USAO Hosts Byron Berline Bluegrass Band Sept. 18
CHICKASHA – Chickasha’s premier performing arts series kicks off Sept. 18 with a house-stompin’ evening of fiddles, banjo and more when the Byron Berline Band takes the stage at the University of Science and Arts.
Beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium, USAO’s Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series (DWPAS) promises a finger-pickin’ good time for all ages.
Based in Guthrie, the Byron Berline Band combines traditional bluegrass and Western swing music under the direction of three-time fiddle champion and Grammy Award-nominated Byron Berline. The owner of Guthrie’s Fiddle Shop since 1995, Berline has recorded with some of the biggest names in music, from the Rolling Stones and the Eagles to John Denver and Alabama.
Dr. Ken Bohannon, associate professor of music and coordinator for the DWPAS series, said Berline’s bluegrass flavor is unique to USAO.
“We haven’t had a bluegrass group here at the college in the 12 years I have been here,” he said. “He’s a world-class musician, and I’m sure his band members are top-notch players. He played with John Denver, and that’s good enough for me.”
In addition to recording credits, Berline’s music has been featured in television and movie soundtracks such as “Star Trek,” “Back to the Future III” and “Basic Instinct.”
Berline has recorded seven solo albums, including his highly acclaimed “Fiddle & a Song,” with guest performances from Vince Gill, Mason Williams, Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe. In 1996, the album was nominated for two Grammy awards in the Best Album of the Year and Best Song of the Year categories.
Tickets for the general public are $10, with discounts available for seniors 60 and above, students and children under 18 and USAO faculty and staff. USAO students receive an additional discount to all DWPAS events.
Tickets may be purchased by phone at (405) 574-1213 or in person at the USAO Business Office.
Season tickets still are available at discounted rates, and corporate sponsorships are still available, beginning at $250.
In 1995, Berline returned to his home state of Oklahoma where he opened the Fiddle Shop for the purpose of “visiting, trading and jamming” with visitors. As a natural progression, a band was formed to entertain regularly in the music hall above the fiddle store. The Byron Berline Band found themselves in great demand around the state, as well as surrounding states, and have extended their music through Europe.
Regarded as one of the great masters of the banjo, John Hickman continues his nearly 30-year collaboration with Berline. Hickman has played with bluegrass greats like Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and Earl Taylor’s Stoney Mountain Boys. He has recorded in major label studio sessions as well as motion picture and television soundtracks. Hickman spends his spare time repairing instruments at Berline’s Fiddle Shop.
Guitarist Jim Fish began his career as a musician playing washboard in a jug band in the early 1960s, but once he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, he began a decades-long pursuit of guitar. Fish toured the states with a southern rock band called the Henry Paul Band, releasing two albums on Atlantic Records in the late 1970s. The band’s first gig was opening for the Rolling Stones. Today, he uses a custom-made “vintaged” Triggs acoustic guitar and a Telecaster with a string-bender device to contribute to the sound of the Byron Berline Band.
Richard Sharp is at home on the left-handed upright and electric bass. A veteran studio musician, Sharp has toured with Oklahoma's own Harlow Wilcox, recording on his Grammy-nominated album “Groovy Grubworm.” He has shared the stage with the likes of the Texas Playboys, Vince Gill, Boxcar Willie, Colin Raye and many others. Sharp also lends vocals to the band.
Steve Short began playing drums with his parents’ family band at an early age. Since those days he has recorded and played with many of the biggest names in Nashville, including three years with Reba McIntyre. Short is an accomplished recording and sound engineer who produces the Byron Berline Band’s album projects.
The Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series is celebrating its seventh season, thanks to the support of the USAO Foundation and KOOL 105.5 radio with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oklahoma Arts Council.
Additional support is made possible by First National Bank & Trust Company, Alliance Oil & Gas Company, Chickasha Bank & Trust Co., Arvest Bank, Best Western, Mosley Insurance Agency and several other local businesses and individuals.
More information about the Davis-Waldorf Performing Arts Series, as well as a video for the Byron Berline Band, is available online at www.usao.edu/DWPAS.