Top 20 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Crawfish Fest, Summer Jam, ‘Aida,’ more

Crawfish Fest NJ Neville


A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through June 5:

The 30th annual Crawfish Fest — taking place at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, May 31 to June 2 — will feature, among its many acts, one of the most important artists in the history of New Orleans music. Aaron Neville, lead singer for the Neville Brothers as well as a hitmaker outside the group (“Tell It Like It Is,” ‘Everybody Plays the Fool,” “Don’t Know Much”), will be the last act on the festival’s main stage, June 1. Other artists performing on the festival’s three stages throughout the weekend will include the Marcus King Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Rebirth Brass Band, Terrance Simien and Cowboy Mouth. And, 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 mostly Louisiana-flavored music. Overnight camping begins on May 31, and there will be live music for campers only, the nights of May 31 and June 1. Click here for the schedule and a video preview.

The summer’s biggest hip-hop show, anywhere, takes place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, June 2 at 6:30 p.m., with radio station Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam. Performers will include Cardi B, Meek Mill, Migos, Tory Lanez, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, City Girls, Davido, Funk Flex, Rich the Kid, Casanova, Melii, Megan Thee Stallion and Kash Doll, with the concert’s Festival Village, in lot G of the stadium’s parking lot, offering sets by Trippie Redd, Blueface, Nicole Bus and G4 Boyz, beginning at 4 p.m. (A ticket to the main show is required to enter the Festival Village.)

The Under Cover Music Fest, taking place on Sloan Street (by the train station) in South Orange, June 1 from 4 to 10 p.m., will feature a variety of cover acts, including Ricky Persaud Jr. & Crossroads (Prince tribute), Dithmi & The Franklins (Aretha Franklin tribute), Mark Murphy and Friends (Dave Matthews Band tribute), Curtis Winchester Band (Bill Withers tribute), Charlie Pollock and Friends (Radiohead tribute), and The Nation Beat (The Meters tribute). There will be no admission charge, and the festival will also offer activities for children, and a beer garden.



Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Seger is bringing what he is calling his Final Tour with his Silver Bullet Band to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, June 1 at 8 p.m., with Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos opening. The tour is currently scheduled to end in the fall.

The Bash is a touring music and craft beer festival that will stop at Raceway Park in Englishtown, June 2 at noon, feature sets by Rancid, Pennywise, Suicidal Tendencies, L7 and Madball, as well as tastings of more than 100 craft beers.

Philadelphia alternative-rock station Radio 104.5 presents a show celebrating the 12th anniversary of its launch at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, June 2 at 1:30 p.m., with The Lumineers, Death Cab for Cutie, Grouplove, Phantogram, The Revivalists, The Interrupters, Moonroof, Lewis Capaldi, The Blue Stones, Morgxn, Des Rocs and Weathers.

• Woodbridge Township is celebrating the 350th anniversary of its creation this year, and a free “Celebration and Festival” is planned for June 1 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Merrill Park in the township’s Colonia section. Max Weinberg’s Jukebox, featuring the longtime E Street Band drummer and three members of The Weeklings (Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger and John Merjave) performing audience requests — typically including Beatles songs, Springsteen songs and other classic-rock favorites — will headline at 8 p.m. Other performers will include Bon Jovi tribute band Wanted DOA, at 6 p.m.; The Jazz Lobsters Band at 4 p.m.; The Nerds at 2 p.m.; and Tom Chapin presenting a family-oriented set at 12:30 p.m. There will also be an old-time baseball game, food trucks and more.

“Nothing’s Bad Luck: The Many Lives of Warren Zevon.”

In conjunction with a signing by C.M. Kushins — author of “Nothing’s Bad Luck: The Lives of Warren Zevon”Little City Books in Hoboken will present a concert of music by Zevon and other California rockers, June 5 at 7 p.m., with Chris Harford, Dave Schramm, Karyn Kuhl, Kate Jacobs, Jon and Deena of The Cucumbers, Elena and Boo of Demolition String Band, Mary Lee Kortes, Glenn Morrow, Gene D. Plumber, Rebecca Turner, Ed Horan, Granton Ave., Paul Moschella, Ray Nissen, Shannon Lee and Sailor Boyfriend.

