While outdoor temperatures soar, performers for this year’s Hot Summer Nights Concert series at the Blount County Public Library promise to warm the hearts of audience members who can stay cool inside the air-conditioned library building.
Spotlighting “emerging artists,” this year’s concerts feature groups who have been performing in the local area for awhile and are now moving on to various larger venues.
This 10th season of concerts will be performed at 7 p.m. every Thursday evening in August and the first Thursday of September in the Reading Rotunda of the library, 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville.
The lineup for this year’s Hot Summer Nights concerts is:
• Thursday, Aug. 4 -- Six Mile Express: Ranging in age from 17 to 21 years old, this group of young men met and began playing together at Rocky Branch Community Center. The band explores a variety of music: Bluegrass, Jazz, Celtic, Funk, and even some Reggae. Will Tate plays piano, banjo, guitar, mandolin, steel guitar, Dobro and bass. He currently attends Hiwassee College and is majoring in Forestry. Matt Nelson plays bass and electric bass. He currently attends the University of Tennessee and is double majoring in jazz and classical bass. Garrett Gregg plays guitar and banjo. He is attending the University of Tennessee and is majoring in Forestry. Gavin Gregg plays mandolin and bass. He currently is in high school and is home-schooled. Check out their music at www.myspace.com/sixmileexpress.
• Thursday, Aug. 11 -- The Great Great Pines: This band of folk-Americana revivalists features Laura Bost (vocals, ukulele and guitar) and James Maples (banjo, guitar and vocals). The Great Great Pines is a folk duet at home in the Knoxville folk-Americana revival musical style. Their harmony sings over simple guitar riffs, ukulele strums and bluegrass-ish banjo licks. On stage, they build musical bridges between their old-fashioned country roots and their love of modern-day classics. Combining her love of country music with classical music training, Laura found her voice in jazz. James plays banjo “in the Gatlinburg tradition” and “pretty much plays everything else as if it were a banjo.” Having grown up with the folk music of John Denver, James writes original songs celebrating the agonies of the heart along with the maturing vision of age. Visit their website at www.thegreatgreatpines.com/.
• Thursday, Aug. 18 -- Rebecca Roberts and DeAnna Gilson: This duo will perform a joint concert of vocal music. Rebecca Roberts competed in Tennessee’s All East and All State vocal competitions for three years and received the top honor in her voice part. Rebecca mostly enjoys performing in musical theater and large choral ensembles and will perform a concert of modern music featuring selections from Disney movies. She plans to move to New York next summer to train at a music conservatory and dreams of performing on Broadway. While DeAnna Gilson performed with the Don Brakebill Singers and in the show choirs of William Blount High School, she fell in love with Musical Theatre (classical music). During her junior and senior years she auditioned and performed with the All East and All State Honors choirs, having high rank for both choirs her junior year. As DeAnna prepares to embark on a career in Opera Theatre, she will be attending Lee University to study vocal performance.
• Thursday, Aug. 25 -- Laurel Wright: Laurel is a 15-year-old Blount County teen and is an emerging talent in the Nashville music performance and recording business. Laurel has had the opportunity to share the stage with several big names in Nashville: The Band Perry, Josh Thompson, Steel Magnolia and James Wesley, who recently opened for Taylor Swift in Knoxville, as well as many more. She has been recognized by WIVK and was part of their first WIVK Live radio show at the Clayton Center for the Arts in July 2010. Local television station WBIR has done several stories on Laurel, with the most recent being “Your Story” by Abby Ham. This summer she is performing at Gatlinburg’s Four Seasons Resort. She is a frequent performer at Tootsie’s in Nashville and will be in Nashville later this month to record a song. To allow performing and travel flexibility, Laurel is homeschooled. This is Laurel’s second appearance at the library, her first being three years ago when she was 12 years old. Listen to Laurel’s music at www.myspace.com/laurelwrightmusic , www.facebook.com/laurelwrightmusic and www.reverbnation.com/laurelwright.
• Thursday, Sept. 1 -- Knoxville Opera Company: Representing the Knoxville Opera, General Manager and Conductor Brian Salesky and two singers will preview this season’s operas, Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Charles Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliette” and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Otello.” Visit the website at www.knoxvilleopera.com.