Whether you fancy award-winning comedy, the “top-’o-the-charts” in country music, amazing acrobatics, or a rare evening of pop music history, the Lancaster Performing Arts Center has done it again. Promoters this fall have lined up Kathy Griffin, Burt Bacharach, the Shanghai Acrobats and Clint Black and other great acts to present a fall schedule likely to be unmatched anywhere in the southland.
When comedian Kathy Griffin takes the stage at 8 p.m. Sept. 9 expect a no-holds-barred monologue of witty barbs and light-hearted levity about our favorite subject—Hollywood.
Griffin has won both Emmy and Grammy awards for her comedy routines which provide the audience with a “backstage pass,” so to speak about all the doings of some of our favorite celebrities whether it be on the set or at a Hollywood party. Two years ago, Griffin made history with her sixth consecutive Grammy nomination and first win for Best Comedy Album “Kathy Griffin: Calm Down Guurl” (2013). She joined comedy legends Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg as the only women to receive a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Laugh with Kathy Griffin
Griffin pokes fun at all of our favorite—and not-so-favorite—celebrities and has been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for writing and starring in an unprecedented 20 televised stand-up specials. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to her often sold-out performances everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Sydney Opera House. It’s her television work, however, that attracts millions of viewers. Each year, Griffin and co-host Anderson Cooper present CNN’s New Year’s Eve special and has become one of television’s “go-to” hosts for premier events. She hosted the Billboard Music Awards for three consecutive years and was host of the 41st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. And in a switch, she was host of the popular AARP Movies for Grownups Gala.
Griffin once had a late-night talk show where some of the biggest celebrities gathered to have the most fun. Her boisterous and revealing 2009 memoir “Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin” debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. On Bravo, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” (2005-2011) was a huge success for its six-year run, receiving each season a nomination by the Producers Guild of America, as well as winning the GLAAD Media Award for Best Reality Program.
Sitcom fans will remember Griffin’s wacky character Vicki G. Rubenstein from “Suddenly Susan,” and she has made guest appearances on hits such as “Seinfeld,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Simpsons,” “American Dad” and “The View.” Among Griffin’s other awards and honors are recognition from The Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equity, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Leadership in Entertainment, GLADD’s Vanguard Award, the Trevor Life Award from the Trevor Project, and a Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Lead.
Griffin’s latest book, “Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins” is scheduled for release in late November.
Tickets to see Kathy Griffin are $59 and $54. The orchestra section is sold out.
Guitar Army ‘wants you’
If you like blazing hot guitar playing, then Guitar Army “wants you.” The three virtuoso guitarists—Robben Ford, Lee Roy Parnell and Joe Robinson—will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 16.
The trio comprises a “triple threat” as not only excellent guitarists, but accomplished singers and songwriters. Each will perform a 20-minute solo set before joining forces as one six-piece band for a 40-minute concert to conclude the show in “supergroup” fashion. Ford is considered one of the finest guitarists of this generation, having received five Grammy nominations. Musician Magazine once dubbed him as “one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.” Over the years, Ford has performed with the likes of Miles Davis, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt.
Parnell is best known for his mastery of the slide guitar and his “southern soul” stylings. He is a member of the Texas Heritage Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and, as a solo artist, has charted seven Top 10 country hits and has earned a pair of Grammy nominations.
Robinson is the youngest of the trio and first turned heads at age 11. A native of Australia, Robinson at an early age met acoustic star Tommy Emmanuel and the two began playing together. At age 17, Robinson won the television contest “Australia’s Got Talent” and since then has received global acclaim particularly for his unique electric guitar work.
Tickets for Guitar Army are $29, $24 and $10.
The legendary Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach is one of the most celebrated and accomplished composers of popular music of the 20th Century. He will appear at 8 p.m. Sept. 17.
Along with the late lyricist Hal David, Bacharach in the 1960s and ‘70s produced a string of hit songs that rivaled anything from the British Invasion, Motown or the “surfer sound.”
Bacharach’s compositions typically boasted memorable melodies, unconventional and shifting time signatures, and atypical chords. He and David combined elements of jazz, pop, Brazilian music and rock to create a unique sound that embodied the time. And while in the late 1970s these songs may have became synonymous with so-called “elevator music,” a closer listening suggests that the tunes were meticulously crafted, technically sophisticated and anything but “easy listening.”
Pop music fans may point to Marty Robbins’ 1957 hit “The Story of My Life” followed by “Magic Moments” for Perry Como in 1958 as the beginning of the Bacharach-David legacy. The hits began to pour in the early 1960s with “Please Stay” by The Drifters, “Baby It’s You” by The Shirelles, Chuck Jackson’s “Any Day Now” and “Make It Easy On Yourself” performed by Jerry Butler. But it was the pair’s collaboration with Dionne Warwick that made them household names. Beginning with “Don’t Make Me Over” in 1962, Bacharach-David wrote and produced 20 Top 40 hits for Warwick over 10 years, seven of which made the Top 10: “Anyone Who Had a Heart” (1963), “Walk On By” (1964), “Message to Michael” (1966), “I Say a Little Prayer” (1967 and again for Aretha Franklin in 1968), “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” (1968), “This Girl’s In Love With You” (1969) and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” (1969).
