As we prepare this month to spring forward, we’re delighted to announce eight new concerts in our music series co-hosted by the Frenchtown Bookshop.

This year’s lineup, which kicked off this weekend with a rousing performance by Pardon My French!, includes a powerhouse of talented artists whose music styles range from soul to Western swing and classical to indigenous roots.

Soulful R&B vocalist Madison McFerrin and her trio are next up in the series with a performance on May 20, followed by Texas blues phenom Jackie Venson and her band on June 25.

The summer season brings hot-picking retro-rockabilly/Western swing darling Eilen Jewell and her band on July 7, “rock stars” of chamber music and “the millennial Kronos” Sybarite5 on July 29, and the “living face of Gypsy jazz” Stephane Wrembel and his Shades of Django Quartet on August 26.

The McDonnell Theater stage will light up this fall with Broadway belter Shayna Steele on September 9, soulful Native American/African-American singer Martha Redbone and her Roots Project on October 7, and “one of the absolute best singer/songwriters in the world” Chris Smithers on November 4.

Tickets, which range from $25 to $35, are on sale now. Please visit our FAQ page for our ticket policies and commonly asked questions about events in the McDonnell Theater.

This month marks one year since opening the McDonnell Theater in March 2022 with back-to-back performances by Apsáalooke hip hop artist and fancy dancer Supaman. Nearly 1,000 people attended events during the theater’s opening month, including a film festival and previews for Company SBB // Stefanie Batten Bland’s Embarqued: Stories of Soil (a theatre-dance performance which went on to premiere at BAM).

The 162-seat theater is at the heart of the building that houses ArtYard’s new arts center, a welcoming communal resource and vessel channeling the power of art to unsettle, engage, bridge divides, and spark moments of arresting beauty. The theater has state-of-the-art projection, lighting, and surround sound and is the site of music, film screenings, dance, theater, artist talks, and more.

Music at ArtYard is curated by Scott Sheldon, co-owner of the Frenchtown Bookshop and the former presenter of The Sanctuary Concerts in Chatham. Over 15 years, Scott presented more than 300 concerts, including Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega, Marc Cohn, Rosanne Cash, Jimmy Webb, the Roches, Janis Ian, Josh Ritter, and Nick Lowe.

More on tap: Incubating a new performance, what’s on view in the gallery

In addition, artist-in-residence Sebastienne Mundheim returns to ArtYard in March and April to develop a new interdisciplinary performance inspired by Newark ark-builder Kea Tawana. The performances — set for May 6 and 7 in the McDonnell Theater — are immersions in puppetry, movement, storytelling, and live music as we follow the life of a woman who single-handedly built an ark because “there’s no place left on land for people like me.” Stay tuned for more information on how to experience this early-stage work.

We are still accepting nominations of veterans to share their stories from before, during, and after their military service for a new arts project called Veterans Voices.

Finally, we want to once again thank everyone who joined us at opening receptions for four new exhibitions on view in our gallery through May 21, Paul Bowen: Drift, As Is, Shoes, A Love Story, and Michael Mangino: Paint. There’s still plenty of time to experience these exhibitions for yourself during our gallery hours — Wednesday to Sunday 11 AM to 5 PM and late night Thursday til 7 PM.

As part of Shoes, A Love Story, visitors are invited to share their shoe story while seated in a vintage shoe shine stand by recording a video to social media with #shoestoryartyard or on a printed form. Tap shoes in a variety of sizes at the exhibition’s entrance are meant for visitors to put on to tap their way through the space.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend at the sold-out performances of Isabella Rossellini’s Darwin’s Smile on Saturday and Sunday and more.