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Recap of Sunday at XPoNential Festival 2010

By Gary Wien

(CAMDEN, NJ) -- From the first chords of The Great Unknown to the final notes from Robert Randolph and The Family Band, the 2010 XPoNential Music Festival provided an incredible day of music in Camden. This was my first time seeing a show in this city in many, many years and I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful the waterfront area is and how perfect it was for a music festival. Between the amazing scenery and XPN’s excellent track record in spotlighting some of the best indie artists around, this is definitely one of the best festivals in the state.

The two biggest highlights for me would have to be Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Dr. Dog. Both artists did absolutely incredible sets! Entering the day, I probably looked forward to seeing Edward Sharpe’s band more than anyone else and they exceeded my expectations. This 10-piece band from Los Angeles was a favorite of the crowd – many of whom sang along with every word thanks the many spins the band has received from XPN since their debut record was released in 2009.

Edward Sharpe's set included “40 Day Dream”, “Janglin’”, “Fire & Water”, “Up From Below”, “Carries On”, and closed with the insanely good “Home”, which was not only voted song of the year by XPN listeners last year but is among the best songs I’ve heard in a long, long time.

Dr. Dog surprised me. Maybe it was because the popular Philly band has been put on a rather tall pedestal, but I was never that much of a fan of their records; seeing them live changed all that. Their live show literally blew me away! It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was the band thousands of people had been waiting to see. I found myself reveling in their Beatlesque sounds – even imagining that these were songs that I could easily see McCartney & Lennon write if they were a band just starting out today. Needless to say, Dr. Dog picked up another fan on Sunday and I quickly picked up the band’s latest record.

Dr. Dog's set included “Shadow People”,”Stranger”, “I Only Wear Blue”, “Fate”, “The Breeze”, “Someday”, “Hang On”, “Mirror, Mirror”, “Station”, “Old Days”, “Army Of Ancients”, “The Way The Lazy Do”, “Shame, Shame”, and “The Rabbit, The Bat And The Reindeer”. It was a long set, but not long enough for the audience who brought them back for the first encore of the day.

Other highlights included a wonderful set of blues from The Holmes Brothers; a hauntingly beautiful set by the Cowboy Junkies that left me wondering why I had never seen them live before; grooving to the African-inspired beats of Fool’s Gold; and great sets by Dawes, These United States, and the Great Unknown.

I’ll never forget the reactions in the audience as Earl Greyhound launched their blistering attack on nearby eardrums left unguarded through hours of singer-songwriters and pop bands; It was as if somebody suddenly cranked the amplifiers up to 11! There were actually people holding their hands over their ears as they tried assessing the situation in a scene reminiscent of the audience turning on Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival when he started playing electric. Those who could handle the volume were treated to a stunning set by the New York power trio.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band closed out the night and the festival with their mix of rock, blues, and gospel – a very appropriate blend for a Sunday night in the summer. It’s nice that XPN chose a Jersey artist to close things out. As much as this festival still clings to its Philly roots, there’s should always be a strong Jersey connection as well – although I hope they find someone from across the river to produce a better cheesesteak next year!

Throughout the day I was able to spend a few minutes with several bands. I had fun talking with the guys from Fool’s Gold about the hottest shows they had ever played and how the vocals sung in Hebrew came about. Had a blast talking with These United States about a recent show in Toronto that got cancelled due to a riot in front of the club and thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with Wendell Holmes, a legendary bluesman who believes beating cancer led to his best record to date. While waiting around for the Holmes Brothers to finish their set, I met a guy from the Great Unknown who told me about the band’s van (nicknamed “Tinkerbelle”) breaking down on the highway the night before as the guys tried to get to the festival. All in all, the artists were all very easy to talk to and XPN did a great job of lining up some interviews for us. I’ll have full transcripts of the interviews online later this week.

In the end, I had a great time. Camden was very easy to get to from Central New Jersey and I will definitely return next year. It’s easy to have a negative attitude towards Camden based on the news, but you really can’t beat the waterfront location for a festival. Even though the sun was beating down and temperatures were in the 90s, there were still cool breezes coming from the water that made it far more bearable. If you’ve never been to the waterfront area you should check it out; you’ll most likely change your perception of the city… I know I have.

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State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.
NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.

"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!

Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm


PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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