Nicole Glover

This column is designed to call your attention to live music. Multimedia installations with recorded sound are a completely different kind of experience— usually one involving less moshing and fewer bottles of beer. But some art shows with musical dimensions are so weird and intriguing that they barge into the conversation about local musical events anyway. “Once She Dries” is such an exhibition. An indication of my interest in this show: not only am I including it in Rogue Waves, I’m listing it first, hanging a star on it, and tying a string around my finger to make sure I don’t miss it. 

In part, that’s because of the participation of the marvelous Nancy Cohen, who has long been counted among the most audacious sculptors working in Hudson County.  She’s an artist with a visual signature, and a cornerstone of the local post-industrial style.  Her works in glass, paper, cement, and repurposed junk sometimes look like maps, sometimes like undulating quilts, and sometimes like the remains of beings with unfathomable biologies. Cohen’s pieces often manage to suggest the shimmering quality of translucence and light refraction, even when they’re technically opaque.  She’s a creature of the air, and the air around here, as we all know, is uncomfortably rich with particulate matter.  

During her time in Jersey City, Cohen has been involved in some imaginative group exhibitions. But I doubt she’s ever collaborated with a team of musicians, scholars,  and videographers investigating the life cycle of coral.  Cohen’s art has often been a deliberate engagement with ecological fragility and habitat destruction, and she’s found some kindred spirits here in Jersey City and elsewhere, including local dancer, teacher, and storyteller Meagan Woods. For “Once She Dries,” Cohen has decorated the room, Woods has spun an oceanic tale of coral depletion and regeneration, Canadian artists Xinyue Liu and Casper Leerink have handled the video, and Leerink, who is also a pianist, has added his eighty-eight to a soundtrack that also includes contributions from violinist Kourosh Ghamsari-Esfahani and singer-songwriter Amanda Sum.  You’re expected to grab a seat and let the whole thing wash over you for thirty minutes like a warm tide.  Once it’s done, it’ll repeat again.  No, this isn’t happening at MANA Contemporary; why do you ask?  It’s in a smaller pool, but one that runs just as deep — and with waves that are just as dangerous:

Once She Dries @ SMUSH (Mar. 3)

If all you knew about Amanda Sum was her 2022 debut album, you might be surprised to find her mixed up with a bunch of coral reefers. On the Jensen McRae-like “New Age Attitudes,” the Vancouver artist sings stylish pop-R&B of the Spotify playlist-hogging variety. But she’s got a theater background and a track record of weird works, and, hey, what does coral behave like, anyway?  For all us landlubbers know, those underwater colonies are as harmonious as the the firm of Baker, Bridgers & Dacus. Seriously: Amanda Sum’s presence in “Once She Dries” is another example of the poppy streak that runs through all of the programming at SMUSH.  No matter how adventurous this little gallery gets, they always make sure to please the crowd. (SMUSH Gallery, 340 Summit Ave., 6 p.m.; free; visit “Once She Dries” will be on view until Apr. 1 on Thursdays and Fridays from 6-9, Saturdays from noon-6, and Sundays from 2-6.) 

The Nicole Glover Quartet @ The Statuary (Mar. 3)

“Once She Dries” is part of the best JC Fridays lineup in recent memory — one that supplements a roster of strong visual arts shows with some excellent live performances. The Statuary (53 Congress St.) has pitched in by bringing a ringer to The Heights: saxophonist Nicole Glover, a sweet-toned traditionalist with the phrasing of a virtuoso and a great ear for melody. Glover is an alumna of the excellent jazz program at William Paterson, where she studied with Harold Mabern, and she’s accompanied Christian McBride, too, so she’s got some (transplanted) Jersey roots. But her act is thoroughly cosmopolitan, and her approach is indebted to heavyweights like Eric Dolphy and Sonny Stitt. She also cut a great, breathy version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dindi” on her 2021 set Strange Lands, thereby demonstrating that this cool kid doesn’t wilt in the tropical heat.  Not that that’s going to be an issue this Friday night. Brr. (The Statuary, 53 Congress St., doors at 6 p.m., music at 7 p.m.; $25 suggested donation; visit

 The Jean-François Alcoléa Trio

Georges Méliès: Right in the Eye @ NJCU Margaret Williams Theatre (Mar. 3)

French pianist Jean-François Alcoléa has thought hard about the manner in which music and motion pictures might interact. He’s been incorporating film and video into his performances for years, always shooting for total immersion, and sometimes surrounding his listeners with speakers in order to plunge them deeper into the experience.  On Friday night, Alcoléa’s love affair with cinema continues at the Margaret Williams Theater, where his trio will match music to the silent films of the pioneering director George Méliès. “Right in the Eye,” the title of this performance, is a reference to Méliès’s most famous image: the man in the moon, cross and scowling, with a rocketship embedded in his crater-face.  It’s also a description of Alcoléa’s own taste for visual provocation.  He’ll make music with wine glasses, saws, the lids of plastic containers; whatever sounds intriguing and looks cool.  Méliès surely would have approved (The Margaret Williams Theatre, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, 7:30 p.m.; $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors; visit

Moira Dela Torre @ NJCU Margaret Williams Theatre (Mar. 4)

