Because of the recession, the seven-year-old music festival has been condensed to a two-day weekend event from the succession of events it is known for. It begins Friday at 6 p.m. with a performance by Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos, a blues band with a Cajun kick, and ends Saturday with a performance by John Sebastian, front man for The Lovin’ Spoonful, a ’60s rock-revolution band.
“This is our seventh annual festival and in the past it has been spread out over three or four weekends, but the staging of that was extraordinarily expensive,” said Tom Potts Jr., chairman of the Longleaf Arts Council. “One of the ways we could reduce some of the expense is to have it on one weekend.”
And while the event may be short in duration, it’s not lacking for quality entertainment, according to organizers. In between the first performance and the last, there will be about half a dozen acts, including the Friday night headliner Abbey Road Live, an established Beatles tribute band.
“Abbey Road Live is the world’s best tribute band,” Potts said. “They go a step further than I have ever seen in that they concentrate on the latter studio albums.”
According to its website, the band began in 2002 and only played songs from the Bealtes’ Abbey Road Album, but has since expended to cover 100 of the famed quartet’s tunes. In addition to performing the album the band derives its namesake from, it specializes in complete performances of "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band."
Saturday night’s headliner, John Sebastian, who preformed at Woodstock, will be accompanied by Jimmy Vivino, the former guitarist from Conan O’Brian’s late show. The pairing of Vivino, who will head up the band for O’Brian’s new show in the fall, and Sebastian is drawing interest not just from inside the state, but from Atlanta, Chattanooga, and in one case New York City, according to the Chairman of Music at McClellan, Pete Conroy.
“Through Facebook and Twitter it has begun to go viral and so were seeing interest from the region,” Conroy said.
The two-day music festival will also include a steel drum performance by JAXPAN, singer-songwriter Kelli Johnson, jazz performers TADD of Jazz, and local guitarist Tony Yardley. Each of those Saturday acts will be followed by brief workshops, where performers will provide music education sessions with attendees.
“It will be real close quarters,” Potts said. “So that’s a really neat attraction.”
The alternative and classic rock cover band Five Sterling Silver also will perform at the festival. They will take the stage shortly before Sebastian’s headlining performance Saturday.
In addition to the musical performances and workshops there will be a variety of kid-friendly entertainment and education-oriented attractions. Among them will be presentations from the Anniston Museum of Natural History curators with live animals, and a table with information and “tar balls” from the current gulf oil crisis.
Donations will also be taken at the event to assist with the gulf cleanup effort, Conroy said.
In addition to changing the event to a one-weekend festival for the fist time, this year’s event has another first. It’s the first year the Alabama Symphony Orchestra will not participate.
However, Conroy said he fully anticipates that the Music at McClellan will return to its series format and re-incorporate the state orchestra into its lineup in the future, though both were changed this year to slash expenses.
“I like spreading it out and I would like to think that in the future the economy will recover and Music at McClellan will be back to the series format.” Conroy said. “We love the symphony.”
Contact staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544.
Advance weekend pass $35
Advance single day pass $20
Weekend pass at the gate $45
Day pass at the gate $25
Children (ages 4-12) $5
Children (age 3 and under) Free
To receive the advance- purchase price, tickets must be purchased before noon Friday. They can be bought online at www.musicatmcclellan.org, by phone at 256-782-8158 or at a variety of local locations.
Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce
Tyson Art & Frame
Jacksonville State University - Theron Montgomery Building Bookstore
The Anniston Star
Mary G Hardin Center for Cultural Arts
McClellan Box Office
NOTE: Tickets purchased online before Friday night at midnight will be available for pickup at the box office on the day of the concert. Only the McClellan Box Office is open for ticket sales on concert days.
Source: www.musicatmcclellan.org. Contact the site for more information.