Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: Sea.Hear.Now, XPoNential, Morristown festivals, more



Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 22.


Classic-rock, alternative-rock, blues-rock, new wave, progressive bluegrass … The fourth annual (and stylistically eclectic) Sea.Hear.Now Festival takes place on three stages on the beach and in Bradley Park in Asbury Park, Sept. 17-18, with late night shows at the Stone Pony and the Wonder Bar on Sept. 16 and 17, as well. Green Day and Stevie Nicks (now there’s an odd couple!) co-headline, with other performers including Cage the Elephant, My Morning Jacket, Boy George & Culture Club, Wet Leg, Gary Clark Jr., Billy Strings, The Head and the Heart, Courtney Barnett, and Michael Franti & Spearhead.

The XPoNential Music Festival, a major South Jersey music event since 1994, takes place in Camden Sept. 16-18, with The War on Drugs and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats headlining concerts at the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, and Lucinda Williams, Jenny Lewis, Valerie June, Taj Mahal, Samantha Fish, Houndmouth, Kathleen Edwards and others performing in nearby Wiggins Park.



Veteran bluesman Walter Trout headlines the free, outdoor Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival, taking place at Morristown Green from noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 17. Other performers will include the teenage singer-songwriter and pianist Veronica Lewis, jazz trumpeter and singer Bria Skonberg, Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night at Birdland Band (with Ken Peplowski on clarinet and saxophone) and James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band (featuring Dan Levinson on clarinet).

Jimmy Vivino and his band, the Black Italians, will headline this year’s edition of the free, annual Festival in the Borough in Downtown Washington (Warren County), Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Other groups will include Parkway Soul, The Outcrops, Grey Man Group and the Atlanta Café Band. Vivino was the guitarist and musical director for Conan O’Brien’s TV talk show house band, the Max Weinberg 7, and then became the bandleader when Weinberg left and the group morphed into the Basic Cable Band. He also is a member of the Beatles tribute band, The Fab Faux.

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 this year’s Music Festival and Annual Charity Carnival at Carteret Park in Carteret. The free festival will last from Sept. 14 to Sept. 18 and Gin Blossoms will perform at 8 p.m. on the fest’s Ethnic Day, Sept. 17.

Other festival performers include DJ All Day, playing house and R&B music, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.; country band Austin City Nights, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.; “Freestyle Night” with Coro, Lisette Melendez, Noel and The Cover Girls, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.; fireworks, Sept. 17 at 9:15 p.m.; a car show, Sept. 18 from 10 to 2 p.m.; and a battle of the bands, Sept. 18 from 3 to 9 p.m. The festival will also include rides, games and food vendors.


The Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair will kick off its 35th anniversary season with a free, outdoor MiniFest on the lawn in front of Montclair’s First Congregational Church, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. Performers will include Big Mamou, Scott E. Moore, Meg Patrick, Eddie Nicholas, Stacia Thiel, Ed Seifert, Sammy Mellman, Jason Didner (performing a children’s set) and the Outpost Allstars (featuring David Amlen, Rob Halper and Judy Cangialosi). Canned food items will be collected for the Northeast Earth Coalition’s Little Pantry.


• My Chemical Romance, formed in Essex County 21 years ago, will present the first home-state shows of its eagerly awaited reunion tour at the Prudential Center in Newark, Sept. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m., with opening sets by the band Thursday, Sept. 20; Midtown, Sept. 21; and Derek Zanetti (who performs under the name The Homeless Gospel Choir), both nights. My Chemical Romance was the first band ever to perform at the Prudential Center, opening for Bon Jovi in October 2007. The band was inactive from 2013 to late 2019, as individual members pursued a variety of solo projects.

Original E Street Band members Garry Tallent and Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez will participate in a 7 p.m. Sept. 22 concert at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park featuring Doc Holiday and his Nashville Sony Studio A Team & Friends. Leon Trent, formerly of the group The Broadways and now part of the duo Waterfront, will also perform, as will Nicky Addeo, JoBonanno, Jarod Clemons (son of Clarence Clemons), The Eddie Testa Band and Sammy Dale. Though currently based in Nashville, Doc Holiday (the stage name for Eddie “Fast Eddie” Wohanka) has roots in the Asbury Park music scene and was the driving force behind the creation of a plaque, honoring the Creators of SOAP (Sounds of Asbury Park), that was unveiled on the Asbury Park boardwalk in 2006.


