After 5 years of both fighting hunger in the community and creating a local music scene from scratch, Rent Party turned up the volume at its new home in Maplewood, The Woodland.
The Woodland is the former Maplewood Woman’s Club, which recently underwent a tip-to-tail refurbishment and is now a primo event venue in downtown Maplewood. The large, proscenium stage, high ceiling and capacity for 300 or so local music fans was a big change after the dozens of events Rent Party presented at the smaller South Orange Elk’s Lodge. (Heck, there was even a small art gallery at the back of the hall.)
The night kicked off with Deena & The Laughing Boys, whose set included the bespoke Rent Party Theme Song. Most of the Rent Party crew, including founder Chris Dickson, joined the band on stage in front of one of the largest crowds for any RP event.
The night kept rocking with back-to-back Maplewood-based groups: The Marco Ranieri Band (which also feature’s Marco’s wife Kristy on bass and vocals), which played a tightly melodic set; and American Ambulance, led into raucous rock & roll battle by mainman Pete Cenedella.
The music was the main event, but Dickson and everyone else involved made sure no one forgot the reason the organization was formed in the first place: like all Rent Party shows, all of the proceeds went to fight hunger in the South Orange-Maplewood community by supporting local food banks and funding the Rent Party Garden, and the Back Pack Pals, and Take the Cake programs.
The next morning, Dickson posted the following to Rent Party’s Facebook page:
“Last night’s inaugural show at The Woodland was, for lack of a better word, epic . . . Turnout was better than we had even hoped for and we think that everyone had a great time! Thanks to the bands, who absolutely owned the new stage, rising to the challenge of a bigger venue . . . It really was a special night and we’re excited about the road ahead.”
The second show of Rent Party’s new season at The Woodland takes place Friday, November 14, 8pm, featuring a full-band set by James Maddock, with the Karyn Kuhl Band opening up. All the info is at rentpartylive.com.