The revamped Secaucus summer concert series returns on Thursday, July 8 for 10 music-filled shows under the stars in Buchmuller Park.
A number of new acts will headline the popular annual music series. For the first time, teen-oriented concerts have been scheduled, while the series might even be expanded to include two late-summer concerts at Harmon Meadow and Xchange at Secaucus Junction.
The changes were meant to address some past criticisms raised about the series’ costs and musical talent. Town Councilman John Bueckner, who organized this year’s series, said the cost of the program has been cut in half compared to last year.
“We’ll experience a big cost savings. But there is absolutely no sacrifice in terms of talent.” – John Bueckner
The Cameos and the Showstoppers – a talent show featuring local Secaucus youth – are the only two staples returning for an encore this year.
More for less?
Currently, the town is expected to pay about $12,500 to host the concert series, according to Bueckner.
“We paid about $26,000 last year,” he said. “We used an outside vendor that charged us. So, I went out to see what it would cost if I was to book it myself. I established that I could do it for half the price, and with talent that was as good as what we had before.”
To help identify suitable acts for Secaucus audiences, Bueckner reached out to local musician Frank Handlowitch for assistance. Handlowitch, half of the musical act Frank & Dara, has performed at Linden’s summer concert festival for several years and put Bueckner in touch with other bands and Linden’s concert organizer.
“Lawyers know lawyers. Musicians know musicians,” Handlowitch said. “I have musician friends…I just called my friends and asked if they’d be willing to [perform in Secaucus].”
Residents familiar with Handlowitch know that he and his musical partner/wife Dara tried unsuccessfully for years to get booked for the Secaucus summer concert series. But on Aug. 5, Frank & Dara – who now want to be known as Dara & Frank – will finally make their summer concert series debut.
“We’ll experience a big cost savings,” Bueckner said. “But at the same time, in my opinion, there is absolutely no sacrifice in terms of talent.”
Not just for seniors anymore
In addition to acts for seniors and Baby Boomers, this year’s series will include two concerts specifically geared towards teens. Mayor Michael Gonnelli had proposed months ago that the concert series showcase some acts that would appeal to younger audiences.
Gonnelli and Town Councilman John Shinnick approached the councilman’s daughter, Mariel Shinnick, who is planning on a career in the music industry, and asked her to organize the teen shows.
“Mr. Gonnelli asked if I would want to put together two shows that would really bring out the youth in Secaucus and give them something to do in the summer,” said the younger Shinnick, a rising senior at Secaucus High. “I jumped at the opportunity because I love doing things like this.”
Rock musicians who will play for teens include How to Build a Dinosaur, We Found Atlantis, Above All Fallen, and 3D Accelerator. Singers Julia Giambona and Carlos Zarzuela will also perform a set of duets.
As up-and-coming talent, the artists were willing to perform for the exposure and aren’t being paid for the concerts, Shinnick said.
“We’re not spending a lot of money for this,” she noted.
The teen concerts will be held on July 14 and Aug. 11.
But wait, there’s more
The series of 10 shows ends on Aug. 26 with the David Aaron Orchestra.
But Bueckner noted that two other shows might still be added to the lineup.
“We’re planning with Hartz [Mountain Industries] to have a concert in Harmon Meadow in September, which Hartz would pay for,” Bueckner commented. “And we’re in the formative stages of doing one down in the Xchange amphitheater in September or October.”
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.