Hits of a generation
Bacharach spoke years ago about his uncanny luck producing hits, specifically at a time when most artists or groups were focused on “dance music,” “message music” or the “psychedelic sound.” He responded: “Never be ashamed to write a melody that people remember.” He also talked about his beginnings, noting that he was not always such a promising musician. “I started playing piano in a little band in high school. I was terrible. I thought I had absolutely no talent. I couldn’t keep time. I only got into [London’s] McGill, which was a lousy music school, because they were taking American music students.”
Other mega-hits by Bacharach-David included “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension, “Wishin’ and Hopin’” and “The Look of Love” by Dusty Springfield, “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Jackie DeShannon, “What’s New, Pussycat?” by Tom Jones, “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by The Carpenters, and B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”
In 1968, producer David Marrick tapped Bacharach-David to score a musical version of Neil Simon’s “The Apartment,” the result being the Broadway smash “Promises, Promises” which won two Tonys and a Grammy for best cast recording.
Some of Bacharach’s later work included penning hits such as “Making Love” (1982) for Roberta Flack, “That’s What Friends Are For” (1985) Dionne Warwick and Friends, “On My Own” (1986) Patty Labelle and Michael McDonald, and “Arthur’s Theme” (1981) for Christopher Cross.
‘What the World Needs Now is Love’
If Bacharach ever needed a “comeback,” it would have been in 1995 when he began a collaboration with Elvis Costello which by 1999 found the duo embarking on a well-received mini-tour; they received a Grammy that year in the Pop Collaboration with Vocals category for Painted From Memory’s “I Still Have that Other Girl.”
In 2002, a musical based on the Bacharach-David partnership, “What the World Needs Now” opened in Sydney, Australia, and still another musical based on the pair, “The Look of Love” opened in 2003 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York City. In 2012, Bacharach-David received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize in honor of their lifetime achievements in popular music. In June, dozens of Broadway stars gathered to record a new version of “What the World Needs Now is Love” to benefit the LGBT Center of Central Florida.
Tickets to see Burt Bacharach are $89, $64 and $59.
Amazing Shanghai Acrobats
The Shanghai Acrobats comprise one of the world’s most dynamic stage presentations and will appear at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29.
Direct from the People’s Republic of China, the Shanghai Acrobats are composed of 40 master acrobats from Jinan, China and have recently drawn rave reviews for their new show “Shanghai Nights” which is the latest extravaganza in the troupe’s 55-year career. The Shanghai Acrobats thrill audiences with their precise, high-flying feats of daring, strength, balance and martial arts. The fast-paced, technically innovative show is said to achieve the perfect harmony between body and mind which is the ultimate goal of this ancient discipline. The audience will witness amazing feats of athleticism, heart-stopping stunts and the grace and beauty of the performers accented by colorful, authentic costumes, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and stunning backdrops.
Tickets to see the Shanghai Acrobats are $29, $24 and $10.
Clint Black is back
Clint Black will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11. Over the years, Black has seen more than 30 of his singles reach the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Chart, 22 of which landed at number one. Black was among the new country artists of the 1980s (e.g. Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson) who helped to revive the venerable music genre for a new generation. His multi-platimum debut album “Killin’ Time” (1989) remained at the top position for 28 weeks, thanks in part to its four smash singles “Better Man,” “Nobody’s Home,” “Walkin’ Away” and the title track. Black followed “Killin’ Time” with the equally popular album “Put Yourself in My Shoes” (1990) which was also certified platinum and reached number two on the country charts.
By 1995, Black had another platinum-selling album in “One Emotion” which contained five consecutive top-five hits. Black became only the fourth country singer to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1996), but later in the decade he took time off for marriage and family. “It ended up not being a smart career move,” he said then, “but it was a smart dad move. I wouldn’t go back and try to do anything for my career in exchange for that.”
New album ‘On Purpose’
After 14 successful years with RCA Records—selling 12 million records—Black left the label in 2003 and formed Equity Music Group in which all artists were guaranteed ownership of their songs (unlike during the RCA years) and were granted an equity stake in the label. Black said he chose the album title “Drinkin’ Songs and Other Logic” to limit himself to “simple times” from his past. He refreshed himself by listening to some of his old favorites like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Jim Croce “and what I discovered,” he said, “was a simplicity in song that I moved away from.” He disbanded Equity Music Group in 2008 and took more time off while intermittently hinting at new music. In 2013, he issued a Cracker-Barrel-exclusive album that featured re-recorded versions of some of his biggest hits.
Now Black is back with “On Purpose,” his first full-length album in a decade and is in the middle of a 28-concert tour. “To me, it’s only a ‘comeback’ if I’m putting out someting new,” he said recently. “As someone who has never stopped working, I don’t see me as having gone away.”
Tickets to see Clint Black range in price from $79 to $54 and $49.
Other acts scheduled this season include the Jazz Horizons on Sept. 16 and the Fab Four Ultimate Tribute scheduled Sept. 30.
For tickets or more information, contact the LPAC at (661) 723-5950 or visit www.lpac.org.