Meet the McClure Twins at ValleyArts Harvest Fest

Harvest Fest — the time of year when all the crops have been harvested and we celebrate by singing, dancing, playing games and giving back to those in need.

Harvest Fest flyer 2.jpg

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ValleyArts and CC Minton are asking the community to come together and celebrate with our Harvest Fest Ambassadors - Alexis and Ava McClure. This annual event will be hosted in the ValleyArts Courtyard for a Meet and Greet with the McClure Twins, enjoy harvest fest games, participate in a popular child-friendly live musical participatory performance led by Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts, take part in a history making Tile painting project, enjoy Mini Daddy Greek Potato Pie give-a-ways from Supreme Bakery, lots of photo opportunities and more.

This is a free event, open to the public and all we ask for is canned good donations that will be collected by representatives from our local food pantries. We invite you to stop by drop-off a donation, welcome bring your kids and have some fun with us in this season of giving.

McClure Twins

The McClure Twins’ parents began documenting the twins lives through pictures and videos and started "twin talks" with Ava and Alexis as their funny personalities were enjoyable. In one video, "Twins Realize They Look the Same", Alexis got upset because she was one minute younger than her identical twin Ava. As Alexis cooled down, she realized she was a little bit taller than Ava, which prompted Ava to meltdown. This feel-good moment went mega-viral, with millions of views around the world. In late October, 2016, the twins were on the Today Show and Good Morning America and have subsequently worked with Disney, Facebook and many other notable organizations. The rest is history. They set out to make positive high-quality content that represents their values of humor, compassion, empathy, & family values, while also being entertaining. With a focus on delivering positive content in an often negative world, the girls early viral success prompted them to produced more viral videos and use their influence for good.

CC Minton

  Event Co-Sponsor — CC Minton    https://www.ccminton.com

Event Co-Sponsor — CC Minton https://www.ccminton.com

Event Co-Sponsor CC Minton is an author, media contributor, and a lifestyle empowerment maven. A President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Community Leadership Award recipient, CC works with adults, children and communities empowering them to embrace healthy living. Her various projects include working with the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama, Whole Foods Market, NY/NJ Superbowl organization, Apollo Theater, Olympic Day Committee and Harlem World Magazine. A community leader that has served on the Junior League Board of Directors and Wellness Council for the West Orange Board of Education and has tackled big business as a strategic partner for the New York/New Jersey NFL Super Bowl XLVIII where she and her team provided bits and bites, on game day, at the Official Super Bowl VIP Tailgate Party at New Jersey Metlife Stadium. Her love for community is at the center of what she does as a humanitarian. CC was Chairperson for the Junior League's Health and Nutrition Initiative, co-hosted the first Team USA Olympic Day sanctioned event in the City of Newark at B.R.I.C.K. Avon Academy honoring Hall of Fame boxing coach Wali Moses. She also served as a guest panelist at the Jack and Jill of America Childhood Obesity Forum in Washington, DC. More recently CC Minton is currently leading the advisory council for the former Olympian now Pro Boxer Shakur Stevenson and Olympic Coach Walli Moses NonProfit - Stevenson Moses Boxing for Life.

ValleyArts

  Event Co-Sponsor — ValleyArts    http://www.valleyartsnj.com

Event Co-Sponsor — ValleyArts http://www.valleyartsnj.com

Event Co-Sponsor — ValleyArts. With a key focus of community collaboration, ValleyArts produces free and fun events, offer donation-based and low cost workshops on topics relevant to the local residents. We work with local community partners; provide meeting space, creative space, and a gathering spot. We facilitate connections between community members who can help each other and we collaborate with community members to host creative events. When it comes to creative arts education our programs are not just about art, but about all things creative - including visual and performing arts, music, cooking, gardening, movement, and more. Providing creative opportunities for children and teens is important for developing confident and creative thinkers who do better in school and who grow into strong community members. On the economic opportunity front we provide exhibits and spaces for visual artists to display and sell art, host regular events to showcase local talent, and operate a boutique for local artists, makers, and businesses to sell their goods. Most of our boutique contributors are women- or minority-owned companies in the local community. Creating economic and business growth opportunities for our community members is good for the whole neighborhood and surrounding towns as well. 

