Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Heart, NJ Symphony plays John Williams, Don Was, more



Heart (featuring Nancy Wilson, second from left, and Ann Wilson, fourth from left) will perform at The Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, May 24.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through May 30.


After reuniting to perform with their classic rock band Heart for four gigs in late 2023 and on New Year’s Day, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who had not previously performed together since 2019, are now on a major tour that began in mid-April and is scheduled to go through mid-December. And it will include a show at The Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, May 24 at 8 p.m.

They are joined on the tour — which is being called The Royal Flush Tour — by guitarists Ryan Wariner and Ryan Waters, guitarist-keyboardist Paul Moak, bassist Tony Lucido and drummer Sean T. Lane. Waters was in the last version of Heart, in 2019. Wariner, Moak, Lucido and Lane have backed Ann Wilson under the band name Tripsitter.

Heart’s many hits from the mid-’70s to the early-’90s include “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “These Dreams,” “Crazy on You,” “Straight On,” “Alone” and “Never.”



Bassist, songwriter and producer Don Was — who has worked with artists including The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The B-52’s, Bob Weir and Bonnie Raitt and led his own ensembles Orchestra Was and Was (Not Was) through the course of his long career — will perform with his Pan-Detroit Ensemble at The Vogel at The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, May 28 at 7:30 p.m.

The band (see video below) features saxophonist Dave McMurray, keyboardist Luis Resto, trombonist Vincent Chandler, trumpeter John Douglas, drummer Jeff Canaday, percussionist Mahindi Masai, guitarist Wayne Gerard and singer Steffanie Christi’an, and its repertoire includes songs by Was (both new and old) and material by jazz artists such as Yusef Lateef, Olu Dara and Henry Threadgill.

“I’ve been chasing a sound in my head for the last 30 years,” said Was, in a press release. “It’s jazzy and improvisational, but also glued together with a sinewy R&B groove. It’s not slick or smooth — it’s a very raw, honest, Detroit kind of thing. … The intention is to make communicative music that gets under the listener’s skin and brings them some joy, comfort and understanding in deeply troubled times.”

The 11th annual Jersey City Jazz Festival takes place from May 29 to June 2 will include shows at nightclubs and restaurants as well as free performances on the Exchange Place Alliance Plaza Stage and The City of Jersey City Pier Stage by The Mambo Legends Orchestra, Winard Harper & Jeli Posse, The Juanga Lakunza Quartet, La Excelencia, Cyro Baptista’s Chama, The Yvonnick Prené Quartet, Nation Beat, The Rachel Therrien Latin Jazz Project, Paris Monster, Lance Bryant & Shout! and others.


Former Yes frontman Jon Anderson, who sang on all of the pioneering progressive-rock band’s hits, is no longer with that group, but is touring and recording with the group The Band Geeks (featuring musicians who have played in Blue Öyster Cult, Brand X and Kasim Sulton’s Utopia). Their first album together will be released in August, and they will present shows titled “Yes Epics, Classics, and More” at The State Theatre in New Brunswick, May 30 at 8 p.m.; and BergenPAC in Englewood, June 1 at 8 p.m.

New Jersey Symphony will present shows titled “Epic Scores of John Williams and More!,” May 30 at 1:30 p.m. and May 31 at 8 p.m. at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark; June 1 at 8 p.m. at The Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank; and June 2 at 3 p.m. at The State Theatre in New Brunswick. The program, conducted by Jessica Rivero Altarriba and New Jersey Symphony music director Xian Zhang, will include music Williams wrote for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and four “Star Wars” movies plus Korngold’s Fanfare from “Kings Row”; Prokofiev’s Suite from “Lieutenant Kijé”; Rachmaninoff’s Adagio sostenuto from Piano Concerto No. 2 (heard in “Brief Encounter”); and Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries” (heard in “Apocalypse Now” and other films).

Footage from the films will not be shown; these shows will feature just the music.

The May 31 concert will open with a performance of Williams’ Theme from “Jurassic Park” by the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Academy Orchestra.

The cover of John Eddie’s self-titled 1986 debut album.

John Eddie will perform his self-titled 1986 debut album (including the hit “Jungle Boy”) in its entirety plus other songs at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, May 26 at 6:30 p.m., with Williams Honor and Joe Rapolla opening.

