Des & the Swagmatics perform July 18 at Mill Hill Park.

Trenton galleries, free concerts, and a hip hop fest — along with the monthly first Friday openings and the Candlelight Lounge’s Saturday afternoon jazz series — promise to make Trenton a cool place to be over the long hot summer.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the free and easy offerings happening in the capital city.


The Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series returns to Mill Hill Park for a weekly free series of musical events featuring national and regional artists that is now in its fifth year. The hot series is running July to early September with the following lineup:

New Orleans’ Shamarr Allen & The Underdogs present their big band hip-hop jazz, with Lancaster’s Big Boy Brass jazz, July 11; Asbury Park R&B group Des & the Swagmatics and the Trenton-based Renaissance Jazz Band, July 18; Vermont indie-soul performers Dwight & Nicole with New Jersey rock band HEVEE LEVEE, July 25;

New York City’s PJ Rasmussen & The Boardwalk Jazz with Princeton jazz performer Tom Tallitsch, August 1; Austin, Texas, R&B artist Tameca Jones and Jersey City soul singer Bo Mason, August 8; nationally recognized Trenton born musician Edwin Labron performs salsa music with Trenton Latin folk artist Gabriel Munoz, August 15;

California Afro-Latin group La Misa Negra performs Afro-Latin music and Philadelphia Latin fusion group Interminable, August 22; Nashville’s soul-pop group the New Respects and Asbury Park indie rock group the Vaughns, August 29;

And the series concludes with Arkansas-raised Rev. Sekou & the Freedom Fighters playing blues-Americana with Camden/Philadelphia soul musician Kingsley Ibeneche, September 5.

Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series, Mill Hill Park, Front and Broad streets.


The New Jersey State Museum’s “Many Inspired Steps” commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing that took place on July 21, 1969.

On view through November 10, the exhibition uses a variety of objects and images to examine the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, the pioneers of space travel — including New Jersey-born astronaut and Apollo 11 member Buzz Aldrin — and other state connections to both the landing and the space program.

The voyage to the moon is also explored by the new planetarium show “CapCOM Go!,” a documentary showcasing highlights of the Apollo program and the engineering and design that made space travel possible. Show times are weekends at 3 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. weekdays, July 5 through August 30. $5 to $7.

Also on view is “Crocs,” a look at New Jersey’s prehistoric past when crocodiles ruled. Built on NJSM’s vast research, the exhibition highlights fossils found in New Jersey from its historic collection, taxidermy, and, just to put things in perspective, a six-foot model of a New Jersey crocodile’s skull. It’s on view through September 8.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street. Tuesdays through Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Free; donations requested.

Trenton artist Graham Holmes’ 1931 oil painting “Sunday Concert in Cadwalader Park,” on permanent view in the Trenton City Museum.

The Trenton City Museum is keeping Trenton in the galleries this summer with exhibitions of work by two prominent city-connected artists. That includes Trenton native and longtime Times of Trenton visual arts reporter Janet Purcell and the nationally known Trenton artist Mel Leipzig (see story, page 4). Their work will be on view July 13 through September 8.

Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie, Cadwalader Park. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m., Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. Free. 609-989-3632.

Artworks Trenton is following up Art All Night 2019 with its annual Art All Night Selects Exhibition on view through July 19. Coordinators say the show features “standout work” form the community arts event. Works are selected by Artworks staff and board members as well as Art All Night coordinators and sponsors.

Then look for “American Steel Forever: Train Art in America,” curated by Trenton artist Leon Rainbow. Touted as “a celebration of American train art and culture,” the exhibition connects early 20th century Hobo culture to ’70s-era graffiti to the present day and features original art work, customized railroad signs, model railroad installations with tagged cars, and more. Also on view is “Golden Void — Zo Perron,” created by the self-described non-binary illustrator who attended Mercer County Community College and the University of the Arts and currently lives in Philadelphia. The exhibition features works inspired by both Trenton and Philadelphia and depicts “dreamy landscapes” and “moments of a critical, transitional period.” Both shows open with a reception on Saturday, August 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. and remain on view through August 31.

Artworks Trenton, 19 Everett Alley. Free. 609-394-9436.

The BSB Gallery in the former Broad Street Bank building on East State Street is hosting two topical exhibitions. The first is the “The Kitab Series — Jewels of Arabic Calligraphy.” The work features New Jersey artist Mariam Rajput’s artwork reflecting her Pakistani heritage and interest in Islamic art — especially calligraphy, geometric forms, and patterns. It’s on view from July 5 through August 5, with a reception the afternoon of Saturday, July 6.

“Warrior Women” follows and uses large-scale installations to draw attention to the reality of breast cancer. It’s on view from August 8 through 31, with a reception Saturday, August 10.

BSB Gallery, 143 East State Street. Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.


The Jersey Fresh Jam, New Jersey’s premiere Hip Hop festival, returns to TerraCycle in Trenton on Saturday, August 17, from noon to 6 p.m.

From humble beginnings — a wall, paint, some beer, and a boom box — the annual August event was born in 2005 and now attracts scores of street artists, musicians, vendors, and art lovers with a taste for the fresh. A partnership formed by Trenton street artist Leon Rainbow and graffiti-loving TerraCycle founder Tom Szaky, the Jam attracts regional, East Coast, and even national and international graffiti artists and musicians. The name of the event was inspired by the state’s Jersey Fresh produce campaign and a desire to make it an accessible and family-friendly event. It’s a real-deal Trenton event.

Jersey Fresh Jam, TerraCycle Complex, 121 New York Avenue. Free.