Bars, bands, movies, & more! A look back at 2005 in the arts

Before we start another exciting year in entertainment, let’s take a look back at 2005. Hudson County continues to be on the cutting edge in the entertainment world. We’ve got it all – the bar openings and closings, the film screenings, the art tours, and huge crowds for annual events like the Art & Music festival and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Bars and restaurants

The bar scene in Hudson County is constantly evolving. This year revealed a trend towards new lounges and upscale eateries, like Nine, Lua, The Dubliner, and Bahama Mama’s in Hoboken and Deep Blue in Jersey City. Azucar, a restaurant offering Cuban cuisine and a cigar bar, opened in Jersey City, which smokers will be glad of if the smoking ban passes in New Jersey (cigar bars will be exempt).

There were also a few closings. Favia Lite Café in Hoboken was closed for renovations and the Shannon Lounge for construction, but the latter will re-open soon. The Planet was demolished, Rascals in Jersey City is for sale, and Gerrino’s in Hoboken closed too.

Live music fans mourned the loss of Uncle Joe’s in Jersey City, which closed its doors for good this past spring. Hoboken residents said goodbye to longstanding Kelly’s pub uptown on Washington Street, which was open for over 50 years.

Hobokenites waited on lines many weekends to for specialty Martinis and house Sangria. Another popular trend continued in karaoke and bar trivia nights.


Live music venues including Maxwell’s, The Whiskey Bar, The Goldhawk, and Willie McBride’s continued to feature local original bands, cover bands, and a few national acts.

Lex Leonard, CEO and founder of the Waterbug Hotel art collective, held a music festival on the steps of City Hall in Jersey City. Leonard also started an open mic night on Thursdays at the Keyhole in response to the closing of Uncle Joe’s.

Local favorite eugene held “Hoboken Rocks,” which showcased area original bands, at Pier A in Hoboken this summer.

A growing trend is the popularity of tribute bands. The top three most popular bands to emulate are U2, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen.

Karaoke reached new heights locally this year. Fans can perform almost every night of the week in competitions or even sing karaoke with a live band.

Festivals and other events

The art community in Jersey City developed JC Fridays, a now seasonal event in Jersey City which features artists, musicians, poets, theater, and spoken word. It started in response to the loss of the artists’ lofts at 111 First St.

The Art & Music Festival in Hoboken drew thousands of people for the annual street fairs. This fall, the legendary pop group from the ’60s, the Turtles, headlined the festival and played their hit “Imagine You and Me.”

In November, the Hoboken-North Hudson YMCA held their 18th annual fundraiser “A Taste of Hoboken” at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Over 35 area restaurants and shops brought samplings of delicious food and drinks.

In the summer, Hoboken held “Movies under the Stars,” plus concerts and live theater on the waterfront. The Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center in Weehawken held their annual concerts on the Weehawken waterfront to raise money for a waterfront arts facility in the future.

It was the 16th annual Cathedral Arts festival at Grace Church Van Vorst, which included area artists, musicians and a silent auction. This is one of the most well attended yearly events in Jersey City. And who could forget the annual St. Patrick Day Parade in Hoboken, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in March? Parade day is the busiest bar day in Hoboken.


Citybursts!, written by Alexander Koslow and illustrated by Lysa Hawke, is a humor look at dating, shopping and clubs. The third issue of Sybil’s Garage, a literary magazine, was published by Matt Kressel of Hoboken. In the year of Hoboken’s sesquicentennial, many celebrations were had. One result was the publication by the Hoboken Historical Museum of 100 Hoboken Firsts, written by Hoboken historian Jim Hans.

Pamela Windo, Jersey City author of Zohra’s Ladder and Other Tales of Morocco, gave readings in Hoboken and Jersey City. Bill Gordon, a Jersey City native, authored Mary after All, about a woman growing up in Jersey City.

Other books and authors included: Bad Girls: Film Fatales, Sirens and Molls by Tony Turtu; On the Waterfront: The Great Ships of Hoboken by William H. Miller; The Only Bush I Trust is My Own by Periel Aschenbrand; Window Treatments and Slipcovers for Dummies by Carly Sommerstein and Mark Montano; and My Fat Cat and My Fat Dog, by Hobokenite Martha Garvey.

Caren Lissner, editor-in-chief of the Hudson Reporter chain, wrote a sequel to her Carrie Pilby novel. The new novella is part of the anthology Scenes from a Holiday.

Films and TV

A new Hoboken-based television show, Across the Hudson, began airing on cable this spring. Local politico Carmelo Garcia was the charismatic host.

A new movie, 30, written by Christopher Halleron and Curtis Pollock, was filmed by Pollock in Hoboken and across the country. The comedy looks at the life of a bitter bartender who, on a whim, drives on Route 30 across the country. The film is in post-production and will be screened next year.

Hoboken resident and comedian Artie Lange starred in the movie Beer League, which was filmed in Hudson County. The comedy was directed by Emmy winner Frank Sebastiano and co-produced by Anthony Mastromauro and Lange. The film should be released next year.

Mob film Van Vorst Park was directed by Jersey City resident Kathy Caicedo and screened at The Jersey City Museum.

The Hoboken Digital Film Society held weekly screenings of independent movies by area artists at Symposia Book store in Hoboken. The series ended in November, but they have plans to start again next year. Award winning film Cupidity by John Gallagher was screened at The Sandbar in Jersey City.


Artists are doing great things in Hudson County, but none bigger than the studio tours in Hoboken and Jersey City, which displayed the work of over 500 area artists. Emerging artists from North Hudson called “NoHu Visions” had their second exhibition featuring at Park Performing Arts Center in Union City.

Mana Fine Arts Gallery in Jersey City opened its doors this year.

Artist Robert Piersanti had a solo exhibit titled Pop Gun at Bama Gallery in Hoboken.

Hoboken artist Frank Bongiorno had a solo celebrity art exhibit in Manhattan.


The first annual production of A Christmas Carol in the DeBaun Auditorium at Stevens was an overwhelming success. As part of the production, DeBaun raised $850 for the Hoboken Homeless Shelter in Hoboken.

The Actor’s Shakespeare Company of Jersey City presented an all-female version of The Taming of the Shrew at Park Performing Arts Center. This fall, the company was given a permanent home at The West Side Theater at New Jersey City University where they performed Henry V. The collaboration includes training opportunities for interested students.

In November, Art House Productions presented The Heist Project, which is an original multi-media play, at Victory Hall in Jersey City.

Weehawken resident Cynthia Granville directed the play Geneva at the Park Performing Arts Center.

The Hudson Exploited Theater Company performed Jane Ho at the Park Performing Arts Center. The play, directed by Arian Blanco, was so successful that it was moved to a New York City theater, The Lion at Theater Row Studios.

Mile Square Theatre presented Y. York’s adaptation of Othello at Hoboken High School. The company hopes to have future productions there as they do not have a permanent theater yet.


Hudson County proves again that you don’t have to cross the river to see great entertainment. Keep watching – 2006 could be even better.

And keep reading the Hudson Current, the weekly arts and entertainment newspaper put out by the Hudson Reporter newspapers, which can be picked up at local bars or at Check out the back page for essays and cartoons by local artists!

If you have more ideas for coverage, or if you’d like to write a letter, send an e-mail to:


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