LaBamba’s Holiday Hurrah returns to Stone Pony with John Cafferty, Robert Randolph and more

by JAY LUSTIG
LABAMBA HOLIDAY HURRAH

JOHN CAVANAUGH

Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg (center, with trombone) will present his Holiday Hurrah at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Dec. 11.

The Stone Pony stage is going to be mighty crowded, again, at this year’s Holiday Hurrah concert, taking place on Dec. 11 and benefiting the Fulfill food bank and the Asbury Park Little League. Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg — well known to New Jersey rock fans as a former member of the Asbury Jukes and the Max Weinberg 7, a Bruce Springsteen sideman, and the leader of his own LaBamba & the Hubcaps — puts together a big band (featuring many past or present Jukes) that includes a 13-piece horn section for this annual event.

JOHN CAFFERTY

Also, guests including John Cafferty, Robert Randolph, Glen Burtnik and Bobby Bandiera will perform.

LaBamba says that working with a large band like this one is “my favorite thing to do. I’ve had that size of an ensemble since ’83, that I occasionally do.

“It’s kind of set up like the old-style big bands of the ’40s and ’50s. It’s that same style of instrumentation, but we’re not playing that music.

“It’s four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes. And some of the sax players double on other instruments, like or flutes or soprano sax or bass clarinet. And we add the rock rhythm section to it. We’ve got some Jukes mixed in, like Glenn Alexander on guitar, and (bassist) Tony Tino, who plays with the Jukes a lot when John (Conte) isn’t there. Mike Mancini on keyboards.

“And last year I started adding a mallet player (Mike Monacelli) — a guy who plays an electronic instrument that looks like a vibraphone, and he’s able to play, like, 100 different types of tones that you’d find in a percussion section, or even other things, too. Like strings and all kinds of stuff. I think that really added to the Christmas-y type of totality that’s really cool to bring in.”

Joining the Christmas songs will be the funky “8 Days (of Hanukkah),” from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ 2015 album, It’s a Holiday Soul Party. And there will be some non-holiday material in the show, too.

The band’s lineup currently stands at:

Saxes: Frank Elmo, Baron Raymonde, Stan Harrison, Ed Manion, Doug DeHays
Trumpets: Mark Pender, Chris Anderson, Tony Gorruso, Tony Cinkutis
Trombones, Ben Williams, Ian Gray, Neal Pawley, Jon Schubert
Guitar: Glenn Alexander
Keyboards: Mike Mancini
Bass: Tony Tino
Mallets, percussion: Mike Monacelli
Drums: David Longworth, Joe Bellia, Shawn Pelton
Vocals: Jade Rosenberg, Oria Alexander

RICHIE “LaBAMBA” ROSENBERG

As far as any other performers, LaBamba said, with a laugh, “I literally don’t know. You never know what surprises are going to happen.”

This will be the first Holiday Hurrah for virtuoso Robert Randolph. “He’s such a bluesy guy, which is unusual for a guy who plays pedal steel,” said LaBamba. “Your mind goes to country right away, you know, and he’s not that guy.”

LaBamba got to know Randolph when Randolph appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” “And he invited the horn section (of the Max Weinberg 7) to appear at one of his gigs at The Roseland Ballroom (in New York),” said LaBamba. “That’s the last time that I played with him, and that was so many years ago. So it’s going to be a nice little reunion, in that sense.” (Note: I’m not sure of the exact date of the Roseland show, but Randolph hasn’t played there since 2006, so it was at least 15 years ago.)

Though LaBamba currently lives in California, he was back in New York recently to be part of Bruce Springsteen’s backing band during The Boss’ recent “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” appearances.

“That was fun, to see everyone again: That whole family of friends,” LaBamba said. “It was fun being back at NBC, too. Wow!” (LaBamba worked there with O’Brien from 1993 to 2009.)

There was just one rehearsal for those shows that LaBamba was involved in, “and then the next day, bang, we were in there doing it.” He said he does not know of any more planned appearances for that band.

JAY LUSTIG

Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg with Mark Pender (right) perform at the Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival in 2018.

Another project he has been involved in, recently, has been the last few editions of the annual American Salutes You benefit concerts in support of veterans and first responder charities. The series began in 2016. Last year’s show honored Billy Gibbons of Z.Z. Top; this year’s featured The Four Tops, Robby Krieger of The Doors, Joe Bonamassa, Belinda Carlisle and others.

“The musical director of that got myself and Mark Pender involved,” said LaBamba. “Actually, Mark has been doing it a little bit longer than I have, and then I jumped in. There’s a lot of different guest artists that come onto those things. We did one in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, we did one on a battleship that’s in Long Beach, Calif. That was cool, to play on that old battleship, the U.S.S. Iowa.

“We back up all these acts, and we write the charts out. And that’s a lot of fun.

“I love orchestration. That’s been a big hobby of mine since high school. And standing in front of a band that size, and hearing it … it’s kind of like a hurricane on the stage.”

LaBamba’s Holiday Hurrah takes place at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. Attendees are invited to bring dry or canned food to donate to Fulfill. Visit stoneponyonline.com or ticketmaster.com.

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