Soul Xpressiion

  Contributing Partner — Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts    http://www.soulxpressiion.org

Contributing Partner — Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts http://www.soulxpressiion.org

Contributing Partner Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts is winner of the 2017 "Best in Education" Award from NJ Black Businesses Organization aims to create a faith based environment for children and adults, with and without disabilities, to learn and develop their skills within the arts. Located On the border of Orange and West Orange and just a couple blocks from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Soul Xpressiion is a non-profit organization designed to educate students in the fine and performing arts, stage management, stage production management and to utilize their gifts to inspire others. Our school is a faith-friendly environment, ensuring our students receive a nurturing, fun and safe atmosphere for learning. We believe that every person has been blessed with a specific gift and purpose in life and it's essential to educate and develop ourselves within those gifts. We offer a diverse range for all ages and abilities and strive to target individual learning styles while enhancing creativity for children and adults. 

Supreme Bakery

  Contributing Partner — Supreme Bakery    http://www.supremebakery.com/

Contributing Partner — Supreme Bakery http://www.supremebakery.com/

Contributing Partner Supreme Bakery is located on Main Street in West Orange, NJ, less than one mile from Thomas Edison's house and his invention factory. It is quite likely that the world's greatest inventor was eating a Supreme Bakery glazed donut when he invented the light bulb. For the past 35 years, Supreme Bakery has been owned and operated by the Stolz family. It has been our goal to serve our customers the freshest and the finest products possible. We have an experienced and dedicated staff that is anxious to provide outstanding service. It is also our goal to be a contributing member of the community. Supreme Bakery takes part in many charitable activities that benefits local organizations. We also provide food for three local soup kitchens. We are a kosher bakery under the supervision of Rabbi Isaiah Hertzberg. All of our baking is done on our premises and is under the close supervision of owner and certified Master Baker Richard Stolz.

About the Author

About the Author Gregory Burrus.jpg

Gregory Burrus is a local live music ambassador, event developer an community partner that develops, manages, promotes and documents local community events in the Greater New Jersey and New York Area.

Gregory Burrus sits on a number of local boards and committees and serves as the Board Member Maplewood Community Music, Manages, Vice President of the North Jersey Blues Alliance, Curates and Promotes the South Orange Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts, the South Orange 24 Hours of Music Festival, the SOPAC Playing Around South Orange Music Initiative, the Maplewood 4th of Music Live Music Events, Newark’s Jazz973 at Clements Place Jazz Series, NYC John Jay College Myrna Bain Scholarship Fundraiser, the Orange NJ ValleyArts Music Programs, Creator of the South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam, along with booking bands at many other local venues. 

Showcasing, photographing, videotaping events and happenings as they occur around town while living life every day to the fullest. Learn more at: Gregory Burrus - Gregory Burrus Live Music Ambassador.    

Keywords: ValleyArts, live music, Gregory Burrus, McClure Twins

Outdoor Live Music Events in Essex County, NJ

Hello October! Lots of Free Outdoor Live Music Events
All Around Our Essex County Towns  

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Friday, October 5, 2018

OK folks, it's beautiful October, a little chilly at times, then a little warm which is great, and some outdoor activities tend to come to a close but not just yet as Outdoor Live Music Continues. BTW all events listed below that I'm involved with are free unless noted otherwise below.

So, “Hello October!”  

Every Wed. 5-8 PM, South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam - Peter Lin

South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam - Peter Lin.jpg

4 more jazz jams coming at you led by the awesome Peter Lin and his band. Every Wed 5-8 PM at 17 Sloan Street in South Orange NJ. Shop at the Farmers Market, secure some food and we invite you to come on over to sing, play, or listen and help us close out the last month of our 2nd Annual South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam. GPS 17 Sloan Street. Learn more: FB https://www.facebook.com/sofmj...

A side note - Yeah it's getting colder and have not found an indoor arena in South Orange yet to bring bands to but I'm open to suggestions and I'm still searching for indoor places to book some live music bands.... Hint hint restaurants and music venues. And on the inside venue we have a very special event:

Wed. Oct 17, 7 PM Clements Place Newark NJ Kelly Green Trio

Jazz973@Clements Presents the marvelous, awesome Kelly Green Trio at Clements Place. It's very special place in memory of Newark Historian Clement Price (RIP) and run by Institute of Jazz Studies Executive Director Wayne Winborne. It's all about jazz, it free access, snacks and libations are donated and the music is just swinging. Kelly is coming to rock your world and folks are excited like you wouldn't believe for Kelly Green as 65 of the 80 seats are gone already so if you plan on coming get your access RSVP now at Jazz973@Clements Place Oct 17 7-9 PM. RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/j...

