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The Story Behind the Song

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Guitarist Suzanna Spring of the Mustangs of the West reflects on her life as a songwriter and the story behind their new single “T-Shirt from California.”  Come hear the Mustangs play the song THIS FRIDAY, October 26 at the Bankhead.  Read her story and then get tickets to hear it live!

The Story Behind “T-Shirt From California”

I wrote the song “T-Shirt From California” as a valentine to a place I missed when I was living in another state. I wasn’t born in California, but my parents were always California dreaming and we moved here the year I turned sixteen. I still remember the shock of the big sky, the far horizon, and the freedom. No one asked what church I went to, and it felt like everyone out here was just beginning something. I used to drive in the evenings up to a reservoir, because the road had twists and turns, and with the windows down I could really feel the way the air changes from desert-hot to cool. I became a Californian. I fell in love with the mountains and the desert. I went free-diving for abalone up the coast; hiked in Yosemite, in Joshua Tree, drove down Highway 1, to the teal-color ocean that is Big Sur.

I moved to southern California after college, and I auditioned for a band called The Mustangs, because my mom had taught my sister and me to sing and how to harmonize, and I wrote poems and songs and played guitar. I always had melodies in my head, because I’d kept a radio next to my bed since age six, soaking in the music. This band–The Mustangs–all of us women had similar stories in a way, and we had given up a lot to begin something new. We played gigs around southern California, frequently at The Palomino for Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance. We were new writers, and we wrote a lot of love, and love-gone-wrong songs. We had some ballads, too, and a cool version of a Stones song. I always pictured that when The Mustangs got a record deal, I’d drive up PCH and run out on the beach screaming.

The band dissolved when one person left the band, another moved, and I went to Nashville to write songs. Nashville was different than California. The checkers at the grocery stores would ask, “How can I hep you?” and one time I overheard two grocery baggers having a discussion about which was the best religion: Methodist or Baptist. Any night of the week in Nashville you could hear great music, great songs–and just like all the waiters in L.A. are actors, a lot of the waiters in Nashville had song ideas they sometimes wrote on napkins, and if you talked to a waiter long enough, they would tell you a song idea they had, and ask you what you thought.

I had mostly written songs alone, in moments of angst, but in Nashville your publisher would make writing appointments for you, with co-writers, and you’d have a regular schedule of appointments: 10am-2pm, 2pm-5pm, 5pm-8pm. Not all of those necessarily on the same day, but sometimes, yes. You needed to write 12 songs a year for the publishing deal, but everyone wrote more than that, to improve the odds of getting a song cut. Then you’d make rough recordings of your songs and play them for your publisher, and if your publisher liked them, you’d get a studio recording session. This was heaven, and one step closer to having your songs played for artists, managers, and record labels. I learned that a lot of the songwriters kept “hook books”–journals where they jotted down song titles and ideas. It was more efficient than a napkin and kept all the ideas in one place. You could take this book to your writing appointment and say, “I’ve got this title,” and if your co-writer didn’t grab onto it you could say,”Well I’ve got this other idea…”

I wrote for Bluewater Music, a publishing company known for signing artist/writers. Unlike some publishers who would put up a blackboard telling their writers they needed an uptempo positive song for a particular country artist, Bluewater mostly let us write what we wanted to write. Of course the songs didn’t always get cut, because they weren’t about wise grandparents or falling in love at age four and still being crazy about each other at fifty, but If a Bluewater song did hit, it usually hit big. They were known for good and quirky writers and although I didn’t like it that they didn’t pay much, I did like the freedom.

I was missing California one morning, and just sitting on the small sofa in my living room, strumming guitar, and the chorus to “T-Shirt From California” came into my head. I knew it was good because it stayed with me; I don’t think I even wrote it in the hook book. I took the chorus to a writing appointment with Wes Hightower, a writer and session singer, and we wrote a song about how it feels when someone leaves for California to start something new– and how it feels to be left. The things I loved about California–the ocean, driving up Highway 1 or down Sunset Boulevard, hiking in Topanga Canyon –all went into that song.

