The wait is over. This fall, the South Orange Performing Arts Center fully reopens. SOPAC’s 2021-2022 season is its most diverse and inclusive yet, featuring musicians from various backgrounds, such as an Israeli superstar, a social justice-focused band, a Ukrainian quartet, various Celtic groups, a hip-hop violinist, a bayou-soul artist, and a chorus of womxn and non-binary singers.
“I have a feeling of great anticipation as I look at the talent coming to the SOPAC stage this season,” said Dee Billia, SOPAC’s Executive Director. “So many artists are coming to SOPAC for the first time, and the diversity of talent is amazing. This is a season to dive in and experience an artist or group you’ve never seen before. You won’t be disappointed!”
SOPAC’s 16th season kicks off on September 10 with Eric Hutchinson, a singer-songwriter with a laidback sound who has performed with the likes of Jason Mraz. The season wraps with the iconic guitarist and Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn on June 23.
Some season highlights include the British Folk revival artist Al Stewart (September 18), great American Rock band Los Lobos (September 23), soulful vocalist Joan Osborne (November 12), Grammy-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington (December 11), Swing group The Hot Sardines (December 16), Blues band The James Hunter Six (February 18), and jazz great Eddie Palmieri (May 21).
For those in need of a good laugh, there’s comedian Ryan Hamilton’s February 12 stand-up show and SOPAC’s comedy series Laughs in the Loft, presented the first Wednesday of every month.
Musicians with New Jersey ties will also take the stage, including former longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Max Weinberg (November 19). John Pizzarelli, the son of the late jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, shares the bill with Catherine Russell in a concert entitled The Songs of Frank Sinatra & Billie Holiday on September 25. The Montclair-based Nefesh Mountain brings Bluegrass to the stage on December 2 during their Hanukkah concert.
At this time, all SOPAC patrons are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. All current Covid-19 Precautions & Policies can be found at SOPACnow.org/Covid-19.
Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including the Classical Concert Series, Jazz ‘N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC programs are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information, visit SOPACnow.org.
Full Season Lineup
Photo: Eric Hutchinson
Eric Hutchinson with Special Guest Caleb Hawley
This sharp dresser with a laidback sound has performed with artists such as Amos Lee, O.A.R. and Jason Mraz and is often compared to Joshua Radin, Matt Kearney and Gavin DeGraw. The multi-instrumentalist will share stories and songs, such as his #1 hit “Rock & Roll” and “OK, It’s Alright with Me.”
Suzanne Vega: An Evening of New York Songs & Stories
Tickets: $39-$195 (VIP Packages Available)
The Grammy Award-winning artist with her restrained Folk-Pop sound celebrates her career-spanning live album, An Evening of New York Songs & Stories, in an intimate concert.
Al Stewart and The Empty Pockets
A friend of Paul Simon, the British Folk revival figure is best known for his two radio hits “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.” He shares the stage with his longtime Rock backup band, The Empty Pockets.
The Milk Carton Kids
With pure tones, entwined acoustic guitars and rootsy songwriting, The Milk Carton Kids weave a captivating spell. The harmonious sound of the twice Grammy Award-nominated Indie-Folk duo has earned them comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers. Their engaging live shows have a touch of comedy with Smothers Brothers-esque banter.
The multi-platinum selling recording artist and seven-time Grammy Award nominee is a soulful vocalist who has performed alongside such notable artists as Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Mavis Staples.
His spirited songs run the American musical gamut, incorporating Soul, Country and Blues. The guitarist has been praised for “his unpretentious heartiness” (The New York Times).
On the heels of her tour with Hall & Oates and Squeeze, the guitarist brings us her sensual Pop-Rock energy. The Grammy Award-nominated KT Tunstall is best known for her hits “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See.”
A longtime friend of Hootie and the Blowfish, the guitarist has been called the “great American romantic” (The New York Times). His tender, instantly recognizable ballads “I’ll Be” and “I Could Not Ask for More” are immortalized in several 2000s film and TV soundtracks.
Marc Broussard’s signature “Bayou Soul” style and rich voice are influenced by his Louisiana roots and musical father, a guitarist for the Soul band The Boogie Kings.
