Music

Preview: Ivy Street Serenades

An Evening of Classical Music with the Ivy Street Ensemble

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

Colorado’s own Ivy Street Ensemble will be performing on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center. Whether you’ve heard them on Colorado Public Radio or seen them perform in Denver, the Ivy Street Ensemble features nationally-known violinist Erik Peterson performing with fellow chamber musicians Cathy Peterson on flute and Phillip Stevens on viola.

An Evening of Classical Music will feature the enduring compositions of Beethoven and Mozart along their influences in the works of Ferde Grofé who composed the Grand Canyon Suite, Alberto Ginastera and his Impressions de la Puna as well as the works of Maria Newman. This intimate evening of chamber music will be narrated with stories about the pieces that you’ll hear by Betsy Schwarm, a local music historian, who regularly gives talks for the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

The Ivy Street Ensemble has been performing together since 2001, and they are all members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to instilling a love of music in the next generation, the Ivy Street Ensemble also gives back to our community by engaging children through performances at local public schools.

Come hear this elegant and eclectic concert of early and modern classical compositions. Tickets range from $30 to $40 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Preview: Beehive the 60’s Musical

beehive headerBy Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Beehive: The 60’s Musical

Created by Larry Gallagher

Directed and Choreographed by Candy Brown

Musical Direction by Dr. Michael Williams

You don’t want to miss this party! Beehive is the ultimate celebration of female empowerment of the 1960s. It is the genre that really paved the way for female vocalists ranging from Diane Ross and the Supremes to Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin.

This wild and happening musical is a collection of female musicians who made the ‘60s truly memorable and will take you on a journey through the look and the feel of the times.  Beehive features classic jukebox chart toppers and Aqua net coiffures, with groovy hits such as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Be My Baby,” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” As the music plays, there is a guarantee you will find yourself wanting to get up and do the pony, the shimmy, and the locomotion.

In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the Beehive was considered the height of fashion. The Beehive was created by a hairdresser named Margaret Vinci Heldt who designed it to make women look taller. Beehive: The 60’s Musical nostalgically recalls the days of big hair, hot pants, and flower power.

So, tease up your hair, put on your “baby doll” top and be prepared to sing along and dance in the aisles to one of music’s truly golden eras.

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Check out this sneak peek of the set!

Beehive: The 60’s Musical will be on stage at the Lone Tree Arts Center Wednesday, April 3rd through Saturday, April 13th. Get your tickets now before they sell out! Click here for tickets!

Review: The Choir of Man

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By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Raise a pint to pub culture! We joined the cast for a fun night of dance and song when the Choir of Man hit the stage at the Lone Tree Arts Center on Thursday night, February 21, 2019.

With the stage set as an actual working pub (complete with Lone Tree Brewing Company beer on tap), we were invited to grab a pint as the cast members (all from the U.K.) mingled with the audience sharing selfies, and laughs. Blurring the line between stage and audience continued throughout the performance. It kicked off with the 80s hair-band hit “Welcome to the Jungle” which played surprisingly well with a folksy, Celtic twist. The cast dashed through the audience, on top of the bar, around the tables, playing all manner of instruments. Denis, the narrator, invited us “to be present for tonight: dance, sing, laugh, join in!”

We were drawn into the camaraderie between the men as Denis presented each one in funny vignettes of song and dance. An astoundingly multi-talented cast of Irish actors and singers, the performers played the piano, guitar, banjo, accordion, drums, ukulele, bagpipes, and fiddle. They pounded on trays and crates, and clapped beer mugs together. As Denis was weaving his tales, the energy of the pub was swirling around him. The boys were chatting, arguing, mopping the floor, talking on the phone, and spinning on the bar stools.

Playing the fiddle and banjo while singing Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” they danced into the theater aisles, grabbing people from the audience to join them for a pint. Peter sang Katy Perry’s hit “Teenage Dream,” while staring longingly at his guest. As the song ended, she surprised him with a kiss on the cheek.

Andrew, “with the voice of Pavarotti, but dressed like an Agatha Christie character,” sang “The Impossible Dream” in a deep, rich tenor, while challenging his guest to build a card tower. The tower grew as the song crescendoed, and the rest of the crew joined in, topping the tower with a pint of beer and tossing cards at the audience.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” showcased Freddie’s tap dancing skills and featured a piano solo by Connor. As Denis joked, “the more you drink the better we sound and the better we look” he decried the loss of local pubs to make way for chain restaurants and bars.

In a break from the action, Tom sang Adele’s hit “Hello.” Cleverly presented in freeze frame, the cast stood in suspended animation as if they were watching their team on TV. Mark shared his love for his wife while singing “Pina Coladas” into a mop handle. The crew joined in with exaggerated hip swinging, a cheesy flute solo, and disco lights.

We sang along to “500 Miles,” dubbed as “Scotland’s Most Famous Song.” An acapella version of Sia’s “Chandelier” was sung under prism lights as if reflected off the baubles of a chandelier.

One of the funniest scenes featured Aidan facing us in front of a bank of urinals, relieving himself as he sang “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The other cast members joined in as the never ending “flow” splashed onto the stage.

As the performance began to wind down, Denis raised a pint to his mum, stating “don’t treasure the moments only when they are gone.” This lead to the Luther Vandross hit, “Dance with My Father,” with the emotional “dear lord, she’s dying to dance with my father again” tugging at our heartstrings.

As a final statement to the brotherhood of pub life, Denis proclaimed, “when I come through those doors I feel at home.” They ended with the traditional Irish goodbye song, “The Parting Glass,” embracing us on their first North American Tour. A funny, energetic, and joyful celebration!

Review: International Guitar Night

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By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger

Last Friday, International Guitar Night made its only Colorado stop for its 2019 tour at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The sold-out crowd was treated to a guitar extravaganza featuring four accomplished guitarists: Luca Stricagnoli, Antoine Boyer, Samuelito, and Cenk Erdogan.

Stricagnoli runs on stage, picks up a guitar, and starts playing. His music is his introduction. Playing a mix of original songs and covers, he has excellent stage presence. He doesn’t just play a simple acoustic guitar, he also plays a guitar with three fingerboards. Not just a showman, Stricagnoli is also the evenings host.

Antoine Boyer gets his solo moment next. The 22 year old gypsy jazz guitarist from France also begins his set by playing. He explains to the crowd how he likes to play with the harmony of famous songs and then punctuates his explanation with his playing. He dazzles with a cover of The Sound of Silence.

Samuel Rouesnel, stage name Samuelito, is a Flamenco guitarist from France. Both a composer and player, Samuelito began with classical guitar at age seven. He plays several songs by Paco de Lucia, a Flamenco virtuoso and a great inspiration to Samuelito.

From Turkey is Cenk Erdogan and his fretless guitar. He introduces himself with an original composition. He explains the fretless guitar and its range of sounds and tones. Erdogan has played and taught around the world. It shows through his ease with communicating with the audience and improvising as he plays. His music is beautiful and my personal favorite of the evening.

All the performers have the opportunity to showcase their skill and I appreciate that they all talk about themselves and their influences. They are all engaging and humorous storytellers.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best guitarists and  highlighting each individual artist, but they also celebrate their skills through collaboration. After the solos come the duets and final quartet performance. These range from a raucous cover of “Another One Bites the Dust,” to beautiful ballads and fun pop culture references.

International Guitar Night tours annually highlighting new and fabulous talent. Keep your eyes open for their next tour and hopefully their next trip through Colorado. For samples of each musician visit https://internationalguitarnight.com

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: 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.

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: 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.