Calumet Theatre hosts Nashville tribute, traditional Tamburitzans
CALUMET — The Calumet Theatre is hosting familiar faces this August with the return of the world famous Tamburitzans and a night dedicated to country music classics.
Gary Hannan is back at the Calumet Theatre on Sat. Aug. 6 for the Gary Hannan Presents: Nashville Hit Songwriters’ Series.
Hannan is returning with award-winning No.1 hit songwriter and recording artist, Wynn Varble. This will be Varble’s second appearance on the stage of the Calumet Theatre. With Hannan and Varble, will be Country recording artist and songwriter, Andy Griggs.
Hannan has written several hit songs, including “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” recorded by Joe Nichols; and “Back When I Knew it All,” recorded by Montgomery Gentry.
Varble also has written several smash hits, including: “I’m a little More Country Than That,” recorded by Easton Corbin; “Waiting on a Woman” recorded by Brad Paisley; and “Have You Forgotten” recorded by Darryl Worley.
Saturday will mark Griggs’ first appearance at the Calumet Theatre. In 1998, Griggs signed a contract with RCA Records and released his debut album, titled, “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely,” in April, 1999. The album went gold and charted three Top Ten singles with “She’s More,” “I’ll Go Crazy,” and “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely.”
Three years later, Griggs released a second album, titled: Freedom. The album’s first single, “Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man,” was another smash hit. A third album released on the RCA label was titled “This I Gotta See,” was released in 2004. His fourth album, “The Good Life,” was released for Montage Music Group, in 2008, three years after he left the RCA label.
Griggs’ four albums racked up 13singles that charted in Billboard’s Top 100, including six that reached the top 10 list on the Billboard chart. The highest charted hits include “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely” and “She’s More,” both of which peaked at No. 2.
Following a tradition of more than 8 decades at the Calumet Theatre, the Tamburitzans are returning to the stage on Aug. 10, for their 85th consecutive year.
The Tamburitzans are the longest-running multicultural song and dance company in the United States. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company’s members are full-time students who receive scholarships for their activities.
Calumet Theatre Executive Director, Jay Maki said in those 85 years, the Tamburitzans have never missed a performance at the theater.
“The Tamburitzans first played at the Calumet Theatre on April 18, 1938,” said Maki. “They were formed in the early 1930s in Pittsburgh and started touring as the South Slavonic Tamburitzans Orchestra of Duquesne University.”
The Calumet Theatre, said Maki, is the group’s longest-standing engagement, and they are the theatre’s longest-standing annual event. As might be expected, the show offered by the Tamburitzans has grown over the decades.
The Tamburitzans were formed on February 3, 1937 by Dr. A. Lester Pierce, who brought his “Slavonic Tamburitza Orchestra” from St. Edward’s University of Austin, Texas to Pittsburgh. Pierce negotiated an arrangement with Duquesne University, involving a work scholarship program, and the tradition of The Tamburitzans has continued ever since. Over the decades, the Tamburitzans have recorded albums and have toured extensively (sometimes internationally) performing music and dance mainly from Eastern Europe and its neighboring folk traditions.
Since their founding, the Tamburitzans ensemble has expanded its repertoire to include a wide variety of folk dance and music representing international cultures, states the Tamburitzans’ website.
“Eighty plus years, several international tours, hundreds of performers, and hundreds of thousands of audience members later,” the website states, “the Tamburitzans’ show is an annual tradition for some, and a delightful new surprise for others. Year after year, generation after generation, the Tamburitzans dazzle audiences across the country with elaborate costumes and incredibly versatile musicians, singers, and dances.”
The performers, the website points out, are full-time students who have chosen to continue the Tamburitzans’ legacy by bringing international cultures to the modern stage.
In 2014, after Duquesne University announced that the Tamburitzans would become an independent, nonprofit organization, the organization now audition and accept students from other Pittsburgh-based universities, as well as, Duquesne. The move was envisioned to help increase the ensemble’s applicant pool, allow for a more robust performance schedule, and to help position the group to pursue charitable support from individuals, the foundations community, corporations, and government agencies.
Maki said that in the past, the Rotary Club has hosted the Tamburitzans, including marketing the show and selling the tickets. However, this year, the Rotarians are not involved. That did not stop Maki from working with the Pittsburgh-based cultural organization. After 85 years, he said, he is not letting them go.
“So, for the first time,” said Maki, “it is a partnership between the Calumet Theatre and the Tamburitzans.”
The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Wed. Aug. 10. Tickets are available online, and at the box office of the theatre, up to showtime.
Maki said Senior and Student discounts will be offered through the Box Office.
For more information, please visit the Calumet Theatre website ticket page at https://calumettheatre.com/events/event/tamburitzans-2022/ or call 906-337-2610 and leave a message.