SC made sure that musical artists find a home at the Newberry Opera House

Deas Guyz Orchestra will perform at the Newberry Opera House on January 29. Reggie Deas is a former soccer player and played at Newberry High School and Newberry College.

Courtesy of Newberry Opera

NEWBERRY – The Newberry Opera House is renowned for attracting artists from all over the world. However, this season the Opera is particularly proud to present artists with SC roots. From famed Grammy winner Peabo Bryson to regional stars Deas Guyz Orchestra, SC has an incredible talent to share this season at the Newberry Opera House.

Orchester Deas Guyz January 29, 2021

Deas Guyz May 7, 2021

Local Newberrians may remember Reggie Deas as a football player at Newberry High School and Newberry College. He would go on to become an educator at Hilton Head, but throughout his life music was always important.

Deas thanks his parents for influencing him.

“My father had a group. He kind of turned me to old school music… Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Brook Benton, Nat King Cole… he told me that was the music I should listen to… In the band I have now we’re doing Nat King Cole, Luther Vandross, and so many of those favorites, ”he said.

Deas also thanks his mother for encouraging him to sing at his home church in Hannah AME.

“She was like, ‘Hey, my son is going to get up and sing a song. I was singing ‘Amazing Grace’ or something… Music became a passion for me, ”he said.

Deas’ latest musical adventure helped found Deas Guyz Orchestra. With strings and horns added to its regular dance orchestra, the orchestra allows for more orchestrated performances.

Deas Guyz Orchestra features a former Lexington Kentucky Philharmonic violinist, Boston Lyric Opera and Ballet concertmaster, a US Marine Corp saxophonist, and other incredibly talented individuals.

Deas Guyz Orchestra will perform songs from artists such as Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Brook Benton and many more when they perform on January 29, 2021 at the Newberry Opera House.

Deas’ dance group Deas Guyz are known for their regular concerts at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, but have entertained audiences up and down the East Coast for years, with everything from classic Motown to Bruno Mars. This group will return to the Opera on May 7, 2021, with their rousing and uplifting performance.

Peabo Bryson February 13, 2021

Peabo Bryson remembers his mother Marie Bryson taking him to performances at the Greenville Auditorium.

“I bet I’ve seen Sam Cooke 15 times. I saw Jackie Wilson, all the older ones, ”he said.

At the age of five or six he was singing with the performers from his seat. People in the audience turned around and said,

“Hear this little boy sing,” Peabo Bryson recalls. “I knew then that music was going to be my life. “

Perhaps most famous for singing the Grammy-winning themes for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”, Peabo Bryson got his title “The Voice of Love” for his passionate love songs. such as “Can You Stop The Rain”, “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again”, and “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love” duet with Roberta Flack. He will perform his classic hits and his latest album “Stand for Love”.

ColaJazz: Cupid Swings February 14, 2021

ColaJazz: Jazz Appreciation Month April 11, 2021

A partnership with ColaJazz will bring two shows to the Opera this season. Under the direction of Mark Rapp, these regional artists built the jazz community in the Midlands. The Little Big Band is made up of some of the best Midlands jazz artists from saxophones, trombone, trumpet, drums, piano, bass and two incredible singers.

February’s Valentine’s Day performance will be full of classic love songs. April has been dubbed Jazz Appreciation Month. ColaJazz shares the love of this genre with the public on April 11, 2021, at the Opera.

Rapp admits the rehearsal has been a challenge, but they find ways to make it work.

“We rehearse in a large open space. We send the music in advance for people to practice on their own and we keep rehearsal time to a minimum, ”he said.

ColaJazz was able to do a live show from the beautiful stage at the Koger Center for the Arts and a live performance at the Trustus Theater for the sixth annual Jingle Bell Jazz series, but the performances were limited which is why the group is so excited to play.

“Jazz is living music. It’s community music. Jazz brings out the best in the other, brings together diversity and uplifts the spirit. All of these things are vitally important, especially in our crazy times, ”he said. “Jazz teaches us how to improve ourselves – to pivot in style – that’s what we try to do.”

During their February 14 performance, expect some iconic love songs. Rapp talks about one of his favorites “My Funny Valentine”, “It is necessary to play on Valentine’s Day. I love this song because the lyrics are about loving someone who cannot. – not be what the company considers “perfect”, but you love him so much and you don’t want him to change.

Blue dogs February 20, 2021

Much like Mark Rapp with ColaJazz, acoustic guitarist Bobby Houck and double bassist Hank Futch grew up near Florence where they met at the Cub Scouts.

