Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Django a Gogo Festival, NJ Folk Festival, more

django a go go 2024


Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through May 2.


Guitarist Stephane Wrembel will present the 2024 edition of his annual Django a Gogo Music Festival and Music Camp — featuring music in the style of the great Romani-French guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt — May 1-5, with workshops, classes and jam sessions in various Maplewood locations plus concerts at The Woodland in Maplewood, May 1-3, and at Town Hall in New York, May 4, and a jam session at Barbès in Brooklyn, May 5. Instructors and concert participants will include Angelo Debarre, Serge Camps, Simba Baumgartner, Brad Boose, Sam Farthing, Hugo Guezbar, Adrien Marco and Josh Kaye.

• Dionne Warwick, whose upcoming induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was announced this week, will perform at Sound Waves at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, April 26 at 8 p.m.

Composer and conductor Rob Kapilow will present a show titled “What Makes It Great? The Songs of George and Ira Gershwin,” featuring Broadway veterans Sally Wilfert and Michael Winther, at The Bickford Theatre at The Morris Museum in Morris Township, May 1 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Kapilow has said that in his “What Makes It Great?” shows, “we take a piece of great music, tear it apart, and put it back together again. We rewrite it, sing it, tap it, clap it: in short, we do everything in our power to get inside to see what makes it tick and what makes it great. Then on the second half of the program we hear the piece performed in its entirety — hopefully with a new pair of ears.”

Steve Fossen and Michael Derosier — who played bass and drums, respectively, for Heart during its hit-filled years from the mid-’70s to the early ’80s — will bring their Heart by Heart band, devoted to that group’s songs, to The Levoy Theatre in Millville, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. They are joined in the group by singer Somar Macek, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Lizzy Daymont and guitarist Chad Quist.


The Triumph Restaurant & Brewery in Red Bank will host an International Jazz Day Fundraiser for the Jazz Arts Project’s educational programs, April 30 at 6:30 p.m., with trumpeter Randy Brecker’s quintet (featuring Ada Rovatti, Dave Kikoski, Alex Claffy and Steve Johns) plus Lynette Sheard & her Quintet, and the Jazz Arts Academy Allstars.

Brecker has won seven Grammys and worked with artists ranging from Paul Simon to Horace Silver, George Benson, James Taylor and Chaka Khan, as well as his Brecker Brothers group (also featuring the late saxophonist Michael Brecker).

Singer-songwriter J.D. Souther will perform at The Vogel at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. The Songwriters Hall of Fame member is best known for co-writing hits for The Eagles (“Best of My Love,” “Heartache Tonight,” “New Kid in Town”) and Don Henley (“The Heart of the Matter”), though he also has had some hits of his own — including “You’re Only Lonely” and the James Taylor duet “Her Town Too” — and formed the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band with Chris Hillman (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers) and Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield, Poco) in the ’70s.

Violinist Byung Kook Kwak will join The Seton Hall University Orchestra, conducted by Jason Tramm, for a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Havanaise in E major, Op. 83, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at The South Orange Performing Arts Center. The “Celebration of Spring” program also will feature the SHU Chorus and Chamber Choir and include music by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Hagenberg, Beethoven and others.


How often do you get a chance to see a play by Mark Twain?

Mark Twain wrote the comedy “Is He Dead?” — about a painter who fakes his own death in order to increase the value of his art — in 1898, adapting it from an earlier short story. It was not published until more than 100 years later, though, in 2003, and was first produced onstage in 2007. The Summit Playhouse will present it, April 26-28 and May 3-5 and 10-11.


The Madison Community Arts Center will host The Madison Mostly Dance Festival from April 25 to May 5, with a variety of daily offerings encompassing dance, dance-and-music and dance-and-film, and more. (As the festival’s name implies, there are a couple of non-dance events in there, too.) Opening weekend events will include “Collective Memory(ies): Drew University Dance Department’s Spring Concert,” taking place indoors and outdoors, April 25-26 at 7:30 p.m. and April 27 at 2 p.m.; a screening of “Call Me Dancer,” a documentary about an aspiring young dancer from Mumbai, April 27, 7:30 p.m.; and a concert by The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, April 28 at 4 p.m.

Also as part of this, The Thomas Edison Film Festival will screen 10 short films with dance themes, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. And following the screenings, Jane Steuerwald (the Thomas Edison Film Festival’s executive director) and filmmaker Richard Kuller (whose “The Little Man,” about a college dance instructor, will be shown) will participate in a discussion with audience members. (For a chance to win two tickets to the May 3 event, send an email to by 11 a.m. April 30, with “Edison” in the subject line.)

The Stone Pony will present “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old,” April 27.


Actor Jason Mewes and director-actor Kevin Smith, who have appeared in “Clerks” and other Smith-directed movies as the characters Jay and Silent Bob, will present a comedy show titled “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old,” April 27 at 8 p.m. at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. The show will also feature a set of music by Tommy Stinson, the singer-songwriter who has also been a member of the bands The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses and Soul Asylum.


The Montclair Literary Festival will take place from April 27 to May 4, with appearances at various venues by Joyce Carol Oates, Ruth Reichl, Frank Bruni, David Baldacci, Caroline Leavitt, Jonathan Santlofer, Carlos Lozada, Lauren Grodstein, Nell Irvin Painter, Anastasia Rubis, Karen Valby and others.

“L.A. Law” actor Michael Tucker will read from his new book, “Genuino: Stories of Italy, Food, Travel and Love,” May 1 at 7 p.m. at New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch. Tucker has written plays that have been produced at New Jersey Repertory Company (“The M Spot,” “A Tailor Near Me”) and his wife Jill Eikenberry is co-starring in NJ Rep’s current production, “The Two Hander.”

Nanci France-Vaz’s portrait of Pam McCoy.


In conjunction with the “Metamorphosis: Works by Nanci France-Vaz” exhibition at The Pollak Gallery at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, a concert titled “Metamorphosis: Portraits of Song” will be presented at Monmouth’s Pollak Theatre, April 26 at 8 p.m. Five singer-songwriters whose portraits are included in the exhibition — Christine Elise, Pam McCoy, Mary McCrink, Laura Johnson and Genevieve — will perform. (The exhibition runs through May 2.)


“Garden State: Cultures of Cultivation” will be the theme of this year’s New Jersey Folk Festival, taking place at the Cook Campus at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be music, dance and art activities as well as workshops that will “explore the many creative and culturally unique approaches to the arts of gardening, agriculture, and food,” according to the festival’s website. “Harvest songs and dances, community gardening organizations, seed saving, and more!”

Performers will include Küf Knotz & Christine Elise, Laki Bali, RU Bhangra (Indian folk dance), Raíces Caribeñas (folk music of the Caribbean) and others.

The Chiller Theatre Toy, Model and Film Expo — taking place at The Hilton Parsippany, April 26-28 — will feature vendors, costume contests, bands, magic shows and opportunities to get autographs from many stars, including William Shatner (April 27 only), Cybill Sheperd (April 26-27 only), Helen Slater (April 26-27 only), Charo (April 26-27 only), Chris Kattan (April 26-27 only), Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (April 28 only), Lita Ford, Don Jamieson, Rosanna Arquette, Griffin Dunne, Dylan McDermott, Chuck Zito, Butch Patrick and Walter Koenig.


“Touch Me: Feeling Fashion” at Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts at William Paterson University, Wayne. (Through May 3)

“The Two Hander” at New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch. (Through May 19)

 “Show Up, Kids!” at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken. (Through May 19)

“George Segal: Themes and Variations at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through July 31)


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