"Tried and true and all new" could well describe the 2012 performing arts season scheduled at Pasco-Hernando Community College by the PHCC Foundation. The four-show season starts Jan. 21 and winds up on March 10, with two shows that are popular repeats and two that are new to the PHCC stage.
The tried and true are audience favorite Gaelic Storm, the party band in Titanic that's making its sixth appearance at PHCC at 8 p.m. Jan. 21; and the eclectic, electric Canadian group Barrage that fiddles, sings and dances to a contemporary mix of sounds from around the world, making its second visit to the local venue at 8 p.m. March 10.
The newcomers are comic Gallagher, the Comedy Central regular who once ran for governor of California and was once known for smashing watermelons on stage, at 8 p.m. Feb. 4; and 7 Bridges: the Ultimate EAGLES Experience, an Eagles tribute band, at 8 p.m. Feb. 18.
Gallagher, a Tampa native, did more than a dozen comedy specials for the Showtime channel, most of them featuring his signature Sledge-o-Matic, where he pounds a big hammer onto everything from pineapples to watermelons, often splashing patrons in the front rows (who sometimes took umbrellas to the show to protect themselves). The news release says the PHCC show will be a "nonsmash" routine, indicating the absence of exploding watermelons. Gallagher will deliver stand-up comedy (some of which has been criticized in recent years for the jokes about race and sexual orientation).
Tickets went on sale Dec. 1, and Gaelic Storm is already more than half sold out. The band is considered one of the top bands in the Celtic music world and has a rabid local following that knows every word to such favorites as Bring Yer Wellies and Kiss Me I'm Irish and waits eagerly for the punch line in The Night I Punched Russell Crowe, a ballad based on a true story. Many fans wear T-shirts from previous concerts (some from years ago) and go all out for the audience participation songs.
Barrage stunned the PHCC audience in 2009 with its hyper-energetic violin playing while doing intricate dances and singing. The eight-member group has toured 27 countries, released studio and concert albums, performed on network television and published a series of music books. The eight members change from time to time, and have come from several countries around the world, but are currently mostly from the United States and Canada. The band has five violins, a couple of percussionists and specialty musicians who play a variety of instruments, including bagpipes and whistles.
With its name from the Eagles song Seven Bridges Road, 7 Bridges' six members take on the personas of six of the musicians who have been in the band over the years. Keith Thoma is the Don Henley figure and plays drums, sings, writes and arranges, with others impersonating Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale, Don Felder and Randy Meisner. Their sets usually include Eagles hits such as Peaceful Easy Feeling, Hotel California, Take It To The Limit and Desperado. Sunrise Promotions president Ken Haidaris called the band "vocally and visually perfect" when it performed at River Rock at the Amp in Ohio last summer. Online fans claim 7 Bridges is better than the original.
Tickets for each show are $30 premium seating in the center sections, $25 for the side sections. To order, call (727) 816-3707 or visit phcc.edu/tix.
There's a 10 percent discount for seniors, PHCC students, staff and faculty (enter promo code PAC10 at checkout online). Groups of 10 or more get at 20 percent discount if all tickets are purchased at once. And everyone gets 20 percent off if they buy all four shows (select "2012 Performing Arts Series" if you buy online). Discounts cannot be combined.
All shows are in the PHCC Performing Arts Center, a 620-seat auditorium with stadium seating at the New Port Rickey campus at 10230 Ridge Road.