Musicians tune up for #8216;Ritz#039; fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2007

They've been tickling the ivories, tuning the banjos and mandolins and practicing on their trumpets, horns and drums.

Local musicians are coming together this weekend to provide live music and lots of it for the Greenville Area Arts Council's all-singing, all-dancing fundraiser, &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz.” The show is slated for both Friday and Saturday nights at the Ritz with the curtain rising at 7 p.m.

It's the GAAC's 25th year and they are doing something pretty spectacular to celebrate the occasion.

Along with more than 50 cast members singing and hoofin' to 18 numbers like &#8220There is Nothing Like a Dame,” &#8220In the Jailhouse Now,” and &#8220Memories,” 15 performers will provide the musical accompaniment for all these numbers.

The show band is made of musicians &#8220I have known for years or found out about through my musical connections,” said POTR Musical Director Charlie Kennedy.

&#8220Each received a personal invitation from me to perform for the show. Well, I might have begged a little, too.”

Kennedy says he chose well, making his job a little easier. &#8220The members of the band all read music well and they are capable of preparing their parts with little or no help from me,” he said.

Along with Kennedy on bass guitar, Carol Connally-Walters will perform on the piano; Jerry Wilkerson and Gerri Castleberry, on keyboards; Fred Lindstrom, on drums; Roness Fail, on guitar; Chris Pryor, on trumpet; and Clark Young, on baritone horn.

A second band will take the stage during the show to perform as the &#8220Sweet Gum Bottom Boys” as they accompany the cast members singing three tunes from the quirky Coen Brothers' period movie, &#8220O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Fans of the popular bluegrass gospel band &#8220Southern Comfort” will recognize some familiar faces up there, Kennedy said.

&#8220Lonnie McGough on banjo, Perry Reynolds on bass and Gene Smith on guitar are all current members of ‘Southern Comfort.' Dennis Lowery, who plays the mandolin in the show, has played with the group in the past. Danny Kelly, on the dobro, will be the new face up there.”

The cast and musicians continue their rehearsals throughout this week in preparation for the big weekend.

&#8220A lot of work has gone into this show and you will see and hear a lot of talent on the Ritz stage this weekend. Folks who don't attend are going to find out they really did miss something special,” Kennedy said.

Tickets for POTR are $20 for adults and $15 for students and are available at Grayson's of Greenville and The Pineapple. Monies raised will go to pay the artistic fees for the 2007-2008 GAAC season.