Arts & Entertainment

Back by Popular Demand, Riff Returns to UCPAC for “A Night of Love” in February

Riff Performing in "Lean on Me" (1989) Credits: RiffSounds. (2010, August 23). East Side High School Song!!!!!. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Rahway, NJ- Valentine’s Day may be the original day of love, but this year, the love will continue three days later at the Union County Performing Arts Center. After selling out the UCPAC’s Hamilton Stage in late 2016, 90s R&B group Riff is back on February 17 at 8:00 PM to soothe the soul with their signature harmonies in “A Night of Love.” And this time, they’ve brought some special guests: fellow R&B group Allure, newcomer R. Notes, and Host Big Zay.

Riff, which started under the name The Playboys, was formed in the late 1980s by five students of Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ: Michael Best, Anthony Fuller, Kenny Kelly, Dwayne Jones and Steven Capers. The band debuted their talents in the movie Lean on Me (1989), in which they sang the Eastside High School Alma Mater. It was after this that they signed to SBK records and changed their name to Riff. With three hits off their first self-titled album (1991) making the Billboard Hot 100, their song “Family” being included on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) soundtrack, and the group appearing on The Tonight Show, Soul Train, and The Arsenio Hall Show, Riff has experienced a great reception from early on in their careers. After touring with Vanilla Ice and L.L. Cool J, the band released their second album, To Whom It May Concern (1993), with two charting singles. Jones, Fuller and Best next joined a new group, Men of Vizion, and it wasn’t until 2009 that the iconic group decided to join up again. The current members of Riff are originals Michael Best, Anthony Fuller and Steven Capers, as well as André Lamar and Delvis Damon. Former member Dwayne Jones is no longer a member of Riff, and sadly, Kenny Kelly passed away in 2016. Riff posted a heartfelt tribute to Kenny at the time, stating he was like a brother to them.

Allure began as another group of students, this time from LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York (and one student from Julia Richmond High School). The founding members were Lalisha McLean, Akissa Mendez, Alia Davis, and Linnie Belcher. The band was the first band signed under Mariah Carey’s record label, Crave Records. Their first self-titled album, released in 1997, featured artists such as Carey, L.L. Cool J, Q-Tip, Nas and Raekwon. Allure’s biggest hit off that album, as well as their biggest to date, reaching US #4, was a cover of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s “All Cried Out.” Allure released three more albums after that, under MCA, Lightyear, and A.L.A. Recordings respectively. Their third album saw them become a trio, with Linnie Belcher leaving the band.  In 2002, Allure even appeared in “The Letter,” a song off of Tom Jones’ album Mr. Jones.

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R. Notes, a.k.a. Rahlique Young, hails from Brooklyn, NY, specifically Coney Island. He’s been singing since age 14, and he’s been “R. Notes” since 19. His accomplishments thus far are already impressive: he won amateur night at the Apollo Theater, he appeared on Sirius XM Radio and Brooklyn College Radio, and he appeared as a special guest at Newark’s NJ 24 Hours of Peace 2013 Event. His inspirations include John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Music Soul Child.

You can hear host Big Zay on 8 Squad Rebel Radio, an internet radio station based in Newark, NJ. 8 Squad Rebel Radio, founded in 2013, is dedicated to their community, believing that classic hip-hop and R&B provides a positive influence to a young audience. They also play other genres of music and support independent and local artists by playing their songs. Big Zay is on the station from Monday to Wednesday, 12 PM- 2 PM, on a segment called the “Mid-Day Lunch Mix.”

There are two ticket types for “A Night of Love with 90’s R&B Sensations Riff & Allure.” The VIP ticket is $65 and includes seating in the four rows closest to the stage (or in box A or B), a meet and greet, gift package from Riff and entry to a post show reception. The non-VIP ticket, with seating in the rows behind, is $40. Tickets can be purchased online at, over the phone by calling (732) 499-8226 or in person at the box office. Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 5 PM, with extended hours of 11 AM to 8 PM on Thursdays. The Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage is located in downtown Rahway at 360 Hamilton Street and is easily accessible to major roads and public transportation.

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