MSU Riley Center announces fall/winter series

The rousing country-rock music of the Charlie Daniels Band will get the fall/winter series of the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts off to a lively start on Sept. 17 in downtown Meridian.

The second annual fall/winter series will feature artists as diverse as Little Big Town, Patty Griffin, Point of Grace, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Pointer Sisters and Garrison Keillor. It will showcase contrasting approaches to country music that range from today's hot songs to hits of recent decades, as well as unique takes on gospel and contemporary Christian music, one of the most eclectic repertoires from the classic soul era, and a re-creation of the most tumultuous and inventive periods in the history of jazz.

Lovers of theater will enjoy the rip-roaring tragedy of Shakespeare's Macbeth and the gentle holiday-themed optimism of Miracle on 34th Street. Evidence, A Dance Company will perform an inspirational new piece choreographed to the music of Stevie Wonder.

The series will conclude on Feb. 16, 2012, with the homespun storytelling and comedy of Garrison Keillor.

"This season offers a little bit of something for everyone and includes more theater, dance and cultural events than the spring/summer season," said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the MSU Riley Center. "We will continue our pre-concert events and hope to add several pre-concert discussions before certain shows that do not have a reception.

"We are bringing several new major artists to Meridian and bringing back Garrison Keillor and Barter Theatre from past seasons," Sankovich continued. "This will be the last Garrison Keillor tour and your chance to see him live on stage at the MSU Riley Center."

Full season tickets are currently on sale and "build your own" mini-season ticket packages for the fall/winter series will go on sale Aug. 17. Individual tickets for each show will become available on Aug. 29.

Performances start at 7:30 p.m. except on Sundays, when the starting time is 6 p.m. Select shows will feature pre-show parties in the Grand Lobby, allowing patrons to socialize and enjoy refreshments as a prelude to the evening's entertainment.

Here is the complete fall/winter lineup, including ticket prices:

The Charlie Daniels Band
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$65, $59
Pre-Show Party at 6 p.m.
Through almost 60 years in music, Charlie Daniels has done things his way. "I've never followed trends or fads," he says. "I can't be anybody but me." He became a country-rock star in the 1970s and had a huge hit in 1979 with the Grammy-winning "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." More recently, he's become something of a conservative icon for such songs as "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag." At age 74, he still loves to entertain with his guitar, his fiddle and his drawling, plainspoken voice.

Little Big Town
Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011 / 6 p.m.
$58, $52
Four great voices have carried Little Big Town to the top of the country music charts. That's where the band's most recent album, The Reason Why, peaked after its release last year. Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook take turns as lead vocalist. "Each person has their own individual style, so the face of the band changes with whoever's singing," says Westbrook. But it's the intertwining four-part vocal harmonies, influenced by everything from traditional country to 1970s rock, that really set Little Big Town apart.

Patty Griffin
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$42, $36
Pre-Show Party at 6:00 p.m.
In 1980, Patty Griffin, then 16, bought herself a used $55 Hohner guitar and began writing music. Since then, she has released seven albums, won the Album of the Year and Artist of the Year awards at the 2007 Americana Music Awards, and picked up a Grammy Award earlier this year in the Best Traditional Gospel Album category for Downtown Church. She's known as a roots-oriented singer-songwriter with an emotional, haunting stage presence, but her songs have been recorded by everyone from the Dixie Chicks and Miranda Lambert to Jessica Simpson and Kelly Clarkson.

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$58, $52
Pre-Show Party at 6 p.m.
Mary Chapin Carpenter has won five Grammy Awards, including four in a row (1992-1995) for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Such rousing songs as "Down at the Twist and Shout," "Passionate Kisses" and "I Feel Lucky" made her a star, but country music is just a part of her repertoire. She also wanders into folk, rock and blues territory, and her songs have even ventured into social commentary on occasion. Despite the reflective and even regretful tone of her latest album, The Age of Miracles, Carpenter's cheerful, friendly onstage personality inevitably charms audiences.

Point of Grace with Special Guest Jason Castro
Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$34, $28
One of the biggest acts in contemporary Christian music, Point of Grace has won 13 Dove Awards, including three this year. Shelley Breen, Denise Jones and Leigh Cappillino have also crossed over into the country field with their bold vocal harmonies and rousing, inspirational lyrics. Their music reflects their personal lives as wives and mothers. "The majority of our fans are women who are dealing with the same things we are," says Cappillino. Dreadlocked young singer Jason Castro, who will open the show, finished fourth on TV's American Idol in 2008. He showcased his bouncy acoustic folk-pop style last year on his debut album, Jason Castro.

