On Sunday, Sept. 24, thousands of people will flood the city’s main drag from Eighth Street to Fourteenth Street for the fall Hoboken Arts & Music Festival, which is celebrating its 24th year of existence and second time in its temporary uptown location.
Chief Ken Ferrante of the Hoboken Police Department said the new location has made setup and takedown of the festival much easier and is “easier to manage from a public safety and traffic perspective” because of wider streets and nearby streets with two-way traffic.
The downtown portion of Washington Street has been undergoing renovations.
Spokesman for the city Juan Melli said as of now the plan is for the festival to return downtown once construction is complete but the city is is also contemplating having it alternate between uptown and downtown.
“It used to take us four hours to break down and get all the vendors packed up and reopen Washington Street,” said Ferrente. “Uptown, last spring, it took us about an hour and a half. Everyone was gone by 7:30 p.m.”
The free Hoboken Washington Street tradition, organized by Geri Fallo, the city’s administrator of cultural affairs, will have more than 250 vendors this year, including artists, crafters, painters, photographers, local businesses, and non profits.
The festival is sponsored in part by the Hudson Reporter.
The key musical acts include The Skullers, The Queens of Soul, and Frankie Morales & the Mambo of the Times Orchestra.
As for crafts, attendees will be able to purchase handmade jewelry, soaps, candles, body products, wood home décor, and much more.
Families will be able to enjoy a variety of children’s activities, as the festival will have a dedicated children’s section from Thirteenth Street to Fourteenth Street, which will have inflatable obstacle courses and more. Children will also be able to grab a balloon animal or have their faces painted between Twelfth Street and Thirteenth Street.
Festival patrons will be able to munch on everything from Indian food, sausage & peppers, and crepes, to gyros, kettle corn, acai bowls, and cheese steaks while listening to variety of musical performances.
Performances will take place on two stages, one on Eighth Street and another on Thirteenth Street for performers for children.
“The arts community is a thriving and we are fortunate to be a part of it.” –Annie McLaughlin
This year’s performers on the main stage include the Sensational Country Blues Wonders, Zydeco Revelators, Campfire Flies, The Skullers, and the Queens of Soul.
Weehawken native Jack Skuller, front man of The Skullers, a rockabilly band formed last year, said he looks forward to the festival, as he is a student at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Of performing live, he said he and his band mates have such great energy that’s a different type than when he performed solo.
Jersey City resident Gary Van Miert, of the Sensational Country Blues Wonders, said he looks forward to performing at the festival for the first time because “it’s just such a large and diverse audience. And just being exposed to that many people who probably haven’t heard us or seen us before is really great.”
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders perform a variety of Blues, country, and gospel inspired music.
“I love performing live because I love connecting with people,” said Van Miert. “It’s so great to look out into the crowd and see their immediate reaction to what you are doing.”
The Campfire Flies are a collaboration of members of different bands who perform folk pop music, according to member Deena Shoskes. The band is comprised of The Cucumbers, Speed the Plough, and The Thousand Pities. It will feature Deena Shoskes and John Fried of The Cucumbers, Toni and John Baumgartner and Ed Seifert from Speed the Plough, and Matthew Davis from The Thousand Pities.
Shoskes said, “We have all known each other through music circles and admired each other and had done a little bit of collaboration in the past, and we all came together for one gig just out of convenience and it was a magical night. We had so much fun that we decided to do it again.”
Shoskes, a former Hoboken resident, said, “It’s so great to be a part of the Hoboken musical community again, and Washington Street is such a magnificent setting.”
Of the Festival itself she said, “I love looking at all the art and seeing all the people. It’s great people watching. I also look forward to hopefully seeing a lot of friends.”
Phil Passantino, of the Zydeco Revelators, a southern Louisiana-style dance hall inspired band, has played the festival before.
“The first time we played it was just wonderful. It was a great feeling,” said Passantino. “Playing on stage, our instruments sound better than ever, and our drums are thunderous.”
He said they will play some Louisiana-style dance hall music as well as some songs everyone knows such as Bruce Springsteen and Huey Lewis, but with a zydeco style.
Jaime DeJesus of ALEO Productions began the Queens of Soul for their first performance at Maxwell’s tavern and decided to revive it for the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival.
“Queens of Soul is a killer band of five girls who are all sick singers, and performers, musicians, and songwriters,” said DeJesus. “So I put together a ’70s band with horns and strings so it’s legit good and celebrates soul music. “
The band is comprised of Jaime DellaFave, Casey Solomon, Christina Alessi, Carolyn Monroe, and Sylvana Joyce. They will be accompanied by a seven-piece band complete with horns. They perform a variety of soul music.
Fallo said that Thirteenth Street stage will see performances by Hoboken resident Frankie Morales & his Mambo of the Times Orchestra, Preschool of Rock, Songs for Seeds, and the Garden Street School of Performing Arts.
Director of the Garden Street School of Performing Arts Annie McLoughlin said a few of her students and staff will perform a variety of music.
“We love the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival because it brings the Hoboken community together,” said McLoughlin. “All the people who attend are really happy and it’s a joy for us and joy for the kids and staff to perform for them. The arts community is a thriving and we are fortunate to be a part of it.”
For more information on the festival go to http://hobokennj.gov/departments/human-services/cultural-affairs/arts-music-festival/.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.