Roger McGuinn, Co-founder of The Byrds
From his signature 12-string Rickenbacker sound to his instantly recognizable vocals on hits like “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” experience the unmistakable style of Roger McGuinn.
Photo: Bria Skonberg
Billie & Blue Eyes presented by John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell: The Songs of Frank Sinatra & Billie Holiday
This dynamic duo will transport audiences to the glory days of Jazz with masterful ease, capturing Holiday’s effortless grace and Sinatra’s cool swagger.
Bria Skonberg Quartet
This sultry performer transforms SOPAC into a Jazz club with her spellbinding smooth vocals and trumpet mastery. If you enjoy the likes of Stacey Kent, Madeleine Peyroux and John Pizzarelli, you are sure to enjoy this concert. Think of her as a contemporary Anita O’Day with the skills of Louis Armstrong.
Giants of Jazz
Join us for what has become a legendary event in South Orange Village featuring the convergence of countless Jazz greats in an unforgettable evening of music.
Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science: Jazz and Gender Justice
Early in her career, the Grammy Award-winning drummer toured extensively with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. Now, amid the ever-evolving social and political landscapes, the artist, and her band Social Science, boldly confront injustice with their “gritty and politically charged hybrid of Jazz, Rock, Rap and R&B” (The Sydney Morning Herald).
Hot Sardines Holiday Stomp
Experience a raucous, razzle dazzle celebration featuring classic Jazz and Swing holiday favorites and original tunes performed by the eight-piece band. Their brassy horn arrangements and rollicking piano melodies combined with the vocals from a chanteuse will transport listeners to a past era.
Dee Dee Bridgewater & Bill Charlap
These two renowned Grammy Award winners ignite their musical chemistry to generate an incomparable Jazz experience.
The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star award-winning supergroup comprising eight of the finest performers/composers at work in Jazz today. The current ensemble features Lizz Wright on vocals, Chris Potter and David Sánchez on saxophones, Etienne Charles on trumpet, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, Edward Simon on keyboards, Aneesa Strings on bass and Kendrick A.D. Scott on drums.
Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band
The iconic ten-time Grammy Award winner and NEA Jazz Master skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his influences: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner as well as his older brother, Charlie Palmieri.
RHYTHM & BLUES
Photo: Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Motor City Revue: The Ultimate Motown Tribute
Dance in your seat and sing along when this 11-piece Motown-inspired band performs tunes by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Supremes and more.
Kindred The Family Soul
The R&B duo were part of the Neo Soul Philadelphia movement that also includes Jill Scott.
Be My Valentine: An Evening of Love Songs with Ms. Lisa Fischer
Known for her long-term touring association with the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross and Tina Turner, this powerhouse Gospel and Soul vocalist evokes infinite emotion.
The James Hunter Six
The British soulman and his gritty, longstanding backing band bring you a sublime evening of no-nonsense Blues. Given their virtuosity, they have shared the stage with acts as diverse as Allen Toussaint, Sharon Jones and Van Morrison.
Celebrate the Sounds of New Orleans with Dirty Dozen Brass Band & Nathan and The Zydeco Cha Chas
This special double-bill featuring two world-famous music machines celebrates the feel-good sounds of The Big Easy!
Photo: The Machine
Leonid & Friends: The Finest Chicago Tribute in the World
Armed with precise musicianship, the 11-member Moscow-based band embodies the spirit, musicality and fire of American supergroup Chicago. Hear all your favorite hits such as “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “If You Leave Me Now” and “25 or 6 to 4.”
The trademark of this great American Rock band is its ability to meld styles, including Blues and Mexican Folk. The Grammy Award-winning group is known for its cover of Ritchie Valens’ iconic “La Bamba.”
The Machine Performs Pink Floyd
OCTOBER 8-The Wall
OCTOBER 9-Greatest Hits & Obscurities
The Machine pays homage to Pink Floyd in two back-to-back nights. Hear the epic Rock opera, The Wall, in its entirety on Friday and Pink Floyd’s greatest hits plus some obscurities on Saturday.
The Last Waltz Celebration featuring The THE BAND Band
Relive the Last Waltz, the famous 1976 Thanksgiving concert that has become embedded in the Rock and Roll lexicon. Hear Eric Clapton’s “Further On Up the Road,” Ronnie Hawkins’ “Who Do You Love,” Van Morrison’s “Caravan” and many more of the songs from that special night.
