Monday, June 4, 2012

Oh – you have GOT to go to the Sunflower Concerts!

Last week, at Friends First Friday, William Tonks told us about the acts that are scheduled this year at the Sunflower Music Series, held outdoors on Tuesday evenings in the Flower Garden. William created the Sunflower Music Series 11 years and 35 concerts ago, shortly after he became a staff member of The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. He has booked the many acts, usually artists involved in the Athens Music Scene, a scene that he has been a part of for decades. Tonks has played with Bloodkin, Barbara Cue, Redneck Greece De-lux and The Hot Burritos, plus releasing his own CD a few years ago. His insights into this year’s acts puts a season ticket purchase on the must-do list! Here’s why:

June 12 – Randall Bramblett; Whisper Kiss opening

Bramblett ( has recorded and toured with fellow Georgians Gregg Allman and Chuck Leavell (now the keyboardist for The Rolling Stones) and is presently concentrating on his solo albums when not performing as the touring sax player for Steve Winwood. Randall has experience and talent and is known for his songwriting and musicianship. Expect rock, blues and jazz in this performance.

Whisper Kiss is an acoustic trio with pretty harmony singing (here’s a YouTube video from last year.)

July 10 – Romper Stompers; Danielle Howle opening

This was the act with the funny name that everyone put onto their calendar after William Tonks described the group and played a few songs. Athens’ Widespread Panic is one of the top grossing 100 touring acts in this country, and Tonks has teamed up with Todd Nance from Widespread Panic, Jon Mills from Barbara Cue, and Danny Hutchens of Bloodkin, who he described as ‘one of the best songwriters ever to come out of Georgia.’ They will be joined by Widespread Panic’s percussionist Sunny Ortiz. These seasoned rock stars came together to create a rock band for kids, one that adults enjoy listening to and kids can relate to. All this talent, singing about snow days and sweet peas! “We get a great response from childish grownups,” Tonks chuckles, “but the messages are there for kids when they can hear the words.”

Danielle Howle is feisty, funny and smart and has opened for the Indigo Girls and Ani deFranco.

August 28 – Grogus

A crowd favorite, Grogus will play Latin jazz, traditional Cuban and Caribbean styles and funk versions of jazz standards. They are past recipients of the Flagpole Athens Music Award in both the Jazz and World Music categories. They just make you feel good, listening to the upbeat lyrics and tempo. You just want to kick off your shoes and dance in the super-soft grass in front of the stage. Grogus has been part of the Sunflower Music Series for years, creating a joyful dance party on the lawn.

September 25 – Arvin Scott Quartet

Athens is known for its music, but not necessarily jazz. But there is one Athens resident who is world-renowned as a jazz musician: drummer/percussionist Arvin Scott, who will deliver an uplifting World Beat/Jazz performance with his quartet. The mood will be perfect, since this late September concert will have an earlier nightfall and cooler temperatures.

Each of the two-hour concerts begins at 7 p.m. on the stage of the State Botanical Garden’s terraced Flower Garden. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic dinners or purchase dinner from Donderos’ Kitchen. Lawn chairs are only allowed for those with physical limitations. In case of inclement weather, the concerts will be held inside the Visitor Center and Conservatory.

Tickets are $15 each, $10 for Friends of the Garden members and $5 for children ages 6-12. Have you heard enough to commit to season tickets? Season tickets for all four concerts are $50, $35 for Friends and $15 for children ages 6-12. Admission to each concert includes beverages and light snacks. For information on the concert series or to purchase tickets, call 706/542-1244. Tickets also may be purchased at the Garden Gift Shop or Wuxtry Records.

The Sunflower Music Series is sponsored by Friends of the Garden, Northeast Sales Distributing, Inc., Athens Coca-Cola, Musicians Warehouse, Flagpole and WUGA 91.7/97.9.
Click here to read the UGA Press Release.

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