Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Outlaw Music Festival; Rock, Ribs & Ridges, Wyclef Jean, more

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Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around New Jersey, through July 4.


Willie Nelson’s annual Outlaw Music Festival tour will come to The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, June 30 at 5:30 p.m.; and The Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, July 4 at 2:30 p.m. Bob Dylan and the duo of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will join Nelson, who turned 90 last year, at both shows, which will also feature Celisse. The “4th of July Picnic” show will feature, additionally, Maren Morris, Mavis Staples and Bowen*Young (featuring “Nashville” actress Clare Bowen and her husband, Brandon Young).

Nelson, 91, recently missed several of the tour’s shows because of an unidentified illness. His son Lukas and his backing group, the Family Band, played a set dominated by his songs, in his absence. But he is expected to be back in time for the Jersey shows. On June 26, it was announced that he will return to tour “shortly.”

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Blackberry Smoke, Larkin Poe, The Outlaws, The Artimus Pyle Band and Molly Hatchet will be among the bands performing at the 14th annual Rock, Ribs and Ridges festival, taking place June 28-30 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta. As the festival’s title implies, both music and barbecued food will be featured. The “Ridges” refers to the festival’s scenic location. Overnight camping, with late-night karaoke on June 28 and 29, will also be available.

The Jukes will headline on June 28, followed by Blackberry Smoke on June 29 and Larkin Poe on June 30.

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Hip-hop stars Wyclef Jean and Fat Joe will perform at a free Fourth of July show on the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City. Jean will perform at 8 p.m., with Fat Joe taking the stage at 7 p.m., after a DJ set by Funk Flex at 6 p.m. The music will be followed by Grucci fireworks at 9:25 p.m.

Starting at noon, there will be food and crafts vendors, family activities and performances by local musicians.

Attendees are invited to dress in Druid or Roman attire for New Jersey Opera Theater‘s production of Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 opera, “Norma,” June 30 at 4 p.m. at The Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway. The story, set in 50 B.C., is basically a love triangle between the title character, a Druid high priestess; Pollione, the Roman official with whom she has had two children out of wedlock; and Adalgisa, a young novice priestess with whom Pollione falls in love.

As with all New Jersey Opera Theater presentations, students with ID will be admitted free. “I don’t want anyone to not have an opportunity to hear this music,” says New Jersey Opera Theater founder and artistic director Joseph Mayon, who has sung the role of Pollione at Carnegie Hall and will do so again at this show.

Homemade guitars whose bodies were fashioned out of cigar boxes were first made in the mid-1800s, but have had their adherents in every generation since then. Shane Speal, known as “The King of the Cigar Box Guitar,” will perform with his Snake Oil Band at The Jersey Shore Cigar Box Guitar Festival, which will take place June 29 from noon to 8 p.m. at The Asbury Park-Wall Elks Club in Neptune.

Other performers will include April Mae & the June Bugs, James Day’s Suitcase Ramblers, Louie La Manna’s Electric Folk & Blues Band, and The Cigar Box Stompers, and vendors, seminars and a display of antique guitar box guitars will be offered.

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• Alanis Morissette’s Triple Moon Tour, featuring Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Morgan Wade as opening acts, will come to The Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, July 2 at 7 p.m.; and The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, July 3 at 7 p.m. Morissette has shared, on social media, the mashup by DJ Cummerbund (listen below) of her signature song, “You Oughta Know,” and Jett’s hit “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

Wade is a country singer-songwriter who was nominated for the Americana Music Honors & Awards’ Emerging Act of the Year and the Academy of Country Music Awards’ New Female Arist of the Year awards in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Her biggest hit so far has been her 2021 single, “Wilder Days.”

The band Blues People, who were sent by the North Jersey Blues Society to participate in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis this year, will vie to be sent again, next year, when the NJBS presents its Local IBC Challenge at The Stanhope House, June 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Other competing bands will include The Robert Hill Band, Charlie Apicella & Iron City, The BBD Rhythm & Blues Band, The Fabulous Rhythm Aces, Gypsy Eyes and Bone Daddy & the Hoochies, while Big Frank & Mike Smith and Eddie’s Gumbo City will go up against each other in the solo/duo category.