OK. Back to this week...

Fri. Oct 5 Friday @7:30 pm – Mimi Jones Quartet at Clements Place Jazz Events

Mimi Jones Quartet at Clements Place Jazz Events.jpg

IJS Concert Series presents Mimi Jones- 15 Washington Street in Newark and this event be truly a great one as Mimi was fabulous last time. Bassist/vocalist/producer/label owner and now filmmaker Mimi Jones has reigned supreme for the more than two decades she’s been on the scene as a side woman to an impressive coterie of musicians and as a leader with three CDs on her own Hot Tone Music label. She has been voted #2 rising star by the DownBeat poll for 3 years straight. Free but you must RSVP Go and click to RSVP register at  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/i... 

Sat. Oct 6, 6-7PM Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers Saxophonist George Coleman 

Sat Oct 6 6-7 PM Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers Saxophonist George Coleman.jpg

George Coleman has worked with some of the most prominent figures in jazz, including Lionel Hampton, Lee Morgan, Elvin Jones, Charles Mingus, Betty Carter, Chet Baker, Charles McPherson, Cedar Walton, Ahmad Jamal, and Hilton Ruiz - 275 W Market St. Newark NJ

Sat. Oct 6, 3:30-4:30PM Lil Bastad at Bloomfield Harvest Fest

Sat Oct 3-30 Lil Bastad at Bloomfield Harvest Fest.jpg

Lil Bastad will be playing at Bloomfield, NJ's Octoberfest on Sat. Oct. 6 @ 3:30-4:30 - Makin' it funky...  The dynamic character of the band is a result of its members' personalities. On lead guitar& vocals, Mark Bowers (JT Taylor of Kool & The Gang, The Manhattans, Mary J. Blige, Otis Rush, Lowell Fulson, Wilson Pickett); on drums, Dave Moore (Dave Fields, Nikki Armstrong, Kings in Disguise); on bass, Ronald "Boz" Bostick (Blue Magic, Funkadelic, Della Reese & Super Blue). From Long Island, NY on keyboards is John Palmer (Doyle Bramhall, Terence Trent-D'Arby); and on guitar & vocals, Luke Michura (Tanglefoot, Bourbon Street). You've got to hear them to believe it!  Located across from the Public Library -- the rain date, if needed, is Oct. 7 at the same time. https://www.facebook.com/pg/lilbastad

Sat Oct 6 10 AM - Sun Oct 7 3PM Valley Arts Gallery Pop Up Vinyl Shop with Brainiac Records 

Valley Arts Gallery Pop Up Vinyl Shop with Brainiac Records.jpg

Valley Arts Community Gallery brings you the Pop Up Vinyl Shop with Brainiac Records - Brainiac Records and other vinyl vendors will be in the Community Gallery all weekend with tons of vinyl! All genres - you will definitely find something new for your collection. The biggest vinyl pop-up shop around!  ValleyArts 400 S Jefferson St, Orange, New Jersey 07050

https://www.facebook.com/events/239013333473530

Sat Oct 6 - 8PM South Orange Pierro Gallery Presents Below the Water Line

South Orange Pierro Gallery Presents Below the Water Line.jpg

South Orange Pierro Gallery invites you to join us for a free, one-night, open-air show on the South Orange Duck Pond. The debut of a water-born and waterborne series of visual and spoken poetry, the performance will take those gathered around the shore on an illuminated journey Below the Waterline.

The October 6th show will be presented outdoors and free to the public. Guests are invited to bring their own blankets and chairs for sitting on the grass. In case of rain, the show will take place October 13th, 6:00-8:00 pm. See the event at https://www.facebook.com/events/339637276803202/

OPEN Call:

Speaking of Valley Arts - you may know that I'm doing some music programming for Valley Arts Community Gallery right up the rode in Orange N.J. A number of folks have hit me up with ideas and that they want to play so here's a few parameters.

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1. I'm looking for some Solo and Duo acoustic artists to come on on out and play some music for an hour or two on certain days of the week in the Artful Bean Coffe Shop. Expenses Only Gig. If interested please email me your interests or FB Msg me (gregoryburrus) your interest and your email.

