An exciting line up of some of the most popular acts in music and comedy will appear this fall at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.
First up on Sept. 8 is comedian and variety show host Howie Mandel. The Canadian-born funnyman arrived in Los Angeles in 1979 on an ordinary business trip, but he passed by the Comedy Store in West Hollywood and decided to try out for amateur night. The audience loved the act, and a TV producer in the crowd suggested he appear on a game show called “Make Me Laugh.” Shortly after that, Mandel opened for Diana Ross in Las Vegas and eventually landed the role of Dr. Wayne Fiscus on the popular ‘80s medical drama “St. Elsewhere.” Mandel even had a cartoon show, “Bobby’s World,” which ran from 1990 to 1998.
By 2005, Mandel had became the host of the game show “Deal Or No Deal” which earned him an Emmy Award nomination. He wrote a best-selling memoir in 2009, “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me,” about his struggles with ADHD and, not long after, became a judge on the show “America’s Got Talent.” Other television projects have included “Mobbed” which used hidden cameras and flash mobs to explore different true-life stories, and another hidden-camera show called “Deal With It.” Tickets to see Howie Mandel are $79, $59 and $54.
The Lettermen, one of the great vocal groups of the past five decades, will appear Sept. 15. While their famous letter sweaters may not be part of the act these days, The Lettermen harmony is as perfect as ever. Their first hit was “The Way You Look Tonight” from 1961 and since then they have garnered 18 Gold albums and scores of top-ten singles. Other hits include “When I Fall In Love,” “Our Winter Girl Love,” “Come Back Silly Girl” and the very popular “Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Over the years, The Lettermen have performed around the world, including concerts in Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Some of their other popular songs include “Up Up and Away,” “Hurt So Bad,” “Shangri-La, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” and “Love” composed by John Lennon. Tickets to see The Letterman are $35 and $30.
Joining The Letterman that evening will be Jazz Horizons. Producer/composer Lee Matalon and his friends present unrivaled interpretations of some of the best smooth jazz numbers, done so in an intimate, cabaret-style setting. Jazz Horizons features some of the best musicians from the Antelope Valley. Listen for classics such as “Love Is Here To Stay,” “Girl From Ipnanema,” “Out Of Nowhere” and many other memorable songs. General admission tickets are $18.
Martin Barre has been the guitarist for Jethro Tull for the past 43 years. He is a familiar sound in rock ‘n roll, having helped the group sell more than 60 million albums. He will appear on Sept. 16.
Barre’s guitar playing has earned him a high level of respect and recognition among fans and his peers; he was voted 25th best solo ever in the United States, and 20th best in the United Kingdom for his guitar work on “Acqualung” (1971). He won a Grammy Award in 1988 for his work on the album “Crest Of a Knave.”
Barre has worked with many of the music industry’s most famous artists including Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Gary Moore, Jo Bonamassa and Chris Thompson. As well, Barre over the years has shared the stage with legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin. Barre has taken a break from Jethro Tull to form his own band that plays the classic work of his old group. Tickets are $29 and $24.
Ruben Studdard became a bright spot in the music world since winning season two of “American Idol” in 2003. He will take the stage on Sept. 21.
Gladys Knight once called Studdard “the velvet teddy bear” and he received his first Grammy nomination shortly after his “American Idol” win when he released his debut album “Soulful.” In the following years Studdard has seen success with the albums “I Need An Angel” (2004), “Love Is” (2009) and “Letters From Birmingham” from 2012. Studdard has toured with Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, CeCe Winans and David Foster.
In 2013, Studdard joined the cast of “The Biggest Loser” as he had struggled with weight issues since boyhood. There, he learned he had Type 2 diabetes and told the “Today Show” that the diagnosis represented a “second chance,” noting “I definitely want to be around for a long time.” Tickets to see Ruben Studdard are $37 and $32.
Billy Ray Cyrus has achieved international success as a singer, songwriter and actor. He will appear on Sept. 22.