Now based in Charleston, Futch talks about their Southern influence,

“Growing up with a father who sang bluegrass, gospel and classic country, it’s clearly evident in the songs I write… I’m country like a green turnip,” he said.

“Like anyone else who grew up in the South when we did, we listened to southern rock. In 1975 we were 10 years old… Lynard Skynard was a major band… obviously, Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels were huge too… ’75 -’79 is like the pentacle of southern rock. You are so impressionable when you’re 10-14 years old… That makes us a southern country rock band, “said Houck.

These diverse influences make up the perfect Southern musical stew that is The Blue Dogs and have sparked songs like “Cosmic Cowboy”. Houck says this song written by Futch is a song he never gets tired of playing.

“There are some very beautiful images. It’s simple but it’s deep… I think you could translate it as “this is where you go when the rodeo is over,” he said.

Houck co-wrote “Half of My Mistakes” with Radney Foster of Nashville. Hank says it’s one of his favorites because “It applies to everyone… wishing you had tried a little harder or maybe not tried so hard.”

Houck goes on to say that “Half of My Mistakes” will certainly be part of the set list for the Opera show.

“It’s a song with a subject that deals with real life and keeps a perspective on what’s important in the scheme of things… mistakes, successes and failures come and go, but what’s important is that is love… relationships with loved ones and giving and receiving love. The last year has given us the opportunity to slow down, to remove some of the hustle and bustle from our lives, and we have been forced to hold on to our loved ones, and it shows us that the people closest to us are indeed the most important things in our lives, ”he said.

Having performed less this year than in 30 years, the group has performed virtually, outdoors, participated in fundraisers and, sadly, even performed for small commemorative gatherings.

The Blue Dogs are excited to return and perform their iconic songs like “Hope She Falls in Love with You”, “Isabelle”, “Walter” and more when they come to the Opera on February 20th.

Doug & Bunny Williams present

Dick Goodwin and his Big Band February 28, 2021

Dick Goodwin is synonymous with music in the Midlands. He is just one of the local musicians who come to Newberry Opera House with the Doug & Bunny Williams Presents series.

Headlining the NYE concert at the Opera House for over a decade, Dick Goodwin is thrilled to return to the NOH stage to perform a diverse mix of music.

“We don’t exclusively do Big Band era music. In the past we have performed “Bill Bailey Want You Please Come Home” which was written over 119 years ago. John Wilkerson and Kristi Hood will be making selections from the Great American Songbook – Sinatra’s Ear if you will. But, we will also perform songs that I just wrote to introduce our incredible instrumentalist. I’m really proud of the people I have in the group, ”he said.

Goodwin came to the University of South Carolina in the early 1970s to begin the doctoral program in composition. He draws on his fellow retired music teachers, local music educators and people associated with the SC Philharmonic to form his Big Band.

Goodwin says he used this time (during isolation) as a creative spark to write new songs for the band.

“We haven’t played in front of a live audience since March 7 of last year… We miss playing for people live,” he said.

Show host Doug Williams explains how important it is for local artists to find ways to make it work.

“Many of the artists we work with have only been able to perform in small groups in a restaurant or bar. The last show we did at Villa Tronco restaurant, the artists put on a show like they were singing for 2000 people. They crave audience. And the public craves performance, ”he said.

Two of the other shows in the Doug & Bunny Williams Presents series will feature SC artists:

Tribute to Prairie Home Companion April 18, 2021

Country Music Tribute – The Way It Was May 16, 2021

Edwin McCain December 10, 2021

Edwin McCain is so SC that he uses the state flag emblems in his personal logo. This down-to-earth artist loves to tell stories about grocery shopping and the seller finding out that the song on the speakers is being sung by the guy checking out. This Greenville native returned to the area and nurtured the local music scene and supported local songwriters.

With a new date of December 10, Edwin McCain says he loves performing at the Opera and then going home to sleep in his own bed that night. The master storyteller and musician will of course perform “I’ll Be” and “You Can Not Ask For More”, but will also offer you sincere and sometimes funny songs written by one of our great songwriters.

The Newberry Opera House has scheduled over 60 other events this year, from Celtic rock icon Gaelic Storm and Bob Marley’s band The Wailers to country legend John Anderson, but executive director Molly Fortune said SC’s participation Made Musical Artists might be the staff favorite part of the season.

“These artists are our neighbors and they have a direct impact on our communities economically but also emotionally – especially this year,” she said.

Visit NewberryOperaHouse.com to purchase tickets, for a full list of performances, and to review safety protocols, including wearing masks throughout the performance and reduced capacity seating. Call 803-276-6264 for any additional questions.

William N. Fernandez