Top 10 NJ Arts Events of Week: Sea.Hear.Now, XPoNential and Morristown Jazz and Blues fests, more

by JAY LUSTIG asbury beach


Pearl Jam will co-headline the Sea.Hear.Now festival in Asbury Park, Sept. 17-19.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 23:


Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins will co-headline the third Sea.Hear.Now Festival in Asbury Park, which will feature bands on three outdoor stages on the beach and in Bradley Park, plus late-night shows in Asbury nightclubs, Sept. 17-19. Pearl Jam will close out the main stage on Sept. 18, and Smashing Pumpkins will do so on Sept. 19. Other artists performing throughout the weekend will include The Avett Brothers, Billy Idol, Dirty Heads, Lord Huron, Grouplove, Patti Smith, Matt & Kim, Jesse Malin and Ani DiFranco. Also, surfing pros will be on hand to give demonstrations, there will be morning yoga sessions, and artwork by some of the festival’s performers — including Smith, Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers, and Pearl Jam members Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready and Jeff Ament — will be on display at the Transparent Clinch Gallery. Click here for a complete schedule.

The XPoNential Music Festival, taking place Sept. 17-19 at Camden’s Wiggins Park and the nearby BB&T Pavilion, will featuring 25 pop, rock, folk, blues and world music artists — including Tedeschi Trucks, Dawes, Los Lobos, Ani DiFranco, Shovels & Rope and Nicole Atkins — performing on three stages. Philadelphia public radio station WXPN (88.5 FM) sponsors the festival, which is Southern New Jersey’s biggest rock event every year. The Camden Children’s Garden, which is located near Wiggins Park and features a variety of children’s activities and educational exhibits, will also be open for festival attendees on Sept. 18 and 19. The complete schedule is here.



Rob Paparozzi, who has performed at the Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival several times in its 10-year history, will headline the free, annual festival this year, performing with his Juke Joint band, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. Louis Prima Jr. & The Witnesses — who have a high-energy stage show dominated by the music of Prima’s father, the Swing Era giant whose best known songs include “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Just a Gigolo” and “Jump Jive an’ Wail” — will perform at 6 p.m., with jazz drummer Winard Harper and his band, Jeli Posse, at 4 p.m.; The Frank Vignola Trio (featuring guitarists Vignola and Vinny Raniolo and bassist Martin Pizzarelli) at 2 p.m.; and Swingadelic at noon. Vignola’s set will include a tribute to Martin Pizzarelli’s father, the legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, who was a festival mainstay and who died in 2020.

The Outpost in the Burbs resumes presenting in-person shows with a 5 p.m. Sept. 19 concert by The Bongos, outdoors at the Van Vleck House and Gardens in Montclair. With their edgy but catchy power-pop songs, The Bongos helped create the Hoboken alternative-rock scene in the ’80s, toured nationally and were even nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. Though they had broken up by the end of the decade, they have continued to reunite and perform together since then. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with the word “Bongos” in the subject line to by midnight Sept. 15.)

The Smithereens featuring Marshall Crenshaw.

• The Smithereens, featuring Marshall Crenshaw on lead vocals and guitar, will headline the free Festival in the Borough in downtown Washington Borough (Warren County), Sept. 18. The free event will last from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and feature a Family Fun Zone and a Beer Garden in addition to three music stages. The Smithereens will perform at 8:15 p.m. on the main stage. Other main stage performers will include the Katie Henry Band at 6:30 p.m., Southbound at 5 p.m., the Bobby Harden Band at 3:20 p.m., and Kinderhook at 1:45 p.m

The Smithereens and Crenshaw will also perform at the Suneagles Golf Club in Eatontown, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

As part of the New Jersey Jazz Society’s Jazz Education Series (co-sponsored by the Metuchen Arts Council-Jazz), Will Friedwald, the author of “Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole,” will give a presentation on Cole featuring rare film clips, Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. It will be streamed on the website as well as the NJJS Facebook page and YouTube channel. There is no charge, though donations are suggested.

The Bordentown record store Randy Now’s Man Cave will resume presenting live concerts Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., with the eloquent and frequently acerbic singer-songwriter Dan Bern, and will continue with acts such as the Richard Lloyd Band, Sept. 24; Robyn Hitchcock, Oct. 9; A Flock of Seagulls featuring Mike Score (acoustic), Oct. 13; and Midge Ure, Nov. 7.


• Linda Eder will officially open the 2021-22 season of the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m., with a Judy Garland tribute titled “Judy Garland: My and My Shadow.” This show had been scheduled to open the theater’s 2020-21 season but was postponed because of the pandemic.


The veteran socially conscious a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock stars in “When Day Comes,” which was created by Crossroads Theatre Company co-founder Ricardo Khan and will be presented by Crossroads, in its world premiere, at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, Sept. 23-25 and 29-30 and Oct. 1-2 and 6-9 at 7 p.m.; Sept. 26 and Oct. 2-3 and 9-10 at 3 p.m.; and Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. The Crossroads website describes the play as “a spirited, poetic and music journey through our most recent times amid the people’s uprisings against racial and social injustice in America, while facing the challenges of quarantine and COVID 19.”


The Montclair Arts Museum will present a free MAM Fall Fest, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with music (by the Montclair Orchestra, the Montclair State University Jazz Combo, saxophonist Daniel Bennett’s jazz group, guitarist Hernan Romero, rapper Deem Spencer and others), dance (by the Roxey Ballet Company and Alfred Gallman’s Newark Dance Theater), arts and crafts demonstrations, storytelling for children, yoga, food trucks and more.

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