2. I'm also going to start a Live Music Series in the beautiful Valley Arts Gallery space next door. It's an intimate gorgeous space and we want the music to flow. Here I am looking for some smooth folk singers, country, jazz, neo soul, vocalist, classical music and more. It's an intimate space holds lots of seats but not looking to Rock the Block or the neighborhood. It will be a paid gig so If you have an idea hit me up here on FB Msg  (gregoryburrus) or email me at gregoryburrus@gregoryburrusproductions.com, I can give you more details and maybe we can work something out.

About the Author

Gregory Burrus with Chelsea Burrus at Clements Place.jpg

 Gregory Burrus with Chelsea Burrus at Clements Place

Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come.  

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. Gregory Burrus curates events at Jazz973 at Clements Place, Valley Arts Gallery along with being promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts, Playing Pianos Around South Orange, NJ and is the founder, curator of South Orange 24 Hours of Music and the South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam along with many other live music  ventures.

Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.  Having fun, living life, while helping others.

Keywords: clementsplacejazz playingaroundsouthorange  downtownaftersundown jazzonsloan southorangegazebo southorangevillagecenter southorangenj gregoryburrusaroundtown sopianos sofarmersmarket sopac   livemusicambassador

Making a Difference - Mustafa Music King Daniels Playing Around South Orange

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2018

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)’s annual program, Playin’ Around South Orange, launches in the summer, bringing live music and art in the form of hand-painted pianos and outdoor performances to five separate South Orange locations. 

 Playing Around South Orange - Artist, Piano, Musicians

Playing Around South Orange - Artist, Piano, Musicians

Kick-off day festivities include live performances by professional musicians at each of the piano locations. The visual artists will also be in attendance at their pianos. With simultaneous mini-concerts happening all over town, the day is sure to be music and art-inspired.

Each year, local artists complete an application process for the honor of transforming an old piano into a contemporary piece of art. On average, each artist donates 30 or more hours per piano to bring this musical event to life. Paint and supplies either come from the artists themselves or are donated by local businesses.

Pianos are donated by various individuals from throughout the community. Director of SOPAC Community Engagement, Linda Beard, keeps her eyes and ears open for possible donations all year long, sometimes asking people to “hold on to” their instruments for several months for lack of storage space until the summer comes around again. Her goal for the program is “to interrupt the humdrum day-to-day and allow people the opportunity to interact with different genres of art in a unique way.” She says with obvious enthusiasm, “It’s about bringing what we do inside the [SOPAC] building outside the building.”

Playing Around South Orange Pianos Community Music and Jam Open Mic Event

The pianos are deployed around South Orange, NJ for approximately 6 weeks. A wonderful part of this project is that anybody can play these pianos. 

 2017 Playing Pianos Around South Orange Peacock Piano

2017 Playing Pianos Around South Orange Peacock Piano

In prior years, the community has come to expect them and in early June, residents start inquiring about their deployment around South Orange. As the normal deployment is usually the last week of August, community anticipation is built up about their arrival throughout the summer. When the pianos are finally deployed around South Orange, they stay out for 6 weeks or more, and folks from in and out-of-town come through and enjoy them all day and sometimes all night. These pianos are available for all to perform on, anytime someone feels the need to tickle the ivories. 

Weather is an obvious challenge for the instruments. SOPAC staff try to watch the forecast while the pianos are out, but occasionally a compassionate citizen will take notice of an impending storm and spontaneously pull a SOPAC-supplied blue tarp over the artwork, preserving it for a few more improvisational concerts. “That’s exactly the kind of behavior we are looking to ignite,” notes SOPAC’S Linda Beard. “We want the community to take ownership of this experience and realize that these instruments are not ‘ours;’ they belong to South Orange.”

A wonderful part of this season is a set of orchestrated community jam performances that are conducted on a weekly basis. This year, Gregory Burrus, a local community live music producer, promoter and photojournalist, is coordinating and curating the musicians that will perform. For 2 hours once a week, a musician is selected to perform on and around these pianos. The musicians are allowed free rein in what they want their event to consist of during their performance time. And anyone from the community can come on in and join in the fun. 

 Mustafa Music Man Daniels

Mustafa Music Man Daniels

This year on Sept 27, Mustafa MusicKing Daniels takes the reins in this very special installment of SOPAC South Orange Performing Arts Center’s Playing Around South Orange Pianos.  Last year, he was great; this year even better, as he will be joined by his friends from Soul Xpressiion.

