West Side Arts & Music presents JC Fridays, free summer concerts

Jersey City’s West Side neighborhood, an oddly shaped neighborhood made up of mostly residential streets bordered by the Hackensack River and Kennedy Boulevard, is rarely mentioned in conversations about the city’s arts and culture. But thanks to the efforts of District B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey and her co-founder Gaye Dunstan, West Side Arts & Music brings music, art and more to the community.

On Friday 7th June, the Penniless Loafers will perform at the New Park Tavern to coincide with the ‘Art of Birds in the Yard’ exhibition, one of many events happening across the city on Friday at JC so you can take in the best of what the West End has to offer.

Westside Arts & Music will partner with Birds of Jersey City, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness, appreciation and conservation of urban wild birds and their habitats. JC Birds will feature works by local artists and birdwatchers depicting the city’s avian wonders.

The roots of West End Arts and Music stretch back more than a decade.

“Guy and I originally started this organization as ‘West Side Story,’ back in 2012 or 2013 when we held JC Fridays at the New Park Tavern,” Prinz-Arey explained. “We did that for a few years, and then we went to the dedication of the new fountain in Lincoln Park and they invited the Spirit of Life band to perform and we thought, ‘We can do this.'”

The women asked the county for permission to use Lincoln Park, and soon after, Prinz-Arey said, “we hosted four nights of music in Lincoln Park on a very small budget and with some really good local artists. From that point on , we changed the name to West End Arts and Music because we felt it better described what we were doing.

This summer, the Westside Academy of Arts and Music will present nine concerts in Lincoln Park, offering an eclectic array of performances including indie rock, jazz, reggae, punk, Latin and classical music. Concerts are held every Wednesday at 7pm from June to August and every Saturday from 6pm to 8pm in September. Additionally, you can catch JC Fridays events at New Park Tavern and other venues.

The June 7 event came about the same time Prinz-Arey and Dunstant realized they had missed the opportunity to do something for JC Fridays.

“So we thought, let’s go back to our roots and how this all started, and we had a conversation with Jersey City Birds,” Prinz-Arey said. “They wanted to host JC on Friday, so we said, great, we’ll work together and you guys can handle the art part and all the local birders will create the art. We’ve been talking to Penniless Loafers, so we thought , everyone loves them at New Park Tavern, let’s put them on the bill, and we’ll be bringing them back to Lincoln Park for a show.

Penniless Loafers are a five-piece ska-influenced rock band based in Jersey City that formed around 2009.

“We just started playing as a trio in my apartment on Tuesday nights to entertain the neighbors,” said founding member Tim Firth. “We wanted to start a ska band, so we Started playing some small shows trying to find more members to beef up the sound and over the next few years we went from a trio to a seven piece adding a horn section and a few extra singers and we’re still here. Do this and keep the dream alive.

In addition to the June 7 event at the New Park Tavern, the Penniless Loafers will perform at the Lincoln Park Fountains on July 3.

Linkin Park’s shows are every Wednesday night from 7-9pm throughout August and include world-renowned jazz drummer Winard Harper and bassist Jelle Posse on June 19; indie rocker Forget the Whale on July 17; 7 Reggae music by the Brooklynites on August 31st; timeless JC punk rock band the Hudson City Rats on August 14th; Lezlie Harrison at the Riverview Jazz All-Star Game on August 28th (Riverview Jazz All-Stars).

In September, concerts move to Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m., including the Victor Santos Y Ocho Con Clave concert on September 7 and the Nimbus Dance concert with the New Jersey Symphony Woodwinds on September 28, This brings the series to a close.

“The West End is a very diverse community, and that’s reflected in many of our local artists,” Prinz-Arey noted. “When we first started, our aspiration was to be Jersey City’s summer scene, and this year, I feel like we’re getting closer to that goal. There’s a lot of great talent in Jersey City, and a lot of artists live on the West Side, so being able to It’s been great working with them.

New Park Tavern is located at 557 West Side Ave. Art and music performances will take place on Friday, June 7, from 7pm to midnight, including Bird Art on the Terrace and Penniless Loafers. Admission is free.

Jim Testa’s Facebook account is facebook.com/Constant-Listener-Jim-Testa-On-Hudson-Music-108591071738628. You can also contact him through the following methods: jim@jerseybeat.com.

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