Summer is when the area's performing arts centers announce their fall schedules. The Peninsula's two main centers -- The Ferguson Center for the Arts and The American Theatre in Hampton -- have plenty of interesting shows heading our way.
As my colleague David Nicholson has already reported, the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News will showcase an impressive set of big names this autumn.
Here's a list of some of the notable concerts:
Sept. 20 -- Emmylou Harris
Oct. 1 -- Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson
Oct. 14 -- Michael W. Smith
Oct. 17 -- Jackson Browne
Oct. 24 -- Esperanza Spalding
Nov. 12 -- Dr. John and The Blind Boys of Alabama
Nov. 28 -- Travis Tritt Christmas
Dec. 2 -- Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller
Dec. 3 -- Sandi Patty
Dec. 4 -- Dave Koz and friends Christmas
Dec. 5 -- Daryl Hall and John Oates
The Grammy-winning bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is a hot property on the jazz and adult contemporary music scene, so booking her was something of a coup for the Ferguson Center. Sax man Dave Koz has proved his local popularity many times at the Hampton Jazz Festival. Dr. John -- who has played the Ferguson before -- returns with a relavant new album under his belt. "Locked Down" was produced by Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach. Seeing him with the Blind Boys should be something special.
All in all, it's a strong lineup from a popular music perspective -- certainly one of the strongest in the center's history. That's not even counting next spring when Smokey Robinson (April 6) and Boz Scaggs (April 15) are scheduled to perform.
Shift over to the smaller, but no less ambitious American Theatre in Hampton, and you'll see another schedule sprinkled with nice surprises. Look for David Nicholson's story about the season in Sunday's Good Life section of the Daily Press.
Here are some highlights:
Sept. 21 -- Robin and Linda Williams and their Fine Group
Oct. 30 -- Ethel string quartet with Todd Rundgren
Nov. 9 -- John Hammond
Nov. 29-30 -- Danu, Christmas in Ireland
Dec. 11 -- Natalie MacMaster, Christmas in Cape Breton
Dec. 31 -- Kenny Neal,New Year's Eve concert
Jan. 31, 2013 -- Jane Monheit with Mark O'Connor
Feb. 14-15 -- Arlo Guthrie salutes his father, Woody Guthrie
Feb. 16 -- Branford Marsalis
First off, hearing a rocker such as Todd Rundgren in a small theater with a string quartet seems almost too good to be true. "Together they celebrate the vibrancy of the '70s in a program that includes Lou Harrison's 'Quartet Set' as well as Kimo Williams' 'Quiet Shadows' -- a hauntingly beautiful work inspired by Vietnam," The American Theatre's program explains. Arrangements of music by Sun Ra will also be part of the program. Wow.
Blues man Kenny Neal was once a regular performer at the club Goodfellas in downtown Hampton. I remember seeing him tearing off a ferocious guitar solo while walking across the bar there. Having him return to Hampton for a New Year's Eve party sounds like lots of fun.
Jane Monheit -- a popular jazz singer -- and Mark O'Connor -- a master fiddler -- should make a fascinating team.
Finally, Branford Marsalis is a very big jazz artist to be playing the intimate American Theatre. For jazz lovers, that could turn out to be one to remember.
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