We’re always excited to see what the Long Center has in store for the upcoming season, but Thursday’s announcement of its winter/spring 2018 shows had an extra-special surprise.
That’s right, folks — actor, funnyman and sometimes bartender Bill Murray will be at the Long Center right at the tail end of South by Southwest. His appearance March 18 with cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez is the Austin debut of the show “New Worlds,” which the Long Center describes as “a spirited fusion of spoken word, literary readings, and music.”
But even if you can’t get tickets for that event, you’re very likely to see him around town. He popped up at a Lupe Fiasco show last year at the Belmont, he stopped by Franklin Barbecue … it’s safe to say our man Murray digs Austin and could make the time to hang around awhile. Pick your watering holes accordingly.
Murray isn’t the only celebrity coming to the Long Center. “Star Trek” alum, LGBTQ activist and social media powerhouse George Takei will appear May 4 to regale us with tales of his life. Oh, myyyyy.
Other Long Center highlights include food writer Michael Pollan, jazz singer Gregory Porter and the Golden Dragon Acrobats.
Here’s the complete lineup, courtesy of the Long Center:
Bill Murray, Jan Vogler, & Friends
Dell Hall, March 18, 7:30 p.m.
Always a curious character, Hollywood mainstay Bill Murray is striking a new creative tone. After meeting German cellist Jan Vogler during his travels, the two became friends and soon had an idea to work together sparked by a curiosity in each other’s artistic worlds. The result is a surprising program of spoken literary classics against a backdrop of musical pieces from all genres – The Adventures of Huckleberry set to Moon River, Hemingway with Ravel. For one night only, Murray and Vogler bring this joint program that showcases the core of American values in literature and music to Austin for the first time, combining classical pieces with spoken word to create a show that communicates the bridges artists have built between America and Europe over the past several centuries. Together with violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez, Murray and Vogler create a quartet of American experience.
An Evening with Wood & Wire
Rollins Studio Theatre, January 17, 7:30 p.m.
It has been five years since Wood & Wire sprouted out of the rich musical soil of Austin. In that time, they’ve written music, recorded records, and performed at some of the most notable festivals and venues across the country. In the sometimes tightly defined genre of bluegrass music, Wood & Wire’s ‘band style’ ethos are not unheard of, but certainly atypical. As are the elements of song crafting, so often associated with their Texas home. Join us for an intimate evening with Wood & Wire as part of the Long Center’s Concert Club series in the Rollins Theatre.
An Evening with Joseph Keckler
Rollins Studio Theatre, January 23-24, 7:30 p.m.
Vocalist, writer, songwriter and performance artist, Joseph Keckler’s work often combines autobiography, humor, and classical themes. Called a “major vocal talent who shatters the conventional boundaries of classical singing,” by Stephen Holden of The New York Times, Keckler has been featured on BBC America and WNYC Soundcheck and has appeared at Lincoln Center, Art Basel Miami, SXSW, Centre Pompidou, and many other venues. He has received a Creative Capital, NYFA Fellowship, Franklin Furnace grant, and Village Voice Award for “Best Downtown Performance Artist.” In partnership with the Fusebox Festival, the Long Center welcomes Joseph Keckler for the first time for an evening of wild miniature operas about contemporary life, haunted torch songs, and narratives infused with humor and longing.
With Special Guest Bedouine
Dell Hall, February 3, 8 p.m.
Renowned for his mix of autumnal indie pop and intimate acoustics, Swedish singer-songwriter José González quickly gained a loyal following with the 2003 release of his debut album “Veneer.” Garnering critical and commercial acclaim, it featured his trademark sound – solo classical guitar with soft vocal melodies – and went on to sell over 700,000 copies worldwide before going Platinum in the UK. His latest album, “Vestiges & Claws,” marks a sonic shift for the indie folk musician who wanted to continue in the same minimalistic style, but once he started the actual recordings soon realized that most of the songs sounded better with added guitars, a more beat-like percussion, and more backing vocals. The result is an album that is less purist, less strict, with a fuller sound than previous records. It is a collection that coheres perfectly, ensuring González’s position as one of the most important artists of his generation. Opening for José González is the Syrian-born musician Bedouine, touring to promote the release of her 2017 critically acclaimed self-titled debut.
An Evening with Carlos Piñana
Dell Hall, February 10, 8 p.m.
Coming from a long and impressive line of flamenco artists in Alicante, Spain, Carlos Piñana has lived and breathed flamenco since he was a young child, and is considered a modern-day legend throughout the world. He is the grandson of Antonio Piñana, patriarch of the cantes mineros, and his father is the well-known guitarist Antonio Piñana, a legend in his own right. For this special evening in partnership with Austin Classical Guitar, Piñana and his troupe of authentic flamenco masters journey here from southern Spain to bring us a thrilling display of intense rhythm and soulful song. Pasión!
Black Violin: Classical Boom Tour
Dell Hall, March 7, 7:30 p.m.
