Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Artist Series is back.
The nine-month season of shows the arts center plans every year was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the series returns this fall with a wide range of entertainment suitable for the whole family.
The 2021-2022 artist series will feature 13 performances from September through May. Arts center executive director Lindsay Bauer said her phone has been ringing off the hook from people wanting to know about the series and when tickets will go on sale.
“After a big absence, you never know what the market is going to look like, but it seems people are anxious to come back for shows, which is very encouraging,” Bauer said.
The arts center is not planning to reduce its seating capacity, and will not require masks. Bauer said that unvaccinated people are encouraged to wear masks, however. She said masks will be available at the center, which will continue to employ extra sanitation measures such as additional cleaning of high-touch areas.
“We had our HVAC system looked at to ensure we’re circulating air in the most efficient way possible and remaining as healthy as we can,” Bauer said.
This year’s artist series features a variety of acts such as tribute shows, dance routines like ballet, hip-hop and Irish dancing, and theater shows such as “Lucy Loves Desi” about Lucille Ball’s 1950s sitcom “I Love Lucy.”
There’s a bit of classical music, as well as Blue Grass and country. The percussion group “Stomp” has become a staple at the arts center, and The Magic of Bill Blagg makes a return appearance, too, which performed at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in 2015.
Bauer said she looks at a number of factors in deciding which shows to book. First of all, it has to be a good show, she said.
“If I don’t believe in it, I’m not going to bring it to my audience because I can’t sell it,” Bauer said.
Other factors include whether the act has performed in Fairfield before and how it was received, and whether it’s a new event the town has never seen before but might be willing to try.
Bauer began signing contracts with performers many months ago when COVID cases were still high. She said both she and the agents knew that if the pandemic continued to ravage the country, the performances would have to be called off.
“We made plans we knew we might have to change,” Bauer said. “The venues and the agents are technically on different sides of the table because one of us is the seller and the other is the buyer, but after COVID, we didn’t see that divide. We’re both just trying to put artists back on stage.”
Bauer said the Summer Sun Outdoor Concert Series the arts center began in June and will continue into August has been a good tuneup for the artist series this fall. It has allowed arts center staff to get all of its equipment in order and send what’s broken out for repairs before the series begins. It also proved to Bauer that audiences were willing to come indoors for concerts, since the last two concerts in the series had to be moved into the expo hall because of rain, and yet the turnout was still good.
Every act in the artist series will begin its performance at 7:30 p.m. Performances are usually on Fridays, because that’s the day Bauer tried to book them for since “Friday audiences have the most fun.” However, that didn’t always work with every artist’s touring schedule, so a few performances are on Wednesday or Thursday.
The full artist series schedule is as follows, with event information courtesy of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center:
The season kicks off on Sept. 3 with The Hit Men, now in an all new configuration. With brand-new members, this iteration of the band brings fresh energy to Rock’s greatest hits, featuring favorites from Foreigner, Journey, Styx, Steely Dan, Three Dog Night, Cream, The Who, and more.
In October, audiences will enjoy FLY Dance Company and Yonder Mountain String Band. Called “the Gentlemen of Hip-hop,” FLY Dance is what happens when classical music and street dance meet. The experience is unforgettable as this dance crew like no other combines timeless composition with today’s best innovations in hip-hop. See them on Oct. 15. Then on Oct. 20, Yonder Mountain String Band brings their dynamic and intensely personal brand of contemporary bluegrass-fueled Americana and country music to the stage.
The Gesualdo Six, a British vocal ensemble comprising some of the UK’s finest consort singers, make an appearance on Nov. 10. Winners of Limelight Magazine’s coveted Vocal Recording of the Year in 2020, this “blend of beauty and ferocity” mesmerizes audiences with “six of the most angelic voices in the world.”
Equally mesmerizing (albeit in an altogether different vein), The Magic of Bill Blagg Live! makes a return visit to Fairfield on Nov. 27. Great for all ages, Bill Blagg’s mind-blowing magical talents and trademark off-the-cuff personality take audiences on a magical journey they’ll never forget.
In December, families can get together to enjoy Million Dollar Quartet Christmas on the ninth. This show is unlike any other — a full catalog of classic rock n’ roll hits, plus a special selection of heartwarming holiday tunes, all done up in that unmistakable rockabilly style as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley come together again to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
The Russian National Ballet returns on Jan. 28 with Giselle, the classic tale of romance complete with intrigue, heartbreak, ghosts, and revenge. Over 50 of the greatest dancers in the world bring this beautiful story to life, taking the audience on a journey of love, redemption, betrayal, and forgiveness.
L.A. Theatre Works makes an appearance on Feb. 19 with Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom. Created by the son of I Love Lucy screenwriter Jess Oppenheimer, the show portrays the hilarious and true story behind one of America’s most beloved TV comedies. Get a behind-the-scenes look at Lucille Ball’s battles with her producers, her relationship with Desi Arnaz, and her creative genius at work.
On March 4, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly grace the stage in an ultrarealistic experience where fantasy becomes reality. In The Rock N Roll Dream Tour, cutting-edge holographic technology and remastered audio are accompanied by a band performing live on stage in a completely unique and absolutely unforgettable evening of some of rock’s greatest hits. Later that month, Velocity Irish Dance combines power and passion as World Record holder James Devine pairs with five-time World Champion dancer David Gearney in an astonishing display of Irish athleticism and artistry on March 28. Live music and captivating images accompany these incredible dancers for an evening steeped in Irish tradition.
In April, up-and-coming folk and country music duo Sierra Hull & Justin Moses appear on the 15. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist Sierra Hull played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a record deal just a year later. More than a decade later she is now paired with multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses. A show with these two normally starts with the duo surrounded by more than seven instruments, leaving the audience in anticipation as to which one they will pick up next.
May sees a return of the ultra-popular Stomp on the fifth. The international percussion sensation has garnered armfuls of awards and rave reviews and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments — matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters, hubcaps — to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms.
The 2021-22 Artist Series concludes on May 18 with Legends in Concert. Featuring carefully curated artists to bring you uncanny performances of the biggest names in entertainment, this show combines outstanding backup musicians, perfectly detailed wardrobes, and makeup artistry to fool the eyes and ears. The lineup of featured performances is yet to be revealed, but Legends is known for their spot-on representations of stars from yesteryear and today.
Season Passes and Pick Packages are on sale now at fairfieldacc.com. Tickets for individual shows will go on sale beginning Aug. 3rd. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 641-472-2787, or in person during regular Box Office hours at 200 N. Main Street in Fairfield.