In a 2002 episode of “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw, no longer able to afford her West Village apartment, is shocked when a broker suggests she look at places in Weehawken. To writer and comedian Susie Felber, who was living in the West Village at the time, Weehawken was “always the joke – social death.”
Twelve years later, Felber lives in Weehawken, so the town is having the last laugh.
“The West Village used to be a neighborhood, and then it became [“Sex and the City”] tourists going up and down Bleecker Street,” said Felber. By contrast, Weehawken, where Felber now resides, is full of young artists and musicians seeking cheaper rent and the “small town in a good way” vibe.
This summer, Felber will showcase her adopted town’s talents as the host and producer of The Hawk, a new live performance series featuring storytelling, comedy, and music. The first installment will take place on June 15 at the Park Avenue Bar & Grill on the Union City/Weehawken border.
The show will emphasize New Jersey-based performers. Weehawken residents Chris Tsakis, a Sirius XM & WFMU radio host, and Nancy Giles, an actress and commentator with CBS Sunday Morning, will both tell comedic stories. The Sensational Country Blues Wonders, a rockabilly duo who hail from Jersey City and West Orange, will serve as the house band.
Jersey version of New York show
The Hawk, according to Felber, is both a playful nickname for Weehawken and “a bit of a takeoff on The Moth,” the well-known live storytelling show based in New York City.
Felber describes storytelling as “standup with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Felber hosted her own comedy show called “Felber’s Frolics” in Manhattan from 1997 until 2004. She said she has dreamt of putting on a comedy show in New Jersey ever since moving here eight years ago.
As far as Felber knows, The Hawk is the first event of its kind in Weehawken or Union City.
“I love the idea that I can go and see wonderful artists perform and it’s steps away from my home,” said Nancy Giles, who has lived in Weehawken for almost 14 years. Giles is a veteran the Second City comedy troupe and numerous solo shows, and delivered this year’s commencement address at Grinnell College.
“We love the community, we’ve got a lot of really creative people in the community,” said Giles. “I’m really grateful that [Felber] did this.”
While Felber says she is primarily “trying to get people in Jersey who go for entertainment to other places like Manhattan to stay on the Jersey side,” she also hopes to attract spectators from across the river. “It’s all part of my sinister plan to get all of my friends to move here,” she said.
Those friends include the comedian Harmon Leon and the comedic musician Jessica Delfino, who will also perform.
The Sensational Country Blues Wonders are ideally suited for such an eclectic show. “We play blues, we play country, we play gospel music, and we do it with a rockabilly feel and a punk rock attitude,” says Gary Van Miert, one half of the group along with Malcolm Marsden. Like the other acts at The Hawk, they have performed all over the Tri-State Area, including at a historical graveyard in Jersey City, but never in Weehawken or Union City.
The series comes at the perfect time for Union City, as young musicians and artists seeking affordable rent move in and change the neighborhood. “Union City is just like Williamsburg used to be, except there’s better Hispanic food,” says Felber.
The Hawk will also showcase the Park Avenue Bar and Grill, which was recently relaunched under new management. Their gastropub boasts an all new menu and a rooftop deck.
“We all love the New Jersey side, we love Union City and Weehawken and Hoboken, so let’s create something here,” said Felber. “We have the talent and we’re going to be bringing in people from Manhattan and Brooklyn…and showing them Weehawken is not some far-off exotic land.”
The Hawk show will take place at 7 p.m. on June 15, July 13, and Aug. 17. There is a $5 cover and a two item minimum. The Park Avenue Bar and Grill is at 3417 Park Ave. in Union City.