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Music & Concerts
Double bill
McEuen, Amram join forces for intimate concert
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Photo courtesy of DOUGLAS A. YEAGER PRODUCTIONSJohn McEuen, left, and David Amram join forces for a performance at the Palladium Oct. 18.
ST. PETERSBURG – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen and jazz master David Amram will join for a performance Friday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m., at the Palladium at St. Petersburg College, 253 Fifth Ave. N.

General admission tickets cost $30. VIP seating, which includes light refreshments and a private reception with the artists, is $50. There are only 50 VIP seats available. Call 822-3590 or visit www.mypalladium.org.

It might sound like the setup to a joke: What happens when a celebrated symphonic, jazz, world music artist, ex-beatnik and an acclaimed Americana, bluegrass, traditional country artist, ex-hippie bring their fabled talents and a bunch of instruments to the stage? If it is McEuen and Amram, it’s a sure bet that a lot will happen. In this rare performance in the intimate Palladium Side Door setting, McEuen, a multiple Grammy winner, and Amram, who has amassed quite a collection of Lifetime Achievement awards, will flawlessly define Americana as they take their audience from jazz to classical, folk to country, blues to bluegrass.

Audiences will quickly discover that between these two multi-instrumentalists, there are few instruments one or both haven’t mastered. Amram’s piano, French horn, percussion and a variety of flutes (from America, China, Egypt), along with McEuen’s guitar, mandolin, five-string banjo and fiddle have been chosen for this performance. The music played and stories told by these two troubadours maps a path from the 1800s to the 21st century, with side trips to famous career points along the journey.

Both stage-loving musical raconteurs will each play their solo selections that spotlight their distinctive virtuosity. Then, McEuen and Amram will take the stage together for the second half of the show and their individually-inspired worlds will collide. McEuen will bring his eclectic side of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and some of their known hits to the stage for Amram to join in on. McEuen will then accompany Amram on select old jazz songs.

That’s still not all: Following these selections will be some surprise pieces, and then the two will simply jam.

The Renaissance Man

David Amram has been performing since the 1950s.

He has played with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Willie Nelson to Leonard Bernstein and Pete Seeger. Amram composed the film scores for “Manchurian Candidate,” “Splendor in the Grass” and “Pull My Daisy,” the latter with whom his collaborator was his old friend Jack Kerouac – and whose title song received lyrics by Kerouac, Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg. Amram will perform this classic tune to honor the passing of Kerouac in St. Petersburg nearly 44 years ago.

Amram is known as the “Renaissance Man of American Music,” according to a biography provided by Douglas A. Yeager Productions Ltd., the company who represents the artist. Amram has conducted 75 of the world’s great orchestras, and has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, two operas, 23 Broadway scores as well as 20 film scores.

As a multi-instrumental musician who plays more than 35 instruments, he introduced the French horn to jazz more than 60 years ago while playing with many of the 1950s jazz legends, such as Charles Mingus and Lionel Hampton. He is a progenitor of introducing international indigenous folk music to America over the past half century – music now collectively labeled as World Music.

Amram also is the author of three books, and has written the forewords to the new biographies of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Andrew Zuckerman’s book and feature film documentary, “Wisdom: The Greatest Gift One Generation Can Give To Another,” features Amram as one of the World’s 50 Elder Thinkers and Doers.

Amram also happens to have a connection to Pinellas County.

According to Doug Yeager of Douglas A. Yeager Productions Ltd., between the years he was growing up on a farm in Feasterville, Penn., Amram and his sister moved temporarily to the Tampa Bay area. In 1936, he attended first grade in Pass-a-Grille.

Amram has returned to Tampa Bay area many times through the years as a jazz and classical musician and conductor, and to pay tribute to his dear friend and collaborator Jack Kerouac.

The String Wizard

McEuen came to the national music scene as one of the founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. That musical institution is now in its 47th year, playing about 130 cities annually.

Often referred to as “the String Wizard,” McEuen is known for weaving stories of his travels and family life, taking audiences through where his musical path has taken him.

A founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1966, McEuen instigated the 1972 classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album. In 1977, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band toured the Soviet Union. They were the first American band to be allowed to tour the country.

According to New Frontier Touring, McEuen’s love of performing is evident when during his shows he takes the audience “behind the curtain” of the music world.

McEuen has made more than 40 albums, including six solo albums, that have earned four platinum and four gold recognition awards, Grammy nominations and awards, CMA and ACM awards, Western Heritage Award, Emmy nominations, and IBMA record of the year award. In addition, he has performed on another 25 albums as guest artist.

As a presenter, McEuen has produced over 250 concerts, beginning with Bob Dylan in 1965 at a Long Beach High School.

The list of artists McEuen has performed or recorded with is extensive. Among his collaborators are Dolly Parton, Steve Martin, Willie Nelson, Bill Wyman, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Jerry Garcia, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Phish, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kevin Nealon, Alison Krauss, Bill Cosby, Stephen Wright and Tommy Lee Jones.

A winner of the 2010 Best of the West Performer award from the Folk Alliance organization, McEuen won Best Bluegrass Album Grammy that year for his production of Steve Martin’s “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo” This summer, McEuen was honored with the Charlie Poole Lifetime Achievement Award in North Carolina.
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