Richey Suncoast Theatre is launching a series of musical shows Oct. 5 through Nov. 16 that is altogether different from any series the theater has done before — and at prices not seen there before either.
The six shows feature nationally known recording artists doing a wide range of musical styles, from soul to blues, Broadway, pop, big band, jazz and even one award-winning country music artist.
"Richey is a small, intimate theater," said Marie Skelton, publicist for the venue. "You don't get that at Ruth Eckerd (Hall) and Mahaffey (Theatre), and that's what we are selling — an up-close evening with the artist."
(And no "auto tune," just the singers' own voices.)
Individual shows are $30 and $45, reserved seating. Buy four shows and get a 5 percent discount. Buy all six, and the discount is 10 percent.
The first two weekends, Oct. 5-6 and 11-12, showcase six artists and bands doing blues, boogie and contemporary southern soul. The final two shows on Nov. 8 and 16 feature big band jazz and country. Curtain times vary, so be sure to check tickets for starting times.
The opening show at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 is a tripleheader, topped by Bobby Murray, who played electric guitar on three Grammy Award-winning albums, two with Etta James, a third with B.B. King. The Detroit Blues Society gave Murray its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. He has played on several television shows, including Austin City Limits, and released three albums on his own. The night also has Florida's own "Beautiful" Bobby Blackmon playing contemporary southern soul, blues and classic rhythm and blues. Opening act is roots rocker RJ Howson, who has performed at Skipper's Smokehouse and many other venues.
Singer/pianist Eden Brent continues the kickoff weekend at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6 with her melding of jazz, blues, soul and pop. Her mentor, the late Boogaloo Ames, nicknamed her "Little Boogaloo," and the two were featured in the 1999 PBS documentary Boogaloo and Eden. She has performed at the Kennedy Center and everywhere from South Africa to Norway. She won the Blues Foundation's 2006 International Blues Challenge.
More blues are on tap for the following weekend, when Kansas City native, 24-year-old Samantha Fish, does riff-driven blues and fast-paced boogies, accompanying herself on guitar and doing her own compositions at 8 p.m. Oct. 11. The show will likely feature songs from her two albums, including Black Wind Howlin' that was released in June.
The 7 p.m. Oct. 12 headliner is bluesman Guy Davis, son of actors Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis. The younger Davis has released nine albums, including Stomp Down Rider, and also plays guitar. He's a composer, Broadway, screen and television actor, playwright and has had shows produced off Broadway. He won the W.C. Handy "Keeping the Blues Alive" award in 1993.
The November shows take a sharp turn into other music genres, when big band, jazz, pop, and Broadway singer Isabel Rose brings her music and (grownup) standup comedy to RST at 8 p.m. Nov. 8. Rose recently released her second album, Trouble in Paradise, with sounds in the style of Ann-Margret and Bette Midler. She has performed at Lincoln Center and several major clubs and cabarets.
The series winds up at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 with award-winning country singer Sarah McClurg, who was named Country Artist of the Year at the Los Angeles Indie Music Awards in 2011. McClurg's clear, powerful, pitch-perfect voice has been featured at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood.