Working With Creative Groups to Make it Happen in Jazz, Blues and Art All Around Our Towns

By Gregory Burrus | Posted Sunday, March 5, 2017

Previously, I have written about events that happen all around our towns in Northern New Jersey.  I list a lot in my Jazz, Blues, and Art – Annual Activity Events Listand I mentioned I would highlight a few organizations that make a huge difference.  As stated before, one of the reasons I write is to help the musician, artist, small businesses, especially the up-and-coming folks, maximize their profiles on social media.

I should state that I work with Jersey Indie at because it is dedicated to building a wider exposure for the creative community across New Jersey and beyond.  It is the perfect place for today’s article which is dedicated to bringing additional exposure to the mission of these wonderful groups that I get involved with and hopefully bring them many more dedicated fans.


One of the great things about being an artist, a musician, is you have skills that others want to know more about.  Founded in 2005 and based out of Orange, NJ, band members consist of Lara Gonzalez, Yael Shacham & Lisa Gonzalez-Howell, and they go under the name of Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song.  They absolutely love dancing and drumming.  They are committed to the Transformational, Educational and Therapeutic power of Drum, Dance and Song for all ages and abilities - from toddler to elder.  When you see them in action, you now they would dance and drum just for the fun of it.  Besides North Jersey, they are also very active in Massachusetts among many other locations in New Jersey like NJPAC and are very committed to making a difference in the community.

They also have an awesome dance and drum school, and if you ever attend it you will see they have a lot of fun.  Check them out at Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song.



One of the people who has started a blog and then taken it to another level is ValleyGirlNJ, who has created the widely popular blog MasConsumption Media.  Masconsumption Media is a multi-faceted media platform bringing you the culture of New Jersey’s Valley Arts District.  Curated by native New Yorker Patricia Rogers, the brand has been the definitive “curator of cool” for the Valley Arts District.  I am major league impressed with this effort as she had started just blogging in 2009, but the blog has become so much more.  It is a primary source of information, communication and a promotion resource for the Valley.  I have partnered, sponsored events, and she is very professional in what she does.  MasConsumption Media is great for the emerging artist community, offering events, media services, media educational programs, and provides overall coverage of the Valley Arts District.  I am gladly supplying photography services, sponsorship services, and more.  This Masconsumption Media endeavor is continually making a difference in the Valley.  This year, expansion includes providing WordPress Newbie Training services.

I urge you all to look at the Masconsumption Media Blog and contact the ValleyGirlNJ when you need coverage of your events.  Visit


North Jersey Blues Alliance – South Mountain International Blues Festival

The North Jersey Blues Alliance was formed as a non-profit performing arts organization in the State of New Jersey.  The organization’s concept is to stage the annual South Mountain International Blues Festival music festival in September of each year.  It started in 2009 and covers a wide range of Blues & “Roots” music.  It is held at the South Mountain Reservation.  The North Jersey Blues Alliance provides the financial framework wherein the Festival can operate, and consults directly with the Essex County leadership.  An important goal of North Jersey Blues Alliance is to coordinate in advance much of the volunteer effort needed to operate the festival, as well as solicitation of public donations.  They also staff the merchandising, headquarters tent, and host the annual North Jersey Blues Alliance Blues Muse Fundraising event. I am currently providing Social Media marketing services and helping Chair the Annual Blues Muse.  2017 promises to be a banner year.

While the South Mountain International Blues Festival is on September 10, 2017, we invite you to save the date of May 19th when the very exciting Blues Muse event happens in the Firehouse Gallery in the Valley Arts District of Orange, NJ.  Stay up to date by visiting The North Jersey Blues Alliance on Facebook.  



