When Rory Block performed at the Bay Theater in Suttons Bay 20 years ago, she probably never dreamed she’d be back two decades later to headline at a local venue which was still in its infancy at the time.
But Block -- a master of slide guitar and the acoustic blues -- will be among the musicians participating in the 20th anniversary concert season at the Milliken Auditorium in TC this year.
In 1991, the Milliken Auditorium was just starting to spread its musical wings on the heels of the opening of the adjacent Dennos Museum Center. That first season, the mix was largely jazz, blues, worldbeat and a local production of “A… My Name is Alice.”
While theatrical productions have ebbed and flowed through the years, Milliken Auditorium has largely hung tight with its jazz, blues and world music format. Patrons aren’t likely to see much in the way of rock, country or pop acts crossing the Milliken stage, but there have been numerous folkloric acts from far-flung lands; up-and-coming blues artists; a perennial tribute to boogie-woogie; and a generous selection of jazz artists -- both traditional and contemporary.
This 20th anniversary season serves up a similar tried-and-true lineup in what the Dennos lauds as a “multi-genre feast drawn from around the globe.”
That feast includes some new entrees as well as old favorites with 16 performances by acts from China, Canada, Spain and the United States.
“Our 20th anniversary season is filled with groups that represent some of the finest in the musical genre of blues, jazz and world performance that have been part of the Milliken experience,” says Gene Jenneman, director of the Dennos Museum Center.
This year’s performers include:
Mr. B and Stephanie Trick Saturday, October 22 - 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Boogie-woogie pianist Mr. B (Marc Lincoln Braun) of Ann Arbor performs with Stephanie Trick of Chicago, who at 21 was already considered by many of her peers to be among the best stride pianists in the world.
Cantus Saturday, October 29 - 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Hailed as “the premier men’s vocal ensemble in the United States” (Fanfare) Cantus offers selections from many periods and genres, including chant, Renaissance music, contemporary works, art song, folk, spirituals, world music and pop.
AnDa Union Sunday, November 6 -- 7 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
A master of slide and acoustic guitar, Rory Block makes a rare appearance in Northern Michigan.
AnDa Union is a group of young Mongolians from Hohhot, China. Driven by their thirst to discover the power and magic of Mongol traditions and culture, they have stunned audiences all over the world with their music for the last eight years, performing in France, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S.
Rory Block Saturday, November 12 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Heralded as “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life for 21st century audiences.
The Golden Dragon Acrobats Friday, November 18 -- 8 p.m. $22 members, $25 Advance, $28 door
The Golden Dragon Acrobats represent the best of a Chinese tradition that began more than 2,000 years ago. Direct from Hebei, China, the Golden Dragon Acrobats bring amazing artistry, beautiful costumes and props.
Enter the Haggis Friday, January 20 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
If you’re not already a “Haggis Head” you will be after hearing this traveling band of Toronto musicians who play the music of Ireland and Scotland.
The Harlem Gospel Choir Saturday, January 28 -- 8 p.m. $30 advance, $35 door, $27 members
America’s premier gospel choir offers harmonious, hand-clappin’ songs of love hope & inspiration.
Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues Friday, February 3 -- 8 p.m.
AnDa Union brings the music of Mongolia in what many consider to be a stand-out show of the season.
Expect a roomful of hallelujahs form the Harlem Gospel Choir.
The Marcus Roberts Trio offers jazz with classical roots.
$25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Blues harp player Billy Branch of Chicago has recorded and/or performed with a list of blues legends including Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter and Albert King.
Stanislav Pronin Saturday, February 18 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Born in Moscow and trained at the Odessa Conservatory, Stanislav Pronin established himself as one of the most brilliant violinists of his generation at a very young age.
Marcus Roberts Trio Saturday, February 25 -- 8 p.m. $30 advance, 35 door, $27 members
Blind since the age of 5, the self-taught prodigy Marcus Roberts studied classical piano and later toured and recorded with Wynton Marsalis. Now leading his own ensemble, he performs with drummer Jason Marsalis and bassist Rodney Jordon.
Larry Garner Blues Band Saturday, March 3 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Larry Garner and The Boogaloo Blues Band won the 5th Annual International Blues Challenge back in 1988, and he has toured extensively ever since, picking up numerous awards for his brand of the blues.
Tab Benoit Saturday, March 17 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Born and raised on the Louisiana bayou, this self-proclaimed “new kid from the old school” has been the standard bearer for a new generation of Cajun blues musicians – a traditionalist and an innovator at the same time, grafting elements of rock and soul to the indigenous sounds of the bayou.
Honky Tonk Angels Saturday, March 24 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Follow the adventures of three talented, sassy young women in this hit country musical
as they pursue their Music City dreams. “Stand by Your Man,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “9to-5,” “Harper Valley PTA,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and “Ode to Billy Joe” are some of the favorites that make Honky Tonk Angels a musical hit.
Juan Siddi Flamenco Theatre Friday, April 13 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Under the direction of Spanish choreographer Juan Siddi, some of flamenco’s most creative musicians, singers and dancers from Spain and the U.S. bring the Spanish culture to the stage.
Nagata Shachu Friday, April 27 -- 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $22 members
Rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, Nagata Shachu aims to rejuvenate and redefine this ancient art form with their array of Japanese taiko, gongs, bells, wooden clappers, shakers and bamboo flutes.
Fathers & Daughters Bob James & Chuck Loeb w/Hilary James & Lizzy Loeb Saturday, May 5 - 8 p.m. $30 advance, $35 door, $27 members
Grammy-winning jazz pianist Bob James along with his newest Fourplay band member, guitarist Chuck Loeb, bring their daughters Hilary and Lizzy to perform on vocals.
Tickets may be purchased online at http:// www.dennosmuseum.org or at the Dennos Museum Center ticket kiosk. Tickets are also available at the Milliken box office, 231-995- 1553 beginning October 5.