Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: Gangstagrass at SOPAC, Eddie Vedder at NJPAC, more

gangstagrass sopac

Gangstagrass performs at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Feb. 5.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Feb. 10.


Closed since September because of damage suffered in Tropical Storm Ida, the main stage at the South Orange Performing Arts Center will reopen this week, with shows including the hip-hop/Americana fusion group Gangstagrass, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.; “An Evening of Love Songs with Ms. Lisa Fischer” (known for her work with the Rolling Stones, her participation in the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” and more), Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.; and singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky double-billed with the husband-and-wife duo of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.

See video of Gangstagrass below.

Members of the late Meat Loaf’s longtime backing group (which had many different lineups over the years) The Neverland Express will play his music with singer Caleb Johnson (the 2014 winner of “American Idol”) at The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.


In conjunction with the release of a solo album, Earthling, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder will perform with his own band, The Earthlings, on a brief tour that will include a show at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. He’ll be joined in the band by guitarist and singer Glen Hansard (of The Frames) drummer Chad Smith (of The Red Hot Chili Peppers), keyboardist/guitarist/singer Josh Klinghoffer (a former Red Hot Chili Pepper who is now a touring member of Pearl Jam), bassist Chris Chaney (of Jane’s Addiction) and guitarist Andrew Watt (who produced Earthling).

Hansard will also open the show with a set of his own.

This will be Vedder’s first solo album since Ukulele Songs, in 2011. It is due out on Feb. 11.

The “What a Wonderful Year” shows, originally planned to cap 2021 at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park but postponed because of the pandemic, will take place Feb. 4-5 at 7 p.m., with sets by a long list of local favorites. The Feb. 4 lineup includes members of Des & the Swagmatics and The Shady Street Show Band (performing together), Dentist, The Mercury Brothers, Natalie Farrell, Fake Pockets, Taylor Tote, Chill Smith, Heather Hills, Soulfood and Dano. Feb. 5 performers will include The Foes of Fern, Alexander Simone & Whodat?, Jarod Clemons & the Late Nights, The Extensions, Flexiglass, 8DayzStr8, Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise, Renee Maskin, Jeff Linden and Dracula Kitty.



Alexi Kenney will play Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. The program also will include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A Minor, Op. 33; and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”


Hudson Theatre Works will present two of Eugene O’Neill’s plays, “Desire Under the Elms” and the more rarely performed “Hughie,” as part of its Eugene O’Neill Festival this month, at the Wilson School in Weehawken.

Dates for “Desire Under the Elms” are Feb. 10-13, 17-20 and 24-27, while “Hughie” will be presented Feb. 9, 12-13, 16, 19-20, 23 and 26-27.

The Passage Theatre Company will present “The OK Trenton Project” at the Mine Hill Playhouse in Trenton from Feb. 10 to Feb. 27. According to the company’s website, the play “explores the role art plays in our community and the consequences we face when it’s taken away.” It is based on a real story about a group of Trenton student who built a public art sculpture titled “Helping Hands” that was subsequently taken down because people complained it resembled a gang symbol.


The all-star comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was 161 minutes long when theatrically released in 1963, but a 197-minute “reconstructed” version will be shown at the Essex Green AMC in West Orange, Feb. 6 at 2 p.m., as part of the West Orange Classic Film Festival. The screening will be followed by a discussion led by John Chasse, curator of the Cinema Shorthand Society Facebook group.

One of Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations for the book “A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation.”


The art of the late children’s book illustrator Jerry Pinkney will be explored via more than 80 illustrations and drawings in “Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney,” which will open at the Montclair Art Museum on Feb. 6 and run through June 26.


• “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” the TV series that features robots making sardonic comments about horrendously bad movies, brings its Time Bubble Tour to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. The movie to be shown and commented upon, live, will be “Making Contact,” a 1985 German film about a boy who develops the power of telekinesis and a dummy possessed by a demon.


“On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Feb. 27)

“Painting in Excess: Kyiv’s Art Revival, 1985-1993” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through March 13)

“Bruce Springsteen Live!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through March 20)

“In Time and In Tide” by Armisey Smith and “Red Portraits” by Caren King Choi at Gallery Aferro, Newark. (Through April 1)


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


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