Who is Mustafa Music King Daniels?

Mustafa Daniels was born and raised in Newark, NJ.  Daniels first began to discover and play piano at the tender age of nine-years-old, under the direction of Lanie Turner at Belmont Runyon Elementary School in Newark, NJ.  From there, he went on to receive numerous music and performance awards throughout his grade school years, such as the Connie Woodruff Jazz Competition Award in 2001 and the Star Ledger Performing Arts Scholarship in 2002.  He is a proud and distinguished alumnus of Arts High School in Newark, NJ.  He is accredited for participating in Arts High School’s Jazz Band, Male Chorus, Advanced Chorus, Gospel Choir, and had a lead role in the 2001 Arts High School Production of Guys and Dolls.

Mustafa Daniels.jpg

Mustafa Daniels also had the pleasure and honor to perform at the 2001 VH1 televised Save the Music Foundation concert in the company of India.Arie, Mariah Carey, and former President Bill Clinton.

He was an active member in the United States Marine Corp Band, where he held an E3 rank of Lance Corporal. He spent three-and-a-half-years traveling and performing with the Corp as their pianist before he made his way back to New Jersey.

Daniels worked as a Music Consultant for Newark Public Schools for six years . He was also very active in community activities such as Newark Idol, the Lincoln Park Summer Series and, more recently, the Arts High School Latin Jazz Band.

Daniels works as a piano instructor, music producer, songwriter, composer, and director. He specializes in gospel, jazz, pop and R&B music. He is the current Minister of Music for Unity Freedom Baptist Church in Newark, NJ and has been an active member of the church’s music department for over ten years. In August of 2013, Daniels independently released his first gospel EP, Sounds of Praise and Worship that featured songs: “God Made Me a Promise,” “Lord I Give My All to You” and “Don’t Hold Back.” In January of 2014, he independently released his second gospel EP that featured songs: “Seek First, Are You Ready?,” and “Simply Beautiful".” In 2014, Daniels began to offer piano and music theory lessons to family, church members, and friends of all ages. In 2015, he joined Soul Xpressiion Performing Arts Studio out of Orange, New Jersey as their piano instructor.

Mustafa Daniels would ultimately like to advance in his music career as a songwriter, producer and instructor of great music to uplift and bring people closer to God and each other.

About Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts

 Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts

Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts

“Our school aims to create a faith-based environment for children and adults, with and without disabilities, to learn and develop their skills within the arts.”

Who runs Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts? 
 Founder, Artistic Director Kenyani Shanai Henderson

Shanai is the owner and artistic director of Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts. She was born and raised in Linden, New Jersey with her loving family. She began her dance training within her church’s dance ministry, Judah, where she learned her foundation of ballet, modern, and liturgical dance. Shanai then continued her dance training as a dance major student in high school and a member of Linden High School’s Dance Company under the direction of Barbara Greco-Brady. Shanai was formally a company member of Work of Art (WOA) Dance Theater from 2010 to 2012 and was featured in the annual Christmas show Spellbound and production Deliver Us. Shanai also performed at Sisters Network, Inc.’s Women Empowerment program hosted by actress/dancer Victoria Rowell in 2011.

Kenyani Shanai Henderson.jpg

Shanai was also a member of Revelations Dance ministry out of Newark, NJ under the direction of Crystal Glass, and performed along with company at Newark Symphony Hall’s Christmas production and the 2014 McDonald’s Gospel Fest at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. In 2014, Shanai was the choreographer of the off-Broadway play, Life of an Addict, at the renowned Symphony Space Theater in NYC.

She received her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) and holds a B.A. in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a concentration in Psychology, receiving both degrees from Seton Hall University. In conjunction with her academics, she was an instructor/choreographer for Touching Humanity Inc., a non-profit theatre/educational organization that creates services and opportunities for children/adults with various disabilities.

Combining her OT and dance skills, she is able to fulfill her dream in assisting those with disabilities, to help children and adults participate in performing arts despite their disabilities. Devoting her dance to Christ, Shanai was the Dance ministry leader at Abundant Life Family Worship Church in New Brunswick, NJ, the liturgical dance instructor for Inspira Performing Arts & Cultural Center, and is now the Director of Dance at Resting Place HOP in Woodland Park, NJ.

