Classics of all kinds highlight MSU Riley Center spring/summer series

MERIDIAN, MS – Classics will rule the stage as the MSU Riley Center presents its 2018 Spring/Summer Performing Arts Series, starting April 14 with a concert by the powerhouse rock band Jefferson Starship.

Classic rock and soul, classic American roots music, a renowned classical ballet and even a family-oriented musical version of a classic fairy tale make up the Spring/Summer Series. The nine-show season runs through August 18.

“Each of our performers and productions in the Spring/Summer Series has, in some exceptional way, stood the test of time,” said Dennis Sankovich, the Riley Center’s executive director. “What better fit could we have for our Victorian gem of a theater? It made its grand debut in 1890, regained its youthful vigor in 2006, thanks to a loving restoration, and has since inspired the ongoing revival of Meridian’s historic downtown.”

All shows start at 7:30 p.m. except for the Family Show, “Three Little Pigs,” which begins at 7 p.m. Season tickets go on sale to new buyers on Monday, March 5. “Build Your Own” mini season ticket packages of three or more shows become available starting the following Monday, March 12. The on-sale date for individual tickets is a week after that: Monday, March 19.

Seven of the nine Spring/Summer Series shows are musical concerts, starting with Jefferson Starship. The band, which grew out of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Jefferson Airplane, reached its apogee as a critical and commercial success from the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s.

The conclusion of the series, on August 18, also harks back to the 1970s. Disco superstars KC and the Sunshine Band will bring a full stage show, complete with a horn section and dancers. Pat Benatar, a rock icon of the ’80s, will sing on July 17 alongside her longtime guitarist, producer and husband, Neil Giraldo.

Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will recreate the irresistibly catchy mid-1960s sound of pop music’s British Invasion in a June 1 concert. Like the songs, Noone seems hardly to have aged at all since he shot to stardom at age 16.

Two other concerts will draw on the distinctively Southern musical legacy of Memphis. Marc Cohn, the singer-songwriter famous for his 1991 hit “Walking in Memphis,” will perform on May 17 with special guests and down-home gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. William Bell will present a Tribute to Memphis Soul Revue on June 14. Bell, a songwriter and singer for the legendary Stax Records label, will be joined by bluesman Bobby Rush and songwriter-singer Don Bryant.

Old Crow Medicine Show, performing in concert May 4, takes its inspiration from the traditional string bands and blues artists of the mid-20th century as well as another classic artist: Bob Dylan. The group fleshed out a Dylan song fragment to create its biggest hit, “Wagon Wheel.”

Direct from Moscow, Russia, comes Moscow Festival Ballet to perform one of the greatest classical ballets of all time, the Tchaikovsky masterpiece “Swan Lake.” This magnificent dance event will take place on April 19.

The MSU Riley Center always tries to include at least one affordably priced Family Show in each series. This time, it’s “Three Little Pigs,” a charming, funny musical version of the beloved fairy tale, reimagined with the Big Bad Wolf as not so bad after all.

“With each of our shows, we’ll be bringing back a lot of great memories,” Sankovich said. “And the timeless beauty of our theater always guarantees a memorable evening.”

The Riley Center offers a range of season-ticket options that include discounted prices and other perks. If subscribers lose or forget their tickets, the Box Office will issue duplicates on the spot. With a simple phone call, subscribers can also arrange to leave their tickets at the Box Office for friends, family members or clients.

The MSU Riley Center thanks The Riley Foundation and Mississippi State University for their invaluable continuing support. The Riley Center is also grateful to the Jimmie Rodgers Music Festival for its support of the 2018 Spring/Summer Performing Arts Series.

Jefferson Starship-Saturday, April 14, 2018

Jefferson Starship, with its roots in the 1960s, remains so culturally relevant that the current Netflix Wet Hot American Summer series uses Starship’s 1979 hit “Jane” as its theme song. Multi-instrumentalist (and “Jane” co-writer) David Freiberg goes back to the band’s earliest days. Cathy Richardson’s piercing vocals have earned the approval of retired lead singer Grace Slick. Expect to hear all your favorites, from “We Built This City” and “Find Your Way Back” to “White Rabbit” and “Volunteers” from Starship’s first incarnation as Jefferson Airplane. Also, thanks especially to fiery lead guitarist Jude Gold, expect a band that really rocks.

