Out & About: 'Rhinestone Cowboy' rides into the Portland sunset
It’s a busy week on the arts and entertainment front, with a varied menu that spotlights several formats and styles.
The most newsworthy event is Glen Campbell’s Goodbye Tour, which visits Portland on Oct. 16. The multi-platinum country singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year, and he says that the current tour will be his swan song.
Another roots-oriented pop singer is Miss Tess, who will be appearing in Portland Oct. 13 with her three-man band, The Talkbacks.
Portland Symphony Orchestra goes into Pops mode this weekend, with Saturday and Sunday performances of a program based on the bohemian lifestyle.
The Portland Rossini Club, the city’s oldest musical organization, presents a recital by Portland-born mezzo-soprano Abigail Levis on Sunday.
In a total change of pace, Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil’s “Saltimbanco,” plays through Sunday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The “Rhinestone Cowboy” is riding into Portland. That’s the happy news. The sad news is that he’s riding into town for the last time.
Glen Campbell, who has sold more than 45 million records in a career that spans five-plus decades, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year, but he decided to forge ahead with his final studio album – “Ghost on the Canvas” – and wrap up his public concerts with a Goodbye Tour that visits Portland on Oct. 16.
Campbell started in the 1960s as a session musician in recording studios in Los Angeles. Since then he’s had his own television show and appeared in numerous movies. But Campbell is best known as the singer of hit tunes such as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Gentle on My Mind.”
In addition to Grammy Awards for individual songs and albums, Campbell received the 2012 Grammy for Lifetime Achievement. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
“Americana” is a deliberately vague musical description that has become one of today’s most overused labels. But it’s certain that Americana embraces jazz, blues, country, honky-tonk, swing and early rock. And those are the principal influences exemplified by Miss Tess, a singer-songwriter who honed her craft in greater Boston’s thriving alt-country musical milieu.
On Oct. 16 Miss Tess will release “Sweet Talk,” a new CD that exudes all these qualities, showcasing her clear soprano voice, her heartfelt writing style and her new three-man band, which she calls The Talkbacks. On Oct. 13 Miss Tess is holding a CD release party at One Longfellow Square, the city’s premier venue for Americana and roots-oriented music.
An advance copy of “Sweet Talk” is spinning on my CD player as I write this. I like its infectious swing beat, which infuses most of its 11 songs (10 original and one old country standard). Highlights include “Don’t Tell Mama,” a coyly suggestive love song, “People Come for the Gold,” a rocking dance number, and “Save Me St. Peter,” redolent of beer and lonely barrooms.
Catch Miss Tess and The Talkbacks at One Longfellow Square (corner of Congress and State in Portland) at 8 p.m. Oct. 13. Call 761-1757.
Portland Symphony Orchestra
The Portland Symphony Orchestra launches its 2012-2013 Pops season this weekend with two performances of a program that was created by maestro Robert Moody, who based it on three artistic depictions of the joys and tragedies of the bohemian lifestyle.
Titled “La Vie Boheme,” Moody’s program includes excerpts from Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme,” an 1896 Italian opera about a likeable cadre of starving artists in Paris and their love lives. It is the fourth most-often produced opera in the standard repertory.
A century later, Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award-winning musical “Rent” recast an almost identical story in terms of contemporary New York. Even more recently, the movie “Moulin Rouge” provided yet another vision, going back to Paris for the setting and using a score that was compiled from various popular artists.
Moody has invited four singers. Soprano Jessica Cates and tenor Christian Reinert represent the classical operatic side of the equation, while Broadway stars Mia Gentile and Mike Eldred will focus on modern renditions of the story.
Catch “La Vie Boheme” at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 14. Call PortTix at 842-0800.
Providing scholarships for promising Maine artists is part of the mission of the Portland Rossini Club, a venerable institution that dates from the middle of the 19th century. So it’s always a treat when a Rossini Club scholarship recipient comes back to perform for the home crowd again.
That’s the background for this Sunday’s recital by Abigail Levis, an up-and-coming mezzo-soprano who first studied voice in Kennebunk, moved on to perform with Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society and now studies in New York at the Bard College Conservatory. Among her current teachers is famed singer Dawn Upshaw.
In her young professional career, Levis has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra and won numerous prizes, most recently the 2012 Joy of Singing competition. Her Portland program will range from classical to modern selections; she’ll be accompanied by pianist Jonathan Ware, a Juilliard School graduate.
Portland Rossini Club presents Abigail Levis in recital at 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at St. Luke’s Cathedral, 143 State St. in Portland. Call the Rossini Club at 797-8313.
Cirque du Soleil
There’s a “first” and a “last” happening at the Cumberland County Civic Center through this weekend. The first refers to Cirque du Soleil, the venerable Montreal-based performing arts organization that’s making its initial appearance in Portland. The last refers to the fact that the company’s “Saltimbanco” show, which has been performed in 45 countries for two decades, will be retired at the end of the current tour.
Classic Cirque du Soleil at its best, “Saltimbanco” is a thrilling and kaleidoscopic celebration of artistry and agility. With a cast of 50 high-caliber artists hailing from 20 different countries, “Saltimbanco” features breathtaking acrobatics and unbelievable athleticism, supported by technical expertise and extravagant design. The show explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers.
Cirque du Soleil’s “Saltimbanco” will be performed eight times between Oct. 10-14 at the Cumberland County Civic Center. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit theciviccenter.com.