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USCL sounds the trump for 2009-10 Performing Arts Series

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New line-up promises to be the best yet

By Greg Summers

Do the math.

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Those in search of the perfect Father’s Day gift may want to consider buying Dad a season ticket for the 2009-10 Performing Arts Series at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

At $395, that works out to about $44 apiece for the nine upcoming shows, which includes The Spinners, Little Big Town, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and The Tams.

“The fourth season promises to be the most exciting line-up of entertainment to date,” said Tom Bullard, vice president of Audio Ethics, who produces the concerts for the USCL Educational Foundation. “From top to bottom, the is best series line-up we’ve ever had.

“Our services division produces many concerts and events, however, this is my personal favorite,” Bullard said. “I enjoy the artists, the facility, the community and the staff, especially Peggy (Peggy Little, director of the Performing Arts Series).”

The Spinners – who had an amazing run of more than 20 hits in the mid 1970s – will open the series on Aug. 29.

Who’s coming?

The upcoming schedule also includes a performance by Pure Prairie League – whose hits “Amie” and “Fallin’ In and Out of Love” were FM radio staples in the 1970s.

Bullard said getting Little Big Town on the upcoming schedule was quite a coup. Just nominated for two CMT awards, Little Big Town will perform Oct. 24. 

“It will certainly be sold out,” he said. “They’ve had several hits and are consistent nominees as a country vocal group of the year.”

The schedule also has not one, but two bluegrass acts.

Ricky Skaggs, a former Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year and one of the top guitarists of the 20th century, returns here for a performance on Nov. 14.

On Jan. 23, 2009, Jere and Sandy Lee Cherryholmes and their four children – Molly, B.J., Skip and Cia – will perform on the Bundy Auditorium stage. Cherryholmes is one of the most popular stage acts in bluegrass music and are former entertainers of the year.

Their mixture of high-energy jazz/swing/old-time and Celtic infused-bluegrass is played to sell-out crowds in performing arts centers and theaters across the country and Europe.

Cherryholmes is a regular act on the Grand Ole Opry where they have appeared more than 50 times since 2005. They are also a favorite act among their fellow musicians.

“They are quickly becoming the first family of bluegrass with their great vocal skills which is all the more amazing when you consider they are all self taught musicians,” Bullard said.

Two shows have holiday themes, Bullard said.

Dublin -born and bred Katie McMahon, whose soaring soprano voice has been described as “poetry, perfection and purity,” will perform Dec. 19.

“This will be a great way to celebrate the holiday season,” Bullard said. “Although McMahon is best know for the ‘Riverdance’ single, her popular Celtic Christmas is an audience favorite.”

The Glenn Miller Orchestra will return to USCL on Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“This is time-honored music and a performance that shouldn’t be missed,” Bullard said.

In March, the classic R&B vocal group, The Manhattans will bring their act to Lancaster.

“This is a group of talented musicians and vocalists,” Bullard said. “They charted a number of hit songs, including “Kiss and Say Goodbye.’”

The Tams – with their trademark Tam o’shanter hats and brand of beach music – will close out the 2009-10 series on April 17.

It’s The Tams’ second time here in four years.

“I’m excited about having The Spinners open up the series and The Tams close it,” Little said. “That’s really my cup of tea when it comes to music.”

No changes from merger with See Lancaster

While See Lancaster and the Performing Arts Series are joining forces, each group will retain its own title.

Lancaster City Council approved the merger in March. 

See Lancaster’s mission is to encourage tourism, stimulate downtown revitalization and preserve historic sites throughout Lancaster County, including Kershaw and Heath Springs.

The education foundation’s mission is to advance USCL’s scholarship programs, facilities and future needs by various methods, including its performing arts series.

Little said management of her group will move from the USCL Education Foundation to the city of Lancaster.

“Other than that, there will be no changes,” Little said. “People can still expect to see some top-notch entertainment in town at a great price with a season ticket that costs the same ($395) as it did last year.

“The only change you’ll notice is that aligning with See Lancaster should allow us to grow,” Little said. “Everything will be for the better.”

USCL Dean John Catalano said the performing arts series continues to reap benefits for the college.

“I couldn’t buy the publicity the performing arts series has generated,” Catalano said.

“People have heard about us and come here to visit a campus they’ve never seen. The foundation has spent three years putting this together and it’s been a rousing success in every sense.

“Given the times we’re in, name another performing arts series out there that can say it’s made money for three straight years,” Catalano said.

“The support has been phenomenal and I think it’s only going to continue with the help of See Lancaster.”  

2009-10 USCL Performing Arts Schedule

– Aug. 29 – The Spinners

– Sept. 26 – Pure Prarie League

– Oct. 24 – Little Big Town

– Nov. 14 – Ricky Skaggs

– Dec. 19 – Katie McMahon

– Jan. 23 – Cherryholmes

– Feb. 13 – Glenn Miller Orchestra

– March 20 – The Mahattans

– April 17 – The Tams

Season tickets are $395 each. They can purchased at the Bradley Arts and Sciences box office, 476 Hubbard Drive, or online at plittle@gwm.sc.edu or by calling 313-7143.