Preview: International Guitar Night

IGN new headerBy Michelle Marx, guest blogger

International Guitar Night brings to the stage four spectacular acoustic guitarists. Founded by Brian Gore in 1995, International Guitar Night has featured a diverse array of performers from around the world. This year is no exception. Gore has assembled four dynamic and accomplished guitarists.

From Italy, Luca Stricagnoli is a YouTube sensation with over 100 million views. His style is both innovative and unique and some might even call it crazy. He’s an enthusiastic showman and his performances have delighted audiences worldwide.

Cenk Erdogan is a fretless guitarist from Turkey. What is a fretless guitar? It’s a guitar with a fingerboard without frets which creates no interruption in the string and allows a greater range of sounds. Not only has Erdogan toured the world, he is also a leading fretless guitar educator.

Two guitarists hail from France. Swing guitarist Antoine Boyer was named Guitarist of the Year by Guitarist Magazine in 2012. He was the first gypsy jazz artist to win the honor. And the fourth artist for the evening is Flamenco guitarist Samuelito. Both a composer and performer, Samuelito loves to incorporate music of various origins.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best in acoustic guitar, highlighting each individual artist and celebrating their skills through collaboration.

International Guitar Night is in town for only one night, Friday, February 15 at 8:00 pm at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

Click here for tickets, more information, and videos 

Review: RESPECT – A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra

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By Kristi Andrus, guest blogger

I typically pick the shows I want to see to review. That’s my entire process, nothing complicated, just personal preference.  Occasionally, however, my process is unintentionally complicated, like for instance, when the show I pick is performed by a local legend who is paying tribute to a national treasure. Oh, and did I mention she’s married to Denver’s mayor?

I went to Saturday night’s sold-out show Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra knowing it would be a cool night out, but it was way more mellow and vibey and fun than I even expected.

Was it the red dress? The red shoes? The 13-piece orchestra? The gravelly infectious vocals? The selfie with my brother and the mayor? Or something else?

Let’s dissect the night. Here’s a look at the songs, the lyrics, and the moments that stood out.

But first, the facts:

Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee (MLL) of Mary Louise Lee Band (MLLB) has incredible range, perfect pitch, is a blend of liveliness, sultriness, confidence, good energy, and a warm hug. She’s a Denver institution married to a Denver institution. She commands the stage, works the room, and knows when it’s time to take off her shoes, symbolizing to the audience that it’s also time to party.

Now, the rundown: (Try to sing everything in italics if you will).

The band was dressed head to toe in black with red accents, ties for the men, shoes for the women. MLL was wearing a red dress and red shoes and comfortable in the spotlight. She was welcoming and ready, her band equally ready to rock.

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Review: Shaun Boothe’s Unauthorized Biography Series

By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Celebrate Greatness! Shaun Boothe brought The Unauthorized Biography Series to the Lone Tree Arts Center for one night.  Part hip hop performance, part history lesson, and part motivational speech, Boothe presented bios of the world’s greatest heroes and leaders through rap and song.

Shaun Boothe’s message is aimed at children and teenagers; however, it resonates with everyone. By celebrating our heroes, we can awaken the greatness in all of us. We can accomplish change when we see what was accomplished in the past. By using rap and hip hop, Boothe delivered this message using a language that children and teenagers can relate to and cultural icons that they recognize. Standing in the middle of the stage with the house lights up and a giant screen behind him, he engaged the kids by asking if there were any hip hop or Snoop fans out there. He asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.”

Boothe wanted us to see that we all have access to the same courage and power that some of our greatest cultural heroes do.  He showed us how they overcame obstacles, opened their hearts, and became stronger and courageous enough to put others above themselves.

Five leaders were presented, beginning with a short intro followed by Boothe’s hip hop story.  Video clips were shown on the screen behind him.  All of the bios included both widely known and less familiar information about each person.

Muhammed Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the Greatest,” was the perfect starting point.  Boothe emphasized how Ali chose character over fame by refusing to change his beliefs for anything or anyone.  He was first perceived as a villain but became a hero as popular opinion about the Vietnam War changed. Ali’s bio ended with the audience chanting “Ali Bomaye” (“Ali kill him”), the cheer made famous by Ali’s 1972 “Rumble in the Jungle” versus George Foreman.

