Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: MTV Video Music Awards, The Bongos, more

by JAY LUSTIG
mtv vmas preview

MTV will present its annual Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, Aug. 28.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 1.

MUSIC

L.L. Cool J, Nicki Minaj and Jack Harlow will co-emcee the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, which will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. Minaj also will receive this year’s Video Vanguard Award, a lifetime achievement award for “outstanding contributions” and “profound impact” on music video and popular culture. She will also perform at the ceremony, as will the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will receive the honorary Global Icon Award and premiere a new video, “Tippa My Tongue.”

Other performers will include Eminem and Snoop Dogg, Anitta, BLACKPINK, J Balvin, Jack Harlow, Lizzo, Måneskin, Marshmello x Khalid, Panic! At the Disco and Kane Brown. And Bad Bunny will be broadcast in a segment from his concert at Yankee Stadium.

Leading nominees include Harlow, Kendrick Lamar and Lil Nas X (seven each), Doja Cat and Harry Styles (six each) and Billie Eilish, Drake, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd (five each). Minaj is nominated in the Hip Hop Video category for “Do We Have a Problem?,” featuring Lil Baby; The Red Hot Chili Peppers are nominated for Best Rock Video (for “Black Summer”) and Best Group.

nj pop rock listings

DEBRA ROTHENBERG

The Bongos perform at Woodbridge High School, Aug. 31.

The Bongos, one of the bands that anchored the seminal Hoboken alternative-rock scene of the ’80s, are reuniting for a short tour that will include a free show outdoors at Woodbridge High School, Aug. 31 at 7:30 p.m., with the dynamic, Jersey-based power-pop/psychedelic-rock band The Grip Weeds opening. (This will be the last show in this summer’s Woodbridge Wednesdays series).

Brian McKnight had been scheduled to present a free concert, Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m., outside the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, as part of the Rahway Summer Concerts series. But he had to cancel, and has been replaced by 2003 “American Idol” winner and 2004 Grammy nominee Ruben Studdard, performing a tribute to Luther Vandross.

• John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band are from Rhode Island but have a deep connection to New Jersey through their frequent appearances in Shore nightclubs and their Springsteen-esque contributions to the soundtrack of the 1983 movie “Eddie & the Cruisers” (including “On the Dark Side” and “Tender Years”). The band will perform at free concerts, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Kennedy Plaza in Atlantic City (with John Papa Gros opening) and Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Somers Point Beach Concerts series.

The New Jersey Jazz Society will present Adrian Cunningham and his trio, Aug. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Madison Community Arts Center. The trio — featuring Cunningham on saxophone, clarinet and flute, Alberto Pibiri on piano and Jim Robertson on bass — will perform material from the 2019 album Adrian Cunningham & His Friends Play Lerner & Loewe, as well as the more recent Swinging the Spirituals, by Prof. Cunningham & the Old School.

• Remember Jones will make a guest appearance with Motor City Revue (featuring Layonne Holmes) at their Motown tribute at Bell Works in Holmdel, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m., in a show sponsored by the Axelrod Performing Arts Center.

“I performed for the first time with Motor City Revue at the Axelrod in 2016 and we did a big show together for the Monmouth County Fair last year,” said Jones in a press release. “The Motown sound is such a huge part of my musical influence and understanding, and to join forces with artists who love and respect the music as much as I do is an absolute pleasure!”

ERIC LINDELL

GabeGate, a house concert series in Vernon, will present a 3 p.m. Aug. 28 solo show by rootsy singer-songwriter Eric Lindell — billed as “an afternoon of songs and stories” — at the Spanish Pavillion restaurant in Harrison. Lindell grew up in the San Francisco area and is now based in Florida, and his music is strongly influenced by the sounds of New Orleans.

Chris Kirkpatrick of ‘N Sync will host an “End of Summer Beach Bash” at Seaport Pier in North Wildwood, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m., featuring performances by Ja Rule, LFO, O-Town and Goodman Fiske.

THEATER

In 2010, the magazine The Believer published an essay by John D’Agata that was inspired by Las Vegas’ high suicide rate. Jim Fingal did the factchecking and, in 2012, D’Agata and Fingal collaborated on a book, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” that explored the evolution of the essay from its original incarnation to the final, edited version that appeared in the magazine. In 2018, the book was adapted into a Broadway play of the same name, and Cape May Stage will present a production of it from Aug. 31 to Oct. 2.

In a press release, Cape May Stage producing artistic director Roy Steinberg said “The Lifespan of a Fact” is “the most important play we are doing this season in terms of encouraging the audience to question long-held beliefs and look at the world with a fresh perspective.”

BOOKS

Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival will present Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of best-sellers such as “Daisy Jones & The Six” and “Malibu Rising,” at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. Reid will talk about her new book, “Carrie Soto Is Back,” about a professional tennis player making a comeback, and tickets will include a copy of the book.

The Montclair Literary Festival has been an annual event since 2017; this year’s fest took place in May.

REVIEWS

“The Hummingbirds” at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. (Through Aug. 28)

“The Lost Princess of Oz,” presented by Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater at Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch. (Through Aug. 28)

“The Metromaniacs” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through Sept. 4)

“Maxwell Mustardo: Dish-Oriented” at Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton. (Through Sept. 4)

“Land of the Free” at MANA Contemporary, Jersey City. Works by Vincent Valdez, Hugo Crosthwaite and Joe Minter. (Through Sept. 17)

“For the Culture, by the Culture: Thirty Years of Black Art, Activism, and Achievement” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Sept. 25)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)

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