Hoboken Arts and Music Festival won’t have headline act after DJ Rekha controversy

Hoboken’s biannual arts and music festival will have no headliners in two weeks, following a political storm surrounding the city’s plans to book a popular Indian-American DJ. A quiet decision.

City Hall drafted a $20,000 contract for New York City artist DJ Rekha to close out the May 19 festival that usually headlines the rock band, but the contract price and other issues came to light after the artist supported Palestinian politics , the Barra government never put the contract to a vote.

It announced the festival lineup in a press release on Friday, which does not include DJ Rekha or any other headline act.

“This contract will likely be rejected by a majority of the City Council for a variety of reasons,” city spokesperson Marilyn Baer said. “As a result, the city looked for alternatives to the Arts and Music Festival.”

Just hours before April 17, the government withdrew DJ Rekha’s contract from the city council agenda. The meeting was scheduled to begin after Councilwoman Tiffany Fisher said she planned to vote down the contract because the artist created a playlist titled “river to the C.”

The phrase is a rallying cry within the pro-Palestinian movement, while pro-Israel voices interpret it as a call to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel, which they view as anti-Semitic.

“Creating inclusive, welcoming spaces for people to dance and celebrate has been my life’s work since founding Basement Bhangra in 1997, one of New York’s oldest club nights,” DJ Rekha said in an April email Zhong said.

They added: “The title of the playlist I made, ‘The River to the C’, was to highlight tracks by Palestinian and other international artists and express solidarity with the affected people of Gaza, and to me, it doesn’t mean Destroying a future for any country but with equal rights for all As with all my music and curatorial work, I will always use my artistic talents to amplify voices and fight for peace.

Fisher’s decision comes after other council members decided to vote “no” on the contract for other reasons, including out of frustration with the city’s postponement of the Southwest Music Festival until the summer, when another weekend event was held nearby. The place is held in the municipal public housing. Some lawmakers also said they thought $20,000 was too expensive for DJs.

The city never attempted to bring up DJ Rekha’s voting contract again or any other alternative headliner.

“In these tumultuous times, we should be doing more not to bring volatility to our communities but to bring more harmony to our communities that are so strong, so I’m excited about what’s coming,” Fisher said Monday. ’s arts and music festival and all the artists who will be there.

Groups that have defended Palestinian and Muslim Americans amid the ongoing attacks on Gaza said the city’s decision impeded free speech.

“Not awarding DJ Rekha the agreed upon contract is just another attempt by the Hoboken City Council to shut down and exclude those who stand in solidarity with Palestinians who are experiencing total genocide,” said Meera Jaffrey of Ceasefire Now, NJ.

The city dodged a question Monday about its views on DJ Rekha’s politics, with Bell saying: “As previously stated, the city chose not to move forward with this contract because the majority of the City Council indicated they would not approve it.”

However, it defended the price tag of the proposed contract, comparing it to the performers’ prices in 2014. Bell said that going forward, it will provide an opportunity for a council subcommittee to review contracts that are “above the legal threshold” before a council vote.

“It’s important to note that arts and music festival performer contracts are not paid for from the city budget, but rather from vendor participation fees and advertising fees,” she said.

DJ Rekha plays Bhangra music from the Punjabi region of India and Pakistan, mixed with hip-hop beats, dancehall rhythms and live percussion.

They hosted the popular Basement Bhangra party in New York City for 20 years and were always outspoken about political issues, including opposition to then-President George W. Bush. These parties were also considered safe spaces for members of marginalized cultures, religions, and sexual orientations, including Muslim and Sikh New Yorkers after 9/11.

They now perform regularly at New York City’s summer music events and will perform at this year’s SummerStage Music Festival and Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City program. They also performed at the White House during the Obama administration.

Councilman Jim Doyle said he doesn’t mind that the popular Washington Street Music Festival won’t have a headliner this year.

“There will be music and many other performers,” he said. “The council’s inability to reach consensus on this particular, controversial headline is another matter. If a performer is deeply disturbing to a lot of people, it’s ultimately better not to force the issue than to allow it to become a divisive political football .

There are two days left until April 17th At the council meeting, the Barra administration seemed confident that the contract would be voted on and approved.It allows the city’s new cultural bureau chief to Cristin Cricco-Powell spoke on the phone with a Jersey Journal reporter, describing DJ Rekha as a “pleasant presence at the festival.”

“When you see the audiences that DJ Rekha draws at Lincoln Center and SummerStage, you see it’s multi-generational, and to me, having a show that appeals to people across generations, and especially a show that stimulates multi-generational dance is My favorite, I think DJ Rekha is the one who gets people of all ages dancing,” Cricho-Powell said at the time.

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