The Elgin Community College Arts Center's 2014-2015 season includes an exhilarating mix of blues, rock, folk, dance, comedy, and theater. The season features performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dave Mason, the Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn, acclaimed guitarists Sonny Landreth and Cindy Cashdollar, professional stepping troupe Step Afrika!, the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company, and a tribute to Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. Tickets to all shows are on sale now.
All performances will be held in the Building H Arts Center on ECC's Spartan Drive campus, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.
The season opens Saturday, Sept. 20, with the 2014-2015 Season Shindig which will celebrate the start of the season and feature previews of upcoming artists, treats and giveaways, and a performance by freewheelin' bluegrass band Whiskey Shivers.
With upright bass, fiddle, washboard, banjo, and guitar, Whiskey Shivers takes traditional bluegrass instrumentation, soaks it in gasoline, and sends it into outer space. A freewheelin' folk tornado, this band's breakneck speeds, killer grooves, and impeccable musicianship are enough to make Bill Monroe himself do a double-take from the grave. Tickets are $10 and attendance is limited to 200 patrons.
On Friday, Oct. 10, the Arts Center welcomes two up-and-coming blues musicians: Eli Cook with special guest Tallan Noble Latz. Blending the influences of artists like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters with the likes of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, Cook has forged a sound on the forefront of modern blues and rock. He also has shared the stage with B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Robert Cray. Fourteen-year-old Tallan Noble Latz has been heralded as a blues guitar prodigy and likened to Stevie Ray Vaughan. He has shared the stage with Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, and Jackson Browne. Tickets are $16.
Audiences will get a chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a classic movie musical by singing along with "The Sound of Music" on Saturday, Oct. 18. This interactive night of entertainment begins with a vocal warm-up, a costume competition, and a lesson on heckling. Then the audience experiences the 1965 film "The Sound of Music" with subtitled lyrics and lots of audience participation. Tickets are $22.
Acoustic guitar great Chris Smither will perform in the Blizzard Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 25. Smither is known for his dazzling guitar work, gravelly voice, and evocative songwriting. The Boston Globe calls Smither "Among the finest acoustic guitarists anywhere in American music" and his lifelong friend Bonnie Raitt calls him "my Eric Clapton." Special guest Paul Cebar, known for his band the Milwaukeeans, will open the performance. Cebar's music takes cues from western Louisiana, his native Midwest, the streets of New Orleans, Africa, the Caribbean, and the soul, funk and blues of his youth. Tickets are $32.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, "A Night to Remember" will celebrate the legendary jam session of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. On Dec. 4, 1956, these four rock 'n' roll icons recorded together for the only time in their careers at a spontaneous session at Sam Phillips' Sun Records. This musical tribute features songs played that night, plus additional favorites by these famed musicians. Tickets are $35.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company will create a hilarious, entirely improvised, 90-minute show based on a single suggestion. Founded by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh in 1990, the Upright Citizens Brigade has launched the careers of countless comedians. The Touring Company cast is hand-picked from its best improvisers -- past artists include performers/writers from "30 Rock," "Saturday Night Live," and "The Daily Show." Tickets are $27.
On Saturday, Nov. 22, the Blizzard Theatre will host Step Afrika!, the first professional dance company dedicated to stepping. Stepping uses the body as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through footsteps, claps, and the spoken word. Stepping draws movements from African foot dances originally conceived by miners in South Africa and the stepping tradition in the United States grew out of song and dance rituals practiced by historically African-American fraternities and sororities beginning in the early 1900s. Step Afrika! is evolving stepping to include other dance styles such as tap and hip hop, while introducing stepping to new audiences around the world. The Washington Post calls Step Afrika! "electrifying talents." Tickets are $32.
Indie-folk duo Dawn and Hawkes will also be at the Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 22. They will serenade The Club in the SecondSpace Theatre. Austin-based musicians Miranda Dawn and Chris Hawkes' stunning version of the Beatles classic "I've Just Seen a Face" sold 24,000 downloads in one week after it debuted on "The Voice," and Adam Levine stated that their performance of that song was "My favorite performance I've ever seen ever on 'The Voice'." The duo's self-produced EP "Golden Heart" reached the Top 25 on Billboard's folk chart and reached No. 2 on the iTunes singer/songwriter chart. Tickets are $20.
