Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Bourbon Street Blues Fest, ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ more

Robert Cray co-headlines the Bourbon Street Blues Fest, May 21.

A guide to notable arts events taking place around the state, through May 21:


• The Bourbon Street Blues Fest, started in 2006 at Lebanon Township Memorial Park in Califon, moves to The Fields of Waterloo at Allamuchy Mountain State Park in Byram Township, May 20-21, with music from noon to 9 p.m. on May 20 and noon to 6:30 p.m. on May 21. May 20 performers will include the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Mike Zito, Bernard Allison, Lee Delray and the Bob Lanza Blues Band. Among those performing on May 21 are the Robert Cray Band, Bonerama, Billy Hector and the Fins.


The Jersey Shore Festival in Seaside Heights, which defines itself as an “emerging artist festival,” offers a chance to really immerse yourself in music, with more than 300 sets of music on 11 stages, May 19-21. Acts will include the Hub City Stompers, the Taylor Tote Band, Deaf Rhino, P-Funk North, Woodfish, Colossal Street Jam, Beatrix Potter, Experiment 34, Waiting on Mongo, Nikki Briar, Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes, Dark City Strings, Pepperwine, Elsie & the Vibe, Garden State Line, Baelfire, Raftree, the Good Mess, Yawn Mower, Cigar Box Stompers, Backyard Superheroes and the Victory Drive. Other festival attractions will include music industry seminars and networking parties, a car show, and BMX and motocross stunt shows.

Philadelphia radio station WMMR (93.3 FM) presents its annual MMR*B*Q concert at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, May 20 at noon, with Godsmack, Live, Bush, The Pretty Reckless, The Struts, Zakk Sabbath, Rival Sons, Dinosaur Pile Up and Stolen Rhodes.

• Pat DiNizio‘s monthly Wednesday night shows at Crossroads in Garwood always have a musical theme; the one for the show taking place at 8 p.m. May 17 will be songs from The Beatles’ classic Rubber Soul album.

• Richard Barone
of The Bongos and Ricky Byrd of Joan Jett’s Blackhearts will team up for a show at Crossroads in Garwood, May 19 at 8 p.m. The show has been described as “an evening of song trading, storytelling and troubadouring” drawing from Barone’s recent Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s album as well as his Bongos and solo material; and Byrd’s 2013 Lifer album and his new “Recovery Project” (featuring songs about recovering from drug and alcohol addiction). Jon and Deena (from The Cucumbers), The Funktion and Amanda Conti will open.


Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne, who is working on an album titled “Joan Osborne Sings the Songs of Bob Dylan,” will present a show of the same name May 19 at 8 p.m. at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, with Gabrielle Louise opening. (see video below of Osborne performing Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”)

The Outpost in the Burbs occasionally presents shows outdoors at the Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair, and will do so again May 21, with an appearance by alt-country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale. James Tristan Redding opens the 5 p.m. show. (For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to by midnight May 17 with the word “Lauderdale” in the subject line.)


• Mel Brooks will discuss his classic 1974 horror-movie spoof “Young Frankenstein” following a 3 p.m. May 21 screening of it at Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark.

The quirky adventure film “The Princess Bride,” which built a cult following after being released 30 years ago, will be shown at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, May 20 at 7:30 p.m., with Q&A session with actor Cary Elwes — who plays the heroic Westley in it — following.


The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey at Drew University in Madison kicks off its 2017 season with Shakespeare’s dark comedy “The Merchant of Venice.” The production begins previews on May 17, officially opens on May 20 and runs through June 4.

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