The Singletary Center for the Arts has announced a 2012-13 season that continues the University of Kentucky venue's trend of breaking the mold for arts-center series.
There are no season tickets for the series, which was announced later than usual, leans heavily on rock and jazz artists and, like last year, starts in August.
"After the B-52's had such a great showing here last August, we thought we'd do it again and have sort of a pre-school party for the community," Singletary Center director Michael Grice said.
This year, the life of the party will be Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie, playing with the Copper Bottom Band on Aug. 24. Grice said the opportunity to book Laurie, who starred as the curmudgeonly title character on the Fox series House for eight seasons, came as the show wrapped up and the actor wanted to go on a music tour before getting into more acting commitments.
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"He's really quite a good piano player," said Grice, who became interested in booking Laurie after seeing a TV documentary about Laurie traveling to New Orleans to play with some of the city's first-rate musicians. His album, Let Them Talk, is loaded with New Orleans-style jazz and blues.
Here is the rest of the schedule:
Oct. 20: Live at Birdland, featuring the Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe. The show re-creates the feel of the iconic New York jazz club, with arrangements of classic tunes by composers as varied as Charlie Parker and Sting.
Nov. 17: Chris Isaak. Since Isaak's December 2010 performance at the Singletary Center, Grice said, he has had a steady stream of requests to have the rocker back. He said he made an effort to bring Isaak back outside of the holiday season for a performance that will focus on Isaak's rock 'n' roll, borrowing heavily from the 1950s and '60s.
Dec. 7: The Brian Setzer Orchestra. The former Stray Cats frontman brings his big guitar and big band sound to the Singletary Center for his annual holiday show.
Feb. 15: Christine Brewer. The celebrated soprano will be paired with conductor John Nardolillo and the UK Symphony Orchestra for a performance celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner. After bringing in a steady stream of marquee classical musicians (including violinist Itzhak Perlman in March 2011), Grice said, he wanted to bring in a big-name opera singer.
March 2: Celtic Nights: Journey of Hope. This will be a night of music and dance by some of Ireland's leading singers and step dancers.
In addition to those acts, the date for a concert with superstar pianist Lang Lang and the UK Symphony will be announced soon, and Grice said he is working on booking another artist "that will be of particular interest to music fans."
Grice said he is getting away from the traditional marketing of performing arts centers, such as selling season tickets, because those models are becoming increasingly irrelevant to modern audiences. He said the same of early-season announcements, explaining why he waited until June to drop his lineup.
"What's the sense of sending something out in March when the shows don't start until September?" Grice said. "Everybody's going to forget. They don't care, because there's just too much on their plates. It's not like the old days, when you had three channels to watch and no Internet."
Tickets for Laurie are on sale now, and other shows will go on sale through July. Call the Singletary Center Ticket Office at (859) 257-4929 or go to Singletarycenter.com for more information.