Max Weinberg’s Jukebox
Tickets: $49-$64 (Meet & Greet: $115)
The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame drummer and South Orange native invites audiences to create the set list in real-time for this interactive concert experience where anything and everything from the Beatles to the Stones to Bruce and The E Street Band’s biggest hits is on the set list of possibilities!
The Brit Pack
Embark on a musical tour of British Invasion bands as The Brit Pack authentically replicates the sounds of The Beatles, Oasis, Duran Duran and more.
ZOSO: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience
Feel like you traveled back to the 70s when this Led Zeppelin reincarnation rocks out with favorites like “Stairway to Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love” and “Dazed and Confused.”
David Broza & Trio Havana Plus Special Guest Itai Kriss
The Israeli superstar is recognized for his dynamic guitar performances and humanitarian efforts. His signature sound is influenced by Spanish Flamenco, American Folk, Rock and poetry.
Since appearing in Titanic, where they performed “Irish Party in Third Class,” Gaelic Storm has become a world-class genre-bending Irish Rock band mixing Celtic traditions with something uniquely creative.
Nefesh Mountain: The Hanukkah Holiday Concert
Together with their band, this Montclair-based husband-and-wife team give a voice to Jewish-American culture by melding elements of Americana, Appalachian Bluegrass, Celtic Folk and Eastern European music.
We Banjo 3: A Winter Wonderful
Galway, Ireland’s We Banjo 3 finds common ground between old world tradition and Americana by mixing their banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin in a musical cocktail of styles that they dub “Celt-grass.”
Cherish the Ladies – Celtic Christmas
The all-female collective captivates audiences and embodies the splendor of the Christmas season with their majestic vocals and stunning step-dancing.
A sonic feast as well as a visual spectacle, the award-winning, thunderous theatrical quartet blends ancient Ukrainian Folk melodies into a subversive musical tapestry that embraces Indie-Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop, the avant-garde and traditional instrumentation from around the world.
Photo: Sons of Serendip
Damien Escobar: Breakthrough
The violinist sits at the intersection of Hip-Hop and Classical music with a sophisticated, edgy style and an unstoppable swagger.
Sons of Serendip
Skilled on the harp, cello and piano, this quartet of lifelong instrumentalists and vocalists bring a harmonious synergy to the stage. Melding Classical and Pop, the group has collaborated with several orchestras and opened for John Legend.
A Rockapella Holiday
Add extra flair to this festive time of year with the energetic all-vocal magic of Rockapella. Clap along to catchy original Pop songs and Contemporary revisions of Motown and Soul classics. The group may best be remembered from the PBS geography game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Fun for the entire family!
These Emmy Award-nominated musical pioneers have created a spirited, foot-tapping fusion of Bluegrass and Hip-Hop. You may recognize their unique urban twang from “Long Hard Times to Come,” the theme song to the hit FX drama, Justified.
Photo: Ryan Hamilton
Laughs in the Loft: Hosted by Joe Larson
First Wednesday of Every Month!
Stand-up comics from our own backyard, Brooklyn and beyond! The talent for each Laughs in the Loft show will be announced about two weeks prior to each show date. You never know who might drop in!
The wholesome, rural Idaho-bred comic’s Netflix special, Happy Face, was called “the special you can’t watch enough times.” He was named one of Rolling Stone’s Five Comics To Watch and has made numerous television appearances.
KIDS ’N FAMILY
Photo: The Heart & Soul of Magic
Bullied by her two mean stepsisters, Cinderella’s future looks bleak until her Fairy Godmother casts a spell and sends her to the prince’s ball. A magical evening ends with a lost slipper and a young girl whose life is transformed in this musical theatre production that is bursting with hilarity.
Comic bubble artist Casey Carl brings us his amazing one-man show combining spontaneous comedy, Jazzy music and, of course, brilliant bubbling!
