Country Bluegrass Highlights First Community Concert



Courtesy photo

The Gibson Brothers will open the 2010-2011 season of the Tonto Community Concert Association programs with a country bluegrass performance at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 20 at the Payson High School Auditorium.

The Tonto Community Concert Association opens its 32nd season with a performance of country bluegrass by The Gibson Brothers. This is the first of eight concerts planned for the 2010-2011 season.

The program is at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 20 in the Payson High School Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Some single performance tickets may be available at the door for $30 or season tickets can be purchased for $80 per person.

Eric and Leigh Gibson grew up on a dairy farm outside of Ellenburg Depot, N.Y. in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. It isn’t the typical beginning for a bluegrass band, but sometimes things just come together.

“My parents loved music, but they didn’t play,” says Eric. “My father, I think, always wanted to play, but he worked like mad from the time he was 9 years old. He was a dairy farmer. He’d go to an auction and come back with a fiddle, and they ordered a guitar and a banjo through the Sears Roebuck catalog so we had instruments around the house, but nobody knew how to play them. When I was 12 and Leigh was 11, we came home from school and Dad said, ‘There’s a guy giving lessons at Dick’s Country Store, and I’d like one of you to play the banjo and one to play the guitar.’”

Eric chose banjo and Leigh, guitar, and the die was cast.

The brothers took lessons on their instruments and began singing at the suggestion of their minister.

“We progressed at the same rate,” remembers Eric.

“We grew up listening to the same people and seemed to agree about what type of songs we wanted to play and our direction. We never really argued about that. If I like a song, Leigh will like it too.”

The Tonto Community Concert Association’s eight performances will offer a broad medley of audience-pleasing musical programs.

“The association brings world-class performers from around the globe to Payson,” said TCCA president Marilyn Wolfe.

“We also work to bring in artists who are not just exceptional musicians, but those who give the audience a complete musical experience. Many of the performers also enjoy meeting with attendees after the show, answering questions and signing autographs.”

As a service to the community’s youth, the TCCA works with several of the artists to host special outreach performances just for Payson area students.

The Tonto Community Concert Association is a nonprofit organization that brings high quality concerts to Rim Country at an affordable price.

The all-volunteer board also supports other performing arts activities in the region. The concerts feature artists of national and international reputation and are held at the Payson High School Auditorium.

For subscriptions or other information, call (928) 474-6115 or (928) 478-4363 or go online to

Upcoming concerts

• Daniel Narducci, classic American

baritone – 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3

Classic American baritone, Daniel Narducci is a multi-faceted artist whose talents have been captured through live stage presentations, recordings, documentaries and television.

Since his professional debut with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra under the direction of Erich Kunzel, Narducci has appeared with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He has appeared regularly as a guest artist at many popular summer music venues throughout North America, including the Wolf Trap, Ravinia, Blossom, Saratoga and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festivals.

• The New Christy Minstrels – 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9

If you prize authenticity, time is running out. It seems that most old-fashioned musical concerts these days present only tribute bands, younger folks playing and singing in the style of well known idols, and what’s the difference, as long as the programs are sincere and accurate? The difference for Randy Sparks and most of the born-again New Christy Minstrels is extraordinary excitement on a nightly basis.

The surviving Beatles could only be, at best, a duo, but there are five original Minstrels in a presentation of The New Christy Minstrels these days, occasionally as many as seven. Now they are back, and not just a famous name along with only newer, younger faces, but as John Madden might say it’s “the real deal.”

• Cristiana Pegoraro, pianist – 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26

Hailed by The New York Times as “an artist of the highest caliber,” Italian born pianist Cristiana Pegoraro has performed in some of the greatest concert halls in Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

At the current time, she is the first female Italian pianist to perform all 32 Sonatas for piano by Ludwig van Beethoven.

• Celtic Blaze – 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 14

A show featuring a contemporary take on Canada’s music and dance heritage told through dance, storytelling and (of course) music. The production features the talents of world-champion tap dancer/fiddler/singer Stephanie Cadman.

• Jim Witter – The Piano Men – 7 p.m., Monday, March 21

Jim Witter has been entertaining for more than 20 years. Whether it is country music, contemporary Christian, or the music of Billy Joel and Elton John, Whitter’s versatility as an artist has allowed him the opportunity to reach out and share his music and his infectious personality with audiences of all ages across Canada and the United States. Supported by bass, guitar, keyboards and drums, you’ll see and hear the soundtrack of your life during this multi-media “rockumentary.”

• Paul McDermand, percussionist – 7 p.m., Friday, April 15

Paul McDermand began his musical career as a freelance percussionist in the Chicago area. At the age of 19, he assumed the percussion duties in “The Music Man” playing in a downtown Chicago theater, starring David Copperfield.

In 1993 he received an invitation from New York to join a revival tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” Upon his return to Scottsdale, Paul began to develop an assortment of instrumental arrangements built around the steel drums and marimba. For 19 continuous years he has proudly performed at the elegant Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa.

• Dallas Brass – 7 p.m., Friday, May 13

Since its founding in 1983 by Michael Levine, the Dallas Brass has become one of America’s foremost musical ensembles. The group has established a unique blend of traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion, which creates a performing entity of extraordinary range and musical challenges.

The artists providing special concerts to students are The New Christy Minstrels, Cristiania Pegoraro, Celtic Blaze, Paul McDermand and Dallas Brass.


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