Downtown After Sundown is run by the South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) for South Orange, NJ.  Bob Zuckenberg and Melissa Hodge, who are at the forefront of it all, have goals to make South Orange, New Jersey a choice destination where people want to live, work, visit and enjoy by building and strengthening the downtown district as the center of the town, supporting existing businesses, recruiting new businesses, and guiding entrepreneurs while developing and supporting cultural activities that make South Orange Village a cleaner, safer, and more attractive pedestrian-friendly environment for all to enjoy.  Well, managing and promoting Downtown Live Music events is what I love to do, producing almost 80 live music events from May to September every Friday and Saturday weekend throughout the summer months.  We have Jazz Alley on Sloan Street along with simultaneous performances in Spiotta Park.  Performers love it, the audience loves it, and the best part is band selection is starting soon and we look forward to another great live music season.

Visit Downtown After Sundown to stay up to date and, of course, to learn about all that’s going on in South Orange, NJ, check out  Please Tell Your Friends.



Valley Arts District is an umbrella organization working together with residents, merchants and arts organizations dedicated to building a vital and creative place to live and work.  While Hands, Inc plans to add more housing for “working artists,” the ValleyArts mission under the leadership of Candace Gabbard, Executive Director at ValleyArts, and Jeremy Moss, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, is to inspire the neighborhood to recognize the arts as essential to community health and vitality; help build up and serve individual artists, arts organizations, and creative entrepreneurs; and encourage everyone to participate in arts, culture, and creativity as part of everyday life.  There is a lot going on in the Valley which is about a 15-block-wide area off the Highland Avenue Station.  Several initiatives are underway:

·       Community Gallery at ValleyArts: primary gallery space used for major exhibitions, rental for private events, classes for young artists, and monthly artistic community events.

·       ValleyD Radio: Community radio and curated shows. 

·       artfullbean café: An artisanal boutique cafe serving fair trade coffee, featuring art and crafts from ValleyArts members, and various vendors.  

·       Makers + Movers: Membership organization for entrepreneurs focused on the Valley Arts District with the aim of fueling economic opportunities for members and enhancing the community with new business opportunities.

·       bardbeatz: The art of the word.  Spoken word and poetry events.

·       Business Incubator Space: ValleyArts provides office space for start-up businesses doing work in and around the Valley Arts District.

·       PACarts: Art education programs working with local schools and educators.

In the Valley, there are several Art Galleries like the Firehouse Gallery, the Arts Unbound Gallery the beautiful Luna Stage Theatre Company, and more.  ValleyArts is making a huge difference as the go-to place for the Artist.  Discover more at Valley Arts District &



IfeBasim Omisanya Masterpieces has a mission of producing high quality, extremely elegant events celebrating some of the best talent around.  One event that is coming up soon is the Annual Women’s History Month Celebration.  Ife Basim and Omisanya Karade have dedicated this year’s event to “Protecting Your Peace” which is very much apropos, considering today's environment.  In its 4th year, I am very happy to observe and be a part of the inner workings of these two masterminds as they go about creating, developing and planning this year’s event. With an all star cast of vocalists and a world class set of musicians, this 4th Annual Women's History Month Celebration is ready to blow you away with an extremely elegant night of musicians, entertainment and fun.  It will be a very empowering performance, and it happens at the Priory Jazz Club in Newark on March 31st.  There is no cover, so come out and have a great time.

There's a lot more to come, but know I will be there doing my photography/social media thing, so come and expect a great time.  Stay up-to-date with this event as we get closer by visiting 4th Annual Women's History Month Celebration.

That’s all for now.  If looking for additional places to play / display your work, then give a shout and let’s have fun together.  Next up, I will profile some of the individuals mentioned in some of these posts.

About The Author

Gregory Burrus, Photojournalist, Blogger, Writer, Photographer.

Gregory Burrus, Photojournalist, Blogger, Writer, Photographer.

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians, and local art exhibitions.  Gregory is a manager and promoter of the South Orange Village Center Alliance Downtown After Sundown Live Music Events, Board Member of the North Jersey Blues Alliance, Friend of the Valley Arts District in Orange, NJ and avid supporter of jazz, blues and art all around our towns and the Greater New York, New Jersey area.  On a regular basis, Gregory gets the word out through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism.

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