Best Bets: Erick Willis at Blue Light, Marty Stuart at Cactus, Haydn’s ‘Creation,’ political documentary

This weekend’s Best Bets for entertainment in Lubbock likely could not be more varied, including concerts, a classic oratorio, musical comedy and a political documentary feature film.

Erick Willis

Approximately three months have passed since local music lovers have had an opportunity to enjoy the music of wandering minstrel/troubadour Erick Willis at Blue Light Live, 1806 Buddy Holly Ave.

With club co-owner Dustin Six calling Willis “the real deal,” Saturday night seems like the right time to meet, or be reintroduced to, this musician’s Americana and blues tunes.

Six calls Willis a regular at the Blue Light who has grown into a “staff favorite,” even without benefit – thus far – of a recording contract.

A native of Henrietta, Texas – near Wichita Falls, with a population of approximately 3,000 – Willis accompanied his grandmother to church and loved to sing in the choir. His passion for music grew by traveling to perform at the Texasville Opry, Johnny High’s Country Music Show and the Texas Gold Country Music Show.

Willis also credits his mom as a huge influence. He adopted her work ethic and the dedication revealed by a single parent raising him and his sisters. He also was influenced by his mother’s appreciation of hard rock music by AC/DC, Whitesnake and Journey, but paid attention when his grandfather introduced him to the golden age of country music.

Playing guitar and forming his first bands as a high school freshman, he knew he’d found his calling.

“Erick is known for his vocals and, in the last couple of years, he has made a name for himself and put in the work necessary to garner a solid following,” said Six. “He is from the Wichita Falls area, but spends a lot of time in Lubbock. I’d say his strongest point would be his songwriting ability. He was the seventh winner of the Blue Light’s Songwriter Competition in the spring of 2014.”

When he takes the stage at 11:15 p.m. Saturday, May 11, he will be featured with his full band: Mark McDuffie on guitar, Eric Martin playing bass, and Bryan Crowe reigning over drums and percussion. There is no scheduled opening act.

There is a $10 cover charge at the door, with doors opening at 9 p.m. All patrons/fans must be minimum age of 21 to enter the Blue Light.

Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives

Make no mistake. One of the very best concerts being offered this weekend undoubtedly is the early 7 p.m. Sunday, May 12, attraction at the Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave., headlined by award-winning Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.

True, Stuart and wife Connie Smith created something special back when they were touring together. But Stuart now tours with an all-star band of Superlatives, including Stuart, guitar and mandolin; Kenny Vaughn, guitar; Harry Stinson, drums; and Chris Scruggs, bass guitar and steel guitar. Every band member also sings.

Cactus owner Darryl Holland has priced Meet & Greet seats at $99, with fans likely meeting Stuart before the show. He has added a “temporary row one” at the front and reserved seats on the first four rows are $45. Remaining floor seats are $40. Standard balcony seating is $35. Seating in the limited balcony box is $80 and includes free concessions.

Tickets are available by calling 762-3233, or at the box office at 1812 Buddy Holly Ave. All sales are final. The theater’s ticketing system and contractual obligations to performers does not permit exchanges, refunds or credit toward future shows with unused tickets.

Marty Stuart is a country singer-songwriter known for both his traditional style and eclectic merging of rockabilly, honky tonk and traditional country. Stuart is a five-time Grammy Award winner, a platinum recording artist, winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association and a Grand Ole Opry member and star.

He started out singing gospel, then spent his teenage years on tour, playing guitar for bluegrass legend Lester Flatt and 14-year-old Stuart also played with Flatt on the fifth season of “Hee Haw.” Stuart devoted six years as lead guitarist in Johnny Cash’s band and also worked with George Jones and Merle Haggard. When the legends died and artists asked musically who could fill their shoes, one obvious answer was Marty Stuart.

He continues, at 60, to record and release keenly relevant music, songs that honor country music’s rich legacy while advancing it into the future. “Way Out West,” his 18th studio album, nails both of those marks. Produced by Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame), the album is an exhilarating musical journey through the California art that solidifies Stuart’s visionary status.

Stuart’s collection of music memorabilia and photography was exhibited at multiple museums as “Sparkle and Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey.” In early 2018, he and the Grammy Museum co-curated an exhibit at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Okla., called “Marty Stuart’s Way Out West: A Country Music Odyssey.” Many items in the exhibit came from Stuart’s private collection, including the last portrait of Cash. The photograph was taken four days before Cash died.

