Most people would not expect to walk into the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College in the Oceanville section of Galloway Township on a Sunday afternoon and leave humming a Jackson 5 tune sung by a female singer-songwriter.
But that exact scenario played out on a recent Sunday as the museum played host to one of its Afternoon Acoustics sessions.
Yuni Sabatino, of Galloway Township, was the featured artist. With guitarist Dylan Martello and percussionist Bob Naumchik accompanying Sabatino's acoustic strumming, she surprised the dozen people inside the museum with her rendition of the Jackson 5 hit "I Want You Back."
"I like smooth jazz. I like soul music. I mix it up with the Americana and acoustic rock," Sabatino said.
Afternoon Acoustics started in April as a monthly Sunday event featuring the punk rock and jazz mixture served up by Zebras and Bulls Fight Tonight! of Egg Harbor City. In December, the program became a weekly event hosting four local music acts, including Zebras and Bulls, ARGO, of Atlantic City, Hofenakus, of Mays Landing, and Sabatino.
"This event has grown substantially within a year's time," said Shana Zimnoch, assistant to the director of the Noyes Museum. "The number of people coming specifically for the music nearly matches the museum's regular attendance."
Sabatino said performing at the Noyes Museum is very different from her other gigs.
"We don't use any amplification. There are no mics, no guitar amps. There is no P.A. (system). The acoustics of the museum carry the sound all over the exhibition area," Sabatino said. "When you go to the coffeehouses or the restaurants, people are either sitting down eating or having some coffee, or chatting a little, but with the afternoons, they tend to sit down and watch us, or they are walking around watching the exhibition, so it's very interesting."
The Noyes Museum has the advantage of being one of the most scenic places to experience live music indoors in southern New Jersey. Lily Lake is visible through the windows off to the right from where the artists are playing.
It also is one of the most intimate performance spaces in the area as visitors can be as close as two feet away from the artists as they play from 1 to 3 p.m.
Tim Coyle, of Brigantine, showed up March 3 to see Sabatino play because he is a Facebook friend. It was his first time seeing her perform live and his first visit to the museum in a long time, he said. Coyle is in two local bands.
"It's awesome, great. It's a nice place to showcase local talent. I will be back," said Coyle, 57. "It's a really nice venue, probably the most comfortable venue I've seen."
Rochelle Schepise, of Lancaster, Pa., makes the trip several times per year to visit Atlantic City. While driving along, she saw the sign for the museum and decided to stop in. She had never visited before.
"I think it's a good idea. You can listen to music while looking at beautiful artwork," Schepise said. "I was surprised when I first came in. I will stop by again."
Contact Vincent Jackson:
Held 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays at the Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College, 733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults and $4 for students and seniors. The lineup for the first four Sundays of each month is Yuni Sabatino, Hofenakus, ARGO and Zebras and Bulls Fight Tonight!, respectively. Afternoon Acoustics will not be held March 24 or 31. For more information, call 609-652-8848 or visit noyesmuseum.org