Dancing, jazz, klezmer and Irish music, opera and Southern memories theater this week

Harold DuckettArts 865

The holiday mood thickens this week with new events from dancing to jazz, klezmer and Irish music to opera.

First up is the Jazz Lunch concert at the Square Room on Market Square, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. Admission is $15 and includes a buffet served by Café 4.

Kayley Farmer

The performance features Kayley Farmer singing songs of the season. The list includes “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “The Christmas Song,” “Winter Wonderland,” White Christmas” and others.

Accompanying Farmer will be Scott Simmerman on piano, Chad Volkers on guitar, Jay Farmer on bass and Keith Brown on drums.

Jubilee Community Arts presents three events this week at the Laurel Theater, beginning Thursday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m., with Appalachian square dancing called by Stan Sharp to the live old-time music by The Hellgrammites. Admission is $7 at the door, $5 for JCA members and students.

Appalachian Square Dancing at Laurel Theatre

Friday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m., Irish musician John Doyle will bring his special combination of traditional Irish music and original songs. Doyle’s musical journey includes performing as a member of Solas, with Seamus Egan, Eileen, Ivers, Donogh Hennessy and Brian Doyle. Advance general audience tickets are $14, $17 at the door if there are any left, and $13 for JCA members, students and seniors.

Irish musician John Doyle

Tennessee Schmaltz, a local Klezmer band, will take the stage at Laurel Theater 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. One never knows what to expect from Tennessee Schmaltz, except a good time. Their music is based in traditional Jewish klezmer music. But the band infuses it with Appalachian string band music, jazz, country, bluegrass and Yiddish music hall overtones just for good measure.

Tennessee Schmaltz: Rob Heller, Leslie Gengozian, Larry Hoffman and Manny Herz

Larry Hoffman plays clarinet, Manny Herz plays piano, Rob Heller plays washtub bass and clarinet. Vocalist Leslie Gengozian ties everything together. Advance general admission tickets are $13, remaining tickets are $15 at the door. $12 for JCA members, students and seniors.

Also Saturday, Dec. 9, The Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus will present its winter concert, “Do You Hear What I Hear,” at the Bijou Theatre, 7 p.m. Tickets are $21.50, available at www.ticketmaster.com

Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus

Marble City Opera, with Cathedral Arts at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown, presents Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” Friday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10, at 3 p.m.

The cast includes soprano Kathryn Shepas, singing the role of Amahl; Lindsay Fuson, as Amahl’s mother; Breyon Ewing, Brandon Bigson and Daniel Johnson-Webb are the Three Kings; and Brad Summers will sing the role of the Page.

Tickets range from one cent to $25. Children, accompanied by an adult, get in for only a penny. The opera originated as a commission for television by NBC. In the early days of television, the executives at NBC reasoned that televisions were expensive and, therefore, were mostly owned by educated people with disposable income. They wanted to appeal to that audience.

At the time, Menotti’s operas were hot properties being performed all over the place. So, in 1949, NBC’s head of programming hired him to compose for television.

The opera tells the story of the birth of the Magi from the perspective of a poor, crippled boy, Amahl, who lives with his impoverished mother in an middle European village.

If a little drive for a great evening interests you, The Gem Players, who perform at the historic Gem Theater, 700 Tennessee Ave., in Etowah, about an hour south of Knoxville on Hwy 411 (Tennessee Ave. in the city limits), will present “Holiday Memories,” two short plays written by Truman Capote.

The Gem Players: Craig Laing, who plays the adult Truman Capote and narrates the story; Virginia Orr, who plays Miss Sook, Truman’s cousin, but insists on calling him Buddy; Colton Thompson, who plays the young Truman Capote

“The Thanksgiving Visitor” and “A Christmas Memory” are told in the present tense, but they are memories from childhood, recalled while Capote was a student in college.

Performances are Dec. 8, 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Dec. 10 and 17. General admission tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the door one hour before show time or in advance at Johnson’s Dept. Store in Etowah and The Town Squire Men’s Wear in Cleveland. Doesn’t that have a sense of charm about it!


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