The Heart & Soul of Magic
Breathtaking, mind-blowing and astonishing are just a few words that describe this magic show that is fun for the whole family! This act features two world-class magicians, Ran’D Shine and Jamahl Keyes, in a unique production that weaves a tapestry of psychological illusions, comedy and music to create an immersive experience that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Stone Soup and Other Stories
Highlighting the spirit and customs of different cultures, this familiar brew of favorite stories from Africa, India, Eastern Europe and our own United States is filled with music, color, fantasy and fun!
The Little Mermaid
This award-winning adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved tale follows the dreams of a young girl who believes there is a better life waiting for her above the surface of the ocean. With stunning scenery and costumes, original songs and chart-topping hits, this show is an adventurous and delightful musical theatre experience.
Photo: Resistance Revival Chorus
The annual SOPAC Gala brings together patrons, community leaders and artists to celebrate SOPAC’s achievements, honor our supporters and raise significant funds. Tickets for this year’s fête will go on sale in September. Honorees include Diana Hart, a former Board member and catering professional. The Lifetime Achievement Awardee is John Lee, a Grammy Award-winning producer and Jazz All-Star. Entertainment will be provided by Michael Feinstein, who has built a dazzling career over the last three decades by bringing the music of the Great American songbook to the world.
Resistance Revival Chorus
The Resistance Revival Chorus is a collective of more than 60 womxn, as well as non-binary singers, who have joined together to breathe joy and song into the resistance and to uplift and center womxn’s voices.
The Moth Mainstage
The Moth is dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling and has presented more than 35,000 stories, told live and without notes, by people from all walks of life to standing room only crowds worldwide.
New shows will be announced on a rolling basis. For the most up-to-date listings, visit SOPACnow.org/events/
SEPTEMBER 10: Eric Hutchinson
SEPTEMBER 11: Suzanne Vega
SEPTEMBER 17: Motor City Revue
SEPTEMBER 18: Al Stewart and The Empty Pockets
SEPTEMBER 19: Leonid & Friends – The Finest Chicago Tribute in the World
SEPTEMBER 23: Los Lobos
SEPTEMBER 25: John Pizzarelli & Catherine Russell
SEPTEMBER 30: The Milk Carton Kids
OCTOBER 1: Bria Skonberg Quartet
OCTOBER 2: David Broza & Trio Havana
OCTOBER 7: Damien Escobar
OCTOBER 8 & 9: The Machine Performs Pink Floyd
OCTOBER 13: Gaelic Storm
OCTOBER 15: Kindred The Family Soul
NOVEMBER 6: SOPAC Gala featuring Michael Feinstein
NOVEMBER 12: Joan Osborne
NOVEMBER 13: The Last Waltz Celebration featuring The THE BAND Band
NOVEMBER 14: Kids ’N Family Series: Cinderella
NOVEMBER 19: Max Weinberg’s Jukebox
NOVEMBER 20: Giants of Jazz
DECEMBER 2: Nefesh Mountain
DECEMBER 3: Sons of Serendip
DECEMBER 5: A Rockapella Holiday
DECEMBER 9: Martin Sexton
DECEMBER 10: KT Tunstall
DECEMBER 11: Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science
DECEMBER 12: We Banjo 3
DECEMBER 16: Hot Sardines Holiday Stomp
DECEMBER 19: Cherish the Ladies
JANUARY 15: Kids ’N Family Series: BubbleMania!
FEBRUARY 5: Gangstagrass
FEBRUARY 10: Ms. Lisa Fischer
FEBRUARY 12: Kids ’N Family Series: The Heart & Soul of Magic
FEBRUARY 12: Ryan Hamilton
FEBRUARY 18: The James Hunter Six
FEBRUARY 26: The Brit Pack
MARCH 6: Kids ’N Family Series: Stone Soup and Other Stories
MARCH 10: Resistance Revival Chorus
MARCH 13: Dee Dee Bridgewater & Bill Charlap
MARCH 18: Edwin McCain
MARCH 20: Dirty Dozen Brass Band & Nathan and The Zydeco Cha Chas
MARCH 24: The Moth Mainstage
APRIL 1: Marc Broussard
APRIL 2: DakhaBrakha
APRIL 7: SFJAZZ Collective
MAY 20: ZOSO – The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience
MAY 21: Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Band
MAY 22: Kids ’N Family Series: The Little Mermaid
JUNE 23: Roger McGuinn