MOUNT VERNON — For more than three-quarters of a century, the Community Concert Association of Knox County has brought high-quality live entertainment to the area.
Originally called the Community Music Club, the association started in Mount Vernon in 1919 and for 25 years brought many artists to Knox County. There were no concerts during World War II, but concerts resumed in 1946. Idle for a time in the 1980s, the Community Concert Association of Knox County resumed its mission in 1990 and is thriving today with about 600 members.
CCA supporting board member Audrey Spearman said the association currently brings in six world class acts a year to the Memorial theater at a bargain price.
“You can’t even drive to Columbus and see a show for what we charge here for the whole year,” she said. “People can get a year’s membership during the membership drive in April and May, and individuals tickets are available at the door. There are special family rates, and students under age 21 are admitted free with a paid adult admission.”
Funding for the concerts come from ticket sales, Spearman said, plus the association solicits sponsors for each show. There are different membership levels, from simply purchasing a ticket to friend, sponsor, patron and benefactor levels.
Asked how the acts are chosen, Spearman said, “A number of us go — on our own dime — to Nashville every year to a conference put on by group called ‘Live on Stage.’ From the 40 some acts that we get to see, we discuss how each would go in Mount Vernon and ask each other, ‘Would this go over or would this be a bomb?’”
Spearman said they also choose for variety, whether it be instrumental, classic, vocal, song and dance. “We try to cover the entire field of interest,” she added. “When we choose our favorites, we give the list to our representative. We often can even tell Live on Stage what we want in each month. They do pretty well accommodating that.”
The performers, said Spearman, sign up with Live on Stage for a year or two’s contract and what Live on Stage tries to do is to schedule all their bookings within the same area of the United States, “so they aren’t skipping back and forth from California to New York and back to California again.”
In addition to musical variety, the association tries to choose programs which will appeal to the youngest audience. Each year it sponsors an outreach to school children, bringing one or two acts to the Youth Enrichment Series. This year Red Head Express will present a program to area sixth-graders in April.
Spearman said the association’s mission is to bring varied music and low-priced entertainment to the entire community, including to members from Licking, Ashland, Morrow and Richland counties.
Spearman said that is important because, “Music a big part of life for relaxation and feeling good. I think music makes me feel good, and probably does a few others, too. We have a natural rhythm in our life and the music field supports that rhythm. Live entertainment does that more efficiently than radio or television. I want to watch their presentation on stage. I want to see how they move and work together.”
This year’s season started in September with “Ricky Nelson Remembered.” October’s show was “Broadway Today!” and upcoming acts are country music star Collin Raye in January, song and dance ensemble Side Street Strutters in March and the family act Red Head Express in April.
It is not too late to become a member, Spearman said. Interested parties may call membership chairwoman Rosemarie Lehane at 740-599-5085. There is an extra bonus to membership, Spearman said. In addition to the performances held in Mount Vernon, members can take advantage of reciprocal agreements with the Lancaster, Alliance and Marysville community concert groups.
“We list their program in our program, Spearman said, “so if you are looking ahead to February and really want to see ‘The Paper Lions,’ well, that’s at Marysville and you can contact them about the show.”
To learn more about Knox County’s Community Concert Association, visit www.ccaknoxcounty.com.
Contact Chuck MartinEmail
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