It’s been 18 months since the Fairbanks Concert Association raised the curtain on Hering Auditorium. That changes Sunday when the cultural organization returns to presenting live shows, months after the pandemic dimmed the lights on the entertainment world.
And the season opener? It’s big. Rather, they’re big.
“We always try to open with something Fairbanks will love and be excited about,” concert association Anne Biberman said. “That includes k.d.lang, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Etheridge, Martin Short, Tig Notaro, and so many others. We think this will be worthy of celebration.”
The celebration-worthy act opening FCA’s 74th season is none other than Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery, two easily recognizable award-winning actors who came up together in the Chicago improv scene. The duo is bringing their comedic cabaret to Fairbanks, backed by the Tony Guerrero Quartet. The performance, titled “Two Lost Souls,” is 4 p.m. Sunday at Hering.
“It’s always exciting to sign any artist with name recognition,” Biberman said. “Some years have been more challenging than others. I remember one Monday morning a few years ago we lost four bookings we thought were confirmed. This year though, it was like everything good just fell into place. One great artist after the next. The hardest part was rescheduling everyone when the pandemic hit. We’ve waited a long time for this.”
Jane Lynch is known from such TV shows as “Glee” and the “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as well as “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” “Role Models” and is host of “Hollywood Game Night.” Kate Flannery is most known from television, with one of her most notable roles being Meredith Palmer from the cult classic show “The Office.”
Biberman called it “A great way to start our season and the first FCA show in 18 months.”
The performances don’t stop after this weekend, either. A full slate is scheduled from now until spring, with some new names and familiar faces returning. On the lineup for the concert association is Royal Wood on Nov. 6; Chris Thile on Nov. 13; Lúnasa on Dec. 10; International Guitar Night XXII on Jan. 9, 2022; Jake Shimabukuro on Jan. 28; Talisk on Feb. 12; Meow Meow on March 19; The Small Glories on March 26; BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet on April 1; and season closer PostModern Jukebox on May 6. See fairbanksconcert.org for times and locations.
Biberman went on to talk about many of the performers, highlighting why they’re popular with fans.
• Meow Meow — “She’s another Pink Martini find (like Storm Large). Incredible voice, amazing act, we’ve rescheduled three times and I think we’ll finally get her here from Australia.”
• Lúnasa — “Yes, Fairbanks loves Lúnasa, they are incredibly popular here. The icing will be celebrating the solstice with them. How perfect to mark the season with music that is appropriate but not cliche.”
• International Guitar Night — “We presented this in January 2020 and the overwhelming response was, ‘Please bring them back every year.’ Like PMJ, they are different every year. This year features contemporary classical guitarist Stephanie Jones from Australia, two-hand ‘tapper’ Alexander Misko from Russia, the brilliant Italian jazz guitarist and vocalist Eleanora ‘Lele’ Strino and Lulo Reinhardt, Germany’s Latin Swing master who some may remember from ‘In the Footsteps of Django,’ one of our highest rated performances ever.
• Jake Shimabukuro — “ ... simply radiant and lovely and brilliantly talented. He has done with the ukulele what Bela Fleck did with the banjo.”
• Postmodern Jukebox — “PMJ will be here for the third time. It’s how we celebrate. We’ve opened the season with them, we’ve celebrated our 70th anniversary with them and this year, they will be our finale.”
Biberman also mentioned acts that are making their first appearances in Fairbanks, from a Grammy-winning Cajun band, to Scottish folk, to Chris Thile, to Royal Wood.
“It’s hard to say how this year will come out and what will happen next,” Biberman said. “We’ve all been missing these opportunities to connect with one another and live performances and being able to reopen is a privilege we don’t want to squander. We’ve been so lucky to be able to book these artists this year.”
Covid protocols will be in place for all Fairbanks Concert Association events this year. Performance attendees 12 years and older must provide either proof of vaccination against Covid-19 completed at least two weeks before the shore or proof of a negative test result within 72 hours of the show. Attendees under age 12 must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of the show. Also, all attendees must mask up.
“All attendees, regardless of vaccination status or test result, are required to wear masks at all performances,” Biberman said. “We are doing this because we take the safety of our community, our patrons, volunteers, crew, staff and artists very, very seriously. The school district is also now requiring us to have a safety plan — ours was just passed today — and some of the artists require it as well.”
Prior to the concert association’s first event, FCA is providing opportunities for patrons who are vaccinated to be pre-approved. Those pre-approval events are:
• 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, UAF Wood Center;
• 5:30 -7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, at Goldie’s, 659 Fifth Ave.;
• 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at Venue, 514 Second Ave.
Tickets and times
Tickets, times and locations of performances are available online at fairbanksconcert.org or by calling 907-474-8081. All tickets are 100% refundable. Purchasing three or more events gets you a discounts. For the Civic Center shows, booking early is suggested as the shows will sell out.