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Event Preview: Keiko Matsui

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Japanese-born pianist and composer Keiko Matsui has become an icon in contemporary smooth jazz, reaching virtually every corner of the globe over the past 25 years. Matsui is truly a consummate artist who feels at home in any musical context. She is unique in that her original compositions transcend boundaries, blending a rich and diverse melting pot of influences that range from jazz, classical, and rock to blues and world music. Matsui’s timeless, passionate, and emotional melodies speak to a universally appealing language to listeners worldwide. She will be making an upcoming Friday night appearance at the Bankhead Theater.

Get to Know Keiko Matsui

Born in Tokyo, Keiko had her first piano lesson soon after her fifth birthday. She focused primarily on classical music until later in her high school years, when she developed an interest in jazz. Keiko looked to Stevie Wonder, Maurice Jarre, and Chick Corea for inspiration as she began composing her own music. She went on to study children’s culture at Japan Women’s University, as well as music at the Yamaha Music Foundation. At just 17, Keiko was selected to be a recording artist for them. She joined the Japanese jazz fusion group Cosmos, which recorded seven albums.  

In terms of recording success, Matsui’s career began to truly blossom in the 1990s. Sapphire reached number two on Billboard’s weekly Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, while Dream Walk climbed to number three. In 1997, Matsui became the lone female jazz artist in Billboard’s top 10 Contemporary Jazz Artists. The next two years, Masui received the Oasis award for Best Female Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2001, Matsui finally reached the top as her album Deep Blue took her to the top spot on Billboard.

Her Music

Matsui’s sound is so interesting because it blends both Western and Eastern musical influences. She believes that music has the ability to bring people together and change their lives. When listening to Matsui’s music, you can’t help but notice her love of nature. Matsui makes references to plants, animals, and other natural features in her song titles.

Over the last few years, Matsui’s albums show more of a worldbeat (blend of pop or rock music with world or traditional music) style. Since 2010, Matsui has released several solo albums including:

  • The Road (2011)
  • Soul Quest (2013)
  • Live in Tokyo (2015)
  • Journey to the Heart (2016)

Giving Back

Not only does Matsui influence with her music, but also her time. In 1997, her CD A Gift Of Hope went to support the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization. That same year, she played at a special ice skating benefit to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Proceeds from that same CD went to the National Marrow Donor Program and Marrow Foundation in 2001 to support their program Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, which promotes the registration of people of ethnic minorities as marrow donors to help improve the chance of finding matches.

Matsui’s efforts didn’t stop there, though. In 2003, she played at the United Nations Headquarters building to benefit the World Food Programme and fight world hunger.

What She’s Saying

Matsui explains on her official website that “My melodies are my living testimony. I feel that the world is getting crazier and we need to collectively go back and recall what connects us all…our spirits, hearts, and our souls.” With her recent release of Journey to the Heart, Matsui confirms that she continues to work toward impacting the world in a positive way.

“We need to find that common bond in our hearts. People are dying with violence, hunger, and war. This music is my new journey,” Matsui says. “It’s an evolution in many ways. I hope I can make a path and make some noise and leave a positive effect on the world. This is my mission and I am dedicating my music to this cause.”

The Performance

The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is excited to welcome Keiko Matsui on Friday, August 18 at 8 p.m. in the Bankhead Theater. Book your tickets today! Don’t forget to check out our event calendar for other upcoming performances.

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Event Preview: The New Christy Minstrels

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The New Christy Minstrels forged a fresh folk sound in the 1960s with a lighthearted style that was welcomed at the forefront of a challenging era. Original songs such as “Green, Green” and their cover of “Sing in the Sunshine” topped the charts and their debut album won a Grammy Award in 1963. More than 20 albums later, creator Randy Sparks remains at the helm of the iconic group. The New Christy Minstrels continue to deliver the rich harmonies and tuneful melodies that have enchanted fans for decades. The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center can’t wait to welcome them for an upcoming Sunday afternoon performance.

