May 19, 2013 at 8:29 AM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ- With summer around the corner, many people will spend their weekends down the shore, but three years ago the South Orange Village Center Alliance created the Downtown after Sundown Concerts allowing people to stay local and enjoy their beautiful vibrant downtown.
The 2013 season kicked off Friday and Saturday and featured The Frost Kings and The Baby Please on Friday night and On the Hoof and Mother Funkers (Columbia High School seniors) on Saturday night. The series presents four concerts every weekend in May through September and all of the performers are from Maplewood or South Orange The music can be seen at Spiotta Park and the corner at Sloan Street and South Orange Avenue. Executive Director of SOVCA, Lisa Hackett said it’s a fantastic event for the entire community.
“South Orange is walkable and has a great nightlife,” Hackett said. “There’s so many local bands that everybody’s a fan of.”
Unlike surrounding towns, South Orange has numerous liquor licenses, which attract people to dine there at night, Hackett said. Furthermore, it is the number one stop in New Jersey on the Morris and Essex train line and the SOVCA wants to take advantage of that by keeping people in town instead of going to New York City, she said.
Since it started a few years ago, the reaction by the residents has been tremendous, Hackett said. While only a handful of people came out Saturday night because of the weather, Hackett said Friday night Spiotta Park and Sloan Street were jam packed with children dancing and families enjoying the music.
“It was a spectacular night,” she said.
One of the bands who rocked the house Saturday was On the Hoof. The group, which formed three months ago, is comprised of lead singer Jeremy Bunting, guitarist Sam Godsey and bassist Ian Kenselaar. Kenselaar, who has played in the music festival the past two years with his funk band Scratch and Sniff, said it’s an awesome event and he loves performing in front of his family and friends.
“It’s a fun night,” he said.
Several parents brought their youngsters to see them play and the kids were shaking and grooving to the beats throughout the evening. Peter and Jamie Bright, who moved to South Orange last year, said the downtown was one of the main reasons they relocated there.
“We like anything that brings life to the downtown,” Peter said.
After having dinner at Bunny’s with her sister and two children, Catherine Bernard said they decided to check out the music. Bernard said she did not know there was a concert series throughout the summer, but once they sat down her kids could not stop dancing.
“It’s sort of serendipitous that we found them and we’ll definitely come back,” she said.