It's only fitting that emerging artists John and James Abrams kick off the 2018-19 season of Live @ The Harvey, the revamped Bakersfield Community Concerts series, which begins Sunday.
Association president Carol Smith said the Abrams brothers, at 27 and 25 years old, reflect the changing of the guard of performers who work in syndicated tours such as the national community concerts association, created in the 1920s to ensure that small cities and towns across the United States had access to professional live entertainment.
"A lot of young performers are on the performance circuit," Smith said.
Smith noted that younger performers often bring a more contemporary sound to the concert hall.
The Abrams are known for their modern country/"newgrass" mix of original tunes and folk song covers, along with strong vocals. The brothers have been recognized in their native Canada and in the United States by no less than the Grand Ole Opry, where they performed while still in their teens. Smith said the pair will stick around after Sunday's performance.
"They will be performing at Standard Middle School the next day as part of our student outreach program," Smith said.
The rest of the season carries out the trend, and manages to offer something for everyone: On Nov. 18, rock 'n' roll fans can enjoy "Not Fade Away — The Ultimate Buddy Holly Experience," which recreates the Winter Dance Party that was the final performance for Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. Cellists Ruslan Biryukov and Anne Suda perform classical works arranged for their duo called "Cellisimo," ranging from Bach to Paganini, on Jan. 27.
On March 10, pop meets classical with "Pop! Go The Classics," featuring pianist Mac Frampton and his six-piece ensemble. The group reimagines such standards as the Overture to "William Tell" by Rossini, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," Ravel's "Bolero" and many other beloved pieces.
The season will finish on April 7 with more country music, performed by another young sibling duo: The Malpass Brothers. Young as they are, the pair have a great love for the great legends of country music, and pay tribute to such musical heroes as Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.
The concert series has settled nicely into the Harvey Auditorium, after moving there last season in an attempt to build attendance and cut expenses. The lifeblood of the series is season subscriptions, allowing concert-goers to buy tickets to all five events for a package price of $75 per adult, $34 for a college student, and $24 for students through high school. Smith noted that a recent addition to the ticket options, a family pack of $175 for two adults and all minor children, has become very popular.
Smith said the association has sold about half of the available season ticket options out of a total of 1300 (the seating capacity of the Harvey), which means patrons can buy season tickets at this Sunday's concerts. Interested music lovers who may be commitment-shy are now able to buy single-event tickets, which become available inside of three weeks ahead of the concert date. Individual tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for college students, and $5 for students through high school.