MILLBURN, NJ - You can count on the Education Foundation of Millburn/Short Hills to run events that bring the community together while raising money for district schools. This year, they have launched a new endeavor—a music festival with a diverse mix of bands from town and the broader New Jersey area. On Saturday, October 15 from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The construction will be forgotten and downtown Millburn will be taken over by music.

“Live music brings people together,” says Joanna Parker-Lentz, a prominent realtor in Short Hills who has been working to bring Rocktoberfest to fruition. “We have a diverse community, which has been through the challenges of Downtown construction and a recent Referendum vote. Now is the time to unify and celebrate the growth of our town.”

Sonali Ganti, Ed Foundation VP of Fundraising, adds, “I really believe we are one town/one community/one school district. We work together and support each other. Rocktoberfest is a fun way for us to raise awareness of who we are and what the Ed Foundation does.” The Ed Foundation is committed to providing innovative and progressive tools and programs for district students and faculty, which are outside of school budgets. Many of the students, who have benefitted from Ed Foundation grants are also volunteering and performing this Saturday.

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Millburn’s Very Own

The Millburn/Short Hills area may be small, but it’s big on talent—three of the groups playing Saturday are from town. Sisters Kate and Anya Parker-Lentz formed their band, The Parkers, in 2014 and brought in drummer, Henry Kane, last year. Kate, a junior at Millburn High School, and Anya, class of 2014, are working on an album with a producer in New York City. Their style combines the classic rock roots of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones with the more sinister pop music of Sky Ferreira and Lana Del Rey to create their grungy pop sound. They will be playing their original, hauntingly feel-good music and a few covers with a twist. In response to how it feels to play back home and help the school district they grew up in, Anya says, “I’m giving back by working hard, just like Millburn taught me to do”.

Soulfege, the student run a cappella group from Millburn High School, kicks off the afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Soulfege has appeared on Lifetime's national television series called Pitch Slapped, performed for the NJ Delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and sang at various a cappella venues and competitions since the group's creation in 2008. These talented students run the club independently, setting rehearsal schedules, creating set lists, and voting on solos and board positions. Group members arrange their selected music themselves and help one another learn to read music.

Another local favorite Poet Section, will be playing in the evening portion of the festivities at the newly renovated Hill Tavern. The band plays their own rendition of classic rock and blues songs, extended with psychedelic jam that draws upon countless years of musical experience performing at local pubs and bars. But the band’s favorite places to play are in the backyard with friends or in the streets of the Short Hills neighborhood with which they share their name. Poet Section’s musical range can stem from Led Zeppelin to Tom Petty to Bruno Mars.

Poet Section came together as a band when co-founders Steve Lehrhoff and Ron Papka met through their daughters, who are friends. The pair recruited various friends to join the band since its inception in 2006 to its current ensemble of: Roye Abramson, vocals and keyboard; Mika Karpas, guitar; Joe Dansky, guitar; Adam Lowenberg, vocals; Joe DePasquale, drums (absent for Rocktoberfest); and Papka on bass.  They will be joined by special guests: Saul Sutton on drums, Jamie Goldman on harp, and Bob Kaufman on sax at Rocktoberfest. “The Oranges and Maplewood have been doing their music fests. We’re a really musical town and it’s time that Millburn stepped up. People love to enjoy live music, drinks, and food at an outdoor venue,” says Papka. As for the future of the band,  “I see an evolving incarnation for Poet Section where different constellations of members play together at different gigs. It will keep sets interesting as each musician has a different take on a song,” adds Papka.

Rap, Alternative, Blues, and Jazz – To Each His Own

‪Thrown into this mix of music is the young rapper/song writer Spliff Santana from Bayonne, New Jersey. He is making a name for himself across the New Jersey-New York area with new hits including HooligansNever Worried, and I Ball Hard. He has opened for Maino, Future, Jadakiss, Universal Records, and worked with Mr. Vinny Idol.  Spliff Santana is joined by another young rapper, Cheech. He has always been into music and had an ear for it, so it was natural for him to start rapping at 9 years old. He sees music as a way out of the struggle for himself and his family. He is inspiring a young generation, who is struggling socially and economically to reach for their dreams. He is currently working on his debut album, "I Should've Went to College."

Pop/Rock band Count To Ten's roots were formed early as childhood friends growing up in Nassau County, Long Island.  Band members Alex DeSalvo, Dan Wolf, and Jon Zaitz were brought together through the loss of a high school friend. This personal tragedy was the catalyst for the formation of the band.  Soon after, Count To Ten recruited drummer Dan Koshulsky to the band. While Count To Ten was initially a tribute to their late friend, their chemistry quickly became evident, which led to numerous live performances across Long Island and Manhattan.  Count To Ten has been compared to acts such as : All American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, The Maine, Taking Back Sunday and The Script. Count To Ten will be launching their single Neck Deep this fall.

Christopher Watson has been jetting between Los Angeles and New York performing his blend of Blues, Folk, and Soul with smooth melodies and soaring vocals. His debut EP ‘Part of a Man’ was released in November 2015 with the single “Long No More.” Watson is a graduate of the University of Miami and a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, guitar, harmonica, and piano. He is currently working on his next album 'Ouvert.'

‪Steve Girardi, composer-guitarist, has been performing his original music in the New York metropolitan area for over two decades.  His unique sound challenges the traditional boundaries of contemporary jazz.  Performing with him Saturday night will be drum virtuoso Mark Graham, bassist Kevin Brown, keyboardist and percussionist Greg Federico and world-renowned bassist/cellist Mike Richmond. 

Rounding out the day program are Moodring and Sunhill. Moodring will be performing an artistic blend of original and cover rock, and bluesy, jazzy jams. The talented musicians, from Maplewood, New Jersey, write music that strives to be truly innovative.‪ Band members include: lead singer Mike Choi, Marina Stern, Glenn Martin, Nathaniel Knight, David Gomberg, Andre Scheutz, Tom Pietrycha, and Bill Pearsall.

‪Sunhill has been rocking local venues and the Jersey shore since 2007. With Stephanie Ellers strong passionate vocals and Micahael Dolan's harmonies expect to hear favorite acoustic covers including Bonnie Raitt, Ryan Adams, Beatles, Indigo Girls, Joan Osborne, Tom Petty, Alanis Morissette, Jack Johnson, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry.

The full schedule of events can be found on the Ed Foundation website:

http://www.edfoundationmillburnshorthills.org/rocktoberfest