Top 20 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Crawfish Fest, Coldplay, ‘Three Sisters,’ ‘Grease,’ more

crawfish fest tab benoit


Here is a roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through June 9.


After having had to skip two years because of the pandemic, Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Fest — whose history dates back to 1989 — will be back at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, June 3-5, with Samantha Fish, Tab Benoit, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Bonerama, Ally Venable and many others performing on three stages. Of course, for many attending the festival, the authentic Louisiana food — boiled crawfish and jambalaya and po’ boys and so on — is as much of an attraction as the music. This is also a camping festival: Overnight camping begins on June 3, and there will be nighttime music for campers only, June 3 and 4.

The Jersey City Jazz Festival takes place June 4 from noon to 6 p.m., and June 5 from noon to 8 p.m., with jazz, salsa, flamenco music and more on two stages, plus food trucks and a beer garden. Enter on Warren Street, between Morgan and Steuben streets. The June 4 lineup is Little Johnny Rivero, Svetlana, Santi Debriano’s Arkestra Bembe, Andreas Arnold Quintet, Winard Harper & Jeli Posse, David Kikoski Trio, Lezlie Harrison and Nation Beat. Performers on June 5 include Johnny Rodríguez & the Dream Team, Julian Lage, Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses, Gonzalo Bergara, Walter Parks & the Unlawful Assembly and Sounds of A&R.

Members of the groundbreaking hip-hop group The Sugar Hill Gang, best known for their 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight,” will talk about their music and their career, and give a brief musical performance, at the Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in Newark, June 3 at 7 p.m. The talk will be moderated by Mark Conklin, the Grammy Museum Experience’s director of artist relations and programming.


Coldplay performs at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, June 4-5.

• Coldplay brings its Music of the Spheres World Tour to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, June 4-5 at 7 p.m., with H.E.R. opening. The tour is named after the band’s 2021 album — which has yielded the hits “My Universe,” “Higher Power” and “Let Somebody Go” — and represents one of the rock world’s most ambitious attempts to mount an environmentally aware megatour, with 12 “Sustainability Initiatives” that you can read more about here.

The Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival takes place June 4-5 at Bader Field, with musical attractions including Alkaline Trio, Thrice and Goalkeeper, June 4 from 2 to 6 p.m.; and New Found Glory, Four Year Strong and Be Well, June 5 from noon to 4 p.m. There will also be an smaller stage with Away Game, Cult Tides, Last Minet and Suburban Sensi, June 4; and Cat Manning, All Systems Go, Familiar Things and Dylan Calvelli, June 5.

Camden County’s free Sunset Jazz Series at Wiggins Waterfront Park in Camden begins June 6 at 8 p.m., with Kenny G. Upcoming offerings in the series include Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers on June 20, Corinne Bailey Rae on June 27 and Ruthie Foster on July 18, with more to come later.

In a show postponed from March because of COVID, “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today” — taking place at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. — will feature an all-star group playing songs from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, plus their own hits. The band will include Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Jason Scheff (formerly of Chicago), Badfinger (featuring Joey Molland) and Denny Laine (formerly of The Moody Blues and Wings).



Willie Nile will headline the free Woodbridge Summerfest, taking place June 4 at Merrill Park in Colonia. Nile will perform at 8 p.m., after sets by the David Bowie tribute Starman, the Bruce Springsteen tribute Saints in the City, Southern Steel, Shore Soundz and The Dead Cowboyz. The family-oriented festival will also feature food vendors, a beer truck, and children’s activities.

Veteran disc jockey Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow will host Tommy James & the Shondells, Little Anthony and The 1910 Fruitgum Company in a free concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, June 9 at 7:30. The show is being presented by The Garden State Arts Foundation, which has been organizing shows like these since 1999. Tickets to the show are free and will be mailed; to get on the mailing list, call (732) 442-9200.

The virtuosic bassist Victor Wooten, best known as a member of Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, will appear in a three-part benefit for the Elizabeth-based Institute of Music for Children at Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, June 3, that will feature a master class (open to musicians at all levels, and not just bassists) at 4:30 p.m., a concert at 8 p.m., and a VIP after-party (including hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and signed copies of Wooten’s book, “The Spirit of Music”) at 9:30 p.m.

• Mars Junction, a cover band featuring Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss — the twins who were both played by Armie Hammer in the 2010 movie, “The Social Network” — will plays songs by bands such as The Killers, Blink-182 and Rage Against the Machine at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, June 9 at 7 p.m.


