Top 20 NJ Arts Events of the Week: Crawfish Fest, Ringo Starr, ‘Half Time,’ more

Taj Mahal is one of the headliners of this year’s Crawfish Fest.

A guide to notable arts events taking place around the state through June 3.


The 29th annual Crawfish Fest, taking place at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, has lined up one of its most impressive lineups yet. June 2 performers will include Tab Benoit, Marcia Ball, Bonerama, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, The Matt Angus Thing, Brother Joscephus & the Love Revolution, Ryan Montbleau, the Pine Leaf Boys, Jeffery Broussard and Jenny & the Felines. Then on June 3, it will be Taj Mahal, Samantha Fish, George Porter Jr., Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Amanda Shaw, Mike Farris, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Anthony Morgan & the Harlem Spirit of Gospel, Terry & the Zydeco Bad Boys and the Zydeco Revelators. There will also be late night music, for campers only, on June 1 and 2. And, of course, for many, the authentic Louisiana food is as much of an attraction as the music. For a chance to win two tickets, send an email to by midnight May 29 with the word “Crawfish” in the subject line. Note: The tickets can be used for either June 2 or 3 (not both), and will not include admission into the camping area.

• Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band will perform at the Music Box at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa Atlantic City, June 1 at 9 p.m., as well as the Borgata’s Event Center, June 2 at 8 p.m. The current lineup of this ever-changing group includes Steve Lukather (Toto) and Colin Hay (Men at Work) on guitar and vocals, Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey) on keyboards and vocals, Graham Gouldman (10cc) on bass and vocals, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and Warren Ham (Bloodrock, Kansas) on sax, harmonica, flute, percussion, keyboards and vocals. In conjunction with both of these shows, there will be pop-up gallery featuring pieces created by Starr and benefiting his Lotus Foundation, May 31 from 4 to 11 p.m. and June 1-2 from 11 a.m. to midnight.


The first concert of the summer at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford takes place June 2 at 5:30 p.m., when country superstar Luke Bryan brings his What Makes You Country Tour — named after his hit 2017 album — to the home of the Giants and Jets. Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen will open.

• Dead & Company will perform the only New Jersey shows of its summer tour, June 1-2 at 7 p.m. at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden. Active since 2015, Dead & Company focuses on songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire, and features Grateful Dead members Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (drums) and Mickey Hart (drums, percussion), along with John Mayer (guitar, vocals), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards).

The Finnish orchestral rock group Apocalyptica will play its 2016 album Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (featuring songs such as “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” “Sad but True” and “Harvester of Sorrow”) in its entirety, plus other Metallica songs, at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, May 30 at 8 p.m.

The fifth annual Tierney’s Tavern Music Festival takes place June 2 from 11:30 to 8 p.m., with two stages — one outside, and one inside — on which the Watchung Mountain Riders, The Porchistas, Alternative Facts, 94 Proof, Vin Mott and a School of Rock-Montclair band will perform. There is no admission charge.

For the past few years, singer-songwriter Tris McCall has been writing and recording songs for his McCall’s Almanac project: Each song is about a different place in the United States. He’ll play songs from the project, as well as some older material, at FM in Jersey City, June 1 at 8 p.m. The Normal Living, Fascinations Grand Chorus and Glenn Morrow’s Cry for Help will also perform.


• Marshall Crenshaw will sing and play guitar with three surviving members of The Smithereens — guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken — at the Outpost in the Burbs, June 1 at 8 p.m. Crenshaw is a longtime friend of the band, and after the death of Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio in December, he sang three songs with surviving band members at the Jan. 13 DiNizio tribute concert that took place at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. The show will take place at the First Congregational Church at 40 S. Fullerton Ave. in Montclair, and The Grip Weeds will open.

From 1989 to 2012, the Appel Farm Arts and Music Festival in Elmer (Salem County) was a major event, usually taking place on the first weekend of June and attracting headliners such as Jackson Browne, The Indigo Girls and Joan Armatrading. That festival no longer exists. But the venue will launch, June 2-3, a new annual outdoor festival, the South Jersey Arts Fest. The eclectic lineup will include the high-energy soul-rock-gospel group Brother Joscephus and the Love Revolution, the country duo Williams Honor (which opened for Bon Jovi at Madison Square Garden, May 9), Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre, the cooking and spoken-word poetry duo Adobe Fish Sauce, singer-songwriter Joe Crookston and the Balkan brass band West Philadelphia Orchestra. There will also be student-based theater, workshops for all age, arts and crafts displays, food trucks, craft beers and more.