Emphasizing we have to choose between “working for applause or working for a cause,” Boothe’s next presentation was Martin Luther King Jr, with scenes of the Selma riots of 1965.  MLK passed the baton to President Barack Obama: “Martin walked so Obama could run.” After presenting Obama, Boothe stopped and restated how by rising above the low expectations he faced, he honored his limitless potential. Obama then passed the baton to the next generation.

Speaking again to the young people in the audience, Boothe asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.” Asking why we should celebrate MLK when that was so long ago, he answered that current breaking news is heartbreaking news. By focusing on the greatness we can tune out the negativity.

Sitting on the edge of the stage and speaking directly to the kids in front of him, Boothe asked if anyone could tell him who Malala is. Hands shot up and he passed the mic to a young girl who described her as “a girl who fought for girl’s education in Pakistan and was shot because of it.” Boothe then told the story of Malala’s life, how she wouldn’t stop pushing for female education in the face of great adversity, how she was told over and over to stop, and how she eventually became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

The screen flashed, #Whatsyourlegacy.  Boothe asked, “What is your story? Don’t let anyone write the story of your life.” Again, speaking to the kids in the audience, he stated, “Greatness is really all about committing to something larger than yourself.  Great small moments can make a great difference to one person. Find something great to do in the moment.”

Giving a shout out to any fellow Jamaicans in the audience (Boothe is from Toronto but of Jamaican descent), reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley was the final bio presented. Boothe emphasized Marley’s message of “One Love” and that the choices we make take us one step closer or farther away from our dreams.

That led to Boothe’s final message: dreaming big inspires big action from us. To make that dream happen we have to take the first step and the next step appears. He reminded the kids that our heroes didn’t have a master plan or blueprint. They just took that first step.

The performance ended with Boothe singing his first hit, “One by One” and telling all of us to stay true to our dreams.  He high-fived his way through the audience and ended with a brief Q&A.  By the end of the performance, Shaun Boothe left all of us, especially the youngest members of the audience,  inspired to find the greatness in ourselves.

Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Review: And We Drop The Needle Once Again!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

If we could only step back in time… Well, you can, with the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Classic Album Live series. This spring, two new shows featuring the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd will be performed on the LTAC’s stage. On Saturday, January 19, I attended Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was pleasantly surprised to get caught up in the excitement of listening to the Beatles play once again.

What was really amazing was the faithfulness of the sound to the original album. Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live touts the series as a “note for note, cut for cut” endeavor. The clean, clear voices of the singers, the precision playing of the instruments, and the distorted noises that we all remember from listening to the Beatle’s vinyl versions are all there.

There are a couple of reasons why this unique type of performance works for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band follows some of the conventions of the symphony. The eleven performers on stage are anonymous to the audience—their names are not listed in the theater program nor announced during the show, they all wear black, they play numerous instruments, and no one acted the part of being a Beatle. Whether they were playing the violin, piano, or bass guitar, they were all extraordinary musicians playing a rock masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Within You Without You” were sung by the performers with strong voices, and no fake British accents. Now you might say, the Beatles had strong Liverpool accents, how can the song sound the same? But remarkably, it does. Perhaps, it’s the instrumental accuracy paired with the audiences’ deep love for the album that really breathes life into the music.

The Classic Albums Live band had a great rapport with the audience whether they were tuning an instrument or moving to perform some other function. The full performance of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was completed in about an hour. The second half of the performance focused on many of the Beatles hits, demonstrating that these musicians really prepared for a deep dive into Beatles history.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed to a sold out audience both nights. At the end of the performance, there was nothing more inspiring than to see the response of concert goers singing along with the band and enjoying the beat of the music. The Classic Albums Live band received a standing ovation and as I left the building I heard many people remarking on their wonderful performance.

