Top 15 NJ Arts Events of Week: XPoNential Music Festival, OutpostFest, ‘The Pianist,’ more

xponential preview

Tegan and Sara will be among the artists at the Sept. 22-24 XPoNential Music Festival in Camden.

Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Sept. 28.


The 2023 edition of the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden will not include its usual amphitheater shows at the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion. But it will feature dozens of acts — including Tegan and Sara, Old Crow Medicine Show, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, The Hold Steady and Low Cut Connie — on two stages in Wiggins Park, on the Camden waterfront, Sept. 22-24.

Old Crow Medicine Show will perform on Sept. 22, along with Margo Price, Say She She, Don McCloskey, Nik Greeley & the Operators and others.

Tegan and Sara and The Hold Steady will be among the Sept. 23 attractions, along with Sammy Rae & the Friends, Bailen, Celisse, Julia Pratt, Moustapha Noumbissi and others.

Sept. 24 will feature Hornsby, Josh Ritter, Low Cut Connie, Allison Russell, Leyla McCalla, Sunny War and more.

The free, outdoor Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival — an annual event since 2011 — had planned to expand to two days this year, with a Friday night program on Sept. 22 as well as an all-day slate of bands on Sat, Sept. 23. The Sept. 23 portion of the show has been cancelled, though, because of the forecast of bad weather. But the Sept. 22 bands — The Downtown Charlie Brown Blues Band, The Debra Devi Group, Ty Stephens & (the) SoulJaazz and Morristown High School’s Spectrum Jazz Band — will perform as planned, at Pioneer’s Plaza, between the 1776 restaurant and the Headquarters Plaza complex, beginning at 4 p.m.


The Outpost in the Burbs will present its first OutpostFest, Sept. 23 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Montclair; it is moving to this indoor location from its original location, the grounds of the Van Vleck House & Gardens, because rainy weather is predicted. Performers will include powerhouse singer-songwriter and native New Jerseyan Nicole Atkins along with Freedy Johnston, Joe Pug, Hodera, Debra Devi and Adam Falcon.

• Brian Setzer — who released a new album, The Devil Always Collects, on Sept. 15 — will kick off his Rockabilly Riot tour with a show at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Guitarist Jimmy Vivino and singer-songwriter Jackie Greene will play the music of The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and The Band at The Williams Center in Rutherford, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. They will be joined by drummer Rich Pagano, who plays with Vivino in the Beatles tribute group The Fab Faux, and bassist Jesse Williams, who is a member of The North Mississippi Allstars.

In partnership with Out Montclair, Montclair’s Vanguard Theater will kick off its “Sip ‘n’ Sing a Score” series with a night of songs from “Rent,” Sept. 22, with doors opening at 7 p.m. The theater describes the series as “piano bar events with group singing and pop up guest performances.” Future installments will feature songs from “Little Shop of Horrors,” Oct. 20; and “Hair,” Nov. 17.


The Hudson West Folk Festival will take place at the Nimbus Arts Center in Jersey City, Sept. 23 from noon to 10 p.m., with Joshua Nelson, Crys Matthews, Danielle Miraglia, The Chivalrous Crickets, NationBeat, Grey Reverend, The Scooches, Sean Kiely, Jacob Tremont and Kelli Bruno, plus workshops in improv singing, social justice songwriting and more.


The George Street Playhouse will kick off its 2023-24 season with Emily Mann’s new adaptation of Wladyslaw Szpilman’s Holocaust memoir “The Pianist” — which was also made into an Oscar-winning movie, starring Adrien Brody, in 2002 — at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, with the first preview on Sept. 26, the official opening night on Sept. 29, and the final show on Oct. 22. Mann is the former artistic director and resident playwright at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, and an American Theater Hall of Fame member.


Buggé Ballet presents the Liberty Hall Dance Festival at the Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University in Union, Sept. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m., with performances by The 50/50 Dance Company, The AbunDANCE Company, Beth Jucovy/Dance Visions, Collo O’Brien & Megan Mizanty, The International Chungang Dance Research Center, Malini Warrier, Shoko Tamai, The Radical Spirit Dance Collective, The Well Performance Project, and Tina Croll + Company.


You’re never too young to become a Swiftie. The Rock and Roll Playhouse will present a show titled “The Music of Taylor Swift for Kids and More,” with a guest appearance by Honey Marmalade and Friends, at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, Sept. 24 at noon.



• Patti Smith will present a show titled “Words and Music” at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. According to the McCarter website: “For her performance of Words and Music, Smith is backed by her longtime partner guitarist Lenny Kaye and bassist Tony Shanahan, sharing original spoken-word stories from her life interspersed with songs.”

Holly Knight is a singer-songwriter and recording artist who had her biggest successes co-writing songs recorded by others, including “Love Is a Battlefield” (Pat Benatar”), “Warrior” (Scandal featuring Patty Smyth), “Better Be Good to Me” and “The Best” (both Tina Turner) and “Rag Doll” (Aerosmith). She will sign copies of her memoir, “I Am the Warrior: My Crazy Life Writing the Hits and Rocking the MTV Eighties,” at Bookends in Ridgewood, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.

Veteran character actor Ed Begley Jr. — whose credits range from the sitcom “My Three Sons,” in the ’60s, to the “Breaking Bad” prequel “Better Call Saul,” which ended last year — will sign copies of his “To the Temple of Tranquility … And Step on It!: A Memoir,” Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. at Books & Greetings in Northvale.

According to promotional material, the book focuses on Begley’s “relationship with his legendary father, adventures with Hollywood icons, the origins of his environmental activism, addiction and recovery, and his lifelong search for wisdom and common ground.” (Ed Begley Sr. was also an actor, and received an Oscar for “Sweet Bird of Youth” in 1962; father and son both received Emmy nominations.)


ArtYard in Frenchtown will present its ArtYard Live Animation Festival — featuring works Laura Heit, Melissa Ferrari, Stacey Steers and Miwa Matreyek, who ArtYard describes as “artists whose work emerges at the intersection of visual and performance art, installation, and film” — Sept. 22-24.

Heit, for instance, will present a Matchbox Show, Sept. 22 at 7:30. To get an idea of what this will be, check out the video below.

Joey Lauren Adams in “Chasing Amy.”


A screening of the 1997 comedy “Chasing Amy” at Kevin Smith’s SModcastle Cinemas in Atlantic Highlands, Sept. 23 at 6 p.m., will be followed by a question-and-answer session with its director, Smith, and co-star Joey Lauren Adams.

The theater’s website adds this advice: “Every Smodcastle show at which Kevin appears runs very, very long. The night usually starts 15 to 30 minutes late, then kicks off with a fundraising auction to support the theater (which includes rare one-of-a-kind props, mementos and signed items). Post-auction, there’s an intro to begin the main program, followed by a Q&A/Group Discussion after the movie ends. We suggest you plan your night accordingly.”


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

“To Bee or Not to Bee” at Barron Arts Center, Woodbridge. (Through Sept. 27)

“Waiting for Godot” at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University, Madison. (Through Oct. 1)

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

“Bulrusher” at Berlind Theater at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. (Through Oct. 7)

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

“The Brodsky Center at Rutgers University: Three Decades, 1986-2017” at Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick. (Through Dec. 22)

“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.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter