Top 12 NJ Arts Events of the Week: QuickChek NJ Festival of Ballooning, XPoNential festival, more

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo perform at the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, July 29.

A guide to notable arts events taking place around the state, through July 30:

The 35th annualQuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, which bills itself as the largest hot air balloon and music festival inNorth America, takes place at the Solberg Airport in Readington, July 28-30. Musical attractions will include children’s entertainer Laurie Berkner, July 28 at 1:30 p.m.;George Thorogood and The Destroyers, July 28 at 8 p.m.; rapper and singer Jake Miller, July 29 at 1 p.m.; Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, July 29 at 9 p.m.; and Plain White T’s, July 30 at 3 p.m.

Balloons are also part of the mix — as are a traditional arts expo, a Country Idol contest, rides, professional wrestling, tractor pulls and much more — at the Warren County Farmers’ Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival, taking place in Phillipsburg from July 29 to Aug. 5.

… And while we’re on the subject of fairs … The Monmouth County Fair takes place at the East Freehold Showgrounds, July 26-30, with rides, racing pigs, horse shows, BMX stunt shows and more. The music schedule includes Moroccan Sheepherders, July 26 at 8:15 and 9:30 p.m.; Jackson Pines, July 27 at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.; musicians from the Lakehouse Music Academy, July 28 at 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.; Nicole Atkins, July 29 at 8:15 and 9:30 p.m.; and the Chuck Lambert Band, July 30 at noon and 1:45 p.m.

Also coming up this week are:

Wilco performs at the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, July 28.


• Philadelphia radio station WXPN (88.5 FM) is bringing a ton of talent to the BB&T Pavilion and Wiggins Park in Camden, July 28-30, for its annual XPoNential Music Festival. Among the performer will be Wilco, Amos Lee and Friends, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Drive-By Truckers, Conor Oberst, Spoon, The Record Company, the David Bromberg Quintet, Angel Olsen, Offa Rex, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Hurray for Riff Raff and Pinegrove. The music begins at 4 p.m. July 28 and noon July 29-30 at Wiggins Park; and at 7:45 p.m. July 28 (Wilco, Oberst and more) and 6:30 p.m. July 29 (Lee, Spoon and more) at the BB&T Pavilion.

• Joan Osborne— whose next album, Songs of Bob Dylan, comes out on Sept. 1— will undoubtedly sing some songs from it at shows where she is double billed with Shawn Colvin at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, July 30 at 7:30 p.m.; and the Ocean City Music Pier, July 31 at 7 p.m.

The Soulsational Festival, taking place July 29 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Veterans Park in Bayville, offers yoga and meditation workshops, drum circles, children’s activities and more, as well as music fromQuincy Mumford, Woodfish, Slim Chance & The Gamblers, Soulstock, Eryn Shewell & The Whiskey Devils, Julian Fulton, Pepperwine and others.

Debbie Harry of Blondie is one of the main musical influences of Shirley Manson of Garbage — and Manson even made the induction speech when Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006— so it makes sense that the two bands, though of different generations, are touring together. They’ll be at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, July 28 at 8 p.m., with Deap Vally opening.

In an event open to Friends of the Montclair Jazz Festival, renowned bassist Christian McBride will appear as DJ Brother Mister, spinning records in an “Old School Funk + Soul Dance Party” at 18 Label Street in Montclair, July 28 at 8 p.m. The festival itself takes place Aug. 12 at Montclair’s Nishuane Park, withDeeDee Bridgewater & Memphis Soulphony,A Christian McBride Situation, theCyrus Chestnut Trio, the Ted Chubb Band, Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses and others.


Opera Theatre of Montclair will present its shortened, child-friendly version of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair, July 27 at 7 p.m., with child volunteers from the audience playing some of the small parts. Blankets or lawn chairs are recommended.

Kookmin Dance Theatre will perform traditional Korean dance in New Brunswick, July 27.


• As part of the Mason Gross Summer Series, Kookmin Dance Theatre, from Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea, will perform traditional Korean dance at the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, July 27 at 7 p.m.


“Barbecue,” a documentary about barbecuing traditions around the world, will be shown at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Red Bank, July 27 at 5:30 p.m. (with an actual outside barbecue to follow) as part of the Indie Street Film Festival, which will including screenings, parties and panel discussions at various Red Bank venues, July 26-30. (See “Barbecue” trailer below)


Senator and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Al Franken will sign copies of his memoir, “Giant of the Senate,” July 29 at 2 p.m. at Books and Greetings in Northvale, and July 29 at 7 p.m. at the Clinton Book Shop. (The Clinton event is sold out.)

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