Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Black Potatoe Music Festival, Maplewoodstock, more

final black potatoe

The Black Potatoe Music Festival takes place July 11-14 in Clinton.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through July 16:


The Black Potatoe Music Festival has featured many famous musicians, over the years, ranging from Levon Helm to Grace Potter. But its emphasis always has been on New Jersey musicians, and that will be the focus at the 23rd and final edition of the festival, which takes place outdoors at the Red Mill Museum in Clinton, July 11-14. (UPDATE: The July 11 show has been cancelled due to rain.)

The Matt Angus Thing, led by festival founder Matt “Angus” Williams, traditionally closes the festival’s Saturday show, and will do so again this year, July 13; the festival will also function as a record release party for a new album by Williams, Songs From a Jailhouse in Bisbee. Williams will also perform a festival-ending duets set with Black Potatoe mainstay Gregg Cagno, July 14.

The opening night, July 11, will allow for more collaboration, with a closing set by the Black Potatoe All Stars. And July 12 will end with Nalani & Sarina, the Jersey-based duo that has become festival regulars in recent years. Other performers throughout the four days will include the Karl Dietel Five, Caren Kennedy, Pat O’Shea, The Bryan Hansen Band, Jenny & the Felines, Michael Patrick, Pyrenesia, The Sharar Sisters, Jack Tannehill, The Mike Montrey Band, KC Cary, Helen O’Shea & the Shanakees, Lisa & Lori Brigantino, and many others.

Two funky, big, Brooklyn-based bands with eclectic musical influences — Antibalas and Turkuaz — will co-headline this summer’s edition of Maplewoodstock, the free, annual event that will take place in Maplewood’s Memorial Park, July 13-14. Also, the band Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds will be featured on July 14, before Turkuaz. The event offers art and food vendors, and a kids’ zone, in addition to the music. Others in the lineup will include Dubistry, Owls and Lions, Switch Mob, Tall Pines, Joe Taino, Bryan Hansen, Autumn Jones and Luca Max.


• John Eddie turned 60 on July 9, and The Headliner in Neptune will host a “Friends in the House Birthday Bash” for him, July 12, with William Honor and the Big Road All-Star Band (featuring Bob Polding, Lisa Bouchelle, Eddie Testa, JoBonanno, Christine Martucci and others) performing. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Jeff Lynne will perform with Electric Light Orchestra (or, as he prefers to call the band now, Jeff Lynne’s ELO) in New Jersey for the first time since 1981, July 16 8 p.m. at the Prudential Center in Newark. Dhani Harrison (George Harrison’s son) will open. Lynne, also known as a member of The Traveling Wilburys (with George Harrison and others), had little to do with ELO from 1986 to 2014, but has been recording and touring with them frequently since then. Only one other musician from The Electric Light Orchestra’s ’70s and early ’80s glory days, keyboardist Richard Tandy, is involved.

• Louis Prima Jr. & the Witnesses will bring their high-energy stage show, featuring Prima’s father’s swing and big-band jazz hits (such as “Jump Jive an’ Wail,” “I Wanna Be Like You,” and “Sing, Sing, Sing”) and more, to Dolan Hall at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, July 10 at 7:30 p.m.

DJ Felix Hernandez will present a “Rhythm Revue Dance Party,” featuring classic soul and R&B music, July 11 at 5 p.m. outside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, to kick off this year’s annual, free Sounds of the City series. Future acts in the weekly series include reggae great Julian Junior Marvin, July 25; Prince’s band New Power Generation, Aug. 1; the Davell Crawford Movement, Aug. 22; and hip-hop group Lords of the Underground, Aug. 29.

A seven-date Summer Rap ‘n’ Rock Tour, showcasing local rap and rock artists, will begin July 12 at the Asbury Park Music Foundation, with other dates including the FM Bar in Jersey City, July 14; the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton, July 19; Blackthorn in New Brunswick, July 21; and the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, July 22. There will also be shows in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Concert promoter Rodney Coursey of Garden State Hip-Hop and Makin Waves journalist Bob Makin organized the tour, which will feature the Chris Rockwell Collective, the Black Suburbia Music Group, Green Knuckle Material, Switch Mob, Dane the Beautiful Monster, Mista Encore, Apollo Ali, The Band Called FUSE, K-Prez, Chalk & the Beige Americans, DJ Ronny Rayz and DJ Rachel Barkley. For show lineups and more details, visit


From left, Alessandra Guercio, Lisa Sherman, Trenna Barnes and Carol Riddick in “Calling All Divas.”


The jukebox musical “Calling All Divas” — featuring the songs of Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Kelly Clarkson, Carole King and others — will be presented at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, July 11 at 8 p.m., with Lisa Sherman, Carol Riddick, Trenna Barnes and Alessandra Guercio playing aspiring vocalists auditioning for a job. Franke Previte, best known as the writer of the “Dirty Dancing” hit “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” co-created the musical with Sherman, and produced it.

The Hudson Shakespeare Company will launch, this week, its Summer Park Tour, which will bring an all-female version of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus” to various parks and libraries throughout the state. Locations will be 1 Westervelt Place in Clifton, July 10 and 19; the South River Library, July 11; the Princeton Library, July 14; Monument Park in Fort Lee, July 16, 23 and 30; Atlantic Street Park in Hackensack, July 17 and 24; Leonard Gordon Park in Jersey City, July 18; Kenilworth Library, July 22; and Hamilton Park in Jersey City, July 25.


Debonair Music Hall in Teaneck will host “The Benefit of Broadway,” a fundraiser for performing arts scholarships, July 15 at 6 p.m. Performers will include Broadway and film actors Tonya Pinkins, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Bonnie Milligan, Ciara Renée, Adinah Alexander, Ciarán Sheeran, Erik Liberman and Jordan Auriemma, New York City Opera’s Dan Ansaldo and pianist Brielle Perez, and Richard Skipper will host.

The second show in the Plays in the Park series at Roosevelt Park in Edison will be “Newsies,” the 2011 musical (adapted from the 1992 Disney movie of the same name) about striking newspaper delivery boys in New York in the 1890s. It runs July 10-13 and 15-20 at 8 p.m.


• Summer in the City, a free series of shows in Jersey City, will include dance performances on the next four Wednesday nights at J. Owen Grundy Pier, at Hudson Street and Exchange Place. The shows will feature Heather Warfel & Guests, July 10; Nimbus Dance, July 17; Kennedy Dancers, July 24; and the Ariel Rivka Dance Company, July 31. Each performance begins at 6:30 p.m.

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