Published in The Coaster, Asbury Park NJ, February 14 2019
Ah yes, Valentine’s Day — the candy kisses and the cardboard Cupids; the sweet swirl of the sauvignon and the scent of Sunoco station roses; the prix fixe menu and the pure peer pressure of participating in a “romantic” ritual designed to make the unattached feel like they’re little more than…
Whoa, wait a minute now…that’s Anti-Valentine’s talk, and that’s an avenue that was explored to fine effect just this past Wednesday, when the Asbury Hotel hosted its Anti- V-day songwriting competition. But beginning tonight, February 14 — and continuing on through an extended interlude of concert events and variety vaudevilles — the venues in and around Asbury Park have you Casanovas covered in style, with a choice of entertainments (ranging from hyper-current to classic retro) that are all about the Live and the Love.
Among the most highly visible of the weekend’s events are not just one but two major manifestations of the modern art of Burlesque — a Burlesque-a-pades in Loveland revue that commandeers the stage at House of Independents this Friday, and a NJ Burlesque Valentine’s Show that returns to the Asbury on Saturday. Scroll it down for more details on these exemplars of the art form’s “newly re-energized, multi-gender encompassing, even empowering next wave.”
Following up on that theme of everything old being new again, the Valentine’s interval is a time in which the classic sounds of Great American Songbook pop, vintage soul serenades, and timeless jazz jams come once more to the fore — and it’s no coincidence that all of those genres have been well represented at the Brown Performing Arts Center, the intimate storefront space operated by elegant crooner Bill Brown at 312 Main Street in downtown Asbury.
A little too intimate, it can be said, to meet the demands of V-day’s romantic rush — so with that in mind, Brown has re-teamed with the more spacious Mister C’s Bistro on the Allenhurst waterfront, programming a three-night dinner/show residency that finds the singer holding court there on February 14 and 15. Then on Saturday the 16th, Bill’s buddy Bobby Valli (pictured) — brother to Jersey Boy-for-all-seasons Frankie, and a seasoned performer in his own right — closes out the stand, with available seating for any of the three shows ($69 per person) reserved by calling 732-531-3665.
Upside Tim McLoone’s Supper Club on the Asbury boards, one of the greatest non-rock albums of the classic-rock era is celebrated in style on Friday night, when Asbury’s own Chris Pinnella (himself profiled in these pages back in December) channels the legendary Chairman of the Board in a special salute to Sinatra at the Sands, the Rat Pack artifact that found Ol’ Blue Eyes singing, swinging and swaggering at peak powers, backed by fellow Jerseyan Count Basie’s band (including a next-generation arranger by name of Quincy Jones). The 8 pm event — for which Chris has shared that he won’tbe recreating Sinatra’s sign-of-their-times comic monologues — has sold out as we post this, but fans will be able to reconnect with Pinnella as he honors a regional music master of a different era, Billy Joel, at the Asbury Hotel on March 23.
Valentine’s Day proper finds the Supper Club stage playing host to an altogether different act: From Blue to Greene, the acoustic duo that pairs singer-songsmith-guitarist Austin Vuolo with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kaela Fanelli. The 6 pm dinner/show event ($49.95) represents the first of two opportunities to catch the twosome this weekend, as they take it downstairs to Robinson Ale House on Saturday night.
Appropriate enough to V-day, that lower level of the iconic former HoJo’s building hosts the vocal virtuosity of versatile veteran Vance Villastrigo for Valentine’s Thursday — while inside the Hotel Tides at Seventh and Grand Aves, the popular kids’ entertainer Sherri Ehrlich presents a rare Asbury area set by Sherri Pie, the more grownups-oriented song project by the longtime leader of Miss Sherri and the Animal Band (contact the Tides for details and reservations). And up at Asbury Festhalle (which just marked its own special anniversary last week), The Sunday Blues do their Thursday thing, in the romantic setting that will play host to the forthcoming Rooftop Igloo Music Fest.
When we interviewed Southside Johnny Lyon in these pages last July, it was in his now-traditional role as master of ceremony for Asbury Park’s Independence Day interlude — a role that the Jukes generalissimo balances each year with his “Mr. New Year’s Eve” gig at Red Bank’s Count Basie stage. On Friday night, Johnny returns once more to his Stone Pony spawning grounds in what stands to be an all-new assignment: as blues-belting Cupid for a special Valentine’s weekend show for which tix ($45 in advance; $50 day of show) may still be available from the Pony box office.
