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Blind Boys of Alabama, southern rocker Paul Thorn to team for free Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks show

Blind Boys of Alabama, southern rocker Paul Thorn to team for free Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks show
Blind Boys of Alabama will team with southern rocker Paul Thorn to play a free show at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Contributed photo)

A five-time Grammy Award-winning gospel group will team up with a blues/gospel/rock singer-songwriter from Tupelo, Miss., who has had two albums hit the Top 40 on the Rock chart will team up for a free show at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, it has been announced.

Gospel legends Blind Boys of Alabama will team up with southern raconteur Paul Thorn and his five-piece band for a tour of seven Levitt Pavilion stages nationwide that will start at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

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The local show will be 7 p.m. June 1.

It is the first announced for the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks' upcoming season. The stage usually offers more than 50 free concerts each summer. It is the fourth year the Levitt Foundation has offered a Levitt National Tour to celebrate the collective impact of the Levitt network of music venues.

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Billed as the Mission Temple Fireworks Revival, the tour will highlight the deep connection between Thorn and Blind Boys of Alabama. It will offer individual sets by each artist, as well as side-by-side performances.

Thorn has an album, "Don't Let The Devil Ride," due out this week featuring guest performances by Blind Boys of Alabama.

His albums "Pimps and Preachers" in 2010 and "What the Hell Is Goin' On?" in 2012 both hit Top 100 on Billboard's Albums chart an Top 40 on the Rock chart.

He has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Sting, John Prine and others, and appeared on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and National Public Radio features.

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Thorn played Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks in 2016.

"I am so honored to be the 2018 Levitt National Tour artist along with Blind Boys of Alabama," Thorn said in a release. "It means a lot to me that Levitt provides places where everyone can come and enjoy the music, where nobody is excluded. People deserve an opportunity to go out and be entertained."

The Blind Boys of Alabama's career has spanned almost 80 years of records and tours. In 2009 the group won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Since 2000, the group has won five Grammy Awards and four Dove Awards for inspirational music. Over the years, it has appeared on recordings by Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville and Taj Mahal, and has appeared on "Tonight Show With Jay Leno," "Late Night with David Letterman," "60 Minutes," "The Colbert Report" and more.

The group also performed at the White House for presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama.

The group headlined ArtsQuest's Blast Furnace Blues festival at SteelStacks in 2013 and also play a Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks show in 2016.

"Anytime people can come out and there isn't a price tag on a show of this magnitude, it's just a great thing to do," vocalist, music arranger and drummer Ricky McKinnie, who has been with the group for 30 years, said. "It makes us feel good to know people of all ages and backgrounds will experience these free Levitt concerts."

Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks typically announces its full season in April.

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Twitter @johnjmoser

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