Filled with the love to teach, Shanai was also an educator at North Star Academy in Newark, NJ, teaching advance drill step to her after-school enrichment program and currently works as a school-based occupational therapist. She is also an Adjunct Professor for the Dance Fundamentals Course at Seton Hall University.

She loves to see others learn and find a joy in learning the arts. She plans to continue to inspire others through dance and all art forms, while creating an atmosphere where students can “Express themselves with all their Heart and Soul.” http://www.soulxpressiion.org/ 

Mr. Mustafa and Friends, Soul Xpressiion, in Playing Around South Orange Pianos

Mustafa Daniels Sept 27 Pianos event.jpg

This Thursday 9/27, Mustafa MusicKing Daniels takes the reins in this very special installment of SOPAC South Orange Performing Arts Center’s Playing Around South Orange Pianos Project. Last year, he was great; this year even better as he will be joined by his friends from Soul Xpressiion. Kenyani Shanai Henderson of Soul Xpressiion School of the Arts stated, “Soul Xpressiion will be accompanying Mr. Mustafa in South Orange as he plays for Playing Around South Orange Pianos Project. Come out and watch our students and friends dance along to the numerous piano songs. All of our Thursday dance instructors will be present, conducting their classes and PERFORMING! You don’t want to miss this event.”

This event is free and open to the public and very kid-friendly. Spread the word, bring yourself, bring the kids and join in.

Learn more and join us: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mustafa-musicman-daniels-and-friends-soul-xpressiion-tickets-50674683342 

 

Are You Ready To Start Playing Around South Orange - Pianos Projects?

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2018

For the 5th year, to the delight of many residents in the community, Playin’ Around South Orange project pianos were deployed on August 25th all Around South Orange.  Playin’ Around South Orange is a public art project that highlights both the visual and the performing arts.  Pianos transform into works of art themselves by extraordinary local artists, providing unexpected and delightful encounters and encourage active arts engagement in our day-to-day lives through the spontaneous making of music. https://www.sopacnow.org/community/sopianos/.

Are You Ready To Start Playing Around South Orange.jpg

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Artist

This year, five artists were selected to design these pianos and then they are placed on the streets of South Orange, NJ.  The artists are: 

Arts Council of East Orange.jpg
  • The ARTS COUNCIL OF EAST ORANGE painted the piano at the South Orange Gazebo venue. Members of the council are: Gwendolyn ‘Arri’ Jackson, Irene Pomianowski lead the team (Jae Bianca Jackson, Helena L Branch, Jeffrey ‘Sizzy’ Osborne and Marsha Wilderson).

Elina Rosenblum and Veronika Hapco.jpg
  • Elina Rosenblum and Veronika Hapco painted the piano located at Spiotta Park.

Jessica Skultety painted the Baby Grand piano on South Orange Ave.jpg
  • Jessica Skultety painted the Baby Grand piano on South Orange Ave.

  • Kurk Maynard painted the piano located at Irvington.

  • Bill Beillec painted the piano located at Seton Hall.

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Community Participation

A wonderful part of this project is that anybody can play these pianos.  In the last years, the community has come to expect them and start inquiring to their deployment Around South Orange in June.  Since the normal deployment is at the end of August, much anticipation is built up all summer long.  The pianos are out on the South Orange streets for 6 weeks and folks from in and out-of-town come through and enjoy them all day and night, too.  There is a map at https://www.sopacnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PASO-Map-2018. These pianos are available for all to perform on, anytime the urge hits you.

Part of this weekend’s fun was the musicians that came out to play, such as Theo Walentiny playing on the South Orange Baby Grand piano with vocalist Elora Aclin while Mark Madonna of the Five Cent Philosophers and his son played tunes at the Jersey Divas piano.

Mark Madonna of the Five Cent Philosophers and his son play tunes at the Jersey Divas piano.jpg

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Musician’s Community Jam  Performances

Next up, we conduct community jams and performances during the evening for folks to come out and enjoy.  With some returning performers and a few newly selected performers, we now have a weekly performance/community jam schedule.  Also, in line with the Jazz Divas piano theme, our first selected pianist, Hal Keshner, has informed us that he may honor each Jersey Diva by playing a tune dedicated to each diva. 

selected musicians Piano Project.jpg

The selected musicians that you should come out and support are:

  • Bandleader, guitarist, singer, and pianist Hal Keshner - Thursday 8/30/2018 6-8PM

  • Piano Man Robert Richardson & Vocalist Steven Grice - Thursday 9/13/2018 6-8PM

  • Vocalist Barbara Hassenfeld and Friends - Tuesday 9/18/2018 6-8PM

  • Music teacher and pianist Mustafa “Music King” Daniels - Thursday 9/27/2018 6-8PM

Join us, as all vocalists/instrumentalists are welcome to come join in the fun, before, after and during the performances.

