BROOKSVILLE — A Neil Diamond tribute artist, an Alaskan family bluegrass band, a Florida folk trio, a comedy music duo and an Irish troubadour — all are part of the Hernando Performing Arts Guild's 19th season, which kicks off Saturday at the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center.
Sherry Pedonesi, the guild's marketing specialist, said the organization is hoping to score interest from a younger audience by offering a wider variety of shows during the 2012-13 season.
"It's very good entertainment at great prices," Pedonesi said. "So far, we've sold 285 season tickets, about half of our capacity."
Originally launched in 1993, the Hernando Performing Arts Guild focused its initial efforts on bringing traveling Broadway shows to Hernando County. Through the years, however, the organization chose to broaden its appeal by devoting its five-show season to musical variety and comedy acts.
Saturday's kickoff concert at 7 p.m. stays true to that formula with acclaimed Neil Diamond tribute artist Jay White.
Touted as "America's Neil Diamond," White performed nightly for more than 10 years at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and has earned accolades from Diamond himself.
Next up, on Dec. 1, will be the Redhead Express, a female, family country/bluegrass quartet from Alaska that performs a variety of standards and originals.
The guild's first show of 2013, on Jan. 12, will be the Aaron O'Rourke Trio, featuring a program of dulcimer-laced folk and pop music, plus comedian Johnny Roberts.
The second offering of the new year will feature Spittin' Image, a musical comedy duo featuring identical twins Blain and Brian Swabb, who perform on a variety of instruments while adding comedy parodies, impressions and the like. The show is scheduled for Feb. 9.
For its season finale on March 9, the guild will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with popular Irish musician/singer and storyteller Cahal Dunne, plus funny man George Casey, in their presentation called "It's Grand to Be Irish."
Proceeds from the concert series go toward the Hernando Performing Arts Guild's college scholarships, which are awarded annually to outstanding Hernando County high school students.
Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]