On Saturday, Dec. 6, guitar greats Sonny Landreth and Cindy Cashdollar will join forces for an exhilarating night of blues. Louisiana-based slide guitar wizard Sonny Landreth is known for his unorthodox guitar techniques, vibrant performances, and poetic songwriting. Eric Clapton has called Landreth "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced." Grammy-winning steel guitarist Cashdollar was a member of the acclaimed Asleep at the wheel and has backed Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, and Van Morrison. Tickets are $32.
Hundreds of area performers, a dozen grand pianos and three performances mark the 20th anniversary celebration of American Grands XX on Saturday, Jan. 24. Generations of pianists will perform side-by-side at this Fox Valley original. Tickets are $24 or $15 for children 12 and under.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dave Mason will arrive at the Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 7, to present Dave Mason's "Traffic Jam." Renowned for Traffic hits like "Feelin' Alright" plus his solo signature tracks, Mason will perform hits as well as deep album cuts of Traffic plus new and classic solo material. Tickets are $39-$45.
Acclaimed Irish-American band Solas will present their interactive multimedia show "Shamrock City" on Saturday, March 14. In 1910, Solas band leader Seamus Egan's great-great uncle Michael Conway left his home in County Mayo, Ireland and boarded a ship for America. He was headed to the copper mines and boxing rings of Butte, Mont., aka Shamrock City (named so for the influx of Irish immigrants). This performance will feature music from Solas' 2013 album "Shamrock City" as well as stories from and projected images of Butte. NPR's "The Thistle and the Shamrock" calls Solas "Irish America's most influential band." Tickets are $32.
Nora and Delia Ephron's play "Love, Loss, and What I Wore "will arrive in style on Saturday, March 21. The play is an intimate collection of stories based on Ilene Beckerman's book of the same name that uses the clothes women wear and the memories they trigger to tell funny, poignant, and immensely, relatable stories. Tickets are $32.
Spencers: Theatre of Illusion will bring magic to the Arts Center on Saturday, April 11 when the duo presents a high-tech magic show that combines drama, comedy, romance, and suspense with elaborate stage illusions. The Spencers won the International Magic Society's "Magician of the Year Award" in 2009, joining the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Penn & Teller. According to The Chicago Tribune, "The Spencers bring the age old art of magic into the 21st century." Tickets are $20 or $15 for children 12 and under.
On Saturday, April 18, the lush harmonies and stunning musicianship of Dala will be on display in the Blizzard Theatre. Dala consists of two singer/songwriters: Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine. Drawing upon influences like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, Dala write songs that are both catchy and insightful. Amanda's ethereal soprano voice blends seamlessly with Sheila's velvety alto, creating the harmonies that have become their trademark. Tickets are $30.
The season will close with a performance by the Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn on Saturday, May 2. According to Rolling Stone, "Music would be a very different place if it hadn't been for Roger McGuinn." As the leader of the influential 1960s group, The Byrds, McGuinn was on the leading edge of music, combining the rock beat of the Beatles with the folk sensibilities of Bob Dylan to create the genre known as "folk-rock." Roger's solo career began in 1973, and has yielded 10 albums, a Grammy nomination, and extensive touring. Tickets are $32.
Tickets for all performances in the ECC Arts Center are available online at tickets.elgin.edu or at the ECC box office located in the arts center. Box office hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To purchase tickets by phone, call (847) 622-0300. All major credit cards are accepted. The Arts Center is located in Building H at 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.
Patrons also have the opportunity to add dinner to many of the performances at the Arts Center. Dinners are prepared by ECC's award-winning Culinary Arts and Hospitality program and served in Spartan Terrace Restaurant, which is conveniently located off the Arts Center lobby. Dinners are served prior to the performance. Dinners are $29, and include three delicious courses and beverages. Wine and beer are sold separately.
Visit elgin.edu/arts for more information about the ECC Arts Center, including video clips of upcoming artists and events, the Standing Room Only blog, and links to the Arts Center's Twitter and Facebook pages.