Top 15 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Jason Isbell, Steven Page, ‘American Hero,’ more


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit perform at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Feb. 5.

Here is a guide to notable arts events taking place throughout the state, through Feb. 5:


Former Drive-By Truckers member Jason Isbell — who won the Americana Album and American Roots Song Grammys on Sunday, for The Nashville Sound and “If We Were Vampires”— will bring his band the 400 Unit to the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m., with James McMurtry opening.

The Jersey-based roots-rock band From Good Homes— singer-songwriter-guitarist Todd Sheaffer, bassist Brady Rymer, drummer Patrick Fitzsimmons, saxophonist Dan Myers and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Coan— broke up in 1999, with the individual members going on to various musical projects on their own. Since 2009, though, they have been reuniting for occasional shows, and will do so again atWhite Eagle Hallin Jersey City, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. (For a chance to win two tickets, emailnjartscontest@gmail.comby midnight Jan. 31 with the word “Homes” in the subject line.)

• Sleepy Man— formerly known as the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys— is a virtuosic bluegrass group, featuring three young brothers from Lebanon Township (banjo player Jonny Mizzone, fiddler-vocalist Robbie Mizzone, guitarist Tommy Mizzone) along with bassist Josh Thomas. They have had a national presence since 2011, when they released their first album, America’s Music, and appeared on “Late Show With David Letterman.” They’ll perform at theSitnik Theatre at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., in a benefit for the Centenary University Innovation Fund.

The Smithereens performed often at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick early in their career, and in honor of the band’s late frontman, the clubwill present a show titled “Blood & Roses: The Court Tavern Memorial Tribute to Pat DiNizio,”Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., with The Smithereens’ Jim Babjak, The Grip Weeds, Mike Daly and the Planets, Lost Romance and others.


Golden-voiced Former Barenaked Ladies co-frontman Steven Page will perform with the Toronto-based chamber-pop group, the Art of Time Ensemble, at the Grunin Center at Ocean County College in Toms River, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m. Their show, titled “Songbook,” will feature Barenaked Ladies songs and solo Page material, as well as compositions by Randy Newman, Radiohead, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen and others.

Helping to kick off Black History Month, the Jubilation gospel choir will present its “From the Middle Passage” show, featuring music relevant to various periods of African-American history, at the Hamilton Stage at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Singer, actor and former teen idolFrankie Avalon— known for hit singles such as “Venus” and “Why,” and appearances in movies such as “Beach Blanket Bingo” and “Grease”— performs at Enlow Recital Hall at Kean University in Hillside, Feb. 3 at 3 and 7:30 p.m., as part of theKean Stageseries. (For a chance to win two tickets to the 7:30 show, send an email tonjartscontest@gmail.comby midnight Jan. 31 with the word “Avalon” in the subject line.)

Annually since 2005, graduates of Glen Ridge High School have been organizing a No Class Reunion, open to alumni of all classes and everyone connected to the school in some way. This year’s reunion will take the form of a concert at Tierney’s Tavern, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m., with sets by the Gutter Kings, The Alien Slaves and By George (a George Harrison tribute band).


Choreographer Camille A. Brown and her Camille A. Brown & Dancers company will bring their“ink”to the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair University, Feb. 1-2 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 4 at 3 p.m., as part of the Peak Performances series. “ink” is the third part of a trilogy “about culture, race, and identity (that) celebrates the rituals, gestural vocabulary, and traditions of the African diaspora while examining the culture of Black life that is often appropriated, rewritten or silenced,” according to a press release. Traditional African music is used in the piece, along withblues, hip-hop, jazz and swing.


Christopher Demos-Brown’s wrenching“American Son,”which was at the George Street Playhouse in February 2017, was one of the highlights of the 2016-17 New Jersey theater season for me. “American Hero,” about a veteran of the Iraq war, is the second part of Demos-Brown’s planned trilogy about injustices in modern America. It begins previews at the George Street Playhouse Jan. 30, officially opens on Feb. 2, and runs through Feb. 25.

The Crossroads Theatre Company will present “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 1-4.

The Crossroads Theatre Company, like the George Street Playhouse, will be displaced this season because of construction of a new arts center. But it will bring its production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the popular musical featuring the songs of Fats Waller, to the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, Feb. 1-4 at 8 p.m., with additional matinees at 3 p.m. Feb. 3-4. The direction and choreography will be by André DeShields, who starred in the original Broadway production.

The Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken will present a production of“Driving Miss Daisy”— the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 Alfred Uhry play that was made into a multiple-Oscar-winning film in 1989 — from Jan. 31 to Feb. 25, with the official opening night on Feb. 2.

The Two River Theaterin Red Bank will offer a series of classes, titled “First Monday Masters,” beginning Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m., with “Adapting Shakespeare for Modern Audiences,” taught by Sara Holdren. Coming up later are “Costume Design,” to be taught by Jess Goldstein, March 6 at 6 p.m.; and “Devising (Creating) Theater,” to be taught by Matt Barbot, April 9 at 6 p.m.


The Film Institute at Montclair State University will present “Sundays With Scorsese,” a screening and lecture series hosted by critic Stephen Whitty, at 2 p.m. on on the four Sundays in February. The screenings will take place at Presentation Hall in Montclair State’s School of Communications and Media, and will feature “Taxi Driver” (1976), Feb. 4; “Raging Bull” (1980), Feb. 11; “After Hours” (1985), with a special appearance by screenwriter Joe Minion, Feb. 18; and “GoodFellas” (1990), Feb. 25. All screenings are free, though reservations are required here.


Techniques of movies’ special effects will be explained and demonstrated in “The Hollywood Special EFX Show,” an interactive, family-oriented event being presented at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. (see video below)

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