Top 20 NJ Arts Events of the Week: SopranosCon, TD James Moody Jazz Festival, more


SopranosCon takes place in Secaucus, Nov. 23-24.

A roundup of arts events taking place around the state, through Nov. 24:

“The Sopranos” — the landmark Jersey-set HBO series that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year — will be celebrated at SopranosCon, taking place Nov. 23-24 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus. More than 20 cast members are confirmed to talk about their experiences and sign autographs, including Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts), Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy), Dominic Chianese (Junior), Drea de Matteo (Adriana), Federico Castelluccio (Furio), Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack) and David Proval (Richie Aprile). Other attractions will include trivia, costume and cannoli-eating contests; tours of “Sopranos” sites; memorabilia displays; and vendors.



The eighth annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival — which touches on blues, R&B, hip-hop and dance, in addition to jazz — started last week but continues through this weekend at NJPAC and other Newark venues.

Among the events on the schedule for this week are:

Two longtime friends and collaborators, guitarist Lee Ritenour and keyboardist Dave Grusin will team up for a show at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Pianist Christian Sands will present a “Three-Piano Erroll Garner Summit” — a tribute to the late Garner (best known as the composer of “Misty”) — with Helen Sung and Tadataka Unno at the Victoria Theater at NJPAC, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

“Listen to the Sun,” a documentary about Sarah Vaughan’s 1977 concert tour, will be shown at Bethany Baptist Church, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.

Tap dancer Maurice Hines will present an autobiographical show titled “Tappin’ Thru Life” (previously seen off-Broadway) at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater, Nov. 23 at 3 and 7 p.m. The show will feature dancers John and Mary Manzari plus some young local dancers, and the music will be supplied by the all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Savion Glover will serve as host.

Saxophonist Houston Person will be featured in the “Dorthaan’s Place” jazz brunch series, hosted by WBGO-FM co-founder Dorthaan Kirk, at NJPAC’s NICO Kitchen + Bar, Nov. 24 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

This year’s edition of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition will take place at NJPAC’s Victoria Theater, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. Participants will include Daniela Spalletta, Samara McLendon, Christine Fawson, Viktorija Gecyte and Vivian Sessoms.




The reunited and still hit-making Jonas Brothers will bring their Happiness Begins Tour to the Prudential Center in Newark, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m., with Bebe Rexha and Jordan McGraw opening. The tour also comes to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The Doobie Brothers, who received some long-overdue recognition this year with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination (inductees will be announced in January), will perform at the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. The band is led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons, along with guitarist John McFee. Though it has been announced that Michael McDonald will rejoin the group for a tour next summer, he will not be performing at this show.

The innovative hard-rock band Tool released its first album in 13 years, Fear Inoculum, in August, and are on a tour behind it that comes to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m., with Killing Joke opening.

With WhyHunger’s annual Hungerthon now underway, two Hungerthon benefits are planned for New Jersey this weekend.

Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rahway will host a benefit with music by Bob Polding, Jon Caspi, Joe D’Urso, Joe Rapolla, Sharon Lasher, Stella Mrowicki and Gary Trippiedi. Attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to be collected for Rahway Food for Friends.

Also, a benefit will be presented by the Acoustic Cafe Music Series at Park Ridge High School, Nov. 24 at 4 p.m., with music by Steve Chapin, The Chapin Sisters, Joe D’Urso with Seth Saltzman, and Christopher Brown. Steve Chapin is the brother of — and was a frequent musical collaborator of — WhyHunger (originally known as World Hunger Year) co-founder Harry Chapin, who died in 1981. The Chapin Sisters (Abigail and Lily) and daughters of Harry and Steve’s brother Tom. Non-perishable food donations will be accepted for the Tri-Boro Food Pantry of Park Ridge.



Amy Helm became well known, initially, as a member of the group Ollabelle and a frequent collaborator of her father, the late Levon Helm. But with well-received solo albums released in 2015 (Didn’t It Rain) and 2018 (This Too Shall Light), she has established herself as a leading attraction in her own right on the folk/roots circuit. She’ll perform at the Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair at 8 p.m. Nov. 22, with the trio The Restless Age opening. The show will take place at the First Congregational Church at 40 S. Fullerton Ave.

Freda Payne is best known, of course, for her Top 10 1970 hit “Band of Gold,” though she had other hits in the ’70s, too, including “Bring the Boys Home,” “Deeper & Deeper,” “Cherish What Is Dear to You (While It’s Near to You)” and “You Brought the Joy.” She’ll present a show titled “Freda Payne: The Classics” at the Avenel Performing Arts Center, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email with “Payne23” or “Payne24” in the subject line to by 10 a.m. Nov. 22. It’s okay to enter for both shows.)

Little Feat member Paul Barrere died last month, at the age of 71, and the Stone Pony in Asbury park will host a tribute to him (and the music of Little Feat), Nov. 23, featuring Secret Sound, the Dave Alen Band, Jarod Clemons and The Bilsby Brothers. Doors open at 7 p.m. This is also a WBJB 90.5 The Night Food Drive event; donations of non-perishable food will be accepted.


The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn began previews of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” on Nov. 20. The official opening night is Nov. 24, and the last show will be on Dec. 29. This adaptation, featuring 1957 songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II along with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane (utilizing parts of the Hammerstein book), ran on Broadway from 2013 to 2015.

The cover of “Janis: Her Life and Music.”


We’re now officially in “Nutcracker” season, with a smattering of performances of the classic ballet preceding the December onslaught. On schedule for this week are productions by the American Repertory Ballet at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. (the latter is a sensory-friendly production for children and adults with special needs); and by New Jersey Ballet at the Middle Township PAC in Cape May Courthouse, Nov. 24 at 3 p.m.

The all-male, Jersey-based 10 Hairy Legs troupe will team with choreographer Doug Elkins for “Trouble Will Find Me,” a site-specific piece being presented at the main gallery of the Morris Museum in Morris Township, with the “Aerosol: Graffiti/Street Art/New Jersey/Now” exhibition as its backdrop. Performances will take place Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 22-23 at 9 p.m.


Holly George-Warren, the author of the Janis Joplin biography “Janis: Her Life and Music,” will appear in conversation with singer-songwriter Joan Osborne at Little City Books in Hoboken, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.

The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel will open its annual drive-through “Magic of Lights Spectacular” on Nov. 22, and it will remain open every night through Jan. 4, closing only on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

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