Tunes at Twilight summer music series kicks off

Thursday, May 14, 2009
ELIZABETH DODD ~ edodd@semissourian.com

The summer season signals a number of things in Cape Girardeau. The sun burns bright and hot into the afternoon, the days stretch long, and at twilight, tunes can be heard resonating from the Common Pleas Courthouse gazebo. Starting Friday, music lovers will gather under the canopy of trees at the courthouse for Tunes at Twilight.

Tunes at Twilight is a summertime event that features a different artist every Friday for six weeks. The free outdoor concert series breaks for the hot July weather, but starts again in mid-August with six more performances.

Larry Underberg and his wife Jean have been organizing the Tunes at Twilight series for eight years.

"Larry does all of the booking and I do grunt work," Jean Underberg said with a laugh. "People all stay with us, we feed them, Larry takes them around town and introduces them to people. It's just a big part of our lives."

Larry said he's learned a lot about the sound and setup from the years of outdoor performances at the courthouse.

"I learned how important it is to have a good sound man and how complicated these [concerts] are to set up. It takes us about two hours, and then another hour and a half to take down. The bigger the acts the more stuff we have to bring in," Underberg said.

He said while they have been looking for a crowd favorite music genre, "we're just not finding that."

"People are mainly responding to the level of talent and look at that first," Underberg said.

As in years past, he said, this season will offer a variety of high-quality performers.

"Blues rock, maybe some folk, Americana; music that's likely to appeal to a rather broad audience. We try to spread it around so it's not one genre of music," he said. "It's going to be a great season this year."

Kimberley Dahme kicks off the season's first session tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

Dahme is known for playing bass and writing songs with '70s mega-rockers Boston, but for more than four years she has been performing solo folk/country/rock music.

Though Dahme has performed at the series before, Underberg said they have some new performers this year, including one of his favorite performers, singer/songwriter Dana Cooper on June 12.

Cooper has been playing his music for live audiences since the age of 16. His unique guitar work, gutsy harmonica and songwriting skills landed him a deal with Elektra Records in 1973. He has been producing music ever since and has shared the stage with such greats as Jerry Garcia and Arlo Guthrie.

"He has an amazing voice and incredible guitar skills," Underberg said.

Nashville folk artist Warren Wilken will cap off the first session on June 19.

In conjunction with the days getting shorter, the second session of concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. Memphis-born singer/songwriter Jimmy Davis will kick off the second session on Aug. 14.

Davis was named "Premier Male Vocalist" five times by the Memphis Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and has appeared as a backing vocalist on numerous recordings by artists such as Johnny Lang and the North Mississippi Allstars.

"He'll be doing an acoustic set, but he's more of a rock and roller and he's just got a great voice," Underberg said.

Another first-timer to the concert series, Lucy Wainwright Roche, will close out this year's series on Sept. 18.

Born the daughter of two performing musicians, Loudon Wainwright and Suzzy Roche, Lucy spent her childhood submerged in the music scene. In 2005 and 2006 she sang backup with her brother, Rufus Wainwright, which prompted her to rediscover her singing and songwriting. She released her first EP in 2007, and another last spring. Her performance at Tunes at Twilight is one of many she has scheduled this year.

TUNES AT TWILIGHT LINEUP

The first Tunes at Twilight Series concerts are from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Courthouse Gazebo. Rain location is Rose Theatre.

Friday: Kimberley Dahme

May 22: Stephen Simmons

May 29: Joe Price

June 5: Leslie Dysinger

June 12: Dana Cooper

June 19: Warren Wilken

The second Tunes at Twilight Series concerts run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Gazebo. Rain location is Rose Theatre.

Aug. 14: Jimmy Davis

Aug. 21: Danny Santos

Aug. 28: Mike Renick Band

Sept. 4: Rod Picott

Sept. 11: Ericson Holt

Sept. 18: Lucy Wainwright Roche

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