Legendary disc jockey Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow will present Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone (“Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”), Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (“Young Girl,” “Lady Willpower”) and Lala Brooks (lead singer for The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron”) in a free concert, sponsored by The Garden State Arts Foundation, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, May 30 at 7:30 p.m. To reserve tickets, visit the foundation’s web site.

The Jersey-based JEM Records label — which previously has released tribute albums celebrating the songwriting of John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Pete Townshend and Ray Davies — will release the fifth in the series, JEM Records Celebrates Jagger & Richards, on May 31. And at 8 p.m. May 25 — between the May 23 and 26 shows by Jagger & Richards’ band The Rolling Stones at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford — three of the bands featured on the album (The Anderson Council, The Cynz and The Midnight Callers) will perform at a record release show at Crossroads in Garwood. Vinyl and CD copes of the album will be available for purchase there.

Also taking place on May 25, and also related to The Rolling Stones: AARP, which is sponsoring the Stones’ tour, is also sponsoring a free evening of Stones music by Marc Ribler & Friends at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. The event will include a music trivia contest, with the winner receiving a pair of tickets for the May 26 MetLife Stadium concert.

Ribler is a solo artist as well as the guitarist and musical director for Steven Van Zandt’s Disciples of Soul.

The show will be at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m., and early admission at 5:30 p.m. for AARP members.

The cover of Darius Rucker’s “Life’s Too Short: A Memoir.”


• Darius Rucker — frontman of the rock band Hootie & the Blowfish as well as a successful country singer-songwriter — has scheduled a few in-store appearances to promote his new book, “Life’s Too Short: A Memoir,” and two of them will be at Bookends in Ridgewood, May 27 at 10 a.m., and the Strand bookstore in New York, May 28 at 5:30 p.m.

According to promotional material, in the book, Rucker “tells the story of his life through the music that made him, including songs by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder to R.E.M., KISS, Prince and, of course, his own music with Hootie and as a solo artist. He recounts the unlikely ascent of his band and wild tales of his road-hardened life — one filled with stumbles, missteps and battles with demons, but ultimately resulting in triumph.”


• “Fences,” August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 drama, will be presented by The Crossroads Theatre Company at The New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, May 29-31 and June 1-2 and 4-9.

“Fences” is part of Wilson’s acclaimed “Pittsburgh Cycle” (also known as the “Century Cycle”), a series of 10 plays about African-American life in the 20th century, with one set in each of the century’s decades. “Fences” is set in the 1950s, and was made into a well-received film, directed by Denzel Washington and co-starring Washington and Viola Davis, in 2016.

The Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, which is celebrating its 75th birthday this year, will present “Million Dollar Quartet” — the 2006 jukebox musical built around a real-life 1956 jam session in Memphis — May 30-31 and June 1-2, 4-9 and 11-16. Actors will appear as, and sing the hits of, iconic rock ‘n’ rollers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.

Catherine Mary Stewart in “The Last Starfighter.”


The free summer film series at the Highland Park Outdoor Movie Theater, at the Municipal Parking Lot on Raritan Avenue between Second and Third avenues, was supposed to start on May 18. But due to bad weather, the series-opening science fiction film, 1984’s “The Last Starfighter,” was moved to May 25. There will be vintage cartoons at dusk, with “The Last Starfighter” starting at 9 p.m. Chairs or blankets are recommended. Free popcorn will be offered and other refreshments can be purchased.

• The Trail Running Film Festival — taking place at The Clairidge in Montclair, May 30 at 7:15 p.m. — will include eight short films about trail running, made in various locations around the world. This is a touring film festival, and this will be its only New Jersey stop.

Trail running refers to races on outdoor, often mountainous trails (not paved roads). Check out the festival trailer below.


The 38th Wildwoods International Kite Festival takes place on the beach on the south side of the Wildwoods Convention Center from May 24 to 27, with demonstrations, competitions, workshops and more.


“It Feels Like Home: Genius Loci Jersey City” at ArtWall, Jersey City. Works by Eileen Ferrara, Donna Kessinger, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, John Xavier Nouel, Lucy Rovetto, Deb Sinha. (Through June 3)

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through June 9)

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

TRFF 2024 Global Tour Trailer from Trail Running Film Festival on Vimeo.


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