Rahway, NJ - It felt like an early summer Saturday in June, but it was a fall Saturday in November of 2020. There was nothing but a feel-good vibe at the Rahway Train Station Plaza stage as full bands and solo artists played throughout the day. The scene was replete with Rahway residents and out of town friends in lawn chairs sharing slices of pizza or take out from their favorite restaurants. If not sitting, onlookers danced, bopped their heads or swayed to the back beat rhythms from the performers on stage. The “hula hoop gals” punctuated the scene and the music with their rhythmic, gyrating twists and turns.
After months of isolation, Rahway residents found respite in the Downtown Musicfest for Rahway Restaurants that fall day in 2020. There was cautioned relief, but the sense of community was starting to come back. Two more installments and a year and a half later, the Downtown Musicfest for Rahway Restaurants returns on Saturday, April 30th, from 1 to 7:30pm to kick off the yearlong Mayor’s Music Series!
In a little over four years, the citywide music events have become a community gathering of music lovers from neighboring counties to Staten Island to the residents of this arts-centric city. Beginning with the Summer Music Series at the Paseo in the summer of 2018, then expanding to performances at Arts District Park across from UCPAC, music events in the city are continually growing and evolving, adding harmonic ornaments to the community.
The music has been curated with purpose. Familiar faces that the audience has asked for are brought back and new artists are invited to freshen up the lineup of performances. More importantly, the music series invites not just the seasoned musician, but the newer, younger artists, exploring their craft. Original material is encouraged as it underscores Rahway’s Arts District.
It is this curatorial approach that has caught the ears of local music lovers who have not only been witnesses to, but also have been participants of magical summer evenings under glowing string lights.
This has encouraged the City of Rahway to feature additional music events. In May, at the Rahway Train Station Plaza, “Kohal’s Junction Funktion” will be a blend of live hip hop and RnB performances with DJ Kohai mixing it up! “The Locals” is a midsummer event featuring Rahway’s local up and coming musicians and bands. But even more exciting is the addition of two dates to the annual Mayor’s Summer Concert Series on the first Thursdays of June and July. More events can be seen at www.cityofrahway.com/music
These performances and events have been a positive influence on both sides of the stage. Looking at the overall view of the musicians and programming, you see an eclectic group of musicians performing both covers and originals. The common theme between them being “original”, if not in material, but also in performance. More importantly are the “regulars” that have routinely brought their lawn chairs to these music events and have created a community of music lovers. It is a community that invites you to participate in an evening of live music and feel good moments.