George Porter Jr. is best known as the bassist for The Meters, the group that played a huge role in the New Orleans music scene of the ’60s and ’70s, backing artists such as Dr. John, Allen Toussaint and Lee Dorsey as well as recording hits of their own (“Cissy Strut,” “Sophisticated Cissy,” “Look-Ka Py Py”). More recently, he has played in the modern version of the group, The Funky Meters, and led his own group, George Porter & the Runnin’ Pardners. He and the Runnin’ Pardners will perform at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m.


The Peak Performances series at Montclair State University presents the world premiere of “Nehanda,” Sept. 16-18 at the Kasser Theater. The concept, design, artistic direction and performance is by the Zimbabwe-born, New York-based nora chipaumire. “Nehanda” is the story of the 19th century Rhodesian medium and rebel Charwe Niyakasikana, and her trial.

It will be presented in three chapters: “Natives/Empire/Jail,” Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; “Pungwe/Church/Judas,” Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.; and “Manifesting Thinking,” Sept. 18 at 3 p.m.


Also as part of the Peak Performances series, the Toronto-based Why Not Theatre will present “Prince Hamlet” at the Kasser Theater, Sept. 22-23 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. The play will be performed in both spoken word and America sign language; according to the Peak web site, “Remixed, reimagined, and bilingual Prince Hamlet features a cross-cultural, gender-bent cast — challenging traditional ideas of who can tell this story. Interweaving Shakespeare’s spoken text with heightened and poetic American Sign Language, this physical theatre production creates a visually stunning retelling for both hearing and Deaf audiences.”

“Fright Fest” begins at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, Sept. 16.


Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson will debut its annual Halloween season “Fright Fest” on Sept. 16, with its “ghoul parade, live stage shows, and terrifying scare zones, plus six haunted houses,” according to a press release.

A “Kids Boo Fest” for children, featuring trick-or-treating and two live shows, will also be offered during daytime hours beginning Sept. 17.

The Rock and Roll Playhouse, which specializes in music for children of ages 1 to 7, will present a show of Bruce Springsteen music for kids, also featuring the Eddie Testa Band, at The Vogel at Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Sept. 18 at noon.


The Axelrod Performing Arts Center will present the politically satirical comedy group DC’S Reflecting Fools at Bell Works in Holmdel, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. The group, whose shows includes songs as well as skits, features former members of popular touring group The Capitol Steps, which disbanded in 2019 after a 40-year run. Current numbers in its repertoire include Donald Trump singing “They Woke Me Up in Mar-a-Lago” (to the tune of Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”) and Steve Bannon singing “Give Power to the Loonies of the Night” (to the tune of the “Phantom of the Opera” song “The Music of the Night”), though other parts of the show skewer Democratic Party leaders such as President Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. (For a chance to win two tickets to either show, send an email with “Reflecting17” for Sept. 17 or “Reflecting18” for Sept. 18 in the subject line to by 11 a.m. p.m. Sept. 15.)

The New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival takes place in Atlantic City, Sept. 16-18


The New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival — taking place at Showboat in Atlantic City, Sept. 16-18 — features non-stop screenings plus vendors, panel discussions, cosplay and more, with reunions of cast members from movies such as “Terrifier” and “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning”; the band American Grim; and an opportunity to meet Peter Criss, the original drummer for the band Kiss.


“Land of the Free” at MANA Contemporary, Jersey City. Works by Vincent Valdez, Hugo Crosthwaite and Joe Minter. (Through Sept. 17)

“For the Culture, by the Culture: Thirty Years of Black Art, Activism, and Achievement” at Morris Museum, Morris Township. (Through Sept. 25)

“American Stories: Gifts From the Jersey City Museum Collection” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 30)

“New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence” at State Museum, Trenton. (Through April 30)


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