Eight-time Grammy-winning jazz bassist, bandleader, composer, educator and producer Christian McBride will be roasted at a June 6 fundraiser at NJPAC in Newark, with proceeds going to NJPAC and the Montclair-based educational organization, Jazz House Kids. McBride is NJPAC’s jazz advisor and is also the artistic director of Jazz House Kids, which his wife, Melissa Walker, founded. Comedians George Wallace, Jeff Ross and Amanda Seales will be among those doing the roasting McBride, who celebrated his 50th birthday on May 31.


The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey opens its 2022 season with “Enchanted April,” which begins previews on June 8, officially opens on June 11, and runs through June 26. The play, which will presented at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre at Drew University in Madison, was adapted by Matthew Barber from Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel “The Enchanted April,” about four British women vacationing together in Italy.

The Two River Theater in Red Bank will present playwright Madeleine George’s new translation of Anton Chekhov’s classic family drama “Three Sisters,” with previews starting June 4, the official opening night on June 10, and the last show on June 26. “We want to introduce this play to new audiences and reintroduce it to old ones by putting out a hand and saying, come with us — this isn’t a museum piece,” says director Sara Holdren, in a press release. “It isn’t even truly a period piece. It’s a playground and a rock concert and a comedy and a tragedy. Welcome aboard.”

Remember Jones, whose Meat Loaf tribute recently sold out three shows at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, will return to the theater to appear as the pop idol character known as Teen Angel in the musical “Grease,” which has a preview on June 3, and then shows on June 4-5, 8-12 and 15-19.



• Colin Jost, who co-hosts “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Life” — and has served as an anchor on more “Weekend Update” installments (173) than anyone else in the show’s 47-season history — will bring a rare standup tour to the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, June 2 at 8 p.m., and the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, June 8 at 8 p.m. The tour was originally planned to coincide with the release of Jost’s 2020 memoir, “A Very Punchable Face,” but was postponed because of the pandemic.

The Carteret Performing Arts Center has a new performing space, The Underground, located on its lower level and offering table seating, plus food and drinks. It will be used as a comedy club in a series that launches with former “Howard Stern Show” staff member Shuli Egar, June 3 at 7 and 9 p.m., and continues with “She Got Jokes Too” (featuring Vanessa Fraction, Jo Jo Collins and Monique Latise), July 14 at 7 p.m.; Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling, July 16 at 7 p.m.; and Aunt Mary Pat, July 29 at 7 and 9 p.m.

Former United States senator, best-selling author, podcaster and former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member Al Franken will make an appearance at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, June 3 at 8 p.m., as part of his The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently on Tour Tour. Franken won five Emmy Awards for his work on “Saturday Night Live” and 1977’s “The Paul Simon Special,” and Grammys in the Comedy Album and Spoken-Word Album categories. His film work includes 1995’s “Stuart Saves His Family,” based on his “SNL” character, self-help guru Stuart Smalley. He served as a senator from Minnesota from 2009 to 2018, resigning after being accused of sexual misconduct.

A photograph of The Notorious B.I.G. by Ernie Paniccioli.


The Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in Newark opens “A Hip-Hop Life: Five Decades of Hip-Hop Music, Art, and Culture,” on June 3, and it will run through Oct. 30. The exhibitions features photographs by Ernie Paniccioli from throughout hip-hop history, of Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Naughty by Nature, Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Ice-T, Chuck D, Queen Latifah and others.


The Peak Performances series at Montclair State Theater presents the world premiere “Curriculum II,” by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, June 9-10 at 7:30 p.m., June 11 at 8 p.m. and June 12 at 3 p.m. at the Kasser Theater. The piece, co-choreographed by Bill T. Jones and Janet Wong, is described as “immersive theater,” with seating on the Kasser stage. It was originally commissioned as a film project but is being reimagined as a live performance, with the focal point coming (according to the Peak web site) from Louis Chude-Sokei’s treatise “The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics,” which “explores the connection between race and technology from minstrelsy, music production, cybernetics, to artificial intelligence and posthumanism.”


“Theda Sandiford: Joyful Resistance” at Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster. (Through June 4)

“Exposed” at Black Box Performing Arts Center, Englewood. (Through June 5)

“Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” at Montclair Art Museum. (Through June 26)

“Ecstatic Decrepitude,” works by Peter Schumann at ArtYard, Frenchtown. (Through July 31)


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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