This spring the Long Center welcomes revolutionary music group Black Violin back to Austin for their 2018 Classical Boom Tour. Combining a daunting array of musical styles – jazz, hip-hop, funk, and classical – to produce a signature sound that is not quite maestro, not quite emcee, this group of two classically trained violinists and their DJ is redefining the music world-one string at a time. With influences ranging from Shostakovich and Bach to Nas and Jay-Z, Black Violin breaks all the rules, blending the classical with the modern to create something rare-a sound that nobody has ever heard, but that everybody wants to feel. In an age where music is coming to be more and more defined by the labels given to it, Black Violin shows that music does not exist within a box, but rather exists in another space-one as open and unrestrained as the minds that produce it
Noah & the MegaFauna
Rollins Studio Theatre, April 11, 7:30 p.m.
With comparisons to Django Reinhardt, Beirut, and Devotchka, Austin-based band Noah & the MegaFauna has developed a sound that can best be described as a clamorous whiskey filled raucous of sing-a-longs on the eve of destruction. The band’s sophomore album, “The Pale Blue Dot,” builds on the success and aesthetic of his 2012 debut release “Anthems For A Stateless Nation,” but while that album was firmly rooted in big band jazz and older world folk, “The Pale Blue Dot” represents a departure from Charles-Mingus-meets-Tom-Waits vibe of their debut and finds the band flexing their orchestral indie rock chops. Join us for an evening of eclectic sound and fusion with Noah & the MegaFauna as part of the Long Center’s Concert Club series in the Rollins Theatre.
“Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me”
Dell Hall, June 20, 7:30 p.m.
An artist whose music is at once timeless yet utterly of its time, Gregory Porter solidified his standing as his generation’s most soulful jazz singer songwriter with “Take Me to the Alley,” winner of the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, and the much-anticipated follow-up to his sensational 2013 Blue Note debut “Liquid Spirit.” His new work and album celebrates one of his great inspirations, the extraordinary and soulful Nat “King” Cole. For Porter, the influence of Cole in his life and music runs deep, a through-line that reaches back into some of his earliest childhood memories, and culminates in the release of his stunning fifth studio album “Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me,” a heartfelt tribute to the legendary singer, pianist, and Capitol recording artist. Join us for a special evening with Gregory Porter as he shares selections from his impressive oeuvre thus far and his new album. As a special offer for fans attending the show, a digital download of “Nat ‘King’ Cole & Me” (available October 27) is included with every ticket.
An Evening with Michael Pollan
One Writer’s Trip – From the Garden to the Plate and the Beyond
Dell Hall, February 2, 8 p.m.
Acclaimed author of New York Times bestsellers The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan returns to Austin to share the path his thinking and writing have taken since he first started examining the many fascinating ways that humans and food intersect. For this appearance, Pollan strikes an autobiographical tone, starting from his first Thoreau and Emerson-influenced horticultural disaster to the garden, the farm, the table, and beyond as he describes the give-and-take that is human engagement with the natural world, including how certain plants and fungi can affect our conscious state. The evening will also include brief readings from several of Pollan’s previous books and a work in progress.
An Evening with George Takei
Dell Hall, May 4, 8 p.m.
With an acting career spanning five decades, including more than 40 feature films and hundreds of guest-starring roles, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. But George Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp during WWII, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality—Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. With 1.7 million Twitter followers, he has become a social media mega power who uses his voice to empower others to beat the odds and make a difference. Join us for this special evening as Takei shares his remarkable and unexpected journey.
Golden Dragon Acrobats
Dell Hall, February 11, 3 p.m.
Making their premiere at the Long Center, the Golden Dragon Acrobats represent the best of a time-honored tradition that began more than 25 centuries ago, combining award-winning acrobatics, traditional dance, spectacular costumes, ancient and contemporary music, and theatrical techniques to present a show of breathtaking skill and beauty. The ancient art of acrobatics has developed into one of China’s most popular art forms and has served an important role in the cultural exchange between China and Western nations. Performing feats on chairs stacked 10 stories high and other spellbinding acts, the Golden Dragon Acrobats have toured extensively across the United States and the world, showcasing ancient acrobatic skill and traditional dance. “When the Golden Dragon Acrobats come to town, wonders stack up,” writes The New York Times. “The thrill is escalation. These touring acrobats from China know how to keep topping themselves.”
Cirque Éloize: Saloon
Dell Hall, March 29, 7:30 p.m. & March 30, 2:30 p.m.
America is expanding, the railroad is stretching westward to lands of untold promise, and people are striking out on their own. In the middle of the Wild West, a town comes to life, and within it—the saloon filled with a cast of motley characters each with a tale to tell. In Cirque Éloize’s Saloon the infectious energy of folk music and strains of the fiddle set the tone for an acrobatic comedy that sweeps spectators away in a mad flurry. Storytelling with a contemporary circus flair, Saloon presents a mythical world created by live music, phenomenal physical feats, and the exhilarating pace of spectacular performances. The timeless tunes of Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and others set the traditional, epic scene (with a few twists!) for a family-friendly show with no shortage of thrills. Hailing from the Magdalen Islands off the coast of Nova Scotia, Cirque Éloize has taken part in numerous international festivals and captivated both New York’s Broadway and London’s West End. Since 1993, they have presented over 4,000 performances in over 500 cities. Now the company brings their own brand of “heat lightening,” the definition of the Acadian word “eloize” that inspires the energy of these performers, to Austin this spring.