The Great Performers Series features world–class artists in the intimate setting of Rockwell Hall. The series includes performances by new–age superstar John Tesh; witty comedian Paula Poundstone; smooth jazz pioneers The Rippingtons, featuring Russ Freeman; contemporary solo piano genius George Winston; Canadian flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook; Grammy–winning singer–songwriter Marc Cohn; neo–folk icon Suzanne Vega; and music legend Roger McGuinn. Tickets for the Great Performers series go on sale August 31 at 9:00 a.m.
Continuing to be one of the best entertainment values in the area, the Performing Arts Center has priced all shows in the Great Performers Series between $35 and $30. With the Flex Pack, patrons can purchase any three or more Great Performers shows for as low as $27 each. Tickets may be purchased at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, 1300 Elmwood Ave. by calling 716–878–3005 or online at www.buffalostate.edu/pac. Box Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
John Tesh and his band are sure to provide a high–energy evening of his best–loved sports themes and other original music, comedy, maybe a couple gospel tunes, and some "intelligence for your life" on Saturday, October 10. Throughout his remarkable career John Tesh has assumed many roles: host of Entertainment Tonight and a nationally syndicated radio show; singer–composer; musical director; author; and entrepreneur. The Emmy winner, who captivates loyal fans with his uplifting songs about family, faith, and love, has taken the entertainment industry by storm with more than a dozen New Age best–sellers, Christian music hits, Gold records, and acclaimed Contemporary Jazz albums.
Appearing on stage with a stool, a microphone, and a can of Diet Pepsi, Paula Poundstone will bring her razor–sharp wit and spontaneity to Rockwell Hall on Friday, October 16. Poundstone is a regular on HBO, Bravo, and Comedy Central, a published author, a popular NPR game–show panelist on Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me. (2008 winner of the prestigious Peabody Award for Broadcasting excellence) and the voice of several cartoon characters. She’s so quick, unassuming and outright funny audiences often leave complaining that their cheeks hurt from laughing so hard and debating whether the random people she talked to were "plants." Her interactions with live audiences are the stuff of legend.
When you think about contemporary music, there are very few bands that have had the lasting impression and impact that The Rippingtons, featuring Russ Freeman, have had. For over 20 years The Ripps have been delighting audiences all over the world. They bring their distinct, signature sound to Rockwell Hall on Saturday, November 21. The band has enjoyed tremendous success from the beginning, with their groundbreaking album Moonlighting, which Jazziz magazine voted the #1 Most Influential Contemporary Jazz Album of all time. Now with their 17th album Modern Art, Russ Freeman has once again demonstrated why he is one of the true musical innovators in the contemporary jazz genre. The album showcases a unique musical style that was created many years ago and still sounds as fresh and new today as it did when they started. Soaring horns, melodic keyboards and driving percussion are all anchored by the intricate guitar styling of Freeman.
Rockwell Hall is pleased to present a solo piano concert by George Winston on Friday, December 4. Inspired by the seasons, solo pianist George Winston plays over 100 solo piano concerts a year in America and beyond. His concerts feature a variety of styles, including his melodic folk piano, stride piano, New Orleans R&B piano, Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts pieces and more. His latest CD is entitled Gulf Coast Blues and Impressions – A Hurricane Relief Benefit. In concert George will be performing songs from his latest CD, as well as selections from his seasonal favorites Autumn, December, Winter Into Spring and Summer, as well as his themed albums Forest, Plains, and Montana – A Love Story, and his albums dedicated to composers: Linus & Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, and Night Divides The Day – The Music of The Doors.
The Performing Arts Center is thrilled to welcome back guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Cook on Wednesday, December 16. This Canadian sensation’s exotic "Rumba Flamenco" is an intoxicating, "gypsy–esque" blend of jazz and Afro–Caribbean styles. He’s jammed with the Gipsy Kings and Cassandra Wilson–and his most recent release Frontiers has hung around the Billboard New Age chart top 10 for over a year! Seamlessly fusing flamenco and rumba music with a host of other world music influences from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and beyond, this musical nomad creates a cross–cultural sonic stew full of expressive arrangements and passionate riffs. On stage, Jesse Cook enraptures audiences with his jaw–dropping technique, easy–going charisma and intoxicating music, drawing throngs of fans to sing and dance along. With a new album to be released this fall, this will be yet another wonderful evening of music with this remarkable artist.
Rockwell Hall presents singer–songwriter, pianist and guitarist Marc Cohn on Tuesday, February 16. In the years that preceded the release of his new Decca album Join the Parade, Marc Cohn passed through several life–changing events. These events are what enabled him to reconnect with his songwriting muse, and they are in large part, what make his new album an artistic, insightful and soulful statement. Despite his time away from the recording studio, the acclaimed singer/songwriter, winner of the 1991 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, has continued to perform live and his audiences have remained steadfast. He endured the pain of divorce, but in 2002 he married news anchor Elizabeth Vargas. He struggled with writer’s block and sought to break through it with a month–long tour in the summer of 2005. The gigs went great until the night of August 7, 2005. That’s when Marc Cohn was shot in the head during a random attempted carjacking after a concert in Denver. Cohn has translated some of his most complex and private emotions into lyrical song–poetry and then set those words to music of remarkable depth, toughness, and complexity. In doing so, Marc has created a work that is certain to touch a universal chord of memory and feeling.
Suzanne Vega, American singer/songwriter of rare poetic genius, will perform on Friday, April 9. Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk–music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo–folk songs of her own creation. Bearing the stamp of a masterful storyteller who "observed the world with a clinically poetic eye," Suzanne’s songs have always tended to focus on city life, ordinary people and real world subjects. Notably succinct and understated, often cerebral but also streetwise, her lyrics invite multiple interpretations. In short, Suzanne Vega’s work is immediately recognizable, as utterly distinct and thoughtful, and as creative and musical now, as it was when her voice was first heard on the radio nearly 25 years ago.
The Performing Arts Center is pleased to present a return engagement by folk–rock pioneer Roger McGuinn on Friday, April 23, for an intimate evening of songs and stories. As the founder of the legendary band The Byrds, McGuinn revolutionized folk–rock music with hits such as "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn," and profoundly influenced everyone from the Eagles and Tom Petty to R.E.M. and Elvis Costello with his signature 12–string Rickenbacker guitar and unorthodox melding of rock ’n’ roll grooves with folk and country harmonies. A successful solo artist since the early eighties, McGuinn will delight audiences with songs and stories including Byrd classics, vintage Dylan, and a sprinkling of folk standards learned during his formative years on the hootenanny circuit.
The 2009–2010 Great Performers Series is sponsored by M&T Bank and WBFO.