8/28: A Bit of Burly-Q, by George

georgeAThe laughs, and the spotlight, are on George Hansel this Saturday night in Asbury Park…as the actor, director and tech ace presents his autobiographical cabaret BURLY MAN SINGS GIRLY SONGS: MY LIFE AS A SHOWTUNE QUEEN AND SEXUAL OUTLAW.

“When I got the idea to do this show, I called one of my former partners,” says George Hansel, holding court amid car mufflers and a Bagster of ripped-out insulation out back of his Asbury Park home. “He said Oh, you’re doing a show about the men in your life? How long is it…five hours?”

Then it starts: that laugh; that unmistakeable tsunami of mirth that resonates instantly with anyone who’s ever performed in or attended a musical and/or comedy in and around the greater Asbury area. A hearty and robust gale, triangulated somewhere between Ed McMahon, George Takei and Santa Claus (with just a devilish wink of Sydney Greenstreet); an encouraging force that’s emerged from the seats of many a darkened theater, to spur many a player on to their best performances.

On Saturday night, August 31st, it’s George Hansel’s turn to stand before the audience — and it’ll be up to us to supply the chortles, guffaws and bellowing brio — when the actor, singer, director and lighting designer commandeers the storefront HQ of the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation (the “Where Music Lives” museum at 708 Cookman Avenue) for an autobiographical cabaret entitled BURLY MAN SINGS GIRLY SONGS.

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Helen On Wheels, in a Summer of Music

Do Teens Change Music? For that matter, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? WHERE MUSIC LIVES author Helen Pike seeks the answers, and she’ll be invoking the spirit of juvie chart-topper (turned junkie rock-bottomer) Frankie Lymon to find out.

It is well nigh impossible to keep up with Helen-Chantal Pike.

We mean that in the sense that it’s always difficult to stay current with the collected works of the prolific local historian, author, raconteuse and rocky-ological digger of diverse sounds. We also mean that if you have a notion of, say, joining her in a drink and a bit of catch-up conversation, well, you have to keep up to catch up. Like, literally chase after her as she fireballs forward to your appointed destination, with or without you.

The editor of the recently published anthology of essays known as Asbury Park: Where Music Lives has had a busy bunch of months, even by Helenic standards — with much of that activity centered around the city’s hosting of the Smithsonian’s touring New Harmonies exhibit and its attendant year-long slate of interrelated music-themed events.

That aforementioned anthology — a whirlwind carousel ride past some little-known corners of Asbury musical history; written in many instances by the very people who gave those scenes their soundtracks — was the “guest of honor” at a July 10 “Book Jam” event on the stage of Asbury Blues; an evening that featured such pieces of the Asbury musical mosaic as Sonny Kenn, Xol Azul Band frontman “Gee” Guillen, folk singer/ folklorist George Wirth, saxman Dorian Parreott (performing a piece written in Asbury for Fats Waller), gospel singer Tyron McAllister, opera/ cabaret vocalist Brett Colby, and Patsy Siciliano (performing an original song about the city penned by doo wop specialist Ray Dahrouge).

If you’ve reckoned that Pike’s peaked as regards the promotion of that book (her tenth in toto and her third on the city in particular), then reckon again: she’ll be on the scene for Sand Blast Weekend; signing copies of her Asbury-centric titles on Friday, July 22 between the hours of 4 to 7pm at the Asbury Galleria inside Convention Hall’s Grand Arcade. Then on Tuesday, July 26 she’ll be taking over the historic Stephen Crane House — yeah, the same hallowed haunt where the author of this blog makes his home these days — for the first of three “Music Memoir” events that culminate with an “Unplugged” words ‘n music birthday party on August 9.

Of course, absolutely none of this even begins to address the question “Do Teens Change Music?” — or precisely what any of it has to do with Frankie Lymon. That’s another story entirely, natch — about which more after the break.

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