SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — South Orange created its own Coachella on June 1, bringing residents to the village center to hear six cover bands at the Under Cover Music Festival. Sponsored by the South Orange Village Center Alliance, the six-hour concert held on Sloan Street hosted artists singing the music of Prince, Aretha Franklin, the Dave Matthews Band, the Meters, Bill Withers and Radiohead. Local businesses and restaurants set up booths at the festival, allowing children and adults alike to enjoy the music.
“The whole point is to bring people downtown,” organizer Mark Murphy, the owner of Mark Murphy’s Music, a music school on Scotland Road, said in a phone interview with the News-Record on May 31. “It’s music that most people are going to know.”
Most of the musicians who played at the festival aren’t in touring bands — they play local shows. Murphy himself performed, playing Dave Matthews tunes with his own band. The Aretha Franklin cover band, Dithmi and the Franklins, is made up of Murphy’s students.
Attendees spread chairs and blankets out on the street to watch the show, with a group of children creating a de facto mosh pit as they danced in the front near the stage. Murphy said that one of the goals of the event was to show children a performance up close.
“We want kids to come out and see people playing in a band and maybe say ‘I want to learn that,’” he said.
Listening to six straight hours of music is one thing, but Murphy also said that an outdoor festival adds to the atmosphere and fun of a concert.
“You might not know all of the music, but that’s what a festival is like,” he said. “And who doesn’t love sitting outside?”
Photos by Amanda Valentovic