The Lone Tree Arts Center will be hosting two more events in this series including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, Chronicle Volume 1 on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. featuring the songs “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The series has become so popular with local audiences that a new concert has been recently added on Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. featuring the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

So, it is possible to step back in time and to once again hear the music that is the soundtrack of your life. Tickets for the next two Classic Albums Live concerts are going fast, but still available from $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Sons of the Pioneers

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

“Yipee Tie Yie Yay, get along little doggies!” crooned the Sons of the Pioneers at the Lone Tree Art Center this weekend. This enduring western trio formed by Roy Rogers in 1933 is now ably led by his son and emcee, Dusty Rogers. Original compositions such as “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” have become beloved American classics capturing the mystery and romance of the early cowboy.

It was an icy-cold night with snow packed streets as we made our way to the Arts Center and were surprised to see a sold-out crowd ready to take a deep dive into Roy Roger’s western music. As the music began, I took a trip back to my childhood as the group sang familiar tunes I had grown up with and was surprised to realize I could still remember almost every word! My parents had played quite an eclectic mix of music on our family record player–from Beethoven and Mozart to Burl Ives, Glen Campbell, Sons of the Pioneers and various gospel music artists.

All that was missing was the campfire smoke as the evening progressed with “trail boss” Tommy Nallie playing the guitar and singing a couple solos. Ken Lattimore sang tenor and played several instruments including the mandolin, as well as providing light hearted banter with other members of the group. Dusty Rogers, the lead singer of the group, shared childhood stories about his famous father and stepmother Dale Evans. Baritone John Fullerton played rhythm guitar and yodeled beautifully. Last, but not least, star talent Paul Elliott expertly played the fiddle, keeping the audience spellbound.

The evening ended on a high note with the group singing “Happy Trails.” Truly, as declared by the Smithsonian Institute, the Sons of the Pioneers are one of our cherished national treasures in their timeless documentation of the Great American West.

Preview: Classic Albums Live Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE SHOW WITH SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The Lone Tree Arts Center will revisit the genius of the Beatles and the music that defined an era with Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 and Sunday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live, brings a sixteen-piece band of outstanding musicians who will perform one of the most complex and profound masterpieces in rock and roll history. Every note performed as if you were back in the recording studio with the Beatles in 1967. More importantly, this is not a 60s tribute band type of performance with costumes and performers that look like the Beatles, rather it is a group of extraordinary, professional musicians who bring the album to life as it was intended to be heard.

Fifty-two years after its release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band still resonates as one of the most popular and influential albums of all time with hits like:  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “A Day in the Life” as well as George Harrison’s experimental “Within You and Without You” and the title cut “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  The Classic Albums Live musicians replicate the singing, the brass, the guitars, the sitars, and the drums with utter fidelity to the original experience.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sealed the Beatles’ legacy in music history for decades to come. Join the Lone Tree Art Center as it celebrates the Beatles and the timelessness of this brilliant album in concert. Seats are going fast. Tickets are $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Bettman and Halpin – Christmas is a Funny Thing

headerBy Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin have a well-earned reputation for delivering a quality show.  During the Bettman and Halpin Christmas is a Funny Thing holiday concert, the duo kept the audience riveted with songs, storytelling and fantastic fiddle playing.  The duo appeared to be having a great time performing and this enthusiasm affected the audience.   They both have an easy, mellow way about them.  They created a relaxed, homey feeling in the audience.

Christmas is a Funny Thing was a combination of well known, traditional Christmas tunes performed by Bettman and Halpin and original music written by Bettman and Halpin.  Some of the traditional songs performed included Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  Some of the original songs written by Bettman and Halpin included “Fruitcake for All Seasons” and “We’ll Miss You Mama.”  Ms. Bettman told the story of how she was inspired for each song she wrote.

The duo also performed some songs from their soon to be released CD.  Ms. Bettman wrote and sang a song titled “White Rose.”  The inspiration of this song is based on the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears.  I believe most of the audience felt the sorrow in this song.  As I said before, Ms. Bettman tells great stories through her songs.  I can’t wait for the CD to come out!

Stephanie Bettman is an all-around entertainer.  Not only can she sing with a clear, smooth voice but she writes her own songs and plays the fiddle like no one I have ever heard.  She comes across as a regular person with the keen ability of telling stories through songs.