Still Going Strong

It can be challenging for long-standing musical groups to captivate audiences through the years. But that’s just what The New Christy Minstrels continue to do. The group currently features seven members, both old and new, who have been called the best collection of performers. NCM is led by founder Sparks, Tholow Chan, Becky Jo Benson, Sue Harris, Greg O’Haver, Dave Rainwater, John Denver’s uncle Dave Deutschendorf, and Ed Stockton. As you can see on their website, Sparks explains that “We’re still alive, we’re still creative, and still eager to please, so we make a deal with the audience: We’ll do all the old songs you came to hear, if you’ll allow just a couple of newer ones.”

In July of 2013, NCM released their newest CD called “Nice Time to Be Alive,” as well as their Greatest Hits CD.     

Meet the Group

Randy Sparks

The group founder led NCM to their first concert at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles in 1961. More than 50 years later, Sparks says that the group is exactly the same. He was the one responsible for putting the first group together, selecting the performers, and even writing the majority of the songs. When NCM first came together, there were 10 members on stage. However, through the decades, Sparks has become an expert on achieving the signature sound he worked so hard to invent. Coupled with better sound equipment, Sparks mentions that the group can create the sound he demands with just seven singers and players.

Dave Rainwater

‘Changing the world one fiddle tune at a time,’ Rainwater has plenty of longevity in the NCM uniform. In addition to his time with NCM, he has enjoyed roles with groups such as Heaven’s Grass, The Piney Creek Weasels, The Contests, Horse Sense, The Foothillbillys, and currently, The Black Irish Band.

‘Uncle’ Dave Deutschendorf

As aforementioned above, Deutschendorf is John Denver’s uncle. ‘Uncle’ Dave began his permanent stay with the group in 2010, providing a boost to the bottom line of NCM’s vocal mix. On occasion, Deutschendorf plays guitar on only a few ditties.

Tholow Chan

The group’s bass player, Chan and Sparks first toured together in 1969 across the U.S. Not only does Chan continue to work and rehearse, but he brings a certain kind of energy that everyone appreciates.

Greg O’Haver

Sparks and O’Haver first worked together way back in 1967. O’Haver is responsible for the group’s instrumental sound. Sparks mentions in the bio that O’Haver is “the very best on anybody’s stage, and we’re grateful for his loyalty to the calling.”

Becky Jo Benson

She’s one of the younger members of NCM, but she still has more time vested in the group than anybody, aside from Sparks. Though she didn’t come on with the group until 1997, she’s been a regular at performances ever since.

Sue Harris

NCM original Dolan Ellis calls Harris the best girl type entertainer in Arizona. That praise has carried over to the rest of the current group members.  

Ed Stockton

Since 2015, Stockton has become NCM’s permanent backup member. When someone is unable to make a performance, Stockton steps in and does a seamless job.

The Performance

LVPAC is set to host The New Christy Minstrels on Sunday, August 13 at 3 p.m. in the Bankhead Theater. Tickets range from $16 to $80. Our center for performing arts offers student and active military prices for all performances.   

See our event calendar for other upcoming performances! We have a number of must-attend events coming up at the end of summer and into the fall.

An Interview with Songwriter JD Souther

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Writer Lou Fancher beautifully captures the heart of JD Souther’s songwriting genius in a fresh new interview for East Bay Times:

” The world’s best singer-songwriters appreciate time.

Not simply meter, syllables stretched over notes, tempo and other clock-keeper aspects of music, but the passage of time that mellows a tenor’s voice into ease and broader dynamic range.

Musical phrases and tunes pondered during a sunrise or contemplated while hiking may come together begrudgingly or spill out in a gush on occasions when the usual gear-grinding process flips and lyrics and melodies pour out like a river unleashed.

Riding that wave and a long roster of hits, JD Souther will bring his expressive music infused with pop, jazz, country rock and the Great American Songbook to the Bankhead Theater on Aug. 5. The intimate evening with Texas-raised Souther will feature selections from his new studio album, “Tenderness.” Rounding out the possible setlist, popular songs may include the title track of his 1979 album, “You’re Only Lonely,” a solo version of the 1984 duet recorded with James Taylor, “Her Town Too,” or numerous songs written for or performed by The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, Trisha Yearwood, the Dixie Chicks and others.”

