By Uncle Mike
RED BANK – This past Monday night the Count Basie Theatre hosted the Hope Concert V. Organized by local musician Bob Bandiera, the concert raised $175,000. The beneficiary of 100 percent of the concert’s proceeds was The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Located adjacent to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, CINJ is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the country and the only center in New Jersey. Through its network of 16 hospitals, including Bayshore Community Hospital, Riverview Medical Center and Jersey Shore Medical Center in Monmouth County, the CINJ is providing the best cancer care available and the most advanced treatment options statewide.
Under the direction of Bob Bandiera the concert featured performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds, Bob Bandiera & The Jersey Shore Rock-N-Soul Revue, Nicole Atkins, Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem and Tim McLoone & The Shirleys. If you were not among the lucky 1,568 music fans in attendance for Hope Concert V, here is some of what you missed. Besides DJ Big Joe Henry’s appearance as Santa Claus, there were highlights galore, the best of which included Tim McLoone & The Shirleys’ “Nobody Ought To Be Alone On Christmas,” which put everyone right in the holiday spirit, and a rousing rendition of “Higher And Higher” that would have made Jackie Wilson proud.
Not to be outdone, Music Director Bob Bandiera and the Revue chipped in with a wonderful interpretation of Frank’s “That’s Life,” while our local Queen of Soul, Layonne Holmes, wowed the sold-out crowd with a soaring vocal on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools.” And then came the voice, Neptune’s own Nicole Atkins, who treated the audience to two outstanding originals, “Maybe Tonight” and “The Way It Is.” Atkins possesses one of the finest singing voices down the Jersey Shore, and believe me when I say the only thing the outshined Nicole’s silver sequined dress was her vocal performance.
The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon was up to the task on the Sam Cooke classic “Wonderful World.” And, as he is apt to do, Gary U.S. Bonds got the house rockin’ and rollin’ with his hit “New Orleans,” before being joined by Southside Johnny for Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Ray Charles’ “The Night Time Is The Right Time,” which also featured a terrific vocal by Layonne and a hot sax solo by Tommy LaBella – a big crowd favorite.
And speaking of Southside, he had his time in the spotlight as he teamed up with his old band mate, Bob Bandiera, on the Jukes’ “This Time It’s For Real” (band rocks with Bob leading the way on electric g.) and “Broke Down Piece Of Man.”
Now, when the very alive and well Jon Bon Jovi (“If I’m dead, Heaven looks like New Jersey”) took to the stage Hope Concert V turned into a good old-fashioned house party, Jersey style. With everyone up on their feet and out of their seats, Jon started things off with a rockin’ rendition of The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” followed by “(Ain’t Nothing But A) House Party,” joined by Southside and Bobby B. on lead vocals; “Wanted Dead Or Alive” (Jon hits his stride on vocals accompanied by Bobby’s electrifying guitar play/big time sing-along); “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” (audience ate it up/another big sing-along/huge cheers); “We Weren’t Born To Follow” (Jon & Bobby share lead v’s.); “Blue Christmas” (Jon & Southside’s ode to The King) and Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” (Nicole gets in on the fun with Jon, Gary and Southside on vocals).
Bob Bandiera, Southside Johnny and The Jersey Shore Rock-N-Soul Revue (who did a fabulous job all night long as the house band) closed out the night’s festivities with The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” The crowd loved it.
The Hope Concert is a wonderful community benefit produced by the Count Basie Theatre and to mention everyone who has a part in putting it together would take forever and a day. However, like Jon Bon Jovi said on Monday night, “None of this is possible without Bobby Bandiera.” Well, Bob, you pulled it off again, another great night for another great cause. Merry Christmas my friend! And God bless!