The West Windsor Arts Council celebrates beat and rhythm with a return of its annual Summer Music Series “…And the Beat Goes On!” at Nassau Park Pavilion (Nassau Park Shopping Center off Route 1, between Target and Panera Bread). Concerts are hosted on select Saturday evenings during June, July, and August from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The events are free and open to the public. The Arts Council suggests that you bring a picnic dinner, pull up a chair, and enjoy the sounds of summer 2012.

In its eighth season, the summer music series will offer the community a variety of music from local and regional artists. This year’s lineup focuses on the various music genres –– classical,rock and roll, folk, salsa, and even an open mic night. Performers were selected because of the quality of music that they offer, their connection to the central New Jersey region, and their unique style of touching the audience with their ability to put a smile on a face and get a toe to tap and a hand to clap!

Admission to all concerts is free as a result of the generous sponsorship of Developers Diversified Realty (Nassau Park), New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Mercer County Cultural & Heritage Commission/New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and West Windsor Arts Council.

About each artist:

Sinfonietta Nova, June 23: If something happens twice in a row, does that make it a tradition? If so, Sinfonietta Nova’s June concert has become a tradition! 2012 will mark the second year that Sinfonietta Nova, a community orchestra based in West Windsor will perform at "…and the Best Goes On!"

Sinfonietta Nova provides professional-quality musical performances and cultural enrichment in central New Jersey. One of the goals for the orchestra is to include as many music educators as possible. They strive to be a group that will have strong ties with local schools: foster music appreciation; provide easy access for students to see their teachers perform, and give opportunities for some students to play with their teachers in concerts.

The conductor of Sinfonietta Nova, Gail Lee, is praised by the conductor and musicians of Seattle Symphony as “a serious talent,” “clear and musical,” and “exceptional stick technique.” Lee works extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia, including the Seattle Symphony, the Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco), the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, the North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra, Miskolc (Hungary), the Filharmonie Hradec Kralove, and the Varna State Philharmonie (Bulgaria), among others.

Ms. Lee was engaged by New Jersey Music Educators Association in 2007 to conduct the New Jersey All State Orchestra. She also served as a lecturer at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers and has led Rutgers Sinfonia and Opera. Ms. Lee holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University.

Musical selections for the June 23 performance will cover traditional classical works to modern selections.

The Billy Walton Band, July 7: The West Windsor Arts Council will bring a bit of the Jersey Shore to Central Jersey! Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny were the two acts that made their way to an international stage from the humble beginnings of the Jersey Shore. For decades musicians have come and gone, always hoping to make a living and pursue a dream. Billy Walton is no different. Billy’s proving ground was Long Beach Island. There he was chaperoned from gig to gig by his mom, as he was too young to drive and enter clubs on his own. Billy spent years sharpening his skills, developing his stage act until he decided to step up to center stage with the Billy Walton Band.

As the band grew a following along the shore, the band also focused its effort in the UK. Ten tours since 2007 have established the group in the fertile British blues rock scene. In 2010 Billy got the call to join in with one of the masters of the Asbury Park sound, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. For much of 2010 and 2011 Billy toured with the Jukes. Most people don’t know that Southside is one of Jon Bon Jovi’s biggest influences. As a member of the Jukes Billy got to jam with JBJ as well.

The band will perform tracks from “Crank It Up,” the latest release, which came out in April. Besides Walton, members of the band include Richie Taz on sax, William Paris (of Robbinsville) on bass, and Johnny D’Angelo on drums.

The WWAC Open Mic, July 21: During the past 18 months, the West Windsor Arts Center has hosted open mics on Friday nights. Musical, comedy, and even magicians have performed to the delight of the community. At our first outdoor open mic, the West Windsor Arts Council once again invites performers of all genres to participate!

Each act will be allowed a 10-minute set, and sound will be provided. Sign up at Acts are to arrive by 6:15 p.m. on July 21 to check in. We look forward to seeing Central Jersey’s talent under the stars!

Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso, August 4: “…And the Beat Goes On!” proudly presents Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso! Ray and his group return to share the group’s distinctive style (Salsa Dura), the result of the unique and extensive musical backgrounds of the band’s members, who have performed and recorded with some of the most recognizable names in Latin music.

Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso recorded their debut CD titled “Baila con Swing Sabroso,” which has received rave reviews by specialized media and continues to be a favorite with many DJs and dancers.

Ray was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the birth place of Rafael Hernandez, Puerto Rico’s foremost composer, and raised in Brooklyn and New York City’s Spanish Harlem, homegrounds to Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, and many other salsa icons.

Ray began his musical career at an early age and went on to study at the renowned Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, where he majored in music theory, counterpoint, harmony, and arranging. He continued studying at the Bronx Community College and with select private teachers.

Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso continue to perform with great reviews at such venues as Lincoln Center, S.O.B.s, LQ’s Philadelphia Salsa Congress, NYC Salsa Congress, and at many more festivals and clubs.

Greg Trooper, August 18: New to the Nassau Park stage, Greg Trooper is a singer/songwriter who has released 11 albums since 1986. Raised in the shore town of Little Silver, NJ, he discovered a sort of holy musical trinity in the work of Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams, with their guiding lights of passion, literary dexterity, and plainspoken honesty. It’s one reason Trooper’s music feels equally informed by Memphis soul, Greenwich Village folk, and Nashville twang.

Trooper has made an impact on the music scenes in all the places he’s lived since leaving home: Austin, Texas; Lawrence, Kansas; Nashville; and New York. Music critics praise his poetic feel, infectious melodies, and insightful lyrics. Americana star Buddy Miller produced 1998’s “Popular Demons” album, while soul legend Dan Penn steered 2005’s extraordinary “Make It Through This World.”

Greg Trooper’s songs have been recorded by numerous artists including Vince Gill, Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Robert Earl Keen, Maura O’Connell, Lucy Kaplansky, and Tom Russell.

West Windsor Arts Council, 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction. Office/gallery hours: Wednesday to Friday, 12 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 609-716-1931.

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