It’s going to be an active weekend for the crew at New Jersey City University, who’ll be turning over the theater after the Méliès show in preparation for something completely different. Moira Dela Torre performs in Tagalog, but otherwise, her music is straightforward adult pop and soft rock, sung crisply, prettily, and with great presence by the star.  Her repertoire is heavy on showstopping heartbreak ballads (“Ikaw At Sila”) and bright, catchy love songs (“Babalik Sa’yo”).  In the Philippines, she’s a celebrity: she was one of the judges on the national version of “The Voice,” she’s won five Myx Music Awards, and her debut album, which she mostly wrote herself, has been certified platinum eight times over.  She’s bringing along Philippine-American actor and singer Kyle Echarri, veteran of “The Voice Kids,” who’ll open the show with a pop set of his own. (The Margaret Williams Theatre, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard, 7 p.m.; $108-$128, $178 for VIP with a photo op;

Little Hag

Little Hag, Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help and The Royal Arctic Institute @ Pet Shop (Mar 9)

“I’m melting, I’m a mess,” sings Avery Mandeville on “Cherry,” one of the many lovelorn numbers on “Leash” [2021], the latest album by her band Little Hag. No matter how warbly her voice gets, don’t believe her — not entirely, anyway. The Asbury Park rocker and excellent, corrosive lyricist is in firm control of her songwriting, disciplined about the presentation of her melodic ideas, and a ruthless hard-seller of her hooks. She’s also well aware of the strategic value of a meltdown, especially in the midst of an argument with a shlub-like boyfriend (and aren’t we all): “Leash” is full of fiercely suppressed rage, incendiary impulses, plate-breaking wishes, calls for blood, and an itchy trigger finger on the pepper spray. Traffic jams make Mandeville want to floor it. You know the type. The singer has unleashed her apocalyptic visions via Bar/None Records, the fearless Hoboken label that has always provided a home for the eschatologically-inclined. Bar/None head honcho Glenn Morrow leads his accomplished band through a set of scalding pop-rock songs of his own, too. If that’s not enough to draw you to the Pedestrian Plaza, the imaginative instrumental group The Royal Arctic Institute will cross the river for a set of their own. This is a Look at My Records showcase, and that’s a seal of local indie quality if ever there was one. (Pet Shop, 193 Newark Ave., 8 p.m.; free; visit and 

Widely Grown @ The Flower Shop (Mar. 12)

Right around the corner from Bread + Salt and down the street from the Franklin Social, there’s a handsome five-story red-brick building that hasn’t called much attention to itself — though a few well-regarded Hudson County enterprises have set up headquarters in there. That may be about to change. The Flower Shop, a floral design studio and their affiliated event space, is turning the floor of Hutton Street Studio over to the tireless James Calleo and his country-rock combo Widely Grown. Calleo is a practice hand at improvising, and squeezing his music into odd places that don’t always accommodate rock, and his group sounds pleasantly rootsy no matter wherever they’re planted. Expect lots of fiddle and standing bass, multi-part male harmonies, fireside stompers, and a deep appreciation of the pleasures of hearing the Boss on the radio. The capacity is only fifty, so it shouldn’t get too crazy. (The Flower Shop/Hutton Street Studio, 195 New York Ave., 7:30 p.m.; $20; visit

Jack Bresilin

Jack Breslin Trio @ Fox & Crow (Mar. 25)

Calleo is also across the neighborhood at the Parlor at Fox & Crow tomorrow night. He gets around. One of the many musicians he’s collaborated with is upright bassist Jack Breslin, a pure jazz player who leads a combo of his own from the bottom end. Breslin brings his group — that includes drummer Chelsea Hughey and bassist Brian Princing — to the Heights for a headlining set of exploratory jazz that finds a nice middle ground between experimentation and convention. Breslin himself is a musician of noteworthy sensitivity, and the possessor of a firm but gentle groove. They’re supporting “Trio,” a full-length album recorded at NLK Studio, a pop-up event space located at… 195 New York Avenue. Yes indeed: good things are happening in the Heights. (Fox + Crow, 594 Palisade Ave., 8 p.m.; $10; visit


OnlyOneOf @ White Eagle Hall (Mar. 29 & 31) 

I hesitate to include this in the column because the only tickets left to these two shows are VIP packages that’ll cost you more than anybody ever ought to pay for a show that doesn’t include Beyoncé Knowles. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth and you’re moved by smooth, seamless, state-of-the-art K-pop, there are few artists riding the cutting edge of the style any more gracefully than OnlyOneOf. The six member singing group is coming off the success of their two “Instinct” albums (released in 2021 and 2022), which established them as strong genre practitioners capable of cooing in harmony over daring beats inspired by cloud hip-hop and club music. Alas, they’re down a man: Love, one of the focal points of the band, skipped out on OnlyOneOf in the middle of 2021. That’s a shame.  But they’ve got more than enough star power to cover for his absence. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave. 7 p.m.; $169; visit

Tris McCall has written about art, architecture, performance, politics, and public culture for many publications, including the Newark Star-Ledger, the Bergen Record, Jersey Beat, the Jersey City Reporter,...