Kudos logo


Celebrate the River concert debuts 12th season for Old Town Center for the Arts

Originally Published: September 21, 2019 5:31 p.m.

The sixth annual Celebrate the River Concert Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m., will begin the Old Town Center for the Arts 12th season.

This annual event kicks off Verde River Day, and gathers musicians, artists and river advocates to honor and bring attention to the Verde River & Oak Creek Water Basins which supply our most important resource – water.

Featured performers for this year’s river concert include regional and international touring artists: Keith Johnson, Carrie Caruso, and the Earth Speak band: William Eaton, Claudia Tulip, Susannah Martin, and Bart Applewhite.

Celebrating the river, is celebrating life. Life on earth began with the cycling of water from ocean to clouds to rain to river to life. The musicians gathered for this year’s concert, along with lighting director James Ball and image artist Elena Bullard will take the audience on a journey from the world’s largest river system, the Amazon, to our local Verde River. Experience sounds, lighting, visuals, and original songs, to transport you in, on, and along the world’s rivers.

This year’s concert will be a multi-media sensorial experience. “The idea was sparked when I heard Keith Johnson create with percussion instruments the sounds of birds, insects and other wildlife that inhabit the Amazon River rain forest,” Co-Director William Eaton remarked. “It was mesmerizing. Yet within the beauty, we’re also reminded that rivers and diverse species are threatened every day. On a planetary and local scale protecting our river and watershed basins is of primary importance. The goal of this concert is to entertain, inspire and educate.”

About the performers:

Keith Johnson grew up in Washington D.C. where he learned a variety of musical styles, but had a special love for the rhythms of Afro-Cuban, Latin and Caribbean influenced steel drums. He later traveled to West Africa to further explore traditional drumming and studied with master drummer YacubAddy of Ghana, on his way to becoming a master drummer himself. For the past 30 years in Arizona, Keith has shared his musical artistry in concert performances and with hundreds of students as an Artist-in-Residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Arizona Arts Council.

Violinist Carrie Caruso has performed throughout the United States and internationally, sharing the stage with well known performers: Donna Summer, John Fogerty, Seal, Howie Mandel, Halle Berry, The Kongos, Keith Urban and many others. In addition to live solo performance and recording, Carrie is most known as lead violinist, and arranger for the internationally renowned electric string quartet Urban Electra. Check out this eye catching video of Urban Electra on youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgXsc648raQ.

Earth Speak includes harp guitarist William Eaton, flutist-vocalist Claudia Tulip, percussionist-vocalist Susannah Martin, and harp-bass guitarist Bart Applewhite. ‘Earth Speak’ is connected to the rich oral tradition of our indigenous and contemporary ancestors and our mutual engagement in communicating with the plant, animal and elemental worlds through music and storytelling.

William Eaton designs and builds innovative guitars and stringed instruments and is a founder and Director of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, in Phoenix, AZ.  A recording artist for Canyon Records, Eaton has received four GRAMMY nominations. In 2015 he received the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award in the ‘artist’ category.  William is also a founder and co-director of Old Town Center for the Arts.

Classically trained, jazz-influenced and world music inspired, Claudia Tulip performs on silver and ethnic flutes, and panpipes.  One reviewer commented, “Claudia’s sound is a beautiful blend of imagination, deft technique and soulful expression.”  Claudia has enjoyed a successful solo career and has also been a member of the William Eaton Ensemble since 1988.

With an ability to sing in several different languages and to improvise fluidly, vocalist Susannah Martin brings worlds of experience in vocal styles. She wails on R&B or Rock tunes, delivers a touch of sultry jazz, vocalizes soothing ragas melodies, and can sing fluently in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. Susannah also adds a groovy beat on cajón and hand percussion.

Bart Applewhite toured nationally with the band Congo Shock. He is a graduate, and now administrator, of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, in Phoenix, Arizona, where he designs and builds one-of-a-kind bass harp guitars and is one of the only builders and players of these hybrid instruments, in the world.

The Celebrate the River Concert is co-sponsored by the Old Town Center for the Arts, whose mission includes presenting and supporting events that promote local sustainable initiatives, and by the ‘Friends of the Verde River’ who works collaboratively to restore habitat, sustain flows and promote community stewardship to support a healthy Verde River system.

Attendees are invited to arrive at the theater early to see the ‘water and river-themed’ art and sculpture exhibit, showcasing local and regional artists, curated by artist Wendy Harford, and learn more about the Verde River from representatives of the sponsoring organization Friends of the Verde River, who will provide information and answer questions.

Tickets for the Celebrate the River Concert on Friday, September 27th at 7:00 PM, are $20 in advance, $22 at the door and $25 for priority tickets (first three rows) Tickets are available online at showtix4u.com. Tickets are also available in Cottonwood at: Desert Dancer and Mount Hope Foods and in Sedona at The Literate Lizard Bookstore. For upcoming events, visit oldtowncenter.org. For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.

If You Go ...

• What: 6th annual Celebrate the River Concert

• When: Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.

• Where: Old Town Center for the Arts, 5th Street & Main, Cottonwood

• How Much: $20 advance, $22 door, $25 priority

• More Info: (928) 634-0940 www.oldtowncenter.org