MADISON, NJ - If there is one thing that seems to be coming back to the county area during the COVID-19 lockdown and making everyone feel some sense of normalcy, it is the 2020 Downtown Concert Series.

This concert series has been organized by the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts since the early 2000s. The program featured local state bands with a variety of music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, salsa, and more, from classic covers to original songs. In the beginning, the music shows were offered as “Intimate Evenings of Music” within the museum, but then expanded to outdoor concerts during the summertime to accommodate growing audiences of about 300 people.

This year, despite a delay caused by the pandemic and inclement weather, these growing audiences first arrived on July 17th, with Mama D & the Vexations kicking off the series. This was followed by Zaire performing on July 24th, and then Jumping the Gun on August 7th.

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“This year was a challenge, but we are happy to provide a social diversion for our community,” said Jennifer Reilly, Communications Coordinator of the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts. “We have a set of guidelines in place to keep everyone safe, which includes limiting the number of people inside the building to just METC Staff and the band, encouraging people to bring their own chairs or blankets, maintaining social distance, and wearing masks. In the event of bad weather, we cannot hold the concert inside, so we work closely with the DDC to make the decision to cancel the event or postpone it to a new date. With these guidelines in place, we have received a lot of positive feedback from the community who are happy to enjoy a safe night of good music.”

And on August 21st, all the way from Roselle Park, Los Nueve Del Sabor took their turn to entertain the residents of the so-called Rose City. With them, they brought all the classic hits in Latin jazz, salsa, merengue and son; a blend of popular Latin styles from the Caribbean and South America! Los Nueve Del Sabor is composed of musicians from the New York/New Jersey area, and have performed at weddings, corporate events, nightclubs, festivals, concerts, and other venues.

However, like many local music groups, Los Nueve Del Sabor hasn’t had much business in the recent months. Musicians and bands have been stuck home, just practicing their instruments, waiting out the quarantine. Needless to say, all band members were happy to be in Madison performing for the first time in the concert series.

“We are all very thankful for the opportunity to show off our talent to the Madison community,” said band director Leo Munoz. “During these difficult times, it’s great to have events like this and be outside for once.”

And the Madison attendants, numbering to over 100 people, could say the same thing. During the evening, a section of Main Street was closed for spectators to set up their chairs and watch the show. They came armed with hand sanitizer and face masks, and ready to hear some great Latin salsa. Nearby restaurants and eateries, who set up tables and chairs on the sidewalks, found themselves filled up with business. For many, it seemed life in Rose City had returned to its peaceful status before the pandemic.

“I love coming to this town,” said Mark Paoletti, from Kinnelon. “The music is fantastic. It feels like things are almost back to normal.”

The next show of the Downtown Concert series will take place on August 28th, from 6-8:00 p.m., featuring the House of Hamill, using their fiddle and violins to bring traditional and contemporary classic to Madison. The Museum of Early Trades & Craft also intend to hold other events in the future.

“At this time, we are very limited to what events we can hold due to social distancing guidelines,” said Reilly. “In September, we are offering an Outdoor Only Architecture Walking Tour that will explore some of Madison’s fascinating architectural history. Pre-registration is required for this event and can be found on our website www.metc.org. Additionally, we are mounting a new exhibit ‘Cholera to COVID-19: Epidemics, Pandemics & Disease.’ METC is currently open to the public by reservation only. We are unable to take walk-in visitors at this time. In addition to these programs, we are planning a Virtual Benefit on November 5th. More details about that event will be coming out in the next few weeks.”

The concert series is sponsored by the Madison Downtown Development Commission. For more information on the concert series, visit the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts’ website at https://www.metc.org/.