Luke Halpin is the jokester of the group.  He wore reindeer antlers when the show opened then changed into a “naughty” Santa hat later.  He made funny faces, comments, and gestures.  He is a gifted mandolin player.  During this performance he played several different instruments, including the mandolin, and played each instrument expertly.  The audience kept their eyes on this funny man, not knowing what was coming next.

The stage was decorated in festive Christmas decorations.  The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and a great way to prepare for the holiday season.   Bettman and Halpin included the audience in many of their Christmas songs.  These sing a-longs created a warmer holiday feeling in the audience.

The rest of the quartet for this program were local performers.  Bettman and Halpin, the bass player, and drummer only met for the first time the day before the program.  No one would have known this group had not been playing together for years.

The bass player Alex Goldberg is a graduate from University of Colorado Denver with a B.S. in Bass Performance.  He has several years of experience performing in many different venues.  He is currently performing with the local band Chris Daniels and the Kings.

Ryan Elwood is also a local performer.  He has performed with several different bands, including Adrienne O and the Austin Young Band.  He has played at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Gothic Theater.  He also teaches private lessons.

Bettman and Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing was a very entertaining show.  I recommend that you try to see this group the next time they come to town.  At the very least pick up their CD.  You won’t be disappointed.

Preview: Home for the Holidays

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

For many people in the Greater Denver area, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until the Lone Tree Art’s Center’s annual Home for the Holidays, with performances beginning Wednesday, December 19 and continuing until Sunday, December 23, 2018. Tickets are on sale now for both matinee and evening performances.

Home for the Holidays is an original production in collaboration with Chris Starkey of Imprint Group that brings together local performers for a spectacular show featuring traditional and modern holiday songs, stunning dance numbers, comedy skits, and good old-fashioned, family-friendly fun. Nearly 50 beautifully costumed performers will create a visually impressive extravaganza of holiday cheer for audiences of all ages.

Whether you are a long-time attendee or creating a new tradition with your family, Home for the Holidays is sure to delight and surprise you with a fresh new show this year. You may even catch a glimpse of the jolly old man himself! It’s the perfect time to remind yourself that there truly is no place like home.

Tickets for Home for the Holidays are on sale now from $36 to $63 and can be purchased online, in person, or over the phone at 720-509-1000. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

 

Click here to watch a preview video of the show!

Preview: Bettman & Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin are singers, song writers and all around entertainers. They are known for their original Folk/Americana performances. Their concerts consist of high- energy, up beat bluegrass/roots songs and beautiful ballads most of which they have written themselves. They have become known for their story telling through music and playful banter. They describe their music as “rootsy” springing from the traditions of American blues, jazz and folk music. Bettman and Halpin started touring in 2008 and incorporated a trio and quartet in 2013.

Stephanie Bettman is an accomplished song writer, singer and also an outstanding fiddle player. She has been compared to Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris. Her fiddle playing has been inspired by Stephane Grappelli, Byron Berline and Johnny Gimble. Ms. Bettman is a former actress and trapeze artist. She is classically trained in opera, violin, and voice. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Luke Halpin is a multi-talented performer with the ability to play several instruments. These instruments include guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and almost any other instrument he decides to play. He is also a vocalist and is able to blend perfect harmonies with Ms. Bettman. Luke has a long history is show business. He once shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Lone Star, and The Steve Miller Band. His quirky sense of humor rounds out his talents as an entertainer. Halpin grew up in South Pasadena, and is self-taught.

Bettman and Halpin have earned several awards and competitions including: Grand Prize Winners in the So Cal Live Acoustic Music Competition and the winners in Southern California’s Topanga Banjo/Fiddle Contest. They have twice been a featured act at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS along with Byron Berline, Michael Martin Murphy, Pat Flynn, and Tommy Emmanuel.

Phil Norman is another member of the group. Phil is cello player described as “playing the cello with a modern flare” (Marquee Magazine, January 2013). He is classically trained with a degree from the University of Colorado. He has created his own sound with alternative styles of playing the cello. Phil has been playing with Bettman and Halpin since 2013. He has performed concerts in the United States, Italy, and Australia, and has appeared on stage with composer and pianist Carter Pann, guitarist Grant Gordy, and Bonnie Carol, and was a featured artist for TEDxBoulder.