Lubbock Chorale, performing Haydn’s ‘The Creation’

“The Creation,” an oratorio written between 1797 and 1798 by Haydn, is considered nothing short of a masterpiece, as it depicts and celebrates God’s creation of the world as described in the Book of Genesis.

The Lubbock Chorale, directed by John Hollins, will perform “The Creation” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11. General admission tickets, including service charges, are $25 for the general public, $20 for seniors and students and $15 for children. Tickets are on sale at all Select-A-Seat outlets. Call 770-2000 for purchases and more ticketing details.

The libretto was written in German by Gottfried van Swieten. The work is structured in three parts and scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and a symphonic orchestra. Rebecca Wascoe Hays sings the soprano role. Oliver R. Lucero is the tenor, and Allen Saunders sings bass.

The text of “The Creation” has a long history. The three sources are Genesis, the Biblical book of Psalms, and John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” in 1795.

In Parts I and II, the soloists represent archangels Raphael (bass), Uriel (tenor) and Gabriel (soprano). In Part III, the bass and soprano soloists represent Adam and Eve.

The running time for a typical performance is one hour and 45 minutes.

The oratorio’s first public performance was held at the old Burgtheater in Vienna on March 19, 1799. It was first published with the text in German and English in 1800. Haydn was inspired to write a large oratorio during his visits to England in 1791-1792 and again in 1794-1795, when he heard oratorios of George Frideric Handel performed by large forces.

Lubbock Chorale director Hollins is a native of South Carolina and has appeared on national and international concert and opera stages as a conductor, collaborative pianist, organist and baritone.

Hollins also is employed as conductor and pianist for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Opera Theater.

He has collaborated with some of the world’s finest artists.

‘The River and the Wall’

Some insist the best part of the arrival of the Alamo Drafthouse in Lubbock is the Quiet Zone. In other words, fellow patrons must shut up during the movie.

For the first year or so, I also appreciated the imagination invested in finding pre-movie footage. Of late, however, older footage strikes me as lame, if not boring, and has nothing to do with older or current film genres or film history from any era, or even clips related to the genres being explored.

Maybe I have the purpose wrong, other than simply not showing the public those boring commercials like the other multiplexes for “award-winning” car brands or a new Coca-Cola product. Mind you, say what you will about prices, but when it comes to “food at the movies,” the Alamo Drafthouse does it best. I would add that moviegoers are missing something special if they just skip over entrees devised by home office chefs to accompany specific new films. Many have been a culinary delight.

Nevertheless, the coolest thing offered by the Alamo Drafthouse are the vast number of specialty motion pictures booked – usually just one time – on one of the multiplex’s big screens.

Sure, everyone has a good time attending a Movie Party luring those who share affection for the same classic film. But my faves are the one-time screenings of motion pictures not yet in national, or even regional, release.

Plus, one of the Alamo offerings this weekend – “The River and the Wall” — obviously has political leanings as well, and, at the least, almost guarantees stunning cinematography and an opportunity for lively debate afterward.

“The River and the Wall” will be screened one-time-only at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at the Alamo Drafthouse. General admission tickets are just $7, and can be purchased in advance.

The new documentary follows five friends on an immersive adventure throughout the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1,200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on foot and on horses, mountain bikes and canoes. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impact of a wall on the natural environment.

But as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.

Filmmaker Ben Masters, his film crew and a diverse group of four experts embark on a journey that takes them deep into the sometimes stark, often treacherous, but always extraordinary back country.

Taking part are Heather Mackey, a trained ornithologist; river guide Austin Alvarado, son of Guatemalan refugees who came to the United States illegally; conservationist and native Texan Jay Kleberg; and Filipe DeAndrade, host of National Geographic Channel’s “Untamed” and the son of a Brazilian refugee who fled Rio de Janeiro’s bloody favelas in search of a better life for her offspring.

‘9 to 5,’ stage musical

With date changes, it turns out the season-closing musical comedy from Lubbock Community Theatre is not available this weekend. Although it definitely will play a role in next week’s Best Bets.

That said, the play does open this coming week, specifically at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at LHUCA’s Firehouse Theatre, 511 Ave. K.

Future performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 17-18 and 23-25, and 2:30 p.m. on May 19 and 26. Tickets can be purchased by calling LCT at 749-2416, or by visiting web site lubbockcommunitytheatre.org.

The comedy – with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick – is adapted from the hit 1980 feature film, whose screenplay was credited to Colin Higgins and Patricia Resnick.

The LCT production is directed by Heather May.