On the topic of his latest album “Tenderness,” Fancher writes:

“Tenderness,” he said, has a more cinematic sound than previous recordings. Inspired by Cole Porter and George Gershwin and joined on the CD by a top-tier band (pianist Chris Walters, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, trumpeter Till Brönner, pianist Billy Childs, vocalist LIzz Wright), Souther’s guitar and vocals get to expand.

“The orchestrations are beautiful, the players astonishing,” he said. “It’s the album I intended, conceived in one time period for this one album.”

In fact, Souther would have made a film, had millions of dollars been handy. Listening to the lyrics on “Tenderness,” a narrative forms, with the final track, “All Your Wishes,” serving as an epilogue. LIke a miniature almost-opera, grand themes told in simple, conversational language beg only for movement, costumes, sets and lighting.”

——> Read the rest of Lou Fancher’s fascinating interview with Songwriters Hall of Famer JD Souther here

Then buy tickets to hear him sing his songs in the intimate setting of Livermore’s Bankhead Theater.

JD Souther in Concert

One Night Only!

Saturday, August 5 at 8 p.m.

BUY TICKETS NOW

 

 

 

Event Preview: The Lettermen

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When The Lettermen take the stage, it’s a trip down memory lane to a time when three young men in letter sweaters watched their first hit single “The Way You Look Tonight” soar to the top of the charts. For years, fans have taken in their more than 50 albums with popular tunes such as “When I Fall in Love” and “Put Your Head on my Shoulder.” The group has been creating musical memories for more than five decades, as their sweet harmonies and smooth, romantic sound simply never go out of style. The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is excited to announce an upcoming Friday night event from a group once described as “best thing that happened to romance since moonlight.”

Non-stop Harmony for 50 Years

There’s just something about the sound of The Lettermen that has enabled them to enjoy generational success. The group, comprised of Tony Butala, Donovan Tea, and Bobby Poynton, has sold out more than 10,000 shows, including international tours to Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, France, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. As you can note on their official website, “the music of these entertainers transcends all language barriers as it romances the soul, and warms the hearts of millions.”  They have a particularly loyal fan following in the Philippines, where audiences appreciate their smooth style. Such Tagalog favorites as “Dahil Sa Iyo” and “Sapagka’t Kami Ay Tao Lamang” have earned them a place in Filipino hearts worldwide.

In the 1960’s, the original singers of the group quickly became one of the top college concert attractions. From Percy Faith’s “Theme from a Summer Place” and Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” to “Our Winter Love” and “Graduation Day,” The Lettermen were constantly winning over audiences with incredible love songs. In 1966, the group came out with “For Christmas This Year,” a love album that remains popular during the holidays. The next year, The Lettermen put together arguably their most loved and request hit: “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Though the group has seen some change over the years, their music has remained much of the same. Even now, The Lettermen continue to release albums and perform hundreds of concerts each year while traveling around the world. It’s safe to say that their beautiful harmony has withstood the test of time.

The Current Members

Today, The Lettermen consist of the following:

  • Tony Butala – As the group’s original and founding member, Butala remains the most recognized name of the bunch. He also opened the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum in his hometown of Sharon, Pennsylvania.
  • Donovan Tea – The accomplished singer and songwriter from Houston joined the group in 1984. Prior to joining the group, he served as lead singer of The Young Americans, soloist at “The Horn” nightclub in Los Angeles, and solo production singer at The Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas.     
  • Bobby Poynton – The third member of The Lettermen started out with acting parts on shows such as “Days of Our Lives,” “Jake and the Fatman,” Walker: Texas Rangers,” and others. The music opportunity finally came for Poynton in 1988, when a well-known recording group sought an attractive male vocalist with a tenor voice. Before he knew it, Poynton was the newest member of The Lettermen. He recorded six albums with the group and performed in more than 1,000 concerts. After being away from the group for 15 years, Poynton returned to The Lettermen in 2011.

