The 13th season of the Palladian Concert Series at The Clayton Center features a Grammy winner, a phantom and a trio of opera singers wearing overalls.
The fall and winter performing-arts series will bring six acts to Clayton’s downtown, starting Oct. 24 and continuing until April 30, 2016.
Speaking from an entertainment conference in Kansas City, Clayton Center executive director Scotty Henley said this is his third year planning the Palladian season. The series takes its name from the Palladian window of The Clayton Center and over the years has featured acts like Ricky Scaggs, Diane Reeves, Doc Watson and David Sedaris.
This year’s series consists only of musical acts, ranging from bluegrass to show tunes. Henley says he tries to book performers he thinks might appeal to Johnston County tastes, but also ones that might reveal something new.
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“Johnston County tastes are evolving more and more as more individuals come to live here,” Henley said. “But we also book acts for those who are on the outskirts of Johnston County, who have maybe heard of the Clayton and Smithfield area, but haven’t really made the trip. We want them to get a taste of what Clayton is like. Those require more of a broad appeal, which costs a little more, but might bring someone to Clayton for the first time, and they may eat in the restaurants or come back and visit or decide they want to move there.”
Located at 111 E. Second St., the Clayton Center’s auditorium seats 600 and is best for performers looking for intimacy with an audience, Henley said, adding shows should feel like they’re being held in someone’s home.
“We could have a quartet of classically trained violinists, but if they’re just going to sit there in chairs all night, maybe introduce a piece every now and then, audiences are going to get bored with that,” Henley said. “We’re interested in what kind of relationship with the audience a performer creates in the first second or minute they hit the stage. We’re looking for an individual with personality.”
Henley thinks he’s found that this season, particularly with the first act, the Annie Moses Band, which performs Oct. 24.
“She’s one of those crossover artists of quality who will likely align the tastes of Johnston County and Clayton with Raleigh and Chapel Hill,” Henley said.
The following month is Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo on Nov. 7. Vignola, said Henley, used to have a standing invitation to play at Les Paul’s New York club and now performs as a jazz guitar duo with Raniolo.
“Having that kind of recognition by someone like that fits the tone for how well [Vignola] can play the guitar,” Henley said.
This season’s December show looks to be something new for Johnston County audiences – three classically trained opera singers wearing mullets and overalls. The 3 Redneck Tenors will perform Dec. 12 with a show called the “Christmas Spec-tac-yule-ar,” which Henley expects to be the surprise hit of the season.
The day before Valentine’s Day, Franc D’Ambrosio will perform a night of Broadway tunes. He is the longest-running Phantom in regional productions of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Country music artist Lee Roy Parnell will perform March 12, and closing out the season April 30 will be Mike Farris, who recently won a Grammy for Best Roots Gospel Album. Henley said that when Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Death left a hole in Double Trouble, Farris took over that spot.
Single show tickets went on sale Sept. 9. For tickets, call the box office at 919-553-1737 or visit theclaytoncenter.com. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson