- Cullman, Alabama


May 6, 2013

Alys Stephens Center offers new season of summer shows

BIRMINGHAM — UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) has a new season of shows for summer 2013, offering something for everyone.

The ASC’s new Renasant Bank Summer Series includes Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band, Susan Werner and her “Hayseed Project” album, Lyle Lovett, The Black Jacket Symphony and cellist Cicely Parnas. Tickets are on sale now. Call 205-975-2787 or visit

ASC favorite Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29. Ritter has just released his sixth full-length album, “The Beast in Its Tracks.” Contemporary folk duo The Milk Carton Kids will open for Ritter. Enjoy beverages in the show with ASC theatre cups. Tickets are $34.50.

On Saturday, July 20, the ASC will continue its mission of curating and creating diverse arts events for the community with the ASC Nite Market beginning at 4 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. performance of Susan Werner’s “Hayseed Project.” The ASC Nite Market will feature produce from local farmers’ markets including Pepper Place Saturday Market, Jones Valley Teaching Farm and the UAB Wellness Veggie Cart. Enjoy live music from Jason Bailey Trio, food from Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q and craft brews from Good People Brewing Co.; attend talks by local craft brewers, coffee roasters and innovative growers; and play bocce ball or croquet with Green Central Station. Kids can create garden collages and edible sculptures, as well as learn about animals and plant species in the ArtPlay Kids’ Courtyard. Earlier in the day at 1 p.m., families can enjoy a free Garden Art workshop at ArtPlay, 1006 19th St. South. At 3:30, Werner will discuss the Hayseed Project and her songwriting style in a free ArtPlay Clinic at the ASC.

At 7:30 p.m., singer-songwriter Werner will perform. She grew up on a family farm in eastern Iowa where her parents still farm. Commissioned by the Lied Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska, Werner’s concept album is all about farming and food sustainability. She will present her collection of original, meaningful songs that celebrate American farmers. Tickets are $32.50. Guests can purchase Nite Market veggies without worry, as the ASC will offer a “veggie check” for market purchases at the door before enjoying the show.

Legendary singer, composer and actor Lyle Lovett will perform Wednesday, July 24, at 7 p.m. Coupled with his gift for storytelling, the Texas-based musician fuses elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues. A four-time Grammy Award winner and winner of the Americana Music Association’s inaugural Trailblazer Award, he was recently named the Texas State Musician. Dubbed by Garden & Gun as “one of America’s most beloved singer/songwriters,” Lovett will perform songs from his newest CD “Release Me,” which spent several weeks at No. 1 on the Americana charts. Tickets are $68.50, $59.50, and $49.50.

The ASC and The Black Jacket Symphony have long discussed what album would be perfect to perform at the center. The winning decision is The Beatles’ “White Album,” set for 8 p.m. Friday, August 23. The Black Jacket Symphony concert experience features an album in its entirety — in this case, a double album — performed by a group of handpicked musicians, specifically chosen for each album. The performance will be presented in two sets; the first will highlight the album as a true symphonic piece, and the second will delve into the artists’ greatest hits. Enjoy beverages in the show with ASC theatre cups. Tickets are $42.50.

The Patty McDonald ArtPlay Parlor Music Series, featuring Young Concert Artists (YCA), will next present cellist Cicely Parnas at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 29, at ArtPlay, 1006 19th St. South. First Prize winner of the 2012 YCA International Auditions, Parnas is the granddaughter of illustrious cellist Leslie Parnas. She began playing cello at age four and made her concert debut at 11 with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. An award-winning performer since age 13, Parnas has been heard on NPR’s Performance Today series and recently made her Carnegie Hall concerto debut. She performs on a 1712 Giovanni Grancino violoncello. In addition to her ArtPlay Parlor Series show, Parnas also will perform for hundreds of area school children for a free ArtPlay Meet the Artist school show earlier in the day at 10 a.m. The one-day residency is made possible in part by the Annaliese Educational Residency Fund of YCA. Tickets are $37.50 and include wine and hors d’oeuvres.

As previously announced, Vince Gill and Amy Grant will close the 2012-2013 season and kick off summer with a performance Thursday, June 6, for the Viva Health Starlight Gala, the ASC’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Looking forward, the ASC, in partnership with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, will present Natalie Merchant in concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18. Merchant is known for her work as lead vocalist and lyricist for alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, her passionate solo career and her collaborations with a wide range of artists, including Wynton Marsalis, The Chieftains and Mavis Staples; all have performed at the ASC. For this show, Merchant will explore a new artistic path and perform songs composed for expanded musical ensembles and orchestras, as well as perform her familiar hits and new works with full symphony accompaniment. Tickets are $76.50, $67.50 and $58.50, and will go on sale July 1.

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