CALDWELL, NJ – The borough of Caldwell and the Modern Music Academy kicked off the 2015 Concert on the Green series, entitled “An All American Showcase of Music,” on June 26 on the lawn next to the Caldwell Public Library. The free concert series is taking place on the last Fridays of the month in June, July, August and September, with each month featuring different local artists.

June’s showcase featured a relaxed performance by the band Suyat, with an opener from the Modern Music Academy’s mother and son duo Anne and Jacob Sailer, who teach “Music Together” classes for young children.

Residents were encouraged to bring their families and pack a picnic or purchase food from local restaurants, in this instance—ice cream from Gelotti’s Ice Cream and sandwiches from the Great Wazu. The small, yet comfortable area became filled with families sitting in chairs and at tables, spread out on blankets and dancing in the grassy space between the makeshift stage and the audience.

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The event drew participants from Caldwell and nearby towns, such as Bloomfield resident Adrienne Tallacksen and her children, who attend “Music Together” classes at the Modern Music Academy.

“It’s nice to have some family events to get out and see members of the community,” she said. “This isn’t our community exactly, but it’s nice to get to know some of the neighboring towns.”

While Tallacksen heard of the concert through the community grapevine, the Barnes family stumbled onto it on their way to get ice cream and decided to stay to hear the music.

“It’s a nice exposure to the arts,” said Diane Barnes. “I think it’s important to join in community-based events for sure.”

“It’s awesome!” interjected her son, Daniel, smiling through a chocolate ice cream mustache. 

The Concert on the Green series is the brainchild of Jarrett Zellea, owner of the Modern Music Academy, and Caldwell’s administration, headed by Mayor Ann Dassing.

“I like to give back to the community,” said Zellea. “I think the most important thing for anybody who works for the community is to give back; you can’t just take and ask the residents to constantly just be spending their money with you and not be able to give anything back. I decided to talk to the Mayor and we came up with this great brainstorm of putting together an absolutely awesome showcase of local talent that actually have notable things that they’ve done.”

For example, Suyat front man Matthew Suyat was the first Hawaiian to earn a golden ticket from American Idol in 2012. He is also a winner of Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater. 

Zellea, who has found success in the music industry as a music educator and owner of the Modern Music Academy in first Los Angeles and now New Jersey, uses his connections to bring in distinguished musical guests like Suyat for the concerts. 

“For me, getting into this, it was easy to call out a bunch of students,” he said. “Suyat’s band are all former students of mine from when they were in fifth grade all the way up. It’s kind of crazy, the small world that it’s been.”

Throughout the rest of the summer, Zellea plans to showcase the talents of Maria Dundas from Cash Cash and the artist Pastel in July, jazz and doo-wop ensembles in August and finally surprise artists for a rock show in September.