'Spotlight on The Blues'

Camelot Theatre Company's third Spotlight for 2008 focuses on one of America's enduring art forms, the blues. While Camelot Theatre has done Spotlights on a variety of artists including Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Cole Porter and Bonnie Raitt, this is Camelot's first Spotlight featuring a musical genre.

"Spotlight on The Blues" previews at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept 18. The show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 and runs at 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 2 p.m. through Sept. 28, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent.

Some musical historians believe the blues was born in the northern Mississippi delta after the Civil War. Its roots include field hollers, work chants, spirituals and railroad songs, and extend all the way to Africa. "Spotlight on The Blues" celebrates the blues' many contributions to American music.

Among the many songs featured in the Spotlight are Robert Johnson's "Crossroads Blues," Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do," "The Thrill Is Gone," "Georgia On My Mind," "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Stormy Weather."

Sharing the vocals in "Spotlight on The Blues" are Doug Warner, Priscilla Quinby and Karen Lovely. For many years, Warner, Camelot's Producing Director, had a blues band — Doug Warner and the Night Train Express. He's been playing, performing, writing and recording for more than 40 years. Warner serves as musical director for "Spotlight on the Blues." He also will be part of the band for the Spotlight, playing a mix of guitar styles including bottleneck, finger pick acoustic, electric jump, swing and blues.

Quinby, a Camelot regular, began singing in the early 1970s with a local Rogue Valley jazz/blues quintet, PJQ. Lovely is an old-school blues singer in the style of Bessie Smith and performs regularly throughout Southern Oregon.

The band for this event includes Michael Vannice, who has toured with both Robert Cray and Lowell Fulson, playing everything from alto, tenor and baritone saxophone to blues harp and piano. Vannice is joined by stand-up bass player David Miller, keyboardist Allen Crutcher and percussionist Steve Sutfin. All four musicians play with a variety of groups in the Rogue Valley and will be familiar to Camelot patrons for their work in other Spotlights.

Camelot's Spotlight supervisor, Charles Cherry, wrote the script for "Spotlight on The Blues" in collaboration with Karen Llewellyn. It is a moving account of the evolution of American blues with all of its laughter and all of its tears. Narration will be by Brian O'Connor, performer and resident sound designer at Camelot.

Tickets are $18. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are available by phone or in person at the theatre box office and online at CamelotTheatre.org. Box office hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. For reservations, call 535-5250.

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