More than simply the father of pop star Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus has sold millions of albums, charted 35 singles, 16 of which became Top 40 hits. The Kentucky native, of course, is most associated with the 1992 smash “Achy Breaky Heart” from his platinum-selling debut album “Some Gave All.” The song was number one on the Billboard charts for 17 weeks, a record he still holds as a solo male artist. During that period, Cyrus had a string of hits including “Could’ve Been Me,” “Where’m Gonna Live When I Get Home,” and “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore.”
In 2001, Cyrus began acting and landed a role in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”; he also accepted the lead role in the cable television series “Doc.”
The Manhattan Transfer
“I became an actor, but I was born a singer-songwriter from Flatwoods, Ky.,” he said. “That’s who I am. I live the music and couldn’t help but write about it.” Tickets to see Billy Ray Cyrus are $81, $61 and $56.
The Manhattan Transfer will perform on Oct. 15. About 40 years ago, Tim Hauser, a former Madison Avenue marketing executive, moonlighted as a cab driver in New York City. He’d always sang in doo-wop and folk groups, but knew there was more music he wanted to explore. He picked up a fare one day, a singer named Laurel Masse, who also wanted to form a singing group. A few weeks later, another of Hauser’s fares introduced him to singer Janis Siegel. The three began rehearsing and, not long after, Masse would introduce Hauser and Siegel to Alan Paul, already on Broadway in the original production of “Grease.” The rest, as they say, “is history.”
The Manhattan Transfer’s first hit was “Operator” in 1975. The song was an immediate hit on radio stations as the group’s four-part a cappella stylings became a pleasant diversion from disco and rock ‘n roll. Soon there would be “The Manhattan Transfer Show” Sunday nights on CBS. In 1978 Masse was injured in a car crash and decided not to return to the group. Cheryl Bentyle replaced her and the group developed the sound that audiences know today. Their biggest hits from this period was “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone” and “Birdland,” the latter tune winning a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.
In 1981 The Manhattan Transfer became the first group to win Grammy Awards in both pop and jazz categories in the same year. More Grammy Awards followed in 1982 and 1983 for “Route 66” and “Why Not!” respectively. All totaled, The Manhattan Transfer has received 12 Grammy Award nominations and compiled a 10-year sweep (1980-1990) as the “Best Vocal Group” in both the annual DownBeat and Playboy jazz polls. Tickets to see The Manhattan Transfer are $37 and $32.
Chubby Checker, who popularized the most famous dance in pop music history, “The Twist,” will appear on Oct. 20.
Although Earnest Evans (his given name) was born in South Carolina, he grew up in Philadelphia. While working as a box boy at a poultry market, he was already covering the latest hit records and, by chance, the owner of the market knew Dick Clark of “American Bandstand” fame. In 1959 he did a Christmas song for Clark, “Jingle Bells,” and the famous dance show host sent this recording to all of his friends in the music business.
Not long after, Chubby Checker recorded his version of Hank Ballard’s hit “The Twist” and it was a smash around the world. “The Twist” was the forerunner of a number of songs featuring that title such as “Peppermint Twist” (Joey Dee), “Twist and Shout” (Isley Brothers/Beatles) and “Twistin’ the Night Away” (Sam Cooke). “The Twist” was arguably the first “party song” of the rock ‘n roll era; from then on each new hit song on AM radio brought about a new dance such as “The Jerk,” “Mashed Potato,” “Hully Gully,” “The Boogaloo” and “The Shake.” At the forefront of all of these tunes was Chubby Checker and his songs “The Fly,” “The Pony” and “The Hucklebuck.” “The Twist” was such a sensation that Cameo-Parkway records re-released it in 1962. It spent another nine months on the U.S. bestseller charts.
For a time, Chubby Checker merchandise was everywhere, and included T-shirts, shoes, ties, dolls, raincoats, lunch boxes…even chewing gum. More hits followed such as “Slow Twistin’”, “Dancin’ Party,” “Limbo Rock,” “Birdland” and “Twist It Up.” Tickets to see Chubby Checker are $44 and $39.
The Lancaster Performing Arts Center is located at 750 W. Lancaster Blvd. Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. For tickets or more information, call (661) 723-5950 or visit www.lpac.org.