 There’s no doubt that these three men continue to wow audiences with the magic they create on stage.

The Bankhead Theater

Since 2007, the Bankhead has welcomed a wide range of artists and audiences, bringing them together to share the experience of live performance. From symphonies and ballet performances to opera shows and concerts, the Bankhead makes every event special. Rest assured that the extensive seating arrangement can accommodate nearly every patron’s tastes. The state-of-the-art facility was designed with extra attention geared toward acoustics. In fact, the Grammy Award-winning vocal group Chanticleer has praised the Bankhead for its “perfect” acoustics. It’s easy to see why so many artists seeking to make a career transformation choose to make the Bankhead a stop on tour.

The Performance

LVPAC is set to host The Lettermen Friday, July 21 at 8 p.m. in the Bankhead Theater. Tickets start at $40 with $16 tickets for students or active military personnel.

Event Preview: Jerry Jeff Walker with Special Guest Django Walker

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You may know Jerry Jeff Walker as a man who has broken more new ground in the field of having fun than anyone else. But it’s his indelible mark on the world of country music that has turned him into an icon. Known for the popular hit “Mr. Bojangles,” which has been covered by nearly four dozen artists from all musical genres, Walker has always brought a unique brand of folk rock to traditional country music. With song shot through with a touch of the “outlaw,” Walker has influenced multiple generations of musicians while earning himself a crowd of dedicated fans. The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is thrilled to welcome in Walker and his son, Django, to deliver a must-see Father’s Day show that unites their talents and celebrates two generations of music making.

Get to Know Jerry Jeff Walker

On his official website, it’s mentioned that there’s a photo on the back of a Jerry Jeff album that sums it all up. He’s outside a roadhouse on a desolate highway at nighttime. With his collar turned up against the wind as he hunches over to light a cigarette, his guitar is slung around his back. “It’s hard to tell if he’s entering or leaving the roadhouse, but either way you figure he’s got many miles to go before he sleeps.” Even during his wildly successful days in the ’70s and ’80s, it’s believed that this was the mindset of Jerry Jeff.

The country music star began his journey and quickly established himself as an up-and-comer in the musical community. Jerry Jeff’s career took off as he piled up records for MCA and Elektra before forming his own independent label, Tried & True Music, in 1986. Today, his album catalog sits at 33 in total.

Jerry Jeff’s accomplishments speak for themselves. He’s played for a handful of presidents and toured in Lear Jets. One would think that will all the fame, a musician would ditch his old ways. But none of it has prevented Jerry Jeff from continuing to see the world in the eyes of a troubadour. His website explains that “his songs are the way he makes the world make sense, how he passes on stories of the people he meets and the way he feels on a given morning.” Jerry Jeff is now back to his singer-songwriter roots, bringing his career full circle.

Like Father, Like Son

Django Walker took after Dad at a young age, learning to play guitar at age 15. Soon after, he wrote his first song, “The Road You Choose,” and performed it on stage at his father’s shows. Django’s debut album, Down the Road, was released in 2002. Similar to Jerry Jeff, Django went the independent route for his record label, forming Lazy Kid Music. The CD was recorded in a mere five days and Django wrote all but one of the songs himself. One of them, “Texas on my Mind,” even topped the Texas Music Chart at one point.

Four years later, Walker released his second CD, Six Trips Around the World. It was produced by the Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish and was recorded at Bryan’s home.

In terms of style, Django’s works reflect a number of different influencers. From Bob Dylan and The Beatles to Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, the 35-year-old features a style that some reviewers have labeled as “unique country” and “classic cock with undertones of good old Southern comfort.”

The Perfect Way to Spend Father’s Day

What better way to spend time with Dad than by taking in a rare father-son show featuring two of the most well-known names in country music? “Jerry Jeff Walker with Special Guest Django Walker” will take place Sunday, June 18th at 3 p.m. at the Bankhead Theater. All seats are $40 with $16 tickets  available for students and active military personnel.  If you’ve never been to the Bankhead, you’re in for a treat. The design of this venue promotes an intimate feel for both performers and audience members alike. Our center for performing arts offers student and active military prices for all performances.

