MAPLEWOOD, NJ – People old and young came to Maplewoodstock this weekend.
The two-day concert held in Memorial Park every year attracted thousands of people on Saturday and Sunday, and the event continues to grow year after year.
“We’ve gotten more sophisticated over the years with the musical selections being more diverse,” said Kevin Chandler, member of the Maplewoodstock Committee. “As a result, we have a more diverse crowd.”
Twelve bands including the headliner band Antibalas performed on Saturday and 11 bands including headliner Turkuaz and sub headliner Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds performed on Sunday. Many of the bands are from local towns or from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The bands played mostly rock music, blues, reggae, African-inspired World music, soul and Funkadelic hits. Sixty arts and crafts vendors and 20 food vendors also came to the concert with their tents set up along the top part of the hill in the park.
“It’s the one event in the community that brings people together from all walks of life,” Chandler said.
Maplewood resident Steven Feldman was both a spectator and a performer at this year’s Maplewoodstock.
“The sound has been the best I’ve ever heard it here,” said Feldman who has been coming to the concert for more than a decade. “The sound was not too loud, but it was impactful if you’re sitting in front of the stage.”
Feldman watched the concert from sitting on a blanket on the hill Sunday night as Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds and Turkuaz sang and played, but he performed earlier that day with the band Stuff Brothers and on Saturday with the band Thursday Habit. Stuff Brothers played Funkadelic original hits and Thursday Habit performs progressive rock.
“I was very comfortable this year performing as a drummer. The drum set was beautiful,” Feldman said.
“Basically 40 drummers use the set over the two-day period so you need a drum set that can handle that. This one was amazing,” he noted.
Like Feldman, Joi Nelson has come to Maplewoodstock just about every year since it started more than a decade ago, but to watch all the performances.
Nelson watched in anticipation this past week as she drove by Memorial Park and saw workers setting up for the event. She said Maplewoodstock has grown since it first started over a decade ago.
“People get off the train to come,” Nelson said. “The more the merrier as long as there is room for the locals.
This year Nelson and her family came around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday with her parents and her 7-year-old daughter Trinity to find a spot along the hill to sit during the concert since the anticipated crowd was expected to be large.
This is different from when Maplewoodstock started more than a decade ago and she and her family could come almost anytime during the day and easily find spots along the hill to set up their chairs for sitting during the concert.
“It’s become a tradition,” Nelson said about coming to Maplewoodstock. “I wish we had this when I was younger.”
Every year the Maplewoodstock Committee finds new musicians to perform that fit the taste of the anticipated crowd, explained Maplewood Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee.
“The committee finds the right vibe,” said McGehee. “The whole town and surrounding towns come together under music.”
“The event was fun,” said Miles Bird, of Madison, who attended Maplewoodstock for the first time. “There was great music.”