The Barre Opera House’s new season is set and, as always, central Vermonters can look forward to another eclectic schedule of performances by regionally, nationally and internationally known artists traveling to the Granite City’s historic stage. Up until several years ago, the BOH limited itself to the seven shows that made up the annual TD Bank Celebration Series.
In recent years, with the addition of “BOH Presents” events, a student matinee series and performances by summer camp kids, that number has more than doubled. With more and more shows presented by the the theater itself and renters, the Opera House has become a very busy venue.
First, the Celebration Series gets kicked off Sept. 28 with the modern kings of swing, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Garbed in zoot suits, the septet has appeared in concert venues across the world, sold millions of records and had their music appear in hundreds of movies and television shows.
Next, on Oct. 4, it’s guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan, co-founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the biggest inspiration for his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan. Far more than just one of the greatest and most respected guitarists in the world of popular music, he is, says Guitar Player magazine “a virtual deity — a living legend.”
The Vienna Boys Choir is the modern-day descendant of the youth choirs of the Viennese court, dating back to the late Middle Ages. Until 1918, the boys sang exclusively for the Viennese court. Since the 1920s when the choir was reestablished as a private organization, they have completed more than 1,000 tours in 97 different countries. The choir makes its Barre debut Oct. 20.
Ranky Tanky, here Nov. 1, translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!” “Gullah” comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God.” The soulful songs of the Gullah culture are brought to life by this band of native South Carolinians who mix the low country traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk and R&B, and whose two albums were listed at No. 1 and 2 on iTunes in early August.
It’s a special night for bluegrass fans Nov. 3 when Sierra Hull and Noam Pikelny with Stuart Duncan take the stage. Hull has been recognized from age 11 as a virtuoso mandolin-player. She’s received five International Bluegrass Music Association nominations and the Bluegrass Star Award, presented by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. Pikelny has emerged as the preeminent banjoist of his generation. Duncan could easily be called America’s favorite fiddler.
On March 7, it’s the award-winning Canadian group Leahy, one of the most highly regarded progressive folk-roots bands performing today. Shows are full of energy, big rich sound, poignant songs, fiery instrumentals and percussive step-dancing, all delivered with unapologetic passion. They are, in one word — unforgettable.
The series wraps up April 4 with “Croce Plays Croce,” A.J. Croce’s salute to his famous father, Jim. Look forward to such timeless songs as “Operator,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues,” “Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),” “One Less Set of Footsteps,” “Lover’s Cross,” and “Box #10,” to name a few. A.J. Croce is a multi-instrumentalist roots-rock artist, known for his boogie-woogie piano playing, reminiscent of Dr. John.
Look for an ambitious BOH Presents schedule this year, as well. EagleMania, here on October 5, is perhaps the world’s greatest Eagles tribute band. That isn’t their slogan by mistake: The group has dedicated itself to faithfully reproducing the music of The Eagles.
Psychic medium Lauren Rainbow will return to the BOH for an evening of spiritual communication and healing Oct. 12. She began receiving messages from “spirit” in 2001, shortly after the events of 9/11. Since then she has described herself as a paintbrush for the spirits helping families and friends communicate with loved ones who have passed on.
On Oct. 26, travel back in time to mid-‘50s Memphis, a town alive with a new genre of music — not quite rockabilly, not quite swing. In Presley, Perkins, Lewis & Cash, you’ll hear them all — plucked from the past and brought to stand before you.
Winter appearances by Vermont’s own No Strings Marionettes have become an annual tradition at the BOH. On Jan. 26, experience one of the troupe’s most beloved shows — “Jack and the Beanstalk” — retold with all the magic and mischief the marionettes can muster.
The Opera House has earned a reputation for bringing the finest Irish groups to Vermont and this season is no exception. On Feb. 29, Socks in the Frying Pan, a dynamic trio from County Clare bring vocal harmonies, virtuosic musical ability and onstage wit. Irish Music Magazine says “their sound flows in magnetic, energetic waves, so does their banter on stage.”
Then it’s The Friel Sisters on April 10. Anna, Sheila and Clare are traditional musicians born in Glasgow with their family roots firmly entrenched in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Derrynamansher). As siblings, they achieve a close blend on fiddle, flute and uilleann pipes interspersed with songs sung in unison, many from their family and local repertoire.
Finally, One Night of Queen with Gary Mullen and the Works returns to the BOH by popular demand April 13. This incredible re-creation of Freddie Mercury and Queen in concert was one of the best-received shows at the Opera House when they were here in 2018 and tickets were gone two weeks ahead of the performance.
The Barre Opera House offers discount to members, seniors and students; order online at www.barreoperahouse.org.