Make this Father’s Day one to remember with live music! Please call or visit the box office to book your tickets. Don’t forget to check out the rest of LVPAC’s musical shows, entertainment shows, and so much more.

2017-2018 Bankhead Season Events List

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SUMMER SERIES

Fri Jul 7  at 8pm  Paula Poundstone   SOLD OUT

Fri Jul 21 at 8pm  The Lettermen  from $40

Thu Jul 27  at 7:30pm  Robert Cray  from $50

Fri Aug 4 at 8pm  Derik Nelson and Family all tickets $30

Sat Aug 5 at 8pm  JD Souther  from $30

Sun Aug 13 at 3pm  The New Christy Minstrels  from $40

Fri Aug 18 at 8pm  Keiko Matsui  from $30

2017-2018 SEASON

Note: Member PreSale only until June 14.  Become a member and buy now!

 

Sat Sep 9 at 8pm  Brilliance at the Bankhead with the Indigo Girls  all tickets $250 (LVPAC fundraising gala)

Fri Sep 15 at 8pm  Rita Rudner  from $40

Thu Sep 21 at 7:30pm  R. Carlos Nakai, William Eaton and Will Clipman  all tickets $30

Fri Sep 22 at 8pm  San Francisco Comedy Competition  all tickets $30

Fri Oct 6 at 8pm  Tom Rush  from $25

Fri Oct 13 at 8pm  Los Lonely Boys  from $35

Fri Oct 27 at 8pm  Joan Osborne Sings Bob Dylan  from $40

Thu Nov 2 at 7:30pm  African Guitar Summit  all tickets $40

Fri Nov 3 at 8pm  OK GO  from $50

Sat Nov 11 at 8pm  The Manhattan Transfer from $50

Fri Nov 17 at 8pm  The Kingston Trio from $40

Fri Dec 1 at 8pm  Late Nite Catechism: Sister’s Christmas Catechism  from $30

Mon Dec 11 at 7:30pm  The Hot Sardines  from $30

Thu Dec 21 at 7:30pm  An Irish Christmas  from $40

Sat Dec 23 at 8pm  Olate Dogs:  Santa Paws Holiday Show  from $35

Sun Dec 31 at 8pm  New Year’s Eve with Crawdad Republi all tickets $40

Fri Jan 5 at 8pm  Dave Coulier from $40

Sat  Jan 6 at 8pm  Richard Glazier: He’s Playing Our Song  all tickets $40

Fri Jan 19 at 8pm  Marc Cohn and the Blind Boys of Alabama  from $60

Fri Jan 26 at 8pm  Vicki Lawrence & Mama  from $50

Tue Feb 6 at 7:30pm  Moscow Festival Ballet: Cinderella  from $40

Fri Feb 9 at 8pm  Reduced Shakespeare Co.: William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play  from $40

Sun Feb 11 at 3pm  DLux Puppets: Alice in Wonderland  all tickets $20

Fri Feb 16 at 8pm  The Second City  from $30

Fri Feb 23 at 8pm  International Guitar Night  all tickets $30

Fri Mar 16 at 8pm  Danú from $40

Thu Mar 22 at 7:30pm  Aquila Theatre: Sense and Sensibility from $40

Sun Mar 25 at 3pm  Catapult from $40

Fri Apr 6 at 8pm  Lisa Loeb from $40

Sun Apr 8 at 3pm  A Tribute to Sinatra & Dorsey  from $40

Sat Apr 21 at 8pm  Classic Albums Live: Led Zeppelin II from $40

Fri May 4 at 8pm  Mariachi Sol de Mexico  from $40

Sun May 6 at 5pm  The Capitol Steps from $40

Sat May 12 at 8pm  Dancing with the Tri-Valley Stars  from $30

Sat May 19 at 8pm  BODYTRAFFIC from $40

 

Call 925.373.6800 or email websales@livermoreperformingarts.org for tickets and information