To say that members of the Fine Arts Programming staff are excited about the return of live, in-person performances this fall is no understatement.
And while there will be no balloons, confetti or champagne to greet guests, there will be four exciting performances to tickle the fancy of those visitors.
“The common thread you’ll see running through this season is joy,” said Tanya Gertz, executive director of Fine Arts Programming at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
“We want to welcome (guests) with enthusiasm,” she added. “We are just really excited to welcome people back, to share artists with them, and artists are really excited to share with them, too.”
Gertz and her staff have put together an intriguing schedule of four performances, beginning with Twin Cities indie pop singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Nov. 6 at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater, SJU.
That’s followed by performances from The Reminders (7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 at the Humphrey Theater) and two holiday-themed shows: The Hot Sardines (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 at Escher Auditorium, CSB) and Storyhill (7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 at the Humphrey Theater).
Tickets for all four shows are now available online at the Fine Arts Programming website or by contacting the CSB/SJU Box Office at 320-363-5777 between noon and 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Please note, all tickets are for individual performances only and Early Bird packages are not available.
Fine Arts Programming will share its schedule for performances from January through April later this fall.
Here’s a quick look at the four upcoming fall shows:
Jeremy Messersmith was scheduled to perform on April 17, 2020 as part of the Fine Arts series, but that performance was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things about Jeremy is that a lot of people love him,” Gertz said. “He’s charming, he can be witty and his music is upbeat. It’s a great thing to be able to kick off our season with him.
“He’s doing a special project for us here,” Gertz continued. “This performance will be unique as he will be performing with his full band and a string quartet.”
Expect Messersmith to also break out his ukulele during the show. Messersmith will also be conducting a public workshop at 3:30 p.m. the day of the performance at the Choir Room at the Humphrey Theater.
The Reminders need no introduction to area music fans. The group, featuring the husband-wife team of emcee Big Samir and emcee/vocalist Aja Black, played a live show in January 2018 at CSB’s Gorecki Family Theater, and then did a streamed performance for Fine Arts Programming in November 2020. They also performed at the Millstream Night Market June 21 in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
The Reminders will deliver an inspiring performance that transcends expectations to uplift and entertain. The Reminders’ visionary music is infused with roots, soul and as the duo seamlessly blend sharp rhymes and soulful vocals with reggae-tinged hip-hop beats to highlight relevant and inspiring messages of unity and togetherness.
“Their performances connect in a way where as artists, they find a way to invite absolutely every single person in that is in the audience,” Gertz said. “It’s hip-hop, it’s reggae, it’s high energy. It’s positive and it is impossible to be in their presence and not have an extremely good time.”
The Hot Sardines
Speaking of high energy, The Hot Sardines will bring their brand of rollicking jazz, swing and a little tap dance thrown in. Their show, “Holiday Stomp,” will present a jazzy take on the Christmas classics.
“These are people who know how to really have a good time on stage,” said Gertz, who booked the band at her previous post at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
“These are times that need live music. And I don’t know of anything that brings people together like the joy of hearing traditional jazz live,” says Elizabeth Bougerol, co-leader of The Hot Sardines with pianist and bandleader Evan Palazzo, on the group’s website.
“Everything in our DNA is about connecting with the audience. That’s where we feel most at home,” said Bougerol of playing live with the eight-piece band - including one wildly percussive tap dancer.
Finally, the fall portion of the schedule closes with Minnesota-based folk music band Storyhill – Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson. The duo will be presenting music from their new holiday album, “Bethlehem.”
“In our three decades of writing and performing together, we are releasing our first holiday album, ‘Bethlehem’ (out Nov. 27),” the band said on its website. “Embracing the full depth and meaning of the Advent and Christmas season, this album leans into the message of hope for a more peaceful world.”
“Storyhill is going to give you a gorgeous, beautiful, folk-inspired recognition of Advent and Christmas,” Gertz said. “They’ll be doing some of their favorites, their well-known originals, as well as featuring (the album) Bethlehem for the holiday.
“We’ve definitely had people ask about them. They are a Minnesota folk favorite, and they have a loyal fan base,” Gertz said.
For the 2021-22 academic year, audience members will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test result taken within 72 hours of the performance. Masks will continue to be required inside of the venue at this time.
All CSB/SJU Fine Arts Series and Theater and Music Department performances in the indoor performance venues (CSB Escher Auditorium, CSB Colman Theater, CSB Gorecki Family Theater, SJU Humphrey Theater, special Abbey Church fine arts events) are included.