The arts and entertainment scene in Hudson County continued to run the gamut this past year with festivals, tributes, concerts, clubs and new restaurants.
Each spring and fall, Hoboken hosts one of the most popular street fairs on this side of the Hudson: the Hoboken Arts and Music festival. The event boasts more than 300 artists, photographers, and craftspeople, in addition to nonstop live music, and more than 30 international food vendors.
This year the lineups for both festivals included the great bar band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes; British invasion sensation Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone; Woodstock legend Richie Havens; the alternative country sweetheart Laura Cantrell; the Jose Conde band; the Don Carter Jazz Trio; the Caribbean reggae sounds of Verdict; local rockers Eugene and Seeking Homer; Jersey City pianist David Stellmach; the popular brother and sister team Manny and Joy Medina; and Tex-Mex-abily music by Hoboken’s favorite plumber, Gene D. Plumber.
The fall event was postponed a week due to the Sept. 11 attacks. When it finally came off on Sept. 30, attendance was good, but not as high as in previous years.
Maxwell’s in Hoboken continued its tradition of bringing top signed and unsigned acts to the mile-square city to perform in their intimate Washington Street setting. Performers in 2001 included singer/songwriter Freedy Johnston, Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo, The Nolan Gate, Rye Coaltition, High School Sweethearts, and The Tombstones. Other Hoboken venues like O’Donoghues, The Goldhawk and the Whiskey Bar showcased their share of live acts like King Norris, Stacie Rose and Big Orange Cone.
The Goldhawk, formerly the Liquid Lounge, opened this year to provide uptown Hoboken residents with acoustic performances from local and regional musicians.
Both Hoboken and Jersey City showcased art studio tours in the fall. The studio tours have become one of the county’s defining cultural events, bringing artists together from around the New York metropolitan area, according to organizer Robert Costa. The tours feature a diverse selection of styles, including avant-garde video sculpture; figurative, conceptual, abstract, representational and non-objective art; traditional oil, watercolor and pastel paintings; and multimedia graphics.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, several artists and curators featured exhibitions in memory of the WTC and the victims. Costa and other artists held an exhibition at the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library on Jersey Avenue and Hoboken Cultural Affairs Director Geri Fallo has coordinated on-going exhibitions in Hoboken. One is currently running at Hoboken City Hall. The exhibitions consist of photomontages, paintings and architectural blue prints of the WTC throughout the years.
In addition, many musical groups untied to perform benefit shows for the families of the victims of the WTC in Hoboken and New York City. On Oct. 11, the Cadillac Bar on 34 Newark St. in Hoboken hosted a benefit for The Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York City Widows and Orphans. The benefit included live music, along with prizes and giveaways. And Love Sexy on 104 Hudson St. in Hoboken donated all proceeds from their “Love Collective” show in October to the American Red Cross. The evening featured four DJs, and four bands, among them Shirley Temple of Doom.
Hoboken’s own James Mastro, who has been a fixture in the Hoboken music scene since almost before it was a scene, decided to retire his band, the Health & Happiness Show, this year. In his early 40s, the musician not only owns the Guitar Bar and the Pigeon Club (a recording studio), but he has also been the lead singer and songwriter of the Health & Happiness Show for the past 10 years.
In addition, the spotlight was focused on Jersey City resident Cady Huffman who plays the character “Ulla,” in the hit Broadway show “The Producers.” Huffman talked to the Reporter about how great it was to work with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and about the chance of meeting and working with comedy legend Mel Brooks.
“He’s great,” Huffman said of Brooks. “Being a part of the show is a dream come true.”
Tuesdays’ open mic night at the Ristra on Washington Street in Hoboken became a sensation. It was started by Guy Tetro, the editor of the New Jersey arts and entertainment magazine Hipnosis, who collaborated with the management of the Ristra to make accessible a forum for poets, acoustic players, wacky characters, spoken word artists, and accomplished musicians to perform in a small intimate setting. Tetro and the managers at the Ristra have since parted ways, but the open mic continues. Shock poet and hustling thespian Radomir Luza from Jersey City left an impression in the psyche of many who saw him perform several times at the Ristra. And bands like The Living, Eugene, and My Pocket Zoo did live acoustic sets to entertain the crowd.
In April, Hoboken established a place to exhibit its history. The Hoboken Historical Museum opened its doors at 1301Hudson St., near 13th Street, and it will remain there indefinitely.
The museum was made possible by historical community advocates who have worked hard since 1986 to stimulate interest in all aspects of the city’s history and architectural and cultural heritage, and to offer exhibits, lectures and walking tours.
A few new restaurants debuted this year. Il Cantuccio in Hoboken opened its doors to feature a wonderful Italian menu and tasty pizza from their brick oven. Caf