Sound Off: Newark Rocks!
Published: March 26, 2014
Live Music Venues
Have you heard of the Caravan, Sparkey J’s, Lloyd’s Manor, Cadillac Club and the Piccadilly Club? How about Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn? Newark was home to over 20+ jazz and supper clubs used as a stopover between Philadelphia and NYC from the late 20s to the 50s for high profile jazz talent. Although the glamour of those days might be memories to some, Newark is still alive with music of all varieties in every corner of the city.
At Martini 494, you’ll find a sultry Jacque Johnson performing the first and third Tuesday of every month starting at 6pm. Jacque has a great knack of tantalizing the crowd with her sultry voice. She emits a positive energy, even persuading people out of their seats to participate in the open mic jam. She is accompanied with a live band or musicians that set the jazz scene for the night. The restaurant fills with grad students, professionals and nearby corporate workers.
If Jazz is what you’re looking for there are a few more options. Manu’s Sushi Lounge on Ferry Street has live jazz music, sometimes even a jazz trio, weekly on Fridays starting at 8pm. Take a seat at the bar and you can even enjoy $15 pitchers of white, red or blue sangria. Ask to be seated on the second floor, if you want a bird’s-eye view and a lower volume to carry on an intimate conversation. The Priory is an old converted church on West Market providing live jazz on Fridays. A large parking lot provides free parking and the show admission is free with a two drink or food item minimum. The inside of the church has been fully renovated with new wood floors, brightly painted walls, and beautiful vaulted ceilings. Acoustically the venue is amazing, bringing to life the band and performers.
Rock more your thing? Don’t worry Newark has you covered. Head on over to Hell’s Kitchen Lounge in the Ironbound, a few blocks from the Prudential Center. Every second Sunday as part of their Singles Night festivities (don’t worry you don’t have to be single to attend), the Randy Haze Trio, a local favorite, performs. Admission is free to this monthly singles party and the band provides a funky rock background so you can enjoy some exotic drink specials and the sexy atmosphere of the lounge. Live music continues on other Sundays with Trailer Park Sundays featuring their unique menu of pierogies, sliders, ham & cheese sandwiches, moonshine shots, and more.
On the opposite side of the Ironbound off Market Street, the Portuguese restaurant, El Pastor serves up Duo Suave. Their name alone depicts the entertaining combo on the keyboards and drums that serves up a little humor for the audience while playing an eclectic mix of 80s and 90s pop music. You can even get on the dance floor and practice the moves from the latest “Dancing with the Stars” with a tango or foxtrot. The duo takes special requests from restaurant patrons if you don’t mind being a participant in the show. Duo Suave performs Fridays at El Pastor starting at 8pm.
The lounge space at 58 Park Place opens on Saturdays starting at 8pm with live music featuring R&B and Soul that changes each week (see their website for performers). There is usually an admission charge around $10 (in advance, $15 at the door), but the ticket price is worth it for an intimate seat and some great performances.
Prefer being a part of the show, BeCOMe (aka Brick City Open Mic) is a monthly showcase hosted the second Wednesday of the month at the Coffee Cave. A talented three-piece band brings it all together to accompany the creatives that decide to join in on the action. Only in its third month, the show brings out 40-50 spectators and participants. On any given night, the talent can include poets, rappers, singers, musicians, comedians and more. The dim lights, the lively band and supportive atmosphere had many spectators become artists before the night was over. BeCOMe signups start at 7pm and the mic opens at 7:30pm, free admission.
Want more? Other places to find live music: Center Stage Cuts, art galleries like SEED, Index and Aljira, monthly jazz brunches at NICO and more. Although the scene from the 1950s jazz era might have been more classic, it can’t compete with diversity of today’s live music scene in Newark!
Tamara Remedios is a Newark resident, a self-proclaimed foodie, mommy, marketing and events entrepreneur and co-founder of NewarkPulse.com, a positive news site for Newark.