While it might not occupy the same rarefied rat-pack stratosphere as Sinatra’s signature sides, Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak album has achieved a certain latter-day legendary status of its own — thanks in no inconsiderable part to Anthony “Remember Jones” D’Amato, the awesomely talented showband impresario whose themed-show salutes (to Amy Winehouse, Joe Cocker, R. Kelly and more) have brought a newly supercharged excitement to the nexus of classic Shore music and live theater. Mr. Jones heads West once more on Saturday the 16th, when he brings 808s back to downtown’s all-purpose auditorium House of Independents in an extended V-weekend event, for which tickets to the 8:30 pm concert ($22) can be purchased in advance online, or at the venue’s recently established box office inside nearby Rebel Supply Co.
Another recent profile subject from our What’s Up pages — longtime Shore music scene mainstay Dorian Parreott — offers up a treat for lovers of pure jazz this Saturday evening, when the saxman joins his assembled Friends in a Night of Jazz and Blues that takes place in the performance space at the Lakehouse Complex headquarters of the Asbury Park Music Foundation. The 7-10 pm program finds Parreott (himself a board member of the nonprofit APMF) sharing the bill with some one dozen musicians, including former AP Mayor Kevin Sanders on percussion, Desi Norman on vibes, a trio of vocalists (KayCee Coleman, Altha Morton, Charles Nicholas), plus comedian Bob Farley. There’s a Valentine’s Weekend Special of $25 couples tickets in advance; individual admissions are $15 in advance (call 732-761-2078 to reserve) or $20 at the 621 Lake Avenue door.
Over at The Saint Saturday night, Asbury’s boxcar berthplace of rock celebrates the love with a much-anticipated show by a performer with a great deal of live-stage cred on the Shore scene, Josh Zuckerman. The singer-songsmith finds himself in some genuine Hall of Fame company, with the rhythm section of Joan Jett’s Blackhearts — bassist Gary Ryan and drummer Thommy Price — joining him for his 9 pm set. Josh’s turn is followed at 10:30 by another out, proud ‘n loud rocker, Christine Martucci, fronting the Band of Love. Reserve tix ($10) at thesaintnj.com.
Some of the scene’s foremost exponents of funk, hip hop and pop (including Des and the Swagmatics, Matty Carlock and Bulletproof Belv) convene at Asbury Lanes to help Experiment 34 celebrate their album release on Saturday, while Emily Grove holds court across the way at The Asbury’s Soundbooth lobby lounge — and, in the wake of a resurgent interest in Freddy Mercury and mates,Almost Queen entertains beneath the Paramount proscenium in an evening concert that was relocated from the Stone Pony (tix available from stoneponyonline.com). Then Sunday morning presents the perfect post-Valentine hangover helper, when the Langosta Lounge’s weekly Acoustic Brunch on the Boards (presented by Brookdale Community College public radio station 90.5 The Night) welcomes a pair of longtime faves, Karen Mansfield and Seventh Son solo Bobby Mahoney.
Truth to tell, it’s all one big handmade Valentine — whether you’re squiring your sweetheart to the prog/metal double bill of Between the Buried and Me and Tesseract (Thursday, Asbury Lanes) or joining in a special Valentine’s edition of Sex Toy Bingo at the Bond Street Basement Bar; whether you’re cheering on a reunion of Burlap to Cashmere’s Steve and Yanni (Friday, Langosta Lounge) or wishing Tim McLoone a happy Saturday birthday as he celebrates with his band The Shirleys upside the Supper Club that bears his entrepreneurial imprimatur; whether you’re thrilling to the Finals round of theStone Pony’s annual Rock to the Top competition (Sunday, 2 pm), or paying tribute to the late and utterly legendary Nina Simone with a program that teams her grandson Alexander Simone with such Asbury artists as Rachel Ana Dobken and King Ramses (Sunday, The Saint).
Check our Live Music listings in the February 14 print edition of The Coaster for the complete rundown of the days and nights ahead — and keep it tuned to this space for an exciting announcement in weeks to come!
