MAINSTAGE: Arts Council launches new series this weekend

Published 6:19 pm Thursday, September 4, 2014

CUTLINES:  BEAUFORT COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL | CONTRIBUTED A FAMILY AFFAIR: The Beaufort County Arts Council’s MainStage series at the Turnage Theater offers a wide range of performances, including the Annie Moses Band’s Rhapsody in Bluegrass, on Nov. 8.

A FAMILY AFFAIR: The Beaufort County Arts Council’s MainStage series at the Turnage Theater offers a wide range of performances, including the Annie Moses Band’s Rhapsody in Bluegrass, on Nov. 8.

With a theater like the Turnage at its disposal, the Beaufort County Arts Council is gearing up for its first official series of concerts and events to draw the crowds: the MainStage series.

The series begins Saturday night with Bill Leslie and LORICA. Leslie is an Emmy and Peabody award winning news anchor at WRAL-TV, but in his other life, he’s a composer and musician—and becoming a renowned one, at that, according to Joey Toler, BCAC executive director.

“It’s been his hobby that has now grown to more than a hobby—his last album charted at No. 1 on the world music charts,” Toler said. “Since we booked him, he has signed on with a major agency, so we’re kind of lucky to get him before that step happened. (His music) is wonderful. If you’re a fan of Celtic music, of world music, and also folk music. He’s very, very good.”

Bill Leslie and LORICA are just the first in the series of six concerts that are an eclectic mix of events, from an arts salon to a family band that has played Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. Next up, is the Sept. 20 Rock for Human Rights, a concert that features Zimbabwe’s No.1 recording artist, Alexio Kawara.

“Alexio is Zimbabwe’s Justin Timberlake,” Toler said. “It may sound like a political event, but it’s not—it’s based on the document in the United Nations about every human being’s basic rights. I’d say it’s 90 percent wonderful music and 10 percent just talking about human rights.”

What it does, said Toler, is provides audience members with an uplifting message to walk away with — one that is selling out venues across the country.

“It’s a chance to be really uplifted. Not only can you be entertained, but it’s also good to be able to walk away with something,” Toler said. “We’re lucky to have them in Washington.”

The ticket prices for these two concerts and the remaining ones in the MainStage series reflect are a little steeper than what the BCAC has presented at the Turnage so far, Toler said.

“We definitely have patrons that really want and have suggested bigger named artists.  (BCAC) understood coming into this that we would do just that. Just as we have people who want to see free concerts or lower-cost performances.

But we do have patrons that want some more name recognition and they understand that the bigger the name, the higher the ticket price. But having said that, I still believe these ticket prices are very reasonable,” Toler said.

Before the BCAC move to the Turnage Theater last fall, Toler began planning what those concerts would be, attending arts markets and teaming up with the North Carolina Presenters Consortium, a statewide organization comprised of arts organizations large and small, all working together to get better rates on acts that are coming to the area. Booking artists is nothing new for Toler and arts council staff, but the change in venue is opening doors for new things.

“The arts council’s always been a presenting organization, though not at the level we are at now. This is not new territory for us, but being in the theater allows to bring in more technically challenging performances,” Toler said.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the MainStage series performances, visit or call 252-946-2504. Bill Leslie and LORICA will perform Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $23 for BCAC members and $25 for non-members.


Bill Leslie with LORICA

Sept. 6


Bill Leslie splits his brain, his breath, his time, his career, his very full life, and his very little sleep between two worlds. One casts him as the multiple Emmy and Peabody Award-winning broadcast morning news anchor at CBS affiliate Capitol Broadcasting WRAL-TV in Raleigh. His other equally gratifying world is as a composer and musician, performing as leader of the Celtic/Folk/New Age-blended “Bill Leslie & Lorica,” a five-member ensemble whose albums have topped World Music charts in the U.S and abroad. For more information, visit


Rock For Human Rights

Sept. 20


Rock for Human Rights (R4HR) was launched with the intent to bring human rights awareness to diverse audiences using the power of music, visual media, and social networking — free from political or partisan influence. The concert at the Turnage will feature live music from R4HR founder and accomplished musician Wil Seabrook as well as Alexio Kawara, Zimbabwe’s No. 1 music artist. Visit for more information on this unique performance.


Passion: A Salon

Oct. 4


Something completely different — a 21st Century arts salon! An evening of music, dance, theatre, poetry and song featuring the up-tempo Nueva Latina sounds of Ed Stephenson and the Paco Band, Flamenco and modern dance, songs by Broadway veteran Lori Mahl and dueling poets Anna Weaver and Ben Molini. The evening will be hosted by Anita Woodley, in character as the 100-year-old Grandma from her solo show Mama Juggs and Beverly Fields Burnette, recreating Zora Neale Hurston. Audience participation is encouraged!


Sonic Escape

Oct. 9


Sonic Escape is a flute-violin-cello trio of Juilliard graduates that uses every part of the performer — fingers, mind, voice, and story — to reshape the live music experience. The virtuoso members have traveled the world in roles as diverse as soloing at Carnegie Hall, fiddle dancing in Riverdance, jamming with Beale Street blues bands and playing rock clubs across New York City. Whether Sonic Escape is performing one of their ground-breaking original works, a folk arrangement or a classical masterpiece, they share with audiences as though it’s the last note they’ll ever play for the best friend they’ll ever make. Visit for more information.


Annie Moses Band

Nov. 8


The Annie Moses Band presents Rhapsody in Bluegrass: The Art of American Music, a panoramic exploration of America and her music. Featuring favorites from Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Bill Monroe and other quintessential American legends, Rhapsody in Bluegrass fuses Appalachian bluegrass, Celtic fiddle, beloved classical themes and roots music to create a beautiful and transporting concert experience. The Annie Moses Band is an ensemble of six instrumentalists and vocalists. Their cutting-edge sound fuses American roots, folk rock and jazz in stunning performances that feature strings, keyboards, guitar and rhythm. The family that makes up the Annie Moses Band is musically diverse — their converging artistry on stage creates a unique and beloved style. With accolades that include 1,200+ hours on PBS and recent debuts at Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry, the Annie Moses Band is bringing a distinctive style to American music. Visit for more information.


The Jennifer Licko Band — A Celtic Christmas

Dec. 5


Begin your Holiday season with a Celtic style Christmas concert with familiar Christmas Carols, lively Irish tunes and dancing. Celebrating its fourth year of sold-out concerts in eastern North Carolina, Jennifer Licko’s Celtic Christmas is returning to the Turnage Theatre. Visit for more information about this wonderful artist.