I always thought “T-Shirt” would get cut by an artist in Nashville, but now I realize it probably belongs to California. I sent it to Sherry Rayn Barnett, with some other songs, since we’d stayed friends after The Mustangs. And after I moved back to California, Sherry said she had an idea about The Mustangs, and had been talking to Holly Montgomery about us playing together again, and that we should record this song. Holly had played with a drummer named Suzanne Morissette Cruz and Sherry had met Aubrey Richmond, and Sherry had found a place to record. George Landress engineered. From the first run-through, it felt right. And all the things I love about California music, the guitar jangle and the Beach Boys harmonies, it’s all there. Sherry got the song to Kirk Pasich at Blue Élan, and he got it.

And so the song came back to California, and became something new, as did The Mustangs Of The West: Suzanne, Aubrey, Holly, Sherry and me. We got a record deal, and “T-Shirt From California” is our first single. So don’t stop California dreaming–It’s different out here.

–Suzanna Spring

DON’T MISS the MUSTANGS of the WEST
Opening Act: Paul Jefferson

Friday, October 26 at 8pm

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS NOW!

Hot Shows Added!

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Jake Shimabukuro, Robert Cray, Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers (top), The Choir of Man (bottom), Keb’ Mo’

The 2018-2019 Season at the Bankhead just got more exciting! Our season is largely set by the end of May, but we jump on the opportunity to add great shows like these. There’s both returning favorites and artists completely new to our audiences.  The list includes two blues greats, the return of Robert Cray on February 10 and Keb’ Mo’, making his first appearance at the venue on May 14. Country music stars Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers bring familiar hits from their long career such as “All the Gold in California” plus the stories behind the songs on November 16.

Called the “ultimate feel-good show…90 minutes of indisputable joy,” The Choir of Man arrives February 17 with their rollicking concert set in a real working pub. The nine male band members sing, dance, and foot-stomp through music, from pub tunes, folk, Broadway, classic rock. All while pulling pints and inviting the audience to get up close and personal with the show.

Back by popular demand, ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro returns on January 29 on tour for his just released album “The Greatest Day.” The new release features some of his most adventurous works, both original and imaginative covers of iconic rock hits.  He’s sold out all five times he’s been at the venue, even the Bankhead’s inaugural year when he was largely unknown beyond his viral YouTube video.

Tickets for Robert Cray, Keb’ Mo’, The Choir of Man, and Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin Brothers are on sale now.
Member presale only for Jake Shimabukuro until October 8.

 

And don’t forget an earlier addition! The Mustangs of the West brings their fresh California Country sound to the Bankhead on October 26.  Started in Southern California in the early 1980s, the Mustangs have reunited and are ready to soar again. Bonus note — Suzanna Spring of the Mustangs is a Livermore local! Often seen at her studio, Dragonfly Yoga, Suzanna has been a Mustang from the very beginning, her guitar and vocals an integral part of their sound.  Hear their latest song T-Shirt from California here and read about Paul Jefferson who will be opening for them at the Bankhead.

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!*

Become a member now and you’ll hear about new shows first,
receive a 10% discount all year long, and other member benefits. 

*Tickets for all shows except Jake Shimabukuro on sale now. Member Presale for Jake Shimabukuro ends October 8.

 

We’re Going Green!

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The “Green the Bankhead” project has been launched! Major initiatives to save energy and reduce costs will make the Bankhead Theater more efficient and environmentally-friendly. The goal is to achieve LEED certification, a globally-recognized rating of a commercial building’s sustainability, by 2019, as well as WELL certification, which assesses measures taken to ensure the health and well-being of patrons and staff.

