Two new music series kick off this weekend at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport.
Grammy Award-winning harmonica master James “Superharp” Cotton and his band performs Friday night, back by popular demand after his sell-out here last year. The Cotton show is the first installment of a new Rock N’ Blues series presented by M.E. Productions.
Meanwhile, Rockport Music kicks off its season with the Ben Powell Quartet on Sunday, the first in a jazz series.
Rock n’ Blues
James Cotton and his band take the stage Friday with a show that he takes to Lincoln Center in New York City a week later. His band includes longtime Gloucester resident Darrell Nulisch on vocals. Rounding out the band are Tom Holland on guitar and vocals; Noel Neal on bass and Jerry Porter on drums.
In a recent phone interview from his home in Austin, Texas, Cotton said he enjoyed performing at the oceanfront music hall, where the band received repeated standing ovations.
“We had a warm welcome there and we had a real good time. We had a lot of laughs,” said Cotton, who is preparing a new CD in 2013. His 2010 release “Giant” received a Grammy nomination.
Cotton, who performed 12 years with Muddy Waters, went out on his own, rising to the top and became known as one of the most powerful live blues performers in the world. He is also known for having the best bands in the industry.
Nulisch, who lives in Magnolia, said he looks forward to another local show that includes his friends and neighbors in the audience.
“Our show there was well received, and it was a great feeling for me because I love to see that kind of music happen here on Cape Ann. It’s a unique space and the acoustics in there are terrific,” he said. “There is also a lot of excitement and buzz around the new CD that will come out in the new year. Of course James always gets excited for music — he’s always Mr. Superharp.”
In addition to Nulish, who merely has to drive to the venue, two band members are flying in from Chicago, the bass player from Baton Rouge and Cotton coming from Texas.
“The Shalin audience is certain to have another memorable evening with an international treasure and a true living legend of the blues,” said Seth McNally of M.E. Productions.
The series also features Johnny A. on Oct. 20; Dave Mason Unplugged (founder of Traffic) on Nov. 25 and Nov. 30, and Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters on Dec. 14.
James Cotton tickets are $29 to $49.
To purchase tickets, visit the Shalin Liu box office at 35 Main St. in Rockport, or call 978-546-7391, or go online at www.rockportmusic.org.
New jazz series
Rockport Music launches its season with a new series, presenting top jazz musicians at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. The first of six scheduled concerts kicks off Sunday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. when jazz violinist Ben Powell and his quartet perform.
Powell has performed with jazz and pop icons such as Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock and Gloria Estefan, as well as conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops. He originally studied as a classical violinist and was discovered in England by Lockhart, who later recommended him to study at Berklee College of Music, from which he graduated.
Powell is known for having a rich variation in style. Jazz.com wrote: “With a lovely tone, sophisticated lyricism, and a wonderful sense of swing, jazz violinist Ben Powell combines the 1930s gypsy jazz sound of the great Stephane Grappelli with his own deep musicianship and contemporary attitude.”
Tickets for this show range from $15 to $28.
The next concert in the series is Oct. 18 with the Swingle Singers, an international a cappella sensation and winner of five Grammy Awards. The group performs a mix of jazz, Latin and pop with their own vocal rhythm section.
The line-up is: Nov. 23, The Allan Harris Band led by Harris, a world-class singer, songwriter, and guitarist, known for crossing genres, from jazz to rock to blues; Nov. 24, Catherine Russell, the one-of-a-kind jazz and blues vocalist who is a Grammy Award-winner for her work on the soundtrack of “Boardwalk Empire.” She has sung backup for artists such as Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, David Bowie and Madonna; Dec. 9, jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut with the Cyrus Chestnut Trio that performs a holiday program; Jan. 19, the Cryogenic Renaissance Orchestra, under the direction of jazz composer and trumpeter Greg Hopkins, which performs big band standards with a nine-piece big band.
For tickets or information, visit www.rockportmusic.org.
Concerts are added throughout the year.
Gail McCarthy my be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3456.