This is our second visit to the Count Basie theatre which although built as the Carlton theatre in 1926 was only renamed in 1984 to honour jazz great and Red Bank native William “Count” Basie. The theatre also hosted James Brown’s last show before his death. Although $1 million has been spent on theatre improvements to date, funded by donations and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the backstage dressing rooms remain, shall we say, cosy. As is so often the case with all theatres dating from this period, there is not a lot of space for a large band to spread out. I wonder how they facilitate an orchestra or big band. Nevertheless, the theatre is fabulous and a brief walk around the town confirms that it’s quite lovely. The borough was unsurprisingly named for the red soil along the Navesink River. I realised this as I walked a few blocks to the river bank and met with a duck who seemed to take a liking to me as he followed me for a while before he realised I didn’t have any bread!
Back inside the building, we were hanging around quite a few hours as our departure from Manhattan – a one and a half hour drive away – was timed to allow for heavy traffic, which didn’t materialise. We ended up arriving in just over an hour. Also, Henrik was around to film a segment on stage after our soundcheck. The catering was local and great, all food being cooked in the basement kitchen. Our dear friend Bruce Molsky was there with his wife Audrey so we hung out, chatting before we readied ourselves for another show.
Each show starts with me pressing ‘the button’ which starts the sequencer for the first track, a drum loop which appears tucked into the mix on ‘Broken Bones’. (Have a listen to the track on the record and see if you can detect it.) As there was so little space anywhere today, Laurence placed it amongst the set ropes.
We took to the stage once more and immediately felt the atmosphere in the room which continued and grew throughout the set. A great gig.
The drive back to Manhattan was a lot more complex than the drive out. There was heavy traffic as we drove past Elizabeth and Newark. I guess there are a lot of folks still trying to get into Manhattan at 11pm on a Friday night. There was also a lot of construction so our drivers detoured to the Washington Bridge which was a fair bit smoother. By the time we were at the hotel on 57th street, we were all pretty shattered.
Today’s Track of the Day is The Kid from Red Bank – Count Basie (inspired by Jim and Ianto listening to the track after sound check. Count Basie was born in Red Bank in 1904 and here we are 111 years later in the Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, New Jersey)