One of the first changes will be to replace incandescent lightbulbs with LED lighting. They will both reduce energy costs and generate far less heat easing demand on the building’s cooling system. In addition, some of the new fixtures have multiple color LEDs making them more flexible so programming lighting design changes is easier and less labor intensive. Energy costs could be reduced as much as $10,000 inside the auditorium, and closer to twice that amount on stage, for a potential reduction in energy costs of between 20 and 30 percent overall. Other changes include installing solar panels, a project that has long been on our wish list for energy savings, as well as adding low-flow water fixtures, replacing worn carpet with more environmentally-friendly materials, and modifying offices and other spaces to make better use of natural light.

“A potential reduction in energy costs
of between 20 and 30 percent overall.”

David Doyle of Doyle Construction, who has been advising LVPAC on the project, says that while overall LEED certification has become more common locally and many new construction projects incorporate it, the newest version, LEED v4, is significantly more challenging to obtain. The Bankhead would be one of the first theaters in California to achieve the new, higher level of certification. To reach these goals, LVPAC will be working with an experienced team from the Folsom office of Glumac, a sustainable design company of over 45 years who also helped certify the Gerding Theater in Portland, Oregon.

“Green the Bankhead” will both enhance the building’s sustainability and, through significant cost reductions, help the organization be more financially sustainable as well. Initial project improvements do require investment and several generous donors have already stepped up to provide needed resources and funding. Over half of the projected $700,000 cost has already been secured.

Several generous donors have already stepped up to provide needed resources and funding; over half of the projected $700,000 cost has already been secured. According to Chris Carter, Director of Development, not all changes will be made at once. “We’re excited to get the project underway, but are being strategic in balancing the cost against the efforts that provide the greatest value,” he said. “The Bankhead Theater has been a welcoming home for the arts in the center of downtown for more than a decade. We’re grateful to be able to make these changes now to ensure it will continue to serve the community well for years to come.”

If you’re interested in helping to Green the Bankhead,
contact development@lvpac.org

 

 

Derik Nelson & Family

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Smooth Family Harmonies

On genuine, passionate interpretations of original and cover songs, Derik Nelson with his siblings, Riana and Dalten, offer a rare opportunity to hear the perfectly blended harmonies only a family can deliver. Derik appeared regularly as lead guitarist on “Glee,” and both Riana and Dalten pursued performance careers, before the three joined together as a group. Now their acoustic jazz and folk infused sound, combined with stunning video displays, creates an irresistible aural and visual journey that appeals to all ages.

Music Workshop for Teens

In the week leading up to the concert, Derik, Riana and Dalten will work with local students in a workshop format, offering a priceless opportunity to expand their musical skills. The weeklong workshop will focus on developing singing, songwriting and performance techniques. At the end of the week, students will showcase their talents in a performance for family and friends.This camp is designed for teens through college age students. Dates are July 9 through July 13 Time:  10am to 4pm. Scholarships available, please contact Kiran Guleria at 925-373-6100 ext. 112 for more information. Space is limited. Register now.

Guitar Greats
at a Great Price

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Don’t miss the rich and versatile sounds of the acoustic guitar at the Bankhead Theater this season!  Three separate performances certain to please guitar lovers start in September with the flamenco-inspired style of Ottmar Liebert and runs into 2019 with International Guitar Night in February hosted by Luca Stricagnoli and Wyndham Hill founder Will Ackerman’s “The Gathering 4 Guitars” in March.  Three great nights … nine great  guitarists!

Get your tickets to all three shows before September 15
and save 10% on the purchase.

Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra:  Nouveau flamenco guitarist Ottmar Liebert is renowned worldwide for his innovative contemporary style incorporating musical influences from rock to reggae. He redefined the art form nearly three decades ago with his signature song “Barcelona Nights” off his double platinum debut album Nouveau Flamenco, which remains one of the best-selling guitar albums of all time. Since then his music has continued to evolve as he has explored different styles and rhythms, adding other instrumentation, but always staying centered on his intricate melodies. With 33 albums, half of which have gone Platinum, Liebert is considered one of the most successful instrumental artists in the world. His rich, sensual sound and relaxed, intimate performances continue to find enthusiastic audiences across all musical genres.  Saturday, September 15 at 8pm

“Music that moves the body while it touches the heart.” – Los Angeles Times

International Guitar NightAfter thrilling Bankhead audiences in 2017 with his showmanship, precision performance, and arrangements of heavy-metal songs, Italy’s innovative contemporary guitarist Luca Stricagnoli will return as host for International Guitar Night.  Founded by renowned Bay Area guitarist Brian Gore, IGN is now in its 18th year of touring. This unique and intimate annual event serves as a showcase for remarkable acoustic guitar talent from around the world. Joining Stricagnoli will be French Swing sensation Antoine Boyer, Flamenco master Samuelito, and Turkish fretless guitarist Cenk Erdogan. All four will present their latest works then perform together, sharing musical ideas through creative collaboration and exploring the diversity of the acoustic guitar world. Thursday, February 28 at 7:30pm

“These four talented musicians bring so much diversity and passion to each performance –
a treat for every acoustic guitar fan.” –Arizona Reporter

The Gathering 4 Guitars:  Grammy Award-winning music producer and guitarist Will Ackerman is universally recognized as the preeminent pioneer in new age music. He single-handedly fostered the careers of generations of acoustic guitarists and pianists through his ground-breaking work at Windham Hill Records. In this intimate evening of acoustic music, Ackerman will be joined by kalimbatar/guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall, Imrat guitar/guitarist Todd Mosby and acoustic guitar maestro Vin Downes, each of whom was selected by Ackerman for their superlative skills and creative compositions. The four unite at the end of the evening to create a concert of unrivaled beauty, intrigue, artistry and wonder. Thursday, March 28 at 7:30pm

“Taking the acoustic guitar into new directions, too, exploring deeply felt, richly individualistic paths
that are striking for their warmth, clarity, and vision.” – Acoustic Guitar

Buy Now! Put all three shows in your cart and
use discount code: GUITAR at check out.

Want to SAVE MORE? Become a member now and your benefits will double the discount. Join here and enjoy the discount and more.

Best of the East Bay!

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We’re proud to announce that the Bankhead Theater was named Best of the East Bay: Performing Arts Venue by Diablo Magazine in their July Issue! Described as an acoustically perfect gem, the venue is honored for hosting the diverse Bankhead Presents series of musicians, dancers, acrobats, comedians and other artists, as well as our resident companies.

New Season – On Sale Now!

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Artists (clockwise from upper left):  Russian National Ballet, BJ Thomas, Melissa Manchester, Branford Marsalis, Nobuntu, The Clairvoyants, Don Felder, The Chinese Acrobats, Tom Papa, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  

Tickets for some shows are already moving fast … Don’t miss this chance to get the best seats!

SEE THE ENTIRE LIST, THEN BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!

MEMBERS receive 10% off single tickets or 15% off five or more shows.
Membership starts at just $125. Click HERE to become a member today!

The 2018-2019 season at the Bankhead Theater are now on sale! Located at the heart of downtown Livermore, the Bankhead will welcome a range of artists from all musical genres, as well as comedy, dance, theater, and other performing arts.

The season officially begins on Saturday evening, September 8, 2018 at the Brilliance at the Bankhead Gala featuring Grammy Hall of Fame legend BJ Thomas accompanied by the Livermore-Amador Symphony. The festive fundraising event begins on the plaza with a dinner reception and full bar, and continues inside before the concert with live and silent auctions.

Other notable highlights among the nearly 40 events scheduled through May 2019 are acclaimed artists such as jazz great Branford Marsalis, rock guitarist Don Felder, and singer/songwriters Jim Messina and Melissa Manchester, all of whom will make their first appearance in Livermore.