Direct from Moscow, Russia-Moscow Festival Ballet-Swan Lake-Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Meridian favorite returns, bringing Old World elegance to the MSU Riley Center stage with Tchaikovsky's romantic tour de force Swan Lake. Sergei Radchenko, longtime dancer with the famed Bolshoi Ballet, founded the Moscow Festival Ballet in 1989. He brought together stars from across his country to stage fresh productions of timeless classics. The company loves to tour, sharing the beauty and grace of Russian ballet. The Moscow Festival Ballet specializes in such beloved masterpieces as Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty, both of which it has performed at the Riley Center, and of course Swan Lake. Come experience some of the world’s greatest artists at the peak of their powers.

Three Little Pigs-Friday, April 27, 2018

What if the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t actually bad, just a well-meaning klutz? That’s the intriguing premise of this hilarious musical, which retells the story of the Three Little Pigs: Rose, Frank, and Ham. The Wolf doesn’t mean to scare the pigs or wreck their houses. He just wants to invite them to his birthday party. Finally, he confides in Mother Pig, and she teaches him how to be gentle and careful. Paul Deiss updated the classic fairy tale, writing the book, music, and lyrics. Virginia Rep on Tour brings it energetically to the stage.

Old Crow Medicine Show-Friday, May 4, 2018

As it has progressed from singing on street corners to performing at massive music festivals, Old Crow Medicine Show has stayed faithful to the past. Its sound preserves both the rough edges and the heartfelt emotion of old-time country string bands. Its biggest hit, “Wagon Wheel,” reworks a half-finished Bob Dylan outtake into a foot-stomping ode to the native South of co-founders Critter Fuqua (banjo) and Ketch Secor (fiddle). The band will be playing songs from its retro-sounding new album, Volunteer, along with lots of old favorites. These guys always have a great time onstage, which guarantees that the audience does too.

Marc Cohn with Special Guests The Blind Boys Of Alabama-Thursday, May 17, 2018

American music: That’s what Marc Cohn and The Blind Boys of Alabama create. Cohn shot to fame in 1991 with the bluesy, soulful “Walking in Memphis.” The song describes his visit to the city of blues pioneer W.C. Handy, rock ’n’ roll king Elvis Presley, and soul legend Al Green, all mentioned in the lyrics. The Blind Boys began singing together in 1939; founding member Jimmy Carter still tours with the group. Through the decades, they have remained faithful to their passionate style of gospel music, which springs – like Cohn’s very personal songs of poignancy and inspiration – straight from the heart.

Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone-Friday, June 1, 2018

Music doesn’t get any happier than “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” and all the other pop confections from Herman’s Hermits. Lead singer Peter Noone burst into stardom at age 16 with the band’s 1964 hit, “I’m into Something Good.” He remains in fine voice and charms 21st-century audiences with the same dazzling grin that melted the hearts of ’60s teenyboppers. Enjoy Noone at the MSU Riley Center as he bounces through his classic hits and other favorite oldies from the era of pop music's British Invasion. You’ll definitely be into something good.

William Bell Tribute to Memphis Soul Revue-Thursday, June 14, 2018

With the Take Me to the River tour (also spotlighting bluesman Bobby Rush and songwriter-singer Don Bryant), William Bell is bringing back the Memphis music scene he helped create. In the 1960s, Bell worked for the legendary Stax Records in his hometown of Memphis, writing such classics as “You Don’t Miss Your Water” and “Born under a Bad Sign.” His own hit recordings include “Any Other Way,” “Everybody Loves a Winner,” and “Tryin’ to Love Two.” He still commands a stage and sings straight from the soul: Last year, his latest album, This Is Where I Live, won a Grammy Award.

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo-Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have formed one of the most successful partnerships in music history. During their nearly four-decade career, they have won an unprecedented four consecutive Grammy awards, as well as three American Music awards.

Their undeniable chemistry, Benatar’s mezzo-soprano vocal range and Giraldo’s trail blazing work as a producer, guitarist and songwriter created some of rock’s most memorable hits. These include, “Promises in the Dark”, “Hell is For Children”, We Live For Love”, “Love Is A Battlefield”, “Hit me with Your Best Shot” and “We Belong.” Their rock and roll love affair has endured for 38 years and they continue to tour every year, wowing audiences everywhere.

KC and The Sunshine Band-Saturday, August 18, 2018

Discoing right out of the 1970s, powered by a full horn section, a flashy stage show, and an irresistible beat, it’s KC and The Sunshine Band. Harry Wayne Casey, better known as KC, got millions of people to lace up their boogie shoes during the heyday of big hair and glitter balls. Sampling of his songs by rappers has introduced a whole new generation to such soundtrack-of-the-’70s hits as “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” and “Keep It Comin’ Love.” Come join the party!


Friday, February 16, 2018 - 10:20 am