Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: XPoNential Music Festival, QuickChek NJ Festival of Ballooning, more

xponential preview 2019

Elvis Costello will perform at the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, July 27.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through July 31:


The 2019 edition of New Jersey’s longest-running major rock festival, the XPoNential Music Festival — taking place July 26-28 in Camden — will feature Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Blondie, Hozier, Dawes, Indigo Girls member Amy Ray and her band, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Bettye LaVette, Low Cut Connie, The Wood Brothers (featuring Chris Wood of Medeski, Martin & Wood), Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Japanese Breakfast, Killiam Shakespeare, Guster, Kathleen Edwards and others. Sets are scheduled for both the BB&T Pavilion amphitheater and nearby Wiggins Park. Philadelphia radio station WXPN (88.5 FM) began presenting music festivals in 1994, and Camden became the location in 2005. The name XPoNential Music Festival originated in 2007.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, this year’s edition of Guitar Bar’s free, annual play-along concert at Sinatra Park in Hoboken —taking place July 25 at 7 p.m. — will feature songs performed at the festival. A band featuring instructors from Guitar Bar and its sister stores will perform the songs, and all those who play guitar or another stringed instrument, at any skill level, are invited to play along. Volunteers will hold up posters picturing the chords, and some of the songs, and their chords, are being posted on Guitar Bar’s Facebook page, for those who would like to practice ahead of time. If enough people participate, a world record could be set for the biggest band, ever; how cool would it be if something Woodstock-related had that distinction!

• Hootie & the Blowfish’s reunion tour stops at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, July 28 at 7:30 p.m., with Barenaked Ladies opening. The band had some huge hits in the ’90s, including “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry” and “Only Wanna Be With You,” but went on hiatus in 2008, with Darius Rucker becoming a major country star. They have reunited for some occasional shows since then, but this is their first full-length reunion tour.


The 37th annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning — taking place at the Solberg Airport in Readington, July 26-28 — will offer its usual assortment of colorful, inventive balloons, plus musical acts such as The Beach Boys, the pop-country trio The Band Perry, children’s entertainers Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza, and the ABBA tribute known as ABBA the Concert, as well as other attractions.

Ocean County radio station WOBM (92.7 FM) presents a “Rock the River” festival at Huddy Park in Toms River, July 27 at noon, with “American Idol” alumnus David Cook plus Cowboy Mouth, Sophia Ramos, 18th & Addison, Waiting on Mongo and others. There will also be food trucks, vendors, children’s activities and other attractions. Proceeds will go to the Little by Little Foundation, which supports children with brain cancer.

The Montclair Jazz Festival won’t take place until Aug. 10, in Nishuane Park, but will offer two weeks of events leading up to it, including a kick-off event at 18 Label Studios in Montclair, July 26 at 8 p.m. It’s an “Old School Funk + Soul Dance Party” with music by DJ Brother Mister, the alter ego of Montclair Jazz Festival artistic director and world-class bassist Christian McBride. He’ll play along on his bass as he spins classic R&B, soul and funk songs from the years of 1966 to 1986.



A new festival, the Roselle Park Jazz Festival, takes place July 27 from 3 to 8:30 p.m. at the Michael J. Mauri Park gazebo. There is no admission charge, and it’s recommended that those attending bring lawn chairs. Saxophonist Julius Tolentino is the festival director, and the lineup will feature his JTole Jazz Orchestra with guitarist Dave Stryker and singer Samantha Powell, the 17-piece George Gee Swing Orchestra and 70 young musicians from the Tolentino’s two-week JTole Summer Jazz Workshop. Free swing dancing lessons will be offered at 5 p.m., and refreshments will be available from food trucks and a beer garden.

The group Amani — featuring Stephen Fuller on vocals, Fred Fischer on piano and vocals, Flip Peters on guitar and vocals, Marty Eigen on tenor sax, Alex Grissel on bass and Vern Mobley and drums — will pay tribute to Nat King Cole, who was born in 1919, at a show titled “Nat King Cole at 100,” July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morris Township.


The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison will present “The Rainmaker” — J. Richard Nash’s 1954 drama about a con man and a spinster in drought-stricken, Depression Era Kansas — with previews starting July 31, the official opening night on Aug. 3, and the last show on Aug. 18. “The Rainmaker” was made into a film starring Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn in 1956, and was later adapted into a musical, “110 in the Shade.”

A new theater, the 239-seat Fellowship Cultural Arts Center, will open at Fellowship Village in Basking Ridge this weekend, with a production of the classic Lerner & Loewe musical, “Brigadoon,” July 26-27 at 7:30 p.m., and July 28 at 2:30 p.m. Fellowship Village is a seniors community, though the venue will be open to the general public and offer a wide range of programing, including classical music, dance, movies and lectures and and more, in addition to plays and musicals.



The hit 2018 Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be shown, and the high-energy band Brother Joscephus & the Love Revolution will pay a 50th anniversary tribute to The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, at the Movies & Music Under the Stars series at the Fort Lee Community Center’s Outdoor Stage, July 27. The free event begins at 7 p.m., with the concert first, and the movie following. Seating is limited, so lawn chairs or blankets are recommended.

St. Ann’s Italian Festival, taking place July 24-28 on Jefferson and Seventh streets in Hoboken, is an old-fashioned street fair with rides, games, food and more, plus nightly entertainment by the likes of Italian tenor Elio Scaccio, July 26; and cover band Shadows of the ’60s, July 27.

The Lincoln Park Music Festival, taking place July 26-28 and Aug. 1-3 in Newark, advertises itself as “more than a music festival,” with a health and wellness village and amateur boxing in addition to free gospel, jazz, R&B, dance and hip-hop performances, a music conference and more.

Art and Wellness are the two themes of the Soulsational Festival, which takes place at Veterans Park in Bayville, July 27 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and features music (by Amanda Duncan, Anjelia Pelay, Alli & the Housecats, The Wag, Stella Mrowicki, Kelli Shane of Pepperwine, and others) as well as poetry, dance, arts and crafts displays, yoga, health classes and demonstrations, food trucks with lots of organic and vegetarian options, children’s activities and more.

The musical component of the Wildwood Food Truck & Music Festival, taking place July 28 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Fox Park, will emphasize 1960s British music, with the Animal House band performing British Invasion music from 4 to 7 p.m., and the Mahoney Brothers presenting a tribute to The Beatles from 7:30 to 9. There will also be more than a dozen food trucks, as well as a Kids Zone and other attractions.


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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