Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: MTV Video Music Awards, Montclair Jazz Fest, more



Shakira will receive an honorary award and perform at MTV’s Video Music Awards show at the Prudential Center in Newark, Sept. 12.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 14.


This year’s edition of MTV’s annual Video Music Awards show takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m., with a live broadcast on MTV, and the MTV pre-show starting at 6:30 p.m. Nicki Minaj will host and also perform, and Shakira and Diddy will both receive honorary awards and perform; other performers will include Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Karol G, Stray Kids, Lil Wayne, Kelsea Ballerini, Fall Out Boy, Tomorrow X Together, Demi Lovato, Anitta and Måneskin.

Award presenters will include Bebe Rexha, Charli D’Amelio, Coco Jones, Dixie D’Amelio, Emily Ratajkowski, French Montana, GloRilla, Ice Spice, Jared Leto, Madelyn Cline, Rita Ora and Sabrina Carpenter. And Kaliii, Reneé Rapp and The Warning will perform on the outdoor Extended Play Stage.

• Squeeze and The Psychedelic Furs — British rock bands that were both most popular in the early- to mid-’80s — will bring their joint tour to the outdoor Stone Pony Summer Stage in Asbury Park, Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. Also performing, on the Pony’s inside stage, will be the Nitro Blues Band, at 5:30 p.m., and the Blackwell Mills Band, at 9:45 p.m.

Click HERE for a new interview with Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook.

Sept. 17 marks the 100th anniversary of iconic country singer-songwriter Hank Williams’ birth, and the Axelrod Performing Arts Center will present a “Hank Williams Birthday Celebration” featuring his songs, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at BellWorks in Holmdel, with Pat Guadagno & His Lonesome Cowboys plus guests Jackson Pines, Norman Seldin, Cranston Dean, PK Lavengood and Gary Oleyar.


Violinist Regina Carter, the Afrobeat band Antibalas, bassist Christian McBride and trombonist Steve Turre will be among the performers at this year’s edition of the free, annual Montclair Jazz Festival, taking place on five stages, from 1 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 9 in Downtown Montclair, with other performers including Melanie Charles, Houston Person, Edmar Castañeda, Vince Ector and Michael Mwenso & the Shakes. Comedian Alonzo Bodden will serve as host on the main stage.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra will kick off its 2023-24 season at Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. Rossen Milanov will conduct and the program will feature Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Forward Into Light — which was inspired by and pays tribute to American women suffragists, and is described by Snider as “a meditation on perseverance, bravery and alliance” — as well as Henri Tomasi’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (featuring saxophonist Steven Banks) and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony.

Tony Orlando, who will enter the New Jersey Hall of Fame in October, will headline a free concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, Sept. 12 at 1:30 p.m., with comedian John Pizzi opening. The show is part of the Garden State Arts Foundation’s Senior Concert series. For information, visit

Opera at Florham‘s “Opera Everlasting: Arias and Duets with Strings,” taking place Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. at the Fairleigh Dickinson University Mansion in Madison, will feature soprano Julianne Casey and tenor Matt Cerillo in a program of opera arias, art songs and selections from Broadway musicals, with accompaniment by the Rose String Quartet.

Jordan Tyson will play the title character in “Bulrusher.”


The McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton will present Eisa Davis’ “Bulrusher” at its Berlind Theater from Sept. 13 to Oct. 7. The play, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017, is set in California in the 1950s and, according to the McCarter website, is about “a multiracial girl (who) grows up in a predominantly white town whose residents pepper their speech with the historical dialect of Boontling. Found floating in a basket on the river as an infant, Bulrusher is an orphan with a gift for clairvoyance that makes her feel like a stranger even amongst the strange.”

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present Samuel Beckett’s 1953 Theatre of the Absurd landmark “Waiting for Godot” — widely regarded as one of the most important plays of the 20th century — from Sept. 13 to Oct. 1 at its F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre at Drew University in Madison.


“Dance on the Lawn,” an annual event since 2014, will take place for the last time, Sept. 9 from 3 to 5 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, with pieces by Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre, Carolyn Dorfman Dance, Freespace Dance, Mignolo Dance, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Maurice Chestnut’s Dance Therapy, Kyle Marshall Choreography and others.


Three comedians who are quite capable of drawing a large crowd on their own — Jon Stewart, John Mulaney and Pete Davidson — will team up for rare shows together, Sept. 10 at 3 and 7 p.m. at the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

Davidson, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member from 2014 to 2022, will also perform on his own, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair.

The cover of Bernie Taupin’s memoir, “Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton & Me.”


• Bernie Taupin, best known as Elton John’s longtime songwriting partner, will sign copies of his new memoir, “Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton & Me,” Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Books & Greetings bookstore in Northvale.

In the book, which will be published on Sept. 12, Taupin writes about encounters with famous musicians (John Lennon, Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra) and famous non-musicians (Graham Greene, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí). According to the promotional material, the cast of characters includes “scores of notable misfits, miscreants, eccentrics, and geniuses, known and unknown. Even if they’re not famous in their own right, they are stars on the page, and we discover how they inspired the indelible lyrics to songs such as ‘Tiny Dancer,’ ‘Candle in the Wind,’ ‘Bennie and The Jets,’ and so many more.”

The 2023-24 season of Peak Performances at Montclair State University will begin, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. at the university’s Alexander Kasser Theater, with a talk by veteran playwright, actress and educator Anna Deavere Smith titled “Travels with an African-American Girl Across Decades and Territories.”

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey — who will publish a children’s book, “Just Because,” on Sept. 12 — has scheduled an appearance, featuring photo ops with him using pre-signed books, at Bookends in Ridgewood, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. “Just Because” is written by McConaughey, illustrated by Renée Kurilla, and recommended for children 4-8 years old. Its website describes it as “a soulful and irreverent collection of life lessons that empowers readers, big and small, to celebrate how we are all full of possibility.”


The New Jersey Expo & Convention Center in Edison will present a Rock of Ages Punk Rock Flea Market & Tattoo Expo, Sept. 8-10, with attractions including a reunion of those involved in the 1994 movie “Clerks,” including director, co-producer, writer and actor Kevin Smith (Sept. 9 only) and actors Jason Mewes, Brian O’Halloran, Scott Schiaffo, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Jeff Anderson.


Lisa Cortés, director and co-producer of the documentary “Little Richard: I Am Everything,” will participate in a question-and-answer session after a screening of it, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at The Clairidge in Montclair.


“The Stories We Tell” at Akwaaba Gallery, Newark. Works by Mashell Black, Matilda Forsberg, Stephen Abban Junior, Madge Scott. (Through Sept. 16)

“Selling Kabul” at Premiere Stages series at Kean University, Union. (Through Sept. 24)

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

“Victor Ekpuk: Language and Lineage,” presented by Princeton University Art Museum at Bainbridge House, Princeton. (Through Oct. 8)

“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)


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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