SCENES: Burlesque is BACK in Asbury Park
Back in the postwar “Glory Days” of Asbury Park, patrons could pay to see it at the onetime (and once again?) downtown palace of entertainment the Savoy Theatre — a fact noted recently by Uncle Floyd Vivino in this space. No less a son of Asbury than Bud Abbott paid his showbiz dues in the “baggy pants comedy” environment of its rough and tumble world — and this Valentine’s weekend, the peculiar art form known as BURLESQUE is back in town, for not one but twomajor showcases of its newly re-energized, multi-gender encompassing, even empoweringnext-wave incarnation.
Regular visitors to the Jenn Hampton-era Asbury Lanes know Angie Pontani as the undisputed superstar of the region’s New Burlesque scene, with the Jersey-born, Brooklyn-based mistress of classic striptease/ bump ‘n grind dance emerging as impresaria of her own touring Burlesque-A-Pades performance troupe. More than just a leering cousin to old-time vaudeville (or a slightly less pierced version of hipster sideshow revivalism), the burlesque/boy-lesque dancers, comedians and specialty performers of Angie’s company are on display this Friday night, February 15, on the big stage of House of Independents, when Angie joins Gigi Bonbon, Broody Valentino, emcee Murray Hill and other guests for an all-ages Burlesque-A-Pades in Loveland event with an 8 pm showtime. Tickets ($22 – $35) at houseofindependents.com, or the venue box office in nearby Rebel Supply Co. (550 Cookman).
Over at The Asbury Hotel, the night of Saturday, February 16 sees Attica Wilde and the assembled company of NJ Burlesque commandeering the Asbury Hall showroom for a Valentine’s Show “tribute to love, passion, hate and pain” that spotlights performances by Masokiss, Rex Halligan, Nastya Nice and many others. It’s an 8 pm/ ages 18+ extravaganza for which attendees are requested to “dress in their finest” (“because you never know if you may be asked to join us on stage”), with general admission (first come, first served) seating tickets available at https://nj-burlesque-valentines.eventbrite.com for $25, or at the door for $35 plus tax and fees.
SYLLABLES: Readings and Signings at The Asbury Park Museum
This Saturday afternoon, February 16 offers up a pair of special presentations at The Asbury Park Museum, the “Pop-Up” historical exhibit that continues weekends through mid-March inside the Fifth Avenue Pavilion on the famous boardwalk (Unit 503, host to Bettie’s Bombshells in the warmer months). At 1 pm, Lynn Humphrey and friends present another in a series of African American Read-In by the Shore sessions; a Black History Month interlude of book excerpts, poems and other writings by African American authors. Then at 3 pm, Classic Urban Harmony LLC presents a book signing and talk by Billy Terrell, with the Asbury Park singer-songwriter, producer and comedian reading from The Other Side of Rock and War, his memoir of “one man’s struggle to rise above poverty, bullying, and the Vietnam War to excel in the music and entertainment industry.”
Just in case you needed assurance that Satire isn’t completelydead (or under a gag order) here in the Age of You-Know-Who, America’s pre-eminent touring company of political parodists is here to provide “expert analysis” (and maybe even a little off-color commentary), when The Capitol Steps makes a welcome whistle-stop at Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center this Saturday night, February 16. Going up at 9 pm, it’s a conspiracy of song, skits, and savvy improv for which tickets ($36-$56 adults, with discounts for seniors and students) can be reserved by calling 732-531-9106 (ext. 14), or visiting axelrodartscenter.com.
STAGES: ANGELINA BALLERINA at Axelrod PAC
Coming to the stage that recently hosted a world premiere professional ballet adaptation of The Jungle Book, the all-ages touring production of Angelina Ballerina LIVE brings the beloved little Mouseling with the big ballerina dreams to life at Ocean Township’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center for a single performance this Sunday, February 17. Based on the popular children’s book series by Katharine Holabird (as adapted for a PBS-aired animated TV show), it’s a family fiendly affair in which Angelina and her dance academy friends (portrayed by a troupe of professional dancers) perform a variety of dance ranging from classical ballet to Irish step and hip-hop. Tickets for the 2 pm show (adults $24-$28) can be reserved by calling 732-531-9106 (ext. 14), or visiting axelrodartscenter.com.