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Wrap-Up

Playin’ Around South Orange Project Wrap-up.jpg

The closing of the Playin’ Around South Orange program falls on or about Sunday, October 7th. To honor each year’s pianos as pieces of art, they are auctioned off and/or donated to benefit SOPAC’s education programming.  Playin’ Around South Orange is proudly sponsored by Patti Donovan.  Artist and piano design are managed by the South Orange Performing Arts Center with local live music promoter Gregory Burrus managing the weekly community jams.  For more details please contact Linda Beard at (973) 382-1035.

About the Author

  Gregory Burrus with Artist Irene Pomianowski

Gregory Burrus with Artist Irene Pomianowski

Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come.  

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis, Gregory Burrus is promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts, Playing Pianos Around South Orange, NJ, Farmers Market Jazz Jam along with many other musical ventures.

Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.  Having fun living life while helping others.

Follow on Social Media with #SOPianos

Check us out #playingaroundsouthorange  #downtownaftersundown #jazzonsloan #southorangegazebo #southorangevillagecenter #southorangenj #gregoryburrusaroundtown #sopianos #sofarmersmarket #sopac #eastorangeartscouncil #blumart #theowalentini  #livemusicambassador

The 2018 South Mountain International Blues Festival is Coming at You

Sunday, September 9, 2018
South Mountain Reservation in West Orange

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Saturday, August 18, 2018

Have you heard North Jersey's favorite Free Blues Party is coming your way?  A great day at the South Mountain International Blues Festival is being planned by the team so put the date SUNDAY, SEPT 9th in your calendars now. The South Mountain International Blues Festival is an annual event held the second Sunday of September. Nine years ago, Mike Griot, an Essex County based musician and promoter specializing in the blues circuit, founded the South Mountain International Blues Festival to raise awareness of the Blues, which has been described as “the classical music of America.”

And this year is no different as he sticks to the mission and brings you the blues – live and in person.  As Mike has been known to say, we are keeping the blues alive which is why it’s truly one of Northern NJ’s biggest free blues festival! 

Festival stage.jpg

This year, the annual festival will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 9th at the Cherry Lane/Oakdale Picnic Area at South Mountain Reservation in West Orange, we have something for everyone so take a moment and check out this year’s performers.

The Ben Stein Group 

Ben Stein.jpg

Ben Stein appearing for the first time in the South Mountain International Blues Festival.  This young blues / rock lead guitar player resides here in North NJ with a large amount of live experience in the studio and clubs around the Northern New Jersey scene. He’s played music for his entire life and is looking forward to playing some serious blues and rock.

Debra Devi

Debra Devi.jpg

Debra Devi - JamBase calls Debra Devi “a supersonic fret-burner with a deep feel for the blues who also writes hauntingly memorable songs.” American Blues Scene, which premiered Devi's "Tired of Waiting" music video, calls her guitar playing "hypnotic, heavy and bluesy," adding "there's a Gov't Mule vibe to her powerful band."

Devi is supporting her new Wild Little Girl EP at clubs and festivals along the East Coast, opening for national acts like Ana Popovic, Devon Allman and Nikki Hall. 

The EP is receiving raves for her classic rock/Americana sound and blazing guitar playing. Urban Politico says, “Devi's music radiates infectious joy, putting us in mind of The Black Crowes, Prince and Little Feet.” Good Times calls her "one of the most remarkable guitarists on the East Coast." 

Devi is also the author of the popular, award-winning blues glossary, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu (foreword by Dr. John), which is blurbed by Bonnie Raitt and Joe Bonamassa. 

Black Lace Blues

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Black Lace Blues is a cross-genre, cross-generation Blues Rock and Reggae band, incorporating original material with contributions from everyone, as well as select quality covers that span a range of musical styles. 

