Mattea, Webb among artists set for B.E.S.T. Series
A Grammy-winning country singer, a powerhouse bluegrass band led by a top-drawer string player and a man whose songwriting triumphs span almost five decades are among performers scheduled to appear during the 2016-17 B.E.S.T. (Bringing Ellijay Sensational Talent) Series presented by Gilmer Arts.
“The B.E.S.T. Series has been providing world-class performances to our area since it began in 1992,” said program chair John Rathbone. “We’ve been working to rebuild our audience and sponsor base since re-establishing the series in 2013. We added five new sponsors last year and all of them renewed. We also added some new ones this year.” The four-concert series will begin Saturday, Nov. 12, with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra led by conductor Jason Altieri. The 30-piece ensemble last entertained a local audience with a holiday concert in 2013.
“The Pops have been favorites of local fans for years, but we can’t bring them in every time because bringing 30 performers is pretty expensive,” Rathbone said. “After Veterans Day and before Thanksgiving, their program will salute our veterans. It will also include works that celebrate and give thanks, along with some holiday favorites. It will be different than their Christmas concert.”
Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Kathy Mattea, the West Virgina-born country singer whose cavalcade of hits includes “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Love at the Five and Dime” and “Come From the Heart,” will usher in the 2017 concert dates Feb. 18.
Rathbone said Mattea, a two-time Grammy winner and recipient of multiple CMA and ACA awards, will bring to Ellijay “an intimate performance of her hits, with stories of a life growing up in the mountains of West Virginia centered on family and music.”
“She’s an American success story and an authentic kind of artist,” he continued. “We had great success with A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline last year, even more so than when we first presented that show in 2000. There’s a lot of interest in country music here, so I thought we should do a little more of it.”
Concertgoers will be able to see a renowned songwriter perform his compositions and tell stories drawn from over 50 years of involvement with American popular music March 11.
The short list of familiar tunes authored by Jimmy Webb includes “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (all hit singles for Glen Campbell), the lost-love ballad “MacArthur Park,” “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” (recorded by Linda Ronstadt and Joe Cocker) and “The Highwayman,” a tale of reincarnation made famous by the supergroup of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.
“His thing has never been being a great singer. It’s the story behind how this amazing creative talent arose at such a young age and went on to be such a successful songwriter,” said Rathbone.
John Jorgenson, a musician who’s been called one of the concert series’ “most requested” repeat performers, will bring his bluegrass band to town April 8.
California mandolinist and bandleader Jorgenson, who appeared here with his gypsy jazz group in March 2015, will be accompanied by his Desert Rose Band partner Herb Pederson on banjo, guitarist Jon Randall and bassist Mark Fain for what Rathbone called “a fine night of great, foot-stomping, hand-clapping music and musicianship.”
Tickets on sale in August
Tickets for the concert series go on sale in early August. They can be purchased at the Gilmer Arts Gallery, located in downtown Ellijay at 207 Dalton Street, or online at gilmerarts.com. All shows will take place at the Ellijay Elementary School Auditorium.
Frequent Gilmer Arts ticketbuyers can now opt for a special “season savings pass” that covers admission to all the B.E.S.T. shows, as well as several other performing arts events.
“(It covers) all four concerts, our five Gilmer Arts Players theatre productions (including two dinner theatres) and our two community chorus concerts,” said Rathbone. “If you’re a member, it will give you about 33 percent off the ticket price. If you’re not a member, it will be about 15 percent off.”
Gilmer Arts has a B.E.S.T. Series and membership drive reception scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, but Rathbone said anyone who wants to see all the season savings shows should purchase their tickets early.
“We have a theater production this year that starts the third week of August. If people want to buy season tickets for the theater or the season savings pass, they need to get them during the first few weeks of August,” he added.