Black Potatoe Music Festival off to a strong start

Nalani, right, and Sarina perform at the Black Potatoe Music Festival on Wednesday, with Will Lee on bass.


Nalani, right, and Sarina performed at the Black Potatoe Music Festival on Wednesday, with Will Lee on bass.

The Black Potatoe Music Festival has always drawn heavily on Jersey-based talent, and the opening night of its 20th edition, which took place Wednesday night, had a particularly strong Jersey flavor, with five of the six acts hailing from the Garden State. Only James Maddock, originally from England and based in New York since 2003, came from somewhere else.

Despite a little rain, it was a fine start to the festival, which continues through Sunday — with acts such as Sarah Borges, Willy Porter, Ellis Paul and The Matt Angus Thing — on two stages on the grounds of the Red Mill Museum in Clinton.

Maddock’s soothing voice and graceful melodies were a perfect fit for the outdoor, almost campfire-like setting, and worked well in the stripped-down trio format he used (featuring him on guitar and vocals, Jason Darling on lead guitar, and Ben Stivers on Hammond organ).

The Karl Dietel Five was similarly laid back and tasteful when showcasing songs from their new self-titled album, with a surprise coming in the form of a bristling cover of Billy Joel’s “Prelude/Angry Young Man.”

Performing first on the main stage, Nalani & Sarina, twin-sister singer-songwriters from Flemington who are widely viewed as one of New Jersey’s most promising young acts, presented a dynamic set with the help of some session players — including bassist Will Lee (of The Fab Faux and David Letterman’s house band), who stepped to the front of the stage to take a wild solo on their ukulele cover of The Who’s “My Generation.”

Singer-songwriter Andrew Dunn, one of three artists who performed on the festival’s smaller River Stage, invited his 10-year-old daughter to duet with him on his song “I Am,” and she nailed her part, drawing big cheers from the crowd.

Here is the schedule for the remainder of the festival. For information, visit

Sarah Borges will perform on the Quarry Stage, July 14 at 9:30 p.m.

Sarah Borges will perform on the Quarry Stage, July 14 at 9:30 p.m.



6:30 p.m.: Jenny Cat
8 p.m.: Danielia Cotton
9:30 p.m.: Sarah Borges

6 p.m.: Lara Herscovitch
7:30 p.m.: The Glimpses
9 p.m.: Halley DeVestern Band


6:30 p.m.: Electric Gumbo
8 p.m.: George Kilby and Sherman Holmes
9:30 p.m.: Chris Bergson Trio

6 p.m.: Tyler Sarfert
7:30 p.m.: Matt Sucich
9 p.m.: Joy Ike


12:30 p.m.: Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes
2 p.m.: Blue Light Bandits
3:30 p.m.: The Partners
5 p.m.: Shannon Söderlund
6:30 p.m.: Brent and Co.
8 p.m.: Willy Porter
9:30 p.m.: The Matt Angus Thing

Noon: The Collins Brothers Band
1:30 p.m.: Sid Whelan
3 p.m.: Mike Montrey Band
4:30 p.m.: The Caren Kennedy Trio
6 p.m.: Jessy Tomsko
7:30 p.m.: KC Cary
9 p.m.: Evangeline Joy


12:25 p.m.: Jack Tannehill and Renee Paddock
1:30 p.m.: Sharar Sisters
2:45 p.m.: Kathy Phillips
4 p.m.: Gregg Cagno
5:30 p.m.: Billy Hector Band
7 p.m.: Ellis Paul

Noon: Donna Sparacio
1 p.m.: Cliff Hillis
2:15 p.m.: Jean Rohe
3:30 p.m.: Diana Zinni
5 p.m.: American Beauties
6:30 p.m.: Jann Klose


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