Veterans of many of the New York area jazz, rock and blues venues, the band has performed at numerous music venues such as: The Great Notch Inn, Spirit Pub, Montclair Arts Council Events, Ruthie's Pizza and BBQ, Trumpets Jazz Club, Montclair, NJ,  Montclair Center Stage, Hat City Kitchen, Orange, NJ,  West Paterson, NJ, Montville Music Festival, etc.

 "We don't just play the blues, but we bring the blues to everything we play"- Brian I Feldman. Get ready for some Blues, Rock, Reggae, Funk, R & B and Fusion… Oh Yeah.

Nation Beat

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Nation Beat – Nation Beat singularly conjures up this elemental musical mojo, drawing on the wellsprings of rhythm that lit up jazz and got maracatu thundering. Nation Beat takes off with be-bop-via-Brazil drumming; propelled by percussive bursts of New Orleans-flavored brass. But forget the musical history; this is music to make you dance.

A 21st century mash-up of the thunderous grooves of northeastern Brazil with the strolling swagger of New Orleans funk. Nation Beat’s live shows have taken on an almost mythological aura for their ability to lift the souls, and the feet, of their growing cross-cultural audience. Band leader, drummer/percussionist Scott Kettner has long been at the forefront of merging different musical elements together, from the earliest days of Nation Beat's Brazil meets North American music.

Rockin Johnny Burgin

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Rockin Johnny Burgin is one of the hardest touring and well recognized traditional Chicago blues guitarists and singers today. Since his start in the 90s on Chicago’s West Side with blues singer Taildragger, Johnny has played the Chicago blues festival many times, has headlined festivals all over the US and has become a leading blues attraction throughout the United States and Europe.

Over the years, he has developed from a blues guitar slinger and local blues hero into a fully-fledged singer, harmonica player, a dynamic and engaging bandleader, and a mature, seasoned guitarist.  One look at Johnny’s tour schedule confirms his status as an in-demand blues performer. Johnny currently does close to 250 shows a year worldwide.

King Solomon Hicks

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King Solomon Hicks “is a 22-year-old guitarist/vocalist from the upper west side of New York City aka Harlem, NY. At the age of 13 Solomon started playing with the Cotton Club 17-piece band as Lead Guitarist and continues to perform there. He has been featured in The Washington Post, New York Daily News, The New York Times, Amsterdam News, etc and the PBS TV series American Music.

Trained in jazz guitar with the soul of a burgeoning blues master from Harlem. He was recently in Europe opening for Ringo Starr and Jeff Beck! Solomon has also performed with Tony Bennett, The Destroyers (George Thorogood), Neal Evans (Soulive), Jimmy Vivino (Bandleader for Conan O’Brien), Sam Moore, Marcus King, Stax Songwriter William Bell, John Nemeth, Blind Boy Paxton, Roger Earl (Foghat), Kim Simmonds (Savoy Brown), Davey Knowles, Ne-Yo, Jon Hendricks, Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour.

If you want a glimpse of what Muddy Waters was like at 23, look no further. King Solomon Hicks is one of the most electrifying and exciting young Blues guitarists around!

Are You Ready?  Sept 9, 12 Noon 2018 South Mountain International Blues Festival

As you can see this annual free South Mountain International Blues Festival showcases local and national blues artists from the Tri City Area. From those who are up and coming and making a difference on the Blues scene, all the way to the seasoned professionals who tour internationally around the world. The musicians are truly some of the best performers from around the country and you never know when Bass player Mike Griot, who has played all over the world and has recently just returned from playing a gig in Serbia may just join in the festivities.

This year we are expecting over 3,000 attendees to descend on the hill.

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Folks will be shaking, dancing, picnicking and just having a god time listening to some great blues music.

Here’s a glimpse into the great day on the hill.

2017 Blues Star Regina Bonelli song -  “Don’t Put Your Hands On Me“ - rings loud across the Mountain capture by Gregory Burrus

Please come join in the festivities. The outdoor environment is gorgeous, there is plenty of parking, extremely kid friendly location which we will talk more about I the next article, the vibe is great, and the music is even better! Please visit us and learn more as we head toward Sept 9th.

EVENT WEBSITE: http://www.southmountainblues.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/southmountainbluesfest

About the Author

Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador and Board Member North Jersey Blues Alliance, which supports the South Mountain International Blues Festival, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come. 

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Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis, Gregory Burrus is promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts for South Orange, NJ.

Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.  Having fun living life while helping others.

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