Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, July 26 2018

SOUNDS: Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Stone Pony

He cut his national profile as the lanky lead vocalist of The Black Crowes — but it’s as the namesake nabob of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood that the LA rocker has been racking up the road miles (and the classic rock cred) in recent seasons. Pitched as a “farm to table psychedelic band” — and tied into Deadhead/jamband circles both spiritually and via their famous sit-in collaborators (plus at the graphics/ merch level) — the onetime side-gig has coalesced into an attraction all its own; as apt to explore an extended-length composition as it is to whip out a succinct take on milestones by Dylan, the Dead, Carl Perkins and Jimmy Reed. CBR plays a full length “Evening With” performance at the Stone Pony TONIGHT, July 26, with available tickets to the 7 pm show ($30) at

SCREENS: A Bite at the Opera, at the Stephen Crane House   

She’s honored as an Asbury Angel, in the company of some late great rockers — but before her 2011 death, Madame Era Tognoli rocked Asbury’s Paramount Theatre for an incredible fifty-one seasons, as the founder of Metro Lyric Opera. Each summer since her passing, Frank D’Alessandro of the historic Stephen Crane House (508 Fourth Avenue in AP) has honored her with a free series of Opera On Film events — and on  July 26, the series continues in its new Thursday evening slot, with a “Bite at the Opera” program that couples a 5 pm screening inside the Crane’s newly air-conditioned Lecture Room theater, with a home-cooked light dinner following the film.

This Thursday’s feature is the screen version of Herbert Von Karajan’s acclaimed 1968 production of Pietro Mascagni’s one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana — a lushly produced feature that traded the concert stage setting for the backdrop of actual Sicilian locations, and an all-Italian cast headed by Fiorenza Cossotto and Carlo Bergonzi. Doors open at 4:30 pm, with the featured film followed by dinner. Refreshments will also be served prior to the screening, which will also be preceded by a brief introductory talk — and, since Cavalleria is a relatively short opera, stick around for some surprise “bonus features” that promise both laughter and possibly a live performance! As always, there is no charge for the film or the food; donations are always appreciated on behalf of the Asbury Park Little League or AP Historical Society, and new friends are welcomed, as a true legendary local is paid tribute at one of the city’s “best kept secret” cultural gems.


SIGHTS: Artist Pop-Up at Jersey Shore Arts

Since it’s been rescheduled from an earlier date here in weird-weather 2018, this Saturday’s Artist Pop-Up event can lay claim to being the first such open-air happening at Ocean Grove’s Jersey Shore Arts Center. Anyone who’s frequented the repurposed high school building at the corner of Main (Street) and Main (Avenue) can vouch that it’s a place where artists of all styles and stripes have been known to pop up — and between the hours of noon to 5 pm on July 28, a collection of local painters, potters, sculptors, shutterbugs, and creative crafters (of gift items, wearables, and what-have-you) will be taking it outside to the JSAC parking lot, for an afternoon that also promises live music and refreshments.


SOUNDS: Chris Pinnella at House of Independents

He’s been likened to no less than Michael Buble and Josh Groban — and his vocal prowess has built a national profile through his work with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra — but Shore area year-rounders know Brielle’s own Chris Pinnella as a Jersey-fresh homegrown phenom whose vocal chops and expansive repertoire have expanded the Great American Songbook into territories that span Jimmy Webb and Jeff Buckley, to Led Zeppelin and Ennio Morricone. When the singer — a frequent performer at Manasquan’s Algonquin Arts Theatre — brings his “Re-Define/ Re-Imagine” show to downtown Asbury Park on Saturday night, July 28, the all-purpose auditorium House of Independents provides the suitably eclectic host venue (having booked everything from stand-up and Emo Nights, to pro wrestling and barber showdowns) for a program that promises innovative, full-orchestra takes on Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind” and Cohen’s oft-revived “Hallelujah,” among many others. Michael Pinnella of Symphony X leads a 15-piece organization that features Vitamin String Quartet’s Amanda Lo, and tickets to the 7:30 pm show ($35-$55) can be purchased at, or in person at Lola’s European Café.


STAGES: ‘High School Musical’ at Axelrod PAC

Summer school is in session — as Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center continues its trend of teaming energetic young performers with exciting young showbiz-veteran directors, in a production of Disney’s High School Musical that opens this Sunday, July 29 inside the APAC’s Vogel Auditorium. Adapted for the stage from the made-for-TV phenomenon of the same name, the ensemble show teleports a classic Romeo and Juliet plotline into the present day — not via the rumbling gangs of West Side Story, but the even more brutal backdrop of rival high school cliques — as a boy jock and a girl nerd conquer peer pressure and mean-kid machinations on their way to discovering the unifying power of musical theater. Boasting a soundtrack of songs (the original cast album of which went quadruple-platinum on its way to the top of the Billboards) that include “Breaking Free”  and “What I’ve Been Looking For,” the production spotlights a cast of “talented teens from New Jersey and beyond,” under the direction and choreography of Lane Napper  (pictured). Best known for his roles on the Nickelodeon shows Victoriousand iCarly, the actor, dancer, and educator stands as the latest imported talent to help the Axelrod team up its game as a leading player on the Shore area stagescape. Performances of HSM are at 7 pm Sunday, followed by August 1 and 2 at 8 pm, and a 3 pm Sunday matinee on August 5; and available tickets ($28 adults; senior and student discounts) can be found at

SOUNDS: Kenny Wayne Shepherd at the Paramount 

Just a week-and-change after the Paramount Theater hosted a generations-spanning blues bill featuring Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang, another latter-day legend takes the stage as Kenny Wayne Shepherd brings his mastery of the blooze-rock template to town, atop a Tuesday evening program that further features The Beth Hart Band. The Grammy-nominated guitarist who made his debut album splash at the age of eighteen has entered his forties as a veteran of many road miles and record releases (including a supergroup collaboration with 60s icons Barry Goldberg and Stephen Stills), and tickets to the 7 pm show ($35-$69) are available through the Stone Pony box office or

Well, that about wraps it up for…wait, what, who?!You ought to reckon by now that these roundups and rundowns are but a mere scratching of the surface, as TONIGHT Thursday the 26th finds the Dublin Room at Clancy’s Tavern (the honorary Asbury bar located just steps over the line into Neptune) offering “A Nashville Style Evening of Songwriters in the Round” that finds host Jonathan Tea welcoming three of the Shore’s finest purveyors of story and song (Arlan Feiles, Regina Goldy, and “Words and Music” master George Wirth)…Thursday also sees Cabaret for Life co-founder Felix Truex (pictured) in an encore of his “DECADEnce” solo revue at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, AND a rare Asbury Park Open Jam hosted by Bryan Wood at The Saint…Friday’s got CKY at Asbury Lanes, and Toothgrinder (with localoid fave instro combo Chemtrail) at the House of Independents…while all those who are turned away from Saturday’s sold-out concerts by Sarah Maclachlan and The Hold Steady can select from some of the local turf’s finest, in sets by Dawg Whistle (Robinson Ale House), Taylor Tote (Asbury Hotel), Xol Azul (Langosta Lounge), and Chuck Lambert (UVA in Bradley Beach)…Sunday’s got Slightly Stoopid in a return to the Stone Pony SummerStage, while Shoreggae masters Random Test and Dub Proof join Culture and Kenyatta Hill for a Tuesday night texturizer at The Saint. All this against the burlesque/ sideshow backdrop of this weekend’s ninth annual VISIONARY TATTOO FESTIVAL (about which MORE in a separate story on this space)…with the full layout of (music, movies, comedy, art) listings available ONLY in the papery pages of this week’s COASTER fun-tab!