BJ Thomas on Sep 8

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy on Feb 27

Returning favorites include comedian Tom Papa, fiddle master Natalie MacMaster, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with their infectious feel-good swing sound. Music of all genres as well as comedy, theater and dance are well represented, including a first visit to the Bankhead by renowned all-male comic ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

 

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo on Jan 31

In addition, the Bankhead will take the opportunity this season to present some excitingly different performances including The Clairvoyants, whose mind-blowing, mind-reading talents stunned the audience on “America’s Got Talent” in 2016, Cirque Éloize “Saloon”, a musical acrobatic adventure of the wild, wild West, and the visually-spectacular combination of dance moves, compelling rhythms, and lighting effects that tell the story of “Currents” by Mayumana. Chicago’s remarkable Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, the first youth mariachi band ever nominated for a Latin Grammy, will appear in October on their first national tour.

Mariachi Herencia de Mexico on Oct 27

Cirque Eloize “Saloon” on Mar 21

Executive Director Scott Kenison emphasized Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center’s commitment to making entertainment accessible to all audiences. Starting this summer and extending through the upcoming season, a new $20 seating level has been introduced for every single Bankhead Presents show. While quantities are limited, Kenison hopes the opportunity to enjoy great artists at an affordable price will allow everyone in the community to be touched by the performing arts. Tickets also priced at $20 for students and active military personnel are available year round.

Family-friendly events bring the arts to all ages from the dazzlingly athletic feats of The New Chinese Acrobats to Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience, the original “all-dogs, all-fun” show. Family Films, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Princess Bride,” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” are being screened at the Bankhead this summer, and the popular Classic Film Musicals, complete with newsreel and cartoons of the era, will return in the fall with “On The Town,” “Showboat” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

The Bankhead has established itself as a popular venue for comedy and a number of events will keep audiences laughing. This season a comic approach to nearly every holiday is offered from The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged),” and Second City’s Valentine-themed “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” to Late Nite Catechism’s “Will My Bunny Go To Heaven?”  Comedy and drama will merge in a single performance of L.A. Theatre Works powerful production of “Steel Magnolias” in October.

In addition to Bankhead Presents shows, the Resident Companies of the Bankhead – Del Valle Fine Arts, Livermore-Amador Symphony, Livermore Valley Opera, Pacific Chamber Orchestra, Rae Dorough Speakers Series, Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre, and Valley Dance Theatre – offer nearly 50 performances and events of their own during the season.

The 2018-2019 Season at the Bankhead opens at the end of the previously announced Summer Series which features more than a dozen shows including country music legend Lee Greenwood, blues-rock band Indigenous with Chris Duarte, and the return of western swing greats Asleep at the Wheel.

Be sure to check out the entire 2018-2019 Season list! Or flip through the online brochure.

The more the merrier!  With such a great line-up,
you’ll want to join us at the Bankhead often.
Buy tickets for any FIVE shows
at the same time and receive a 10% discount.*

 * Members receive a 15% discount on five or more shows. If you’re a member login here. If you’re not a member, consider joining today — there’s never been a better time!   In addition to supporting the arts, you’ll be among the first to hear about any new shows and you’ll receive 10% off single tickets for Bankhead Presents shows all year (Resident Company and Rental Company shows are not eligible.) Other benefits are available at higher levels. New members under the age of 35 can join at the new 35MM level for just $50.

 

Event Preview: Family Fun Series at the Bankhead

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Get your popcorn ready! The Bankhead Theater recently introduced this summer’s Family Fun Film series, featuring three beloved films of the 1980s. The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center will show “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Princess Bride,” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” on the theater’s large screen. Keep reading as we drum up some nostalgia and provide further details regarding the showings.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The series opens in June with one of director Steven Spielberg’s most groundbreaking films. As a refresher, a spaceship leaves earth and unknowingly abandons one small and gentle alien. When a young boy named Elliot befriends and brings the alien back to his suburban house, he and his siblings decide to hide the alien from everyone. The ultimate goal is to get E.T. back home. However, this task is much easier said than done, especially when E.T. gets sick. Released in June of 1982, E.T. was an immediate blockbuster. In fact, it surpassed Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time, only to be overtaken by Jurassic Park 11 years later. It’s no question why E.T. is considered one of the greatest films ever made. A timeless story of friendship, it ranks as the greatest science fiction film ever made in a Rotten Tomatoes survey.

