Two performances this week will grab audiences’ attention as the Weis Center for the Performing Arts kicks off its spring 2020 season with events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Toshi Reagon will perform a mix of rock, blues, folk and spirituals on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Next Friday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m., Allison Miller and her band, Boom Tic Boom, will offer “In Our Veins: Rivers and Social Change,” a multimedia ensemble of jazz and tap centered around five American rivers, including the Susquehanna.
“We’re thrilled to present these two extraordinarily gifted and talented women to the Weis Center during Bucknell’s Martin Luther King Week,” said Kathryn Maguet, executive director of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.
Toshi Reagon has been described by Vibe magazine as “one helluva rock’n’roller-coaster ride” and by Pop Matters as “a treasure waiting to be found.” Her performance is sponsored, in part, by Bucknell University’s Department of Music, Jazz at Bucknell and Martin Luther King Jr. Week 2020.
Performing since she was 17, over the past almost 30 years Reagon has collaborated with performers ranging from Lenny Kravitz to Nona Hendryx, Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Dar Williams, Lizz Wright, Me’shell Ndegé Ocello and Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius). In 2009, she played for her godfather Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration. With the Freedom Singers, she performed at the White House in President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s tribute to the music of the civil rights movement.
Allison Miller, jazz drummer, composer and teacher, has been named “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine, and her composition, “Otis Was a Polar Bear,” is on NPR’s list of The 200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women.
Boom Tic Boom features pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and Miller on drums and composition.
“In Our Veins: Rivers and Social Change” honors the social movements that took place around America’s waterways, particularly the Susquehanna, Delaware, James, Hudson, Schuylkill rivers in the 19th and 20th century. The show is described as “a multimedia suite for chamber jazz ensemble and tap dance centered around five American rivers … and the social and environmental changes they inspired.”
Audiences will enjoy both performances, Maguet said, noting their talent and their commitment to finding the best in society.
“Their musical gifts are matched by their dedication to Dr. King’s spirit of inclusion, diversity and acceptance,” she said.
Immediately before Miller’s performance, there will be a free pre-show talk with the artist from 6:45-7:15 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium.