and kickass drumthwacker Reg “Satana” Hogan instantly go to the head of the class when they book one of their too-infrequent live gigs together. The folks who brought you the legendary Heat Blast Records label return to the Saint-ly stage this Friday, joined by new guitarist Rich Walter in a re-energized version of the superpower trio Defiance Engine that promises to deliver “ a hardcore punk rock deluge of sonic anger served on tarnished platter with some crusty, withered lettuce and an apologetic sympathy card informing you that it will hurt.” With sides of Dab Nebula and From Beyond, it’s aggressively woke and wildroot music, bazooka’d into being by the nicest of neighbors. Take it thesaintnj.com or the famous door for tickets ($10) — then say hello to Reg in her counter curatorship of downtown Asbury’s pop-culture paradise The Groovy Graveyard, and check out Rex’s go-to group of Facebook connoisseurship, Noise Rock Now!
SCENES: Sounds on St.John’s Island
Even many of those who have made their home in Asbury Park for years have never managed to set foot on St. John’s Island, the floating mini-park on Sunset Lake (accessed via the stairway on the Grand Avenue bridge) that represents a scenic and summer-cooling step into a best-kept-secret slice of the Asbury experience. With the concert event known as Sounds on St. John’s, the city joins with the nonprofit Asbury Park Music Foundation to ready the island for its “comeback” close-up, while raising funds to make possible the slate of free live music events presented by the APMF.
Scheduled for 4-6 pm on Sunday, June 10 (and rescheduled from a heavy-weather date in May), the benefit show features the Asbury Park Concert Band (pictured), the venerable organization under the direction of John Luckenbill (and boasting a connection to the decades-spanning summertime serenades conducted by early recording superstar Arthur Pryor). The multi-generational band — which will resume its annual Thursday evening series of free boardwalk concerts in July — will be joined by “others to be announced” in the benefit performance for which tickets (a suggested donation of $25) can be reserved in advance at apmf.ticketbud.com.
Proceeds will assist with the presentation of the Concert Band series, as well as other free-of-charge APMF productions that include the Music Mondays slate at Springwood Park (beginning June 25), and the Asbury Park LIVE series of Wednesday night rock sets on the boardwalk (schedule TBA). Follow the Asbury Park Music Foundation on Facebook or Twitter for updates, as well as details on other upcoming fundraisers that include a “Make Music Asbury Park” multi-act bill at Danny Clinch’s Transparent Gallery (Thursday, June 21), a weekend of “Big Gig” showcases for the Lakehouse Academy at the Wonder Bar (June 22-24), plus in-house shows at APMF’s Lake Avenue headquarters featuring Anthony Fantano (Friday, June 15) and Devin Santi (Thursday, June 28).
SOUNDS: Kurt Vile at Asbury Lanes
Known for his early tenure in the Grammy winning Philly-area band The War on Drugs, singer-songwriter-guitarist Kurt Vile (yeah, that’s his real name; not a pun on the German composer Kurt Weill) has actually been prosecuting a parallel solo recording career from the start, stepping up to the spotlight in recent years with releases like B’lieve I’m Goin’ Down (a disc that birthed the bona fide hit single “Pretty Pimpin”) and a 2016 collaboration with Courtney Barnett. Transitioning from the dreamier lo-fi/ psychedelic folk vibe of his first homegrown recordings, to a slightly slicker sound defined by his sly observational lyrics and punchier arrangements, Vile comes to town as one of the star attractions of the revamped Asbury Lanes’ debut concert slate — and on a Tuesday night, yet. He’s joined in full band mode by his guitar-bass-drums-sax combo The Violators, on an 8 pm program that boasts snarky-slinky British fem-punks Goat Girl as a meal-in-itself opening act. Tickets ($30) at asburylanes.com.
SOUNDS: Tennis at Asbury Lanes
Seemingly emerging from some earth-toned and permed alternate dimension, in which The Carpenters body-slammed the classic rock playlist into submission, the Denver-based duo Tennis quickly dispersed all doubts about their sincere commitment to the softer and more melodic side of pop, with a resolutely indie strategy and a sound that draws from the lesson plans of the girl-group school (and even gets downright trippy at times). The wife-husband mixed doubles team of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley serves up its first local volley as a highlight of the summer schedule at the reset Asbury Lanes on Wednesday, June 13, with tickets (a recession-busting $18) gettable at asburylanes.com.