Performers such as local favorite Barbara Sharpe and classic R & B group The Duprees are just a few of the acts slated to play during the remainder of the month of August. The concerts are held every Sunday and Tuesday evening in the Liberty State Park Gardens, located behind the Liberty House Restaurant.
Concert organizers said that many Hudson County residents have been attending the concert series, which kicked off on July 8.
"There has been a great turn out this year," said Cliff Perkins, a special events coordinator for the Jersey City Department of Cultural Affairs. Perkins, a musician himself, said that he and organizers made sure to include diverse acts to appeal to a wide audience. "We mixed it up in terms of entertainment," Perkins said. "People from all walks of life have come down [to the performances]."
Something for everyone
Those people have been attracted by the myriad of musical styles represented in the series, from Joe Bataan's Boogaloo, to Barbara Sharpe's R&B. Latin music legend Bataan was got things grooving at the concert series last this week. Originally from New York's Spanish Harlem, Bataan helped shape the Latin music scene in the 1970s, when he was a pioneer in infusing Latin music with rock and R&B. This style was later dubbed "Boogaloo."
Bataan, who is of African-American and Filipino heritage, said that though he is not of Hispanic descent, "my heart is Latin." And those who know the music seem to agree. Bataan was recently re-signed to the classic Latin label Fania Records. Playing this weekend will be local musician Barbara Sharpe, who brings her interpretation of jazz, R & B, blues and rock classics to the stage on Aug. 19.
Sharpe has lived in Jersey City all her life. She attended Lincoln High School and now lives in Greenville. Much of her life has been spent singing, she said.
"I came off of the high school stage onto the performing stage," said the vocalist who has been performing across the state, and the world since 1962. "I worked in Atlantic City before it became Atlantic City," she added.
Sharpe has performed in such places as Turkey, Japan, Bermuda, and France, but still gets joy out of performing for a hometown crowd. She has been performing in the summer concert series for almost a decade, and is currently in "The Dissent of the Rock," off-Broadway.
Blast from the past
Also making a homecoming trip to Jersey City will be the The Duprees, who are scheduled to perform on Aug. 26. The original members of The Duprees formed in Jersey City in the early '60s. They had their biggest hit in 1962 with their version of a Joe Stafford's ballad "You Belong to Me." The group's original members, Michael Arnone, Joe Santollo, John Salvato, Tom Bialoglow, and lead singer Joey Canzano (later known as Joey Vann) all hailed from Jersey City.
The four current members, Tommy Petillo, Phil Granito, Jimmy Spinelli, and Tony Testa are from all over the tri-state area, and continue to sing the original hits that the group had in the 1960s. Testa said that this format continues to attract new audiences.
"We've been seeing more and more people in their twenties, thirties, and forties," said Testa. "They're beginning to gravitate toward the music because it's good music."
After The Duprees play, two other bands are scheduled to play to close out the season. The lineup includes: Mack Sullivan, who will play modern country music on Aug. 21, and the Devotions, who will perform doo-wop on Aug. 28.
Parking for concert-goers is available at the Liberty House Restaurant. A shuttle bus will also be available for concert-goers who wish to take the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to the Liberty State Park stop.
For more information on the Summerfest Concert Series, contact the Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs at (201) 547-6921.
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