Over the next few months, anybody who says there’s no good live music from national acts to hear in the Augusta area won’t be listening hard enough, without ears open enough to a treasure trove of different sounds.
From August through March, 16 acts in genres as diverse as Big Band, country, jazz, Christian, gospel plus balladeers and singers of quintessential pop standards will take the stage during Augusta Amusements’ 2014-2015 season.
All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd. in Evans.
Tickets are available online through the box office at (706) 726-0366 or online at augustaamusements.com.
“This is the most aggressive season I’ve had since I started,” said Mike Deas, the president of Augusta Amusements. “We’ve touched many genres and I’m hoping this will appeal to a majority of folks in the community who want to come out and support and enjoy live entertainment.”
Several larger names line the roster this season, including the famous gospel group, the Blind Boys of Alabama on March 13, and 1960s and ’70s folk-rock favorite Al Stewart on March 28, along with a cornerstone of jazz music, the Count Basie Orchestra on Oct. 24 and the Big Band sounds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Nov. 13.
Guitarists aplenty are along for the ride as well, with the New West Guitar Group kicking off the season on Aug. 8, and the California Guitar Trio on Feb. 13.
Pianists join the roundup, too. The season also includes renowned jazz pianist David Benoit with a Christmas-time performance of songs from the beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas special, with local children performing Christmas carols at the end of the performance, on Dec. 12.
Additionally pop and adult contemporary pianist Jim Brickman takes the stage of the 290-seat theater on March 20.
“He’s such a huge name in the entertainment world, and after playing with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he should be playing in a much larger house,” Deas said, “and we were able to get him for a solo performance.”
There’s even a feast for the ears – and the eyes, with Lightwire Theater’s child-friendly dance routine, Dino Light, on Oct. 10. The semifinalists on America’s Got Talent proved to be quite popular last year, Deas said.
“There were four to five dancers in body suits with lights, in a completely dark theater,” he said. “It was a full theater, and the children absolutely loved it.”
Bringing quality live entertainment to Augusta has been a driving force in building a packed series of offerings, Deas said, instead of having to drive to Atlanta, Columbia or Charlotte.
“You can go out, have dinner, support the local economy, come and enjoy a night of entertainment, and you’re home in a half-hour,” he said.
For many of the shows, audience members are asked to wear attire to correspond with the era of the music being performed that evening.
“In 2009, someone suggested that we should have a dress theme,” Deas said. “Honestly, I thought it was the corniest thing I ever heard. But we tried it, and people loved it. It was a fun thing that caught on, and we continue to do it today.”
Season passes for all 16 shows are $558.50 and $633.50; individual ticket prices range vary per show. Tickets for multiple shows are also available at a discount by calling the box office at (706) 726-0366.
FRIDAY, AUG. 8
NEW WEST GUITAR GROUP
With roots in classic jazz from their days at the University of Southern California, the New West Guitar Group – Perry Smith, Jeff Stein and John Storie – has a varied soundscape that welcomes not only jazz but also folk, country, rock and pop into the mix, with both original songs and unique covers of Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Simon & Garfunkel’s Bleecker Street, Joni Mitchell’s All I Want and The Police’s Wrapped Around Your Finger.
Along with an open mind to different genres comes openness to technique itself, with the band’s 2013 release Big City featuring out-of-the-ordinary strumming and fingerpicking.
SATURDAY, AUG. 23
THE MALPASS BROTHERS
Raised on a diet of classic country music from their grandfather’s records, the sounds of greats like Hank Williams Sr. and Merle Haggard are part of Christopher and Taylor Malpass’ musical DNA. The duo, both in their 20s, have taken traditional country to heart and create performances taking audiences back to an earlier time, respecting the greats and also creating new music to add to a rich lineage of a uniquely American form of music.
FRIDAY, SEPT. 5
FRANK VIGNOLA AND
Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo – two virtuoso guitarists who have performed world wide with top musicians – recently paired up for the album Beloved Earth Songs, to create a fun, melodic sound that includes a diverse song set of classics covered in their own way – from Killing Me Softly to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 11
JANIS SIEGEL – “AN EVENING OF ELLA FITZGERALD”
Janis Siegel, a nine-time Grammy winner and lead singer of The Manhattan Transfer has brought acclaimed musical respect in her own right, performing the masterpiece jazz tunes of one of her idols, Ella Fitzgerald. Siegel, who continues to tour with The Manhattan Transfer, recently released her first self-produced musical venture, Nightsongs: A Late Night Interlude.
FRIDAY, OCT. 10
LIGHTWIRE THEATER –
Attendees are encouraged to dress in dark clothing for a performance of light and whimsy appealing to all ages, presented by Corbian Visual Arts and Dance in collaboration with Lightwire Theater. The show includes dinosaurs and other creatures in a show of electroluminescence, fantasy and storytelling.
SATURDAY, OCT. 11
GUY LOMBARDO’S ROYAL CANADIANS WITH AL PIERSON
The longest running dance orchestra in the world – founded in 1919 with more than 500 hit songs – comes to the Augusta area, directed by Al Pierson. Concert goers are being encouraged to wear the styles of the 1940s and 1950s to complete the scene.
FRIDAY, OCT. 24
THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA
The legendary orchestra that served as a cornerstone to swing and jazz music since 1935 continues today as one of the elite organizations in the genres, having won 17 Grammy Awards since its inception.
THURSDAY, NOV. 13
THE GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA
The Glenn Miller Orchestra was, and is, a key foundation to the Big Band sound, reformed by the estate of Glenn Miller in 1956 after movie The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson swept the box offices of the day.
SATURDAY, NOV. 22
Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff penned numerous tunes that other artists, such as Bonnie Raitt, Linda Rondstadt and Wynonna Judd, throughout the decades made their own. Singing live, Bonoff will bring her own voice to her own music.
FRIDAY, DEC. 12
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS WITH DAVID BENOIT
Piano legend David Benoit will take the beloved music of Vince Guaraldi composed for the 1965 Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, for a holiday treat.
FRIDAY, FEB. 6
THE ANNIE MOSES BAND
This family of Christian musicians rooted in classical, pop and jazz take their artistry on a journey of faith and family.
FRIDAY, FEB. 13
CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO
The trio’s guitar music has traversed multiple genres, from rock to jazz and world music to classical across 22 years. Their most recent album, Masterworks, is an exploration of classical touted as the group’s most “acoustic” work to date, including arrangements of classics such as Vivaldi’s Winter from the Four Seasons suite.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7
The Canadian pianist brings a special energy to audiences by crossing over between boogie-woogie, blues, jazz and pop. A reviewer at a previous jazz festival lauded Kaeshammer as a man who “entertains with a capital ‘E’ … connecting deeply with the audience on a gut level.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 13
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA
This group formed in the heart of the Deep South in the Jim Crow era has endured through a fresh array of artists over the years into the 21st century as one of the most essential gospel groups of all time.
FRIDAY, MARCH 20
An accomplished songwriter and pianist – and syndicated radio show host to boot – Jim Brickman is one of the most lauded musicians in adult contemporary music. Brickman’s music chart scorecard includes 27 Top 40 singles on the adult contemporary charts, with 14 Top 10 hits. He’s collaborated with artists such as Martina McBride, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Johnny Mathis and Augusta’s hometown favorite, Lady Antebellum.
SATURDAY, MARCH 285
The Scottish singer-songwriter whose star rose in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s continues to tour and bring his take on music decades after smash hits such as Year of the Cat and Time Passages.