By RICK BROWN Yard Light Media
HOLDREGE – Pat Underwood, manager of The Tassel in Holdrege, believes the 2022-23 season offers a wide variety of musical styles.
“We tried to book a season where there really is something for everyone,” she said.
The first of eight shows begins with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, a group that performs southern gospel music, on stage at 7:30 p.m. on August 19. Other performances include world music from Brazil, chamber music, the return of a former Holdrege musician currently living and working on the East Coast, and Scandinavian holiday music.
“A lot of people living in Holdrege have Nordic roots,” Underwood said of the Dec. 3 gig featuring Mads Tolling and Mads Men.
She wanted to find music that complimented the holidays in December. Two-time Grammy Award-winning Danish-American composer and violinist Mads Tolling will tour with his band to perform a holiday show at Tassel. He performed with Stanley Clark and also performed as a member of the Turtle Island Quartet.
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When it comes to choosing artists, Underwood has to think about the interests of his audience.
“My tastes will always be different from other people’s,” she said. “We already have a lot of enthusiasm from the audience for our first two shows, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, then ’50s Night Out’ with the Holy Rocka Rollaz. Personally, I can’t wait to see the B2wins, the Brazilian twins. The videos I’ve seen of them show their warmth and bond with the public. I think it’s going to be a very warm concert. I can’t wait to see them, but I can’t wait to see all the shows.
Rachel Barton Pine’s performance, rescheduled from the previous season, is also of particular interest to Underwood.
“It’s a show we’ve wanted for many years,” she said. “She has some pretty serious health issues and last season she didn’t feel comfortable performing in public. And more power to her. She made a decision last year because our COVID fares were increasing locally, to report. We are delighted to have her back and we look forward to performing in concert.
Putting on a season of shows takes a lot of work.
“We’re very meticulous about how we organize our season,” Underwood said. “We ‘organize’, not just ‘book’. It’s not always about selling the most tickets, because we’d be booking different things. It’s about the best quality, the best variety, and helping people in our audience hear and see things they may not have seen before. That’s who we are.
In creating a performance season, Underwood must juggle cost, availability, routing, variety, and just plain luck.
“We try to work with bands, and very often they try to work with us,” she said.
In researching potential artists, Underwood works with a committee of board members to discover acts.
“I send them a really long list of shows that might be available and that we’re probably able to afford,” Underwood said. “I send them videos of these bands playing and an article about the bands. They go through this group of shows, classify them and give their opinion. From there we try to create a good mix with lots of variety.
It also relies on organizations specializing in the promotion of artists on tour.
“We meet via email, Zoom calls and sometimes in person,” she said. “All the directors of these performing arts centers across the Midwest are talking about what they’re going to book. We get to know the groups from each other. There are also national and regional booking conferences. You could meet the artists and see a small showcase of their work.