We are thrilled to show “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Wednesday, June 20th at 7 p.m. at the Bankhead. Tickets are just $5.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Yet another iconic film of the 1980s, this one tells the classic tale of a young man who sets off to rescue his one true love. The two encounter quite the cast of characters in the enchanted land of Florin, including the evil Prince Humperdinck, Dread Pirate Roberts, giant wrestler Fezzik, as well as the vengeful Inigo Montoya. Each is responsible for helping or hindering the efforts along the way. As opposed to the aforementioned film, The Princess Bride garnered modest box office success. Through the years, though, the film became a cult classic. The film ranks No. 50 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies,” No. 46 on Channel 4’s “50 Greatest Comedy Film” list. If you enjoy movies with romance, adventure, and comedy, then this is an absolute must-see.

The showing of “The Princess Bride” takes place Wednesday, July 25th at 7 p.m. at the Bankhead.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

A misdirected baseball brings four kids into an attic workshop where their dad’s latest invention accidentally shrinks them to just a quarter-inch tall. Ironically, Wayne believes the electromagnetic shrink-ray to be a failed experiment and throws it in the trash with the kids in it. As a result, the kids must make their way back to the house. They encounter bees, ants, scorpions, and a lawnmower before their dad finds them and brings them back to size. “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” took the movie industry by storm, grossing in excess of $222 million worldwide. Not only that, but it became the highest-grossing live action Disney film ever, a record it held for five years.

The showing of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” takes place Wednesday, August 15th at the Bankhead Theater.

For your convenience, LVPAC will have concessions available in the lobby for each film. Our performing arts center strives to offer family-oriented entertainment for the whole family. Please note that all three movies in this series are rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America. Parents should make their own decision regarding appropriate content for their children.  

This series builds on the success of the Classic Film Musicals Series which was launched earlier this year at the Bankhead Theater. If you didn’t attend, it included favorites from the Golden Age of film musicals, complete with newsreels and cartoons of the era. Only the award-winning classic “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds (May 2nd) and “Shall We Dance” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (June 6th) remain this season, but the Classic Film Musicals Series is scheduled to resume in September.

The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is your one-stop shop for movies, live music, and incredible performances all summer long. Check out our events calendar today!

Interview: Rita Coolidge

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In a wide ranging interview with writer Lou Fancher at the East Bay Times, pop icon Rita Coolidge talks about her early days in the music industry when men held all the power and the impact that had on women, how she see things changing now, and why it matters. She also discusses the many people who have had an influence on her life and her music — from her grandmother and her Cherokee heritage, to fellow musicians and leaders of the modern day blues era.

Coolidge has put her whole heart into her recently released album “Safe in the Arms of Love” She co-wrote three of the 12 songs on the album and the entire album reflects the pain, uplifting recovery and strength she has found in her life.

“It’s about the wonderful possibilities we have to experience love, embrace the tragedies, to keep going. The record is about that joy.
I want for women and men to realize love is always around, you just have to open your eyes and heart.”

Read the whole article HERE and then buy tickets to see Rita Coolidge in the intimate 500 seat Bankhead Theater. For more about Rita, visit the event page.

RITA COOLIDGE

Saturday, July 7 at 8pm

BUY TICKETS NOW!

Upcoming Events

Fri 14

The Nutcracker

Fri, December 14 @ 7:00 pm
Organizer: Valley Dance Theatre
925.243.0925
Thu 20

The Doo Wop Project Christmas

Thu, December 20 @ 7:30 pm
Fri 21

Irish Christmas in America

Fri, December 21 @ 8:00 pm
Sat 22
Sat 22

Love Actually

Sat, December 22 @ 7:00 pm

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