Carl Sorensen is one of Denver’s own. He joined Bettman and Halpin in 2013. He has played all over the country including Red Rocks Amphitheater. He has been compared to Ringo Starr and Levon Helm. Carl has played in more than 65 bands at the same time! He is very energetic and will bring this energy to the show.

Bettman & Halpin will perform a holiday show for the entire family titled “Christmas is a Funny Thing.” The duo will sing traditional holiday classics, several of their own originals, and share stories and songs about the ups and downs and sideways events of this holiday season.

Save the date: December 9, 2018 at the Lone Tree Arts Center at 7:00 pm

Tickets Available Here

Review: The Doo Wop Project Christmas

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

If you did not attend The Doo Wop Project Christmas at the Lone Tree Arts Center, you missed an outstanding performance by a very talented group. The Doo Wop Project Christmas consists of five Broadway Stars that love Doo Wop and want to share the sounds of yesterday with the new sounds of today. They reimagined traditional Christmas songs with the sounds of Doo Wop as well as performing “oldies but goodies” that we all recognize still today.

The show opened with some of the members of The Doo Wop Project coming out from the back of the audience to approach the stage. Other members of the group came from behind the stage and the side doors. The group appeared in classy red satin jackets. The audience, young and old, instantly responded to the group. These five talented stars connected with the audience from their first musical notes and kept the audience engaged until the final curtain.

The opening number was a lively, fast, paced Christmas song with Dominic Scaglione taking the lead. Dominic is well known for his role as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Several “older” women in the audience were whistling and hollering like school girls at a concert when he sang. They obviously loved what they were hearing.

The show also included Doo Wop-inspired songs such as Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Many traditional Christmas songs were included. Songs like “White Christmas,” “This Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and even “Dominic the Donkey.” The group performed a very special song called “Doo Wop Christmas” which was originally performed by Kenny Vance and the Planotones.

The Doo Wop Project is supported by a very talented five-piece band. Each band member performed a solo which included a sax player, drums, bass and lead guitars and the piano. This group may be in the background but they made the whole experience very special.

The Doo Wop Project members have some deep roots in Doo Wop. During the program each member was introduced to the audience and they told their stories on how they got to be The Doo Wop Project. Many members of the group have relatives that were involved in the early stages of Doo Wop. The Doo Wop Project brings these experiences and talents as well as knowledge from experiences from their childhood to the stage today to perform Doo Wop inspired songs for audiences everywhere.

The music supervisor is Sonny Paladino (piano player). He has an impressive portfolio of credits. Sonny was the music supervisor for the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and he is the music director for the upcoming Broadway show Smokey Joe’s Café. During the show, he interacted with The Doo Wop Project group and everyone could tell he was enjoying what he does.

Dwayne Cooper is said to be the modern day Sammy Davis Jr. His voice is a very unique deep bass which the audience just loved. He brings dancing, singing and pure entertainment to the stage. He is very funny and full of energy. He went out into the crowd and had every one on their feet singing and dancing.

Charl Brown whose credits include portraying Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical, captivated the audience with his rich voice and natural charisma. Charl brought us back in time when he sang. He has several credits to his name including a Tony Award for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical on Broadway.

Dominic Nolfi, is also a member of the original cast of Motown: The Musical. Dominic is handsome, charming and has a very rich smooth voice. Dominic is one of the founding members of The Doo Wop Project.

Russell Fischer has a wide range singing voice. He is able to sing from tenor to falsetto. He is best known for his part in Jersey Boys as Joe Pesci. He has been the understudy for the role of Frankie Valli for over 6 years. He is very fun to watch and listen to. Frankie Valli seems to be on stage when Russell is singing.

The Doo Wop Project attempts to bridge the generation gap. Most of us grew up dancing to the radio with our parents and grandparents to Doo Wop. The sounds of Doo Wop will really never grow old. Together these talented people have what it takes to entertain young and old alike. If you get the chance to see and hear The Doo Wop Project, I recommend it. You will be glad you did.