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Sunset Center announces blockbuster new season

By Chris Counts

Published: May 21, 2010

KICKING OFF its 2010/2011 season with a bang, Sunset Center will pay tribute to the Summer of Love and follow it up with a concert by Grammy Award-winning singer Michael Bolton.

Big Brother and the Holding Co. — the band that launched legendary singer Janis Joplin’s career — teams up with Country Joe McDonald to open the Sunset Center season Saturday, Aug. 7.

Backing Joplin on her unforgettable “Cheap Thrills” album, Big Brother and the Holding Co. collaborated with Joplin on many of her biggest hits, including “Piece of My Heart,” “Summertime” and “Ball and Chain.”

Bolton, meanwhile, will perform Wednesday, Aug. 18. Although he started his career as a heavy metal singer, Bolton has established himself as one of soft rock’s biggest stars, scoring big hits with covers of classic soul songs, like “Try A Little Tenderness,” “Georgia” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

Even Sunset Center executive director Peter Lesnik — whose job is to bring performers to Carmel — was surprised by his booking coup. He had hoped to open the season with a concert by singer Cindi Lauper, but unable to book the 1980s pop star, he put in an offer for Bolton, who just happens to be an avid golfer with an affection for Pebble Beach.

“I don’t think Michael has ever played a hall this small, expect maybe for a private party,” Lesnik said. “When he took our offer, I could hardly believe it. We were really lucky to get him.”

Also featured at Sunset Center during the 2010-2011 season will be:

- Johnny Lang (Sept. 10)
- Manhattan Transfer (Oct. 13)
- Cirque Mechanics: Boom Town (Oct. 15)
- Capitol Steps (Oct. 25)
- The Phantom’s Leading Ladies (Nov. 6)
- Lainie Kazan (Nov. 13)
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Nov. 17)
- Sarah Vowell (Nov. 19)
- Smuin Ballet (Dec. 3-4)
- The Nutcracker Remixed (Dec. 28-29)
- Diavalo (Jan. 12)
- Smuin Ballet (Jan. 18-19)
- Rita Moreno (Jan. 29)
- Garrison Keillor (Feb. 7)
- Balé Folclórico da Bahia (March 5)
- One Night of Queen (March 12)
- The Aluminum Show (March 13)
- Great Big Sea (March 17)
- Theater of Illusion (April 8)
- Pirates of Penzance (May 4)
- Esperanza Spalding (May 25)
- Ricky Nelson Remembered (May 28)
- Smuin Ballet (June 3-4)

Lesnik said the schedule was influenced by feedback his staff gathered from ticketholders.
“We get a lot of comments and we read them,” he said. “We pay a lot of attention to what people say.”

Understandably, Lesnik can’t wait for the new season to begin — even though the current season continues through June. including a performance by Smuin Ballet (June 4) and a group concert by Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer (June 23).

“There isn’t a show we’re doing that I’m not excited about,” Lesnik said.

Ticket packages go on sale May 21. With tickets for individual shows on sale Friday, July 9. For more information about Sunset Center and its schedule, call (831) 620-2040 or visit www.sunsetcenter.org.