The Basie Summer Jazz Fest— named for the great Red Bank native Count Basie and hosted by Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts — will feature Michael Franks, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin, the Bob James Trio and Lizz Wright, June 2 at 4 p.m.; and Snarky Puppy, Esperanza Spalding and Moonchild, June 3 at 6:30 p.m. While Ritenour and Grusin are booked as a duo, and James will be performing with his own group, Ritenour and James have quite a bit of history together, as co-founders of the group Fourplay.

Luna Stage will offer a rare opportunity to see world-class jazz bassist Christian McBride in an intimate setting June 1, when McBride performs with pianist Emmet Cohen and guitarist Charlie Sigler at the Montclair Women’s Club. The event, a benefit for the West Orange theater company, will begin at 7 p.m. and also feature cocktails and dessert, a silent auction, and dancing after the concert. Proceeds will support Luna productions, as well as classes it presents in local schools, and community programming.

The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill, headlines the Metuchen Jazz Fest, taking place June 2 at 6 p.m. at Metuchen High School. The Mike Neer Steelonious Band and The Metuchen High School Jazz Band will also perform.

The Riverview Jazz Festival, which takes place from June 1 to June 9 at various Jersey City locations, begins with a kick-off concert at J. Owen Grundy Pier, June 1 at 4:30 p.m. Performers will include the Johnny Rodriguez Dream Team, Gato Loco, a ZT Amplifiers Artist Showcase (featuring Vic Juris, Dave Stryker and Charlie Apicella) and the Riverview Jazz Brass led by Andrae Murchison.


The classic movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” will be shown, with live music by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Constantine Kitsopoulos) at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, June 1 at 8 p.m.; Prudential Hall at NJPAC in Newark, June 2 at 8 p.m.; and the State Theatre in New Brunswick, June 3 at 3 p.m.

The Summer 2018 edition of the New Jersey International Film Festival runs from June 1 to June 10 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, with more than 20 screenings. All films are New Jersey or area premieres; many of the screenings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with the film’s directors, or others involved in making them.


Three things to know about Dave Chappelle‘s 10 p.m. June 1 performance at the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City: (1) This will be the first show in 12 years at the Borgata for Chappelle, who hasn’t toured often in recent years, (2) this will be the venue’s first attempt at an “in the round” show; and (3) don’t expect to get any photos or video. According to a message on the Borgata’s web site: “No cellphones, cameras or recording devices permitted. Upon arrival, all phones and smart watches will be secured in Yondr pouches that will be unlocked at the end of the show. Guests may maintain possession of their phones, and if needed, may access their phones at designated Yondr unlocking stations in the lobby. Guests are encouraged to print their tickets in advance. Anyone caught with a phone will be ejected.”


The Jersey City Theater Center‘s “Out of Bounds” program will feature work by eight choreographers — Robert Mark Burke, Lauren Connolly, Katelyn Halpern, Joe Monteleone, Morgan Refakis, Nick Sciscione, Heather Warfel, and Meagan Woods — that revolve around the theme of “resistance.” The show will take place at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, June 2 at 8 p.m.



Tony Award winners Donna McKechnie (“A Chorus Line”) and Lillias White (“The Life”), along with Georgia Engel (best known as a cast member of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) and André De Shields (Tony-nominated for “Play On” and “The Full Monty”), head the impressive cast of “Half Time,” a new musical about a senior dance team that begins previews at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, May 31; officially opens on June 12; and runs through July 1.

New Jersey Repertory Company will present “Five by Ferber,” a festival celebrating the life and art of Edna Ferber, May 31 to June 3 at its West End Arts Center in Long Branch. The festival will include salon readings of five new one-act plays adapted from Ferber’s short stories; a lecture on “Showboat” by Ferber’s great-niece and biographer, Julie Gilbert; and a concert reading of “Selina Peake,” a newly discovered play written by Horton Foote and based on Ferber’s novel, “So Big.”

A production of “Rent” at a Texas high school creates problems for the local community in “Small Town Story,” a new, based-on-a-true-story musical that the American Theater Group will present at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, May 31 and June 7 at 7:30 p.m.; June 1-2 and 8-9 at 8 p.m.; and June 3 and 10 at 3 p.m.and June 1-3 and 7-10. Here is a video with more information:

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