The International Blues Challenge is an annual contest and convention presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation; it bills itself as “The world’s largest gathering of blues musicians.” The next IBC is scheduled for Jan. 7-11, with various Memphis venues hosting performances as well as seminars, networking events and more.


• Remember Jones will perform his own music at House of Independents in Asbury Park, June 29, with a mini-set of Queen songs as the encore. (Remember Jones has presented well-received shows devoted to Queen music in the past.) Beardspace will open the 7 p.m. show, and some of its members will help out with the Queen songs, too.

The band Gin Blossoms — best known for ’90s hits such as “Til I Hear It From You,” “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You” and “Follow You Down” — will perform at the free Freedom Festival at the Camden Waterfront, July 3. They will hit the stage at 8 p.m., following an opening set at 6 p.m. by Tara Hendricks, and with a fireworks show starting around 9:30.

This summer’s POP 2000 Tour, celebrating the boy bands of the last decade of the 20th century and the first century of the 21st, will include a free show, outdoors at The Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, June 29, with DJ music from 1 to 3 p.m. and vocal performances from 3 to 5. Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC will host, and performers will include Jeff Timmons of 98°, O-Town, BBMAK, Ryan Cabrera, LFO, DJ Skribble and DJ Xcel.

Singer-songwriter Joe D’Urso, a longtime mainstay of the Jersey rock scene, will celebrate his 60th birthday with a “Birthday Bash” at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, June 28 at 8 p.m. He will perform with his band Stone Caravan, and the show will also feature The Billy Walton Band and The Jake Thistle Band, and benefit The Alzheimer’s Association of New York and The Light of Day Foundation.


Bishop Hezekiah Walker will headline a free gospel festival at Monument Square Park in New Brunswick, June 29 from 2 to 6 p.m., also featuring Jekalyn Carr, The Jenkins Brothers, Twanda Muslim, David Cross, Lenore Davis and Tangie Cobb, with Valerie Adams hosting.


Artworks Trenton will present Art All Night Trenton at The War Memorial, from 3 p.m. to midnight on June 29 and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 29, with online programming being offered for 24 hours straight (from 3 p.m. June 29 to 3 p.m. June 30). The event will include art displays, musical performances, classes, demonstrations, a film festival and more. There will be no admission charge.


• “Flipside” is a new documentary by Chris Wilcha that is, in part, about the Flipside record store in Pompton Lakes, where Wilcha worked as a teenager. (See a recent interview with Wilcha by Stephen Whitty, HERE). Free-form radio station WFMU will screen the film at its Monty Hall in Jersey City, June 30 at 7 p.m., with proceeds benefiting the radio station.

A question-and-answer session featuring Flipside owner Dan Dondiego and WFMU’s Todd-o-Phonic Todd will follow the screening.

“Sing Sing” will be shown in Montclair, June 28.

Montclair Film will present, as part of the North to Shore Festival, a Summer Showcase, June 27-30 at The Clairidge in Montclair, offering screenings of more than two dozen movies that have not been widely released. These will include “Sing Sing” (see trailer below), June 28 at 7:30 p.m. — a based-on-a-true-story drama about a group of incarcerated men who join together to put on a play. Several cast members are alumni of the program that the movie is based on, the Rehabilitation Through the Arts program at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.

A question-and-answer session with several of the actors will follow the screening.

Click HERE for a list of free shows taking place throughout New Jersey.


“Gem of the Ocean” at Two River Theater, Red Bank. (Through June 30)

“Pippin” at Vanguard Theater, Montclair. (Through June 30)

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” at Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. (Through July 3)

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

“Set in Motion: Kinetic Worlds from the Studio of Richard Whitten” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Sept. 1)

“Morven Revealed: Untold Stories From New Jersey’s Most Historic Home” at Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton. (Through March 2)


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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