• Charlie Calello, who has worked with the Four Seasons (he was their arranger and also, briefly, a group member in their heyday), Bruce Springsteen (he arranged and conducted the strings on “Jungleland”), Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand and many others, will perform at a show titled “The Legend Behind the Hits,” June 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre at Bergen Community College in Paramus. Joe Piscopo will host and also join Calello for a couple of songs.

Calello will also sign copies of his autobiography, “Another Season — A Jersey Boy’s Journey with the Four Seasons and Beyond,” June 3 at 7 p.m. at Books and Greetings in North Vale.

The South Jersey Arts Fest at the Appel Farm Arts & Music Center in Elmer (Salem County) will present music by Southern Culture on the Skids, Gina Chavez, Williams Honor, Hymn for Her, the Wallace Brothers, Gooch & the Motion, Ursula Rucker, Hoochi Coochi and others, June 1-2 from noon to 6 p.m., plus student theater, music, and dance performances; arts, STEAM and wine making workshops; a crafts and culinary artisans fair; food trucks and more.



The Jersey City Jazz Festival will present shows all over Hudson County’s largest city, May 31 to June 9, plus a pre-festival kickoff show featuring saxophonist Houston Person and the Matt Chertkoff Trio at Brennan’s, May 30 at 7 p.m. There will also be an opening party at J. Owen Grundy Pier, May 31 from 6 to 9 p.m., with Nation Beat and Doug Beavers’ Salsa Orchestra. Other artists performing at various venues throughout the week include Red Baraat, Winard Harper, Bryan Beninghove, Manouche Bag, Swingadelic, the JD Allen Trio, Akua Dixon, Charlie Sigler, the Ted Chubb Group and the Afro-Peruvian Connection.


New Jersey Festival Orchestra will present a program titled “Music That Makes Hollywood,” June 1 at 7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Westfield. David Wroe will conduct, and Stefan Milenkovich will be featured on violin. Compositions will include Wagner’s Prelude From Tristan and Isolde (heard in “Excalibur”); Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D major op. 77 (heard in “There Will Be Blood”); and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.”



Ace Young — who appeared on “American Idol” in 2006, and later starred in “Grease” and “Hair” on Broadway — will play Radames, the lead male role in “Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida,” which will be at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal, May 31 and June 1-2, 7-9 and 13-16. The musical, which is based on Verdi’s classic opera, ran on Broadway from 2000 to 2004.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” the musical (based on the 1991 animated film) that ran on Broadway from 1994 to 2007, began premieres at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn on May 29, will officially open on June 2, and will run through July 3. Belinda Allyn, who played Maria in the excellent 2016 Paper Mill production of “West Side Story,” will star as Belle, with Tally Sessions (whose Broadway credits include “Anastasia,” “War Paint” and “Falsettos”) as the Beast, and two-time Tony nominee Joel Blum (“Show Boat,” “Steel Pier”) playing Maurice.

Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken will present “Seventh Inning Stretch,” featuring seven new 10-minute plays about baseball (by Greg DePaul, James Hindman, Mona Pirnot, Richard Vetere, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, Antu Yacob and Ruth Zamoyta), May 31 and June 1 at 8 p.m., and June 2 at 3 p.m. Proceeds will go to the theater, which happens to be located in the city where baseball was born.

The Women’s Theater Company will present “Disenchanted!” — a musical spoofing “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid” and other classic Disney princess tales — at the Parsippany Playhouse in Lake Hiawatha, May 31 and June 1-2 and 7-9.



Steve-O of the “Jackass” comedy group will bring his multi-media Bucket List Tour — in which he shows clips of outrageous stunts, and talks about them — to the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, May 31 and June 1 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. According to the club’s web site, the show will include “graphic and crude sexual humor and adult language, including but not limited to graphic depictions of human anatomy, which some attendees may consider profane, vulgar, offensive and/or otherwise objectionable.”


The 2007 film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” with be shown at Prudential Hall at NJPAC, June 1 at 2 and 7:30 p.m., with live music by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joshua Gersen.


“Showtime With Shakespeare” — a hip-hop musical based on “Stage Fright on a Summer Night,” which is part of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series of children’s books — will be presented at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, May 31 at 7 p.m. In the musical (an original NJPAC production, presented in partnership with New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse), two modern children are transported by the Magic Tree House back to Shakespeare’s time, where they meet the famed writer and act in one of his plays.

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