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$28, $22
William Shakespeare's great tragedy, full of destructive ambition, foul deeds, apparitions, witches and bloodshed, makes for stirring entertainment. Macbeth, aided and goaded by his wife, commits multiple murders in order to become king of Scotland, but sows the seeds of his own destruction. The play includes some of the most famous scenes in theater, including those featuring Lady Macbeth's guilt-ridden sleepwalking and the fateful prophecies of the three witches.

The Miles Davis Experience: 1949-1959
A Collaboration with Blue Note Records
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$28, $22
More than just a concert, this performance event seeks to re-create perhaps the most exciting period in the history of jazz. Those too young to have seen the relentlessly innovative trumpeter Miles Davis (who died in 1991) will have the opportunity to experience his music played the way it was first presented. The Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, led by a hot young California trumpeter who won the 2007 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, stands in for Davis and his band. Photos and film clips of the era and a beat poet-style narrator provide context.

Blind Boys of Alabama with Sara and Sean Watkins
Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011 / 6 p.m.
$42, $36
Pre-Show Party at 4:30 p.m.
The Blind Boys of Alabama have been performing joyous gospel music for more than 70 years, but this year they did something they'd never done before. They released a country-gospel album, Take the High Road. Jimmy Carter, who joined the group in 1944, five years after its founding at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in Talladega, has always been a country music buff. Still, it's the old-school gospel harmonizing that has made the Blind Boys a national treasure. Effervescent young bluegrass fiddler and singer Sara Watkins and guitarist brother Sean of the group Nickel Creek will open the concert.

Miracle on 34th Street
Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 / 7:30 p.m.
$42, $36
The classic 1947 holiday movie about a department store Santa who just may be the real thing comes to the stage. Even the most humbug-wary Scrooge can't resist its gentle triumph of faith over cynicism and Christmas over commerce. The whole family will want to share the experience, which includes some familiar holiday carols.

Junie B. Jones Family Show (not part of the fall/winter series)
Theatreworks USA Production
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.
Adults $18, Children (under 12) $10
Outspoken, precocious, lovable Junie B. Jones returns, two years after her last visit to the MSU Riley Center. The star of a series of children's books by Barbara Park (and now a series of children's musicals) continues to make her feisty way through the first years of school, managing to get herself into a fair amount of trouble along the way. Still, she usually recovers to have a "wowie wow wow!" time.

The Pointer Sisters
Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.
$58, $52
Pre-Show Party at 6:00 p.m.
Ruth, Anita, Bonnie and June Pointer began singing gospel music as children at their parents' church in West Oakland, Calif. They also became interested in rock, soul and blues, which their parents considered "the devil's music." In 1973, they released their first album as The Pointer Sisters. It yielded the hit "Yes We Can Can." Other hits followed, in a variety of musical styles, including "He's So Shy," "Automatic," "Slow Hand," "I'm So Excited" and "Fire." The current touring edition of The Pointer Sisters consists of Anita, Ruth and Sadako Johnson, Ruth's granddaughter, continuing in the funky family tradition.

Evidence, A Dance Company
Ronald K. Brown/Artistic Director
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.
$40, $34
Ronald K. Brown and his dance company, Evidence, will perform a new piece, On Earth Together, which Brown choreographed to songs by Stevie Wonder. Brown's energetic choreography unites with Wonder's uplifting music for an evening of breathtaking inspiration. Brown calls it "a commitment to making the world a better place." Since he was a second-grader in Brooklyn, Brown has created dance pieces, fusing European traditions with African-inspired styles. Everything from classical ballet to hip-hop to Caribbean folk dances becomes a tool for his creativity.

Garrison Keillor
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 / 7:30 p.m.
$64, $58
Pre-Show Party at 6:00 p.m.
The tall man in the red socks will bring an evening of homespun humor, eclectic music and Midwestern charm to the MSU Riley Center. Keillor has written more than a dozen books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles. But he is most famous as host of the public radio show A Prairie Home Companion, a mixture of storytelling, songs, comedy skits and advertisements for such improbable sponsors as Powdermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Board. Nostalgia and good-natured humor permeate Keillor's world, especially during his tales about his fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minn.

Return to Memo

Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: August 8, 2011Facebook Twitter