Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Natalie Merchant, Marisa Monte, Light of Day, more

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Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through June 29.


• Natalie Merchant will be joined by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a New York-based chamber orchestra, at her 7 p.m. June 25 concert at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark. Merchant, who had major hits both as the frontwoman of the band 10,000 Maniacs and as a solo artist in the ’80s and the ’90s, released her first album in nine years, Keep Your Courage, in April; she has described it as “a song cycle that maps the journey of a courageous heart.”

The show is part of the North to Shore Festival, which concludes with events at various Newark venues, June 21-25.

Blackberry Smoke, 38 Special (known for hits such as “Hold On Loosely” and “Caught Up in You”) and the Artimus Pyle Band (led by the former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer) will co-headline the 13th annual Rock, Ribs and Ridges festival, taking place June 23-25 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta. Other performers will include the Devon Allman Project (led by the son of Allman Brothers Band co-founder Gregg Allman), Samantha Fish (featuring guitarist Jesse Dayton) and The Weight Band (featuring Jim Weider of The Band).

As the festival’s name implies, both music and barbecued food will be featured. The “Ridges” refers to the festival’s scenic location. Overnight camping will also be available.

• Light of Day, which raises money for the fight against Parkinson’s Disease and related disorders, will present a fundraising concert June 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Parker Press Park in Woodbridge, as part of the Woodbridge Wednesdays series. Performers will include the blues singer-songwriter Guy Davis and the country duo Williams Honor, as well as Joe D’Urso, Jake Thistle and Miss Emily. This is a free show, but attendees will be asked to donate what they can to the cause.



Brazilian singer-songwriter Marisa Monte says her most recent album, Portas, resulted directly from the pandemic. “I wanted to offer something that could heal and help people to cross this moment, to not be that depressed and sad,” she said, in a press release, of the album, whose title means “Doors” in English. “Doors are very symbolic elements; they talk about opportunities, changes, transformations, so I wanted to offer a sense of passage.” Monte brings her Portas Tour, described in the press release as “Monte’s most theatrical production to date, featuring elaborate projections and multiple costume changes,” to Prudental Hall at NJPAC in Newark, June 23 at 8 p.m., as part of the North to Shore Festival.

New Jersey Symphony will kick off its summer concert series at the Giralda Music & Arts Festival at Giralda Farms in Madison, June 25 at 6 p.m. This is a ticketed event, though the Symphony will also present free concerts with identical programs at Ocean County College in Toms River, June 27 at 8 p.m.; Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in South Amboy, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Branch Brook Park in Newark, June 30 at 7:30 p.m.; Marine Park in Red Bank, July 1 at 8 p.m.; and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, July 2 at 7:30 p.m.

José Luis Domínguez will conduct, and Timothy Lien — winner of the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Henry Lewis Concerto Competition — will be featured on Ludwig Spohr’s Concerto in C Minor for Clarinet, Op. 26. Other works to be played will include George Walker’s Lyric for Strings; William Grant Still’s Festive Overture; Florence Price’s Colonial Dance; John Williams’ Theme from Jurassic Park; Leonard Bernstein’s Selections from West Side Story; John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever; and more.

Ross Farm in Basking Ridge has been presenting outdoor concerts for the last nine years, with attendees bringing their own lawn chairs and blankets. It will reach the milestone of its 50th show June 24 at 6 p.m., with a performance by singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg, plus an opening set by Brooks Hubbard.


Andrew Lippa’s “I Am Harvey Milk,” which has been described as “part oratorio and part theater piece,” will be presented at the Performance Pavilion of the Morven Museum and Garden in Princeton, June 23-24 at 7 p.m., as part of The Princeton Festival. Lippa will conduct the Princeton Symphony and the Princeton Festival Men’s Chorus, who will be joined by a cast of four.

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California. A member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, he was assassinated in 1978.


The Black Box Performing Arts Center in Englewood will present staged readings of the late Edward Albee’s plays “Marriage Play” (1987) and “Finding the Sun” (1983), June 28 at 7:30 p.m. There will be no admission charge. The readings will be followed by a discussion with director Matt Okin, cast members, and Jakob Holder, who is executive director of The Edward F. Albee Foundation.

The event is part of “Edward Albee: From A to Zoo,” a series in which all of Albee’s plays will be presented as staged readings.




• Lenny Kaye — the Patti Smith Group co-founder, record producer and author, whose latest book is “Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll” — will discuss the book with’s Cindy Stagoff, June 24 at 4 p.m. at the Montclair Public Library, as part of the library’s Open Book/Open Mind. The event will also include some live music, and a question-and-answer session. It is free, though registration is required at

In the book, Kaye explores 10 music scenes that stand out as crucial in rock ‘n’ roll history, such as Liverpool in 1962, when The Beatles were starting out; and 1991’s Seattle, which launched Nirvana.

• Dee Snyder of the hard-rock band Twisted Sister will sign copies of his book “Frats: Based on True Events,” June 25 at 1 p.m. at Bookends in Ridgewood. The book is a novel about toxic masculinity among teenage boys, set in Long Island in the early ’70s.


Montclair Film will present a conversation between Stephen Colbert and comedian Jim Gaffigan, June 24 at 8 p.m., at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, as part of the North to Shore Festival. Proceeds will benefit Montclair Film, which presents entertainment and educational events year-round, as well as an annual film festival.

Colbert, who lives in Montclair, is on Montclair Film’s advisory board, and his wife Evelyn is president of its board of trustees. He has done events like this before, talking with everyone from Jon Stewart to Meryl Streep.

Colin Quinn will present a show titled “Small Talk,” June 23 at 7 p.m. at The Vogel at Count Basie Center for the Arts, Red Bank. A New York Times reviewer called the show “a brisk mix of charming comedy, thin history, self-help guide and various digressions” and said that in it, Quinn makes the argument that small talk is actually a big thing: “a social glue in an increasingly divided world.”


“vanessa german: … please imagine all the things i cannot say …” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 25)

“Ladies and Gentlemen … The Beatles!” at Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center, Newark. (Through June 25)

“Rent” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through July 2)

“Komar and Melamid: A Lesson in History” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through July 16)

“NJ & Me: Imperfect Together” at Drawing Rooms, Jersey City. Works by Alan Ostroski, Anne Percoco, Anne Trauben, Dorie Dahlberg, Doug Madill, Eileen Ferara, Edward Fausty, James Pustorino, Jean-Paul Picard, Jessica Rohrer, John T. Meehan III, Kevin McCaffrey, Lauren H. Adams, Sue Ellen Leys, Tim Daly, Tim Heins. (Through July 29)

“Each One Teach One: Preserving Legacy in Perpetuity” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Aug. 27)

“Where There’s Smoke” by Lance Weiler at ArtYard, Frenchtown. (Through Oct. 1)

“Spiral Q: The Parade” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

“Local Voices: Memories, Stories and Portraits” at Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton. (Through Jan. 7)

“George Inness: Visionary Landscapes” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 30, 2024)


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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