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The Nerds, of course. Spaz, Biff, Stretch, and Mongo have been donning their taped-up black glasses and plaid get-ups for 23 years, an oldies tribute band in extremis. Their “Sweet Caroline” is an all-out audience sing-along and their “At the Copa” has a better bass line than the original. Thursday night at Jenkinson’s; Wednesdays on LBI; and weekends sweating and gyrating goofily somewhere.
With an estimated 1,600 artists calling Jersey City home and the municipal dedication of ten blocks as an arts district, this rejuvenated city is a haven for local established and emerging artists. Named for the landmark Hudson & Manhattan Railroad powerhouse, the Powerhouse Arts District is projected to be an energetic environment of loft-style condos and rental units, restaurants, clubs, galleries, theaters, and workspace for artists. One of the developers, Louis Dubin of the Athena Group, is already commissioning sculptures for public display. And in October, 350 local artists will showcase their work at the annual Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. Anchoring the entire arts scene is the Jersey City Museum, which welcomed more than 25,000 visitors last year.
“I live, eat, and breathe tattoos,” says tattoo artist Kevin LeBlanc, 37. The Ocean County resident has left his mark at conventions and shops in Sweden, Denmark, and Italy. “I have always been an artist at heart,” he says. LeBlanc (kevinleblanc.com) works at White Lotus Tattoo in Toms River, where he focuses on larger Japanese-style tattoos. “Everything I do is custom and original,” he says. It can take up to a year to land an appointment with this talented and innovative artist.
What dazzling impresario is able to get acts like Babyface, Paula Poundstone, the Alternate Routes, and Asia, along with scores of indie bands, jazz musicians, and orchestras to play? The Camden County Board of Freeholders concert series. The winter series showcases acts in the Dennis Flyer Memorial Theatre in Blackwood and Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood while the summer series takes acts to the area’s outdoor arenas in Clementon, Winslow Township, Mt. Ephraim, and Audubon, to name a few. The series is crowned by a Fourth of July spectacular at Cooper River Park. In 2007, Kansas was the headliner. Who will it be for 2008? Stay tuned at CamdenCounty.com
Six Strings of High Hope
Justin Stabler has assembled quite a resume for a 19-year-old. The gifted guitarist has already played at hip venues such as CBGB’s and the Knitting Factory in Manhattan as well as the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park. He has been playing bass for about five years, focusing on guitar the past two. He joined the band Union City Blue at thirteen, then Even the Odds at sixteen, cowriting the band’s four-song demo Damsel in Distress. The disc got the band to music teacher and manager Anthony G., which led to a development deal, a second four-song demo (One for the Kids), and an on-air interview with JV & Elvis on 92.3 KRock. The Hunterdon County guitarist is continuing to study at Spotlight Music in Flemington with teacher and mentor Anthony G. Justin and his father, Guy, who owns a glass business in Bound Brook, are planning to lease space to open a performing arts center in Hillsborough for rising artists.
“I’m still forming my own style,” says Stabler, “and I take influences from anyone, throw it in a blender, and see how it comes out.”
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A Meal for Amiel
As mentioned earlier in the week, on February 8, chef Florian Wehrli, along with top chefs from New York and Northern New Jersey will collaborate on a benefit dinner at Perona Farms to raise money to build a greenhouse/interactive classroom for Frankford Township School. The five-course tasting meal will feature regionally grown meats, cheeses and produce.
Early in Saturday night's American premiere of a work by the South African choreographer Robyn Orlin, the dancers of the all-male Senegalese troupe Jant-Bi begin to advance steadfastly toward and then literally into the audience--standing on the backs and armrests of occupied seats and striking a pose of invincible, unyielding bravado.
At that point, who could guess that this pinwheeling, sometimes perplexing, affair at Montclair State's Kasser Theater would culminate in a flood of joy uniting audience and performers?
For some reason, that is my favorite line in what I like to think of as my favorite play, Waiting For Godot. I certainly will not forget this particular carrot. That I can't explain the contents of this picture is part of what I like about it. In other words, you can't make this stuff up.
Snow everywhere in Jersey. Nonetheless, you can celebrate the Super Bowl on the beach in Sea Bright. In Driftwood Cabana Club's rebuilt, enclosed, all-weather tiki bar, "You kind of feel like you are on a cruise ship," says beverage director Beau Keegan, "because all you see is water.”