The stage lights around the Monterey Peninsula continue to come back on after nearly 16 months of darkness. Carmel’s Sunset Center has announced its 2021/22 season, which kicks off this month with the addition of a new off-site, co-presented Carmel Dance Festival. There is a new small performing arts studio recently opened in Sand City called The SandBox, currently offering a summer concert series that features a fusion of musical styles to include jazz and classical. And The Coffee Bank in Carmel Rancho is back to present live music on Saturday nights on its back patio.
Sunset Center Artistic Director Christine Sandin and I covered quite a bit of ground in our conversation, starting with the excitement of getting back to work and being able to share with the audience. The Performing Arts season includes two events that date back to two seasons ago, the September 30 concert with Marty Stuart and his fabulous superlatives: “Marty Stuart is the Pilgrim. She says almost all of the original ticket holders chose to stick with the show, and for that reason, there are still a limited number of tickets available. The other event is a live theatrical production of “RENT 25th Anniversary Tour: The Farewell Season of Love,” scheduled for April 20.
“It has been difficult to prepare for the season over the past six months due to all the unknowns and many tours are still booked,” said Sandin. “So there will be a lot of other shows over the next three months or less. Rather, they are popular music events. So we’re really excited to be more experimental with our lineup as we approach the reopening season.
“We will be bringing back the XYZ Comedy series, which was the next generation of emerging comics that are kept in our cabaret space. Our Jazz at Lincoln Center series will also be returning soon. We do a good job almost every time, with six to eight shows a year downstairs on a big screen with a little bar installed. These air in the late afternoon as the stream is broadcast live from New York. The arrangement with Lincoln Center requires us to provide these shows to the public for free, which is really great. “
A brief rundown of upcoming shows include John Hiatt and The Jerry Douglas Band, confirmed for October 7 presented by Crescent Bay Entertainment; the Vienna Boys Choir, November 26; The TEN Tenors, December 12; An evening with Fran Lebowitz, January 19; LA Theater Works presents: “Lucy Loves Desi, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom”, January 28th. For the current list of shows, again, with dates to add, you can visit the Sunset website at www. Sunsetcenter.org. More live music includes Aoife O’Donovan on April 10 and Boz Scaggs for two nights on June 1 and 2.
As for the new Carmel Dance Festival, July 23-25, the Sunset Center is co-producing the event that takes place at Mackillie Farm in Carmel Valley. There are two evening performances and two morning events. Please visit the website for full details.
“It will be an annual festival,” said Sandin. “Eventually we’ll have events at the Sunset Center. We have wanted to promote offsite for a few years; we were getting close to it when the pandemic hit, so we’re really excited about it. “
Word of mouth has so far brought The SandBox in Sand City an enthusiastic following for its last two concerts. I attended a wonderful classical music trio performance on July 1 with SandBox owner / artistic director Michelle Djokic on cello, Edwin Huizinga on violin and Elizabeth Dorman on piano. They performed two pieces, one by French composer Gabriel Fauré and the other by Johannes Brahms.
After visiting the space on Ortiz Avenue before the show to meet Djokic and learn more about the space, I discovered that it was located in the complex where Big Sur artist Gregory Hawthorne has a studio. /residence. As it turns out, the summer series art installation features Hawthorne’s paintings. His bold contemporary works complement the high-ceiling, slightly industrial architectural design well. The space has a Steinway grand piano and the sound is really great in the intimate space.
“Yes, we are in a nascent state,” Djokic said. “I could still be in a nascent state. It will always evolve. I don’t want to be defined. Every event that happens here will define the space at that particular time. This is what seems essential to me, this kind of flexibility and wanting to imagine that anything is possible. How space can be transformed. I don’t think this space will be classified, which is why I bring jazz, classical and folk, and film and dance collaborations. there is so much potential.
Tickets ($ 35 plus a service charge of $ 0.88) are available, at the time of writing, for the 5:00 p.m. show that features The Jazz Hot Quartet of the Hot Club of San Francisco. Tickets at www.sandboxsandcity.com. There is also a sold-out show at 7:30 p.m. Seating is custom arranged, leaving space between group modules and / or solo seating. The next concert on the calendar will feature the Alexander String Quartet with guitarist William Kanengiser on July 14. They will perform original works which will then be performed in San Francisco, so the program is not published, but it will be a very special evening concert indeed with only one show at 7:30 p.m. Don’t delay getting tickets, $ 50 plus $ 1.25 service charge. In the future, Djokic plans to make the space available to outside producers.
Carmel Rancho’s Coffee Bank has been in business since before it closed, but only recently reinstated its Saturday night live music offerings. Owners Benny and Andrea Dickens are excited about their place as it is now, but are even more excited to bring their growing group of followers an expanded range of choices for entertainment and gatherings. Its cafe has an excellent menu of coffees and dishes, but next to it they’ve grown into a space that turns into a sophisticated wine bar.
“We will have wines from all over the world,” said Benny Dickens. “Also local beers and wines. Our menu will offer caviar and champagne, pâté, cheeses from around the world, Italian dishes… we will take care of everything. The place is nicely decorated. Not overdressed but cool with a new baby grand piano. We plan to have singers from LA and SF. The wine bar is going to be a killer. Everyone is waiting for him. “
For now, however, come hear Wrockinfoose on Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $ 20 plus a service charge, available on the cafe’s website www.coffeebankcafe.com. It’s a great Monterey-based band that plays a funk-based R&B style. The musicians are among the best in the region. Dress warmly as it is outside even though there